Dassler pursues graduate research in folk studies
- Kelly Scott
- Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021
Like the rest of us, Ellie Dassler – a folk studies master’s student from Williamsburg, Va. – is trying to make sense of COVID-19. Dassler, however, is employing her master’s research to understand the pandemic through a different lens.
Her research centers around the experiences of professional folklorists and culture workers navigating a world in crisis. Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, Dassler is exploring the present racial and economic inequalities’ impact on folklorists. She said that there are many long overdue conversations and now is the time to have them.
“I've always been interested in what we bring to our work: our experiences, beliefs, and biases, for better or worse,” Dassler said. “In a time when folklorists are both experiencing and responding to widespread trauma, looking back on ourselves and understanding where we come from seems especially vital, for our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of the artists and communities we want to support.”
As her research would suggest, Dassler has also experienced challenges as a student of folklore. She said that fieldwork requires genuine connection and getting to know communities. This has been made difficult as conversations are only able to be had on virtual platforms. Despite these barriers, Dassler is still passionate about her research.
Dassler accredits her academic support to the Department of Folk Studies & Anthropology along with other opportunities in the Potter College of Arts & Letters. She said the faculty are nothing but supportive and her peers are a vital community for success. She also praised the financial resources of the Department and College.
“I'm really grateful for my graduate assistantships at the Journal of American Folklore and the Kentucky Folklife Program and the other resources that made this degree affordable,” Dassler said.
Dassler said that studying folklore has afforded her a greater understanding of the world. She said that the discipline focuses on the good and the bad that often goes unnoticed but carries a powerful message.
“Folklore is part of what makes life interesting and meaningful,” she said.
Dassler joins the Hilltopper family from the College of William & Mary, where she received her bachelor’s in anthropology. Before starting her master’s degree, she spent a year teaching English in Portugal.
For more information about earning a master’s degree in Folk Studies at WKU, visit https://www.wku.edu/fsa/