Cory W. Thorne (he/they) is Associate Professor in the Department of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and has served as department head, graduate officer, undergraduate liaison, and as coordinator for Memorial’s esteemed Folklore Graduate Field School. He is cross-appointed with Ethnomusicology and works closely with Gender Studies. Cory has served as convenor of the AFS LGBTQ and Allies Section, president of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada, and is likewise active in the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore and the Nordic Folklore Conference. In addition to his ongoing ethnographic work with Cuban queer masculinities, in Cuba and with the undocumented Cuban diaspora, Cory has expertise in Newfoundland folklore, folklore of the Black Atlantic, posthumanism, critical regionalism, autoethnography, a/r/tography, and material culture. His recent work centers on queer folkloristics (forthcoming special issue of JFR, co-edited with Dr. Guillermo De Los Reyes), as well as activism in relation to labour movements and right-wing populism in Canada (as a 2SLGBTQI+ representative for the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Canadian Labour Congress).
What are the most significant opportunities or challenges now facing AFS, and how as a member of the Executive Board would you respond to those opportunities or challenges?
As we drift further into what many call the post-truth era, we see increasing calls for analysis and understanding of how tradition, belief, and narrative deeply intersect with our ability to negotiate the gaps between knowledge, equity, ecology, and sustainability. Our folklore renaissance has begun.
While it is disturbingly obvious to members of AFS, the Folklore Studies Association of Canada, and the International Society for the Study of Folklore and Ethnology (the three folklore bodies in which I’m most active), the world needs folklorists now more than ever. Many of the biggest challenges to our discipline are not new, i.e., more folklore programs are closing and public sector funding is plummeting. The impact is intensifying. AFS has a profound potency as the place where we collectively energize and organize to enhance training and support for our members while improving our visibility and blurring the lines between folklorists and our communities.
Society is starting to see how storytelling (be it a Disney revision, a new contemporary legend variant, or an increasingly surreal conspiracy theory) can powerfully influence the direction of society, both in terms of equity and humanity, as well as how it intersects with global sustainability. As part of enhancing visibility and showing the world the power of a folklore lens, AFS is here to focus on questions of accessibility: How can we reduce barriers to participation in our conferences? How can we better package and distribute our work to maximize its influence on individuals, communities, and institutions?