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Exciting New Presentation Formats for #AFS2011

Work on the 2011 American Folklore Society Meetings is now in high gear. The AFS meetings next fall will be held on my home campus at Indiana University Bloomington. As we get ready to host the meetings, I have been particularly involved in getting ready to introduce a new quick format presentation format and to re-boot the poster format along museum exhibition lines.  These new possibilities are described in the document circulated today by the Society. I hope that a large and diverse group of scholars takes an interest in attending the meetings and that these two new presentation formats appeal to scholars of all levels of seniority and to those working across the full breadth of folklore studies and its congeners. I want to personally express thanks to those senior scholars who have agreed to attend and host the poster exhibitions opening event and to my colleagues participating in the trial run for what are now (in AFS-speak) being called “Diamond” presentations at the 2010 meetings in Nashville. Here are the details from the home office:


Dear Colleagues,

In the next few weeks we will post online the Invitation for Participation for the American Folklore Society’s 2011 annual meeting, set for October 12-15 at the Biddle Hotel and Conference Center in the Indiana Memorial Union complex on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington. We encourage participation by folklorists throughout the world in our gathering.

This will be AFS’s first meeting on a university campus since our last meeting in Bloomington in 1968. Our hosts will be the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, and the theme of the meeting, on which presentations are encouraged but not required, is “Peace, War, Folklore.”

All proposals for the annual meeting program will be due by March 31. The entire process includes registration for the meeting, payment of the registration fee, and submission of your proposal.

We’re sending you this message to bring you up to date on two new developments within our annual meeting. The first has to do with an improvement in the proposal submission process, and the second involves the introduction of two new presentation formats.

But first, here is a link to a video documenting the Bloomington annual meeting committee’s musical “Invitation to Bloomington 2011” performed at our annual business meeting in Nashville last October.

Now to the news:

1. No More Long Abstracts Required from Individual Presenters in Pre-Organized Sessions

Beginning with the 2011 annual meeting, people who will be making presentations in pre-organized paper and Diamond sessions (for more information on Diamond sessions, see below) no longer have to submit long (500-word abstracts) for their presentation, just short (100-word) ones.

As in the past, individuals participating in organized paper and Diamond sessions will provide their short abstracts to their session chair in advance of the March 31 deadline. Session chairs will submit long and short abstracts for the session as a whole, and short abstracts for all presentations, as part of the session proposal.

2. Two New Presentation Formats at AFS 2011

While our meeting will feature the presentation of papers, discussion forums, media works, and professional development workshops as it has done for many years, in 2011 we are giving special emphasis to two new forms of presentation.

Re-Imagining the Research Poster in Folklore Studies: AFS Research Poster Exhibitions

The 2011 Annual Meeting Program Committee and the Society are making a special effort to capitalize on the research poster’s special virtues for folklorists. AFS Executive Board member and Indiana University Associate Professor of Folklore Jason Jackson will curate the 2011 Research Poster Exhibitions.

Posters, a vital means of scholarly communication in many fields, allow for the integration of graphic and textual information. They share the strengths characteristic of the informal settings in which folklorists often learn, teach, and study. Many folklorists are deeply involved in studying topics that lend themselves to the poster exhibition framework.

The current digital moment has created new opportunities to extend the power of this genre. Posters can stand alone as documents of scholarly research in folklore studies, and can also be augmented through informal oral presentation or the use of multimedia enhancements. They can also be repurposed after a conference into gallery and web-based exhibitions. Like conference papers, posters can also serve as a foundation for other genres of scholarly communication, including articles and book chapters. Posters themselves have begun to be peer-reviewed, revised, and published in scholarly journals.

This year, in lieu of poster panels organized by the membership, we are soliciting individual proposals for poster presentations on one of four broad topics: Peace, War, Folklore (the 2011 annual meeting theme), Folklore and Folklorists Making a Difference, Folklore Studies and the Digital Humanities, and Musical Cultures.

