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American Studies

College of Arts and Sciences

John D. Dorst, Professor

B.A. Oberlin College, 1974;

M.A. University of California-Berkeley, 1977;

Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 1983

John Dorst has a B.A. in English from Oberlin College, an M.A. in folklore from U.C. Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in folklore/folklife from the University of Pennsylvania (1983).  His research and teaching specialties are American folklore, material and visual culture studies, and ethnographic approaches to the study of American life. His newest teaching area is food studies. Major publications include two books: The Written Suburb: An American Site, An Ethnographic Dilemma (1989) and Looking West (1999), both published by University of Pennsylvania Press.  The latter is an examination of visual experience in the modern American West, combining literary and ethnographic approaches to understand a distinct “way of seeing” in the literary and literal landscape of the West.  His most recent publication is an essay on James Agee’s American documentary classic Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, viewed in relation to the conventions of ethnographic writing [“On the Porch and In the Room: Threshold Moments and Other Ethnographic Tropes in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, in Caroline Blinder, ed., New Critical Essays on James Agee and Walker Evans, Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2010.]  He is currently working on an essay about the “cybernetic imaginary” of folklore studies and on a long term project that explores the craft of taxidermy as a unique form of artisanship and materiality.  Dorst has been the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Fellowship (to Roskilde, Denmark) and of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.  He has twice been acknowledged by the College of Arts & Sciences for excellence in research and has given a UW Presidential Speakers Series lecture, “From Grendel’s Arm to the Chadwick Ram: The Poetics and Politics of Animal Trophies.” In 2002/03 he curated an exhibit, Framing the Wild, for the UW Art Museum and the Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, WY.  He has been a member of the Wyoming Humanities Council, a long-time advisor to the Folk and Traditional Arts Division at the Wyoming Arts Council, and has served on the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society.


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