AMERICAN STUDIES (PhD)
|Joseph Decosimo (2018) explores folklore, material culture, ethnography, the sounds people make, and the things they say. He has worked as a public folklorist, played music professionally, and taught 9th graders English. He taught Appalachian Studies and fiddle and banjo in East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Program. He holds an M.A. in Folklore from UNC and studied the ways that contemporary traditional musicians in East Tennessee make and record music that connects to family and place while appealing to a global audience of Old Time music enthusiasts. As a performing musician, he has toured and taught Old Time fiddle and banjo music at festivals and camps throughout the US, the UK, and Canada.|
|Elijah Gaