CFP: Death, Loss, and Remembrance Across Cultures: A Role for Folklore in Education

Calls for Submissions, News from the Field
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Guest editors Mark E. Helmsing and Bretton A. Varga are calling for submissions for a special issue of the Journal of Folklore and Education, “Death, Loss, and Remembrance Across Cultures: A Role for Folklore in Education.” Initial drafts are due April 1, 2022.

The issue aims to gather the diverse practices, approaches, and examples of people learning about death, loss, and remembrance on behalf of educators. 

In the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing humanitarian, ecological, and racial crises, considering ways to teach about and through death, loss, and remembrance is especially timely. Educators are seeking culturally responsive tools and approaches to help process trauma and harm. The arts and humanities can be used pedagogically, with folk arts particularly attentive to communities’ life cycles and cultural rituals.

Learning from literature, art, music, folklore, and folklife can include experiences with touching the past, feeling the ephemerality of the present, and contemplating the future. This special issue invites contributions demonstrating cultural practices such as how communities respond to death and loss, perform memorialization and remembrance, and refer to ghosts/hauntings to communicate what is lost but not forgotten.

Essential questions that contributors may use to inspire their writing, interviews, or media submissions include questions that:

Consider traditions, art, and rituals of death, loss, and remembrance through a cultural framework

  • How do various cultures and religions display, create, and promote notions of ephemerality, disappearance, and mourning to understand and attend to remembrance?
  • How does art intersect with death, loss, and remembrance through exhibits and public displays within the context of social injustice (e.g., the murder of George Floyd)?
  • The exploration of death through a cultural lens may include both opportunities and pitfalls for students. What frameworks and models can help in examining this topic productively and sensitively? Topics may include the role of representation in memorialization, the techniques of cultural appropriation, and the pedagogy of trauma-informed care.

Explore how ghosts and hauntings can be generative in (re)conceptualizing the world around us

  • How can resources/archives juxtapose different temporal representations as rephotographs, soundscapes, and interactive documentaries (e.g., Welcome to Pine Point) as ghostly traces of memory enabling us to make sense of that which we cannot touch, yet nonetheless touches us?
  • How can ghosts and hauntings help learners interrogate lasting conditions (re)producing and upholding structures of oppression (e.g., colonialism, racism, social and ecological injustice, white supremacy)?
  • How might ghosts and hauntings be productive in unveiling new angles of inquiry relating to public mis/representations of history (e.g., statues, monuments, placards) perpetuating historical injustices and intolerance?
  • Culturally responsive teaching asks educators to recognize students’ cultural displays of learning and meaning-making (see Gloria Ladson‐Billings). Culturally sustaining teaching sees culture more deeply as an asset that should be explicitly supported (see Django Paris). How can educators pair the concept of ghosts and hauntings with folklore to foster productive, compassionate spaces of cultural connectivity and sustainability?

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