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Mary Hufford “The Narrative Ecology of an Appalachian Landscape”

Added on: April 17, 2014

MACHIAS, Maine – The University of Maine at Machias presents the fourth in its Libra Landscape Speaker Series, Wednesday, April 23, with a lecture by folklorist and regional ethnographer, Mary Hufford. Her talk, “The Narrative Ecology of an Appalachian Landscape,” is based on her research on the seasonal use of subsistence gardens and the harvest of woodland resources in southern West Virginia.

One of the most respected folklorists in America today, Hufford has often focused her research on the interplay between ecology and culture. As folklife specialist at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (1982-2002) she led regional team fieldwork projects in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and the southern West Virginia coalfields. From 2002-2012, she served on the graduate faculty in Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania, directing the Center for Folklore and Ethnography from 2002 to 2008.  Presently she holds an appointment on the Senior Research Faculty in Appalachian Studies at Virginia Tech, and teaches in the Master of Arts in Cultural and Environmental Sustainability Programs at Goucher College.

Hufford’s presentation will explore the “seasonal round,” which integrates an annual cycle of subsistence gardening with the harvesting of woodland roots, mushrooms, nuts, and berries, the hunting of game, and fishing in streams and rivers. These common-pool resources are dispersed among ridges, slopes, coves, hollows, and waterways that have historically been treated as a commons, but are in fact all privately owned. She will also describe the many layers of folk expression through which people share knowledge of the local landscape and its resources.

The talk begins at 7:00pm in room Science 102 at UMM. It is free and open to the public.

A Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow of the American Folklore Society, Hufford has published articles and reviews in both public and academic venues, including Orion Magazine, Gastronomica, the Journal of American Folklore, Southern Quarterly, Cahiers de Litterature Orale, Cornbread Nation, Social Identities, Western Folklore, and the Proceedings of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration.  While at the Library of Congress, she curated an online exhibition, “Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia.” 

The Libra Landscape Speaker Series at UMM is aimed at exploring the theme of landscape in diverse academic disciplines, from the visual arts, environmental studies, and ethnography, to recreation, biology, psychology, and others. The series is made possible with funding from the Libra Foundation.

For more information, contact Chad Everett at 255-1360 or

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