Poster presentations selected for each grouping will be brought together to comprise one of four formal exhibitions, which will be initially presented at an opening reception on Thursday morning. At that time, a distinguished scholar with special knowledge of the exhibition theme will host each exhibition, and will make public remarks about the exhibition’s posters.

Steve Zeitlin from City Lore will host Peace, War, Folklore

Marsha MacDowell from the Michigan State University Museum will host Folklore and Folklorists Making a Difference

Kimberly Christen from Washington State University will host Folklore Studies and the Digital Humanities

Jeff Todd Titon of Brown University will host Musical Cultures

The reception will also provide time for presenters to dialogue informally with each other, with interested conference attendees, with the hosts, and with other special guests. The posters will remain on exhibition throughout the conference.

Post-conference publication of selected posters is a possibility. We have invited a number of journal editors to attend the poster exhibition opening as special guests. Editors so far agreeing to attend include Regina Bendix (co-editor of Ethnologia Europaea), Kristina Downs (co-editor of Folklore Forum, which is interested in receiving submissions from participating poster exhibitors), Rob Howard (editor of Western Folklore), Jason Baird Jackson (editor of Museum Anthropology Review), and Tok Thompson (co-editor of Cultural Analysis).

AFS Diamond Presentations: An Invitation

On the basis of their increasing popularity among scholars and with the inspiration of a successful experiment undertaken at the 2010 Annual Meeting in Nashville, the American Folklore Society invites individual and organized session proposals in what we are calling the Diamond format, a formalized presentation genre structured by time and images:

Individual Diamond presentations are seven minutes long and are organized around 21 slides that are set to advance automatically every 20 seconds.

Audience response to such presentations have been very enthusiastic, and the format offers a number of specific advantages:

· As with the highly structured expressive genres that folklorists have often studied, this format calls upon presenters to be creative and selective in organizing their presentations.

· Focused presentations and images aid and engage audiences, even those unfamiliar with the topic or those whose first language differs from that of the presenter.

· This format is valuable not only for presenting image-based topics (such as studies of material culture or cultural performance), but also for all presenters concerned with visual communication and those who wish to experiment with visual techniques to enhance communication.

· This format is an easy starting point for the creation of audio slidecasts and small digital exhibitions—more durable modes of scholarly communication valuable to diverse online audiences—as well as in such settings as media kiosks in gallery exhibitions.

· The brevity of the format allows extra time for discussion.

· Brief but structured, the format supports multidimensional, open-ended presentations, making it very appropriate for the presentation of new projects or works-in-progress.

You may submit proposals for individual Diamond presentations, which the Program Committee will group into sessions, or organized Diamond sessions of six to ten presentations. All Diamond sessions will be constructed with an initial seven minutes allotted for preparation and introduction of the session as a whole, seven minutes for each Diamond presentation, and the balance of the available time dedicated to discussion of the full set of presentations. At the discretion of the session chair, the discussion time may be used for response by a formal discussant, open “full room” questions and answers, break-out time in which presenters can confer with interested audience members, or a combination of these discussion formats.

For those who would like to know more about the sources of inspiration for this format, there is much discussion around the web of a variety of similar (but not identical) formats, including the format known as Pecha-Kucha, developed in the design fields in Japan. Some of these are associated with formally trademarked brands of presentation events. Also available online are videos and slidecasts of presentations made in these related formats:

A YouTube version of Jason Jackson’s AFS 2010 Diamond presentation on the Open Folklore project:

A Pecha-Kucha presentation on YouTube:

“Hate Long, Rambling Speeches? Try Pecha-Kucha” by Lucy Craft [NPR on Pecha-Kucha]:

A discussion of Pecha-Kucha in anthropology with links to examples and information:

The Pecha-Kucha Organization:

On Lightning Talks:

On the Ignite Format and Events:

Search also “Pecha Kucha” in YouTube, “Death by PowerPoint,” “Ignite,” “Lightning Talks,” and Wikipedia.


Please feel free to circulate this email to your non-AFS-member colleagues who may not have received it directly. We look forward to seeing you in Bloomington this October. Thank you for your support of our field and Society.

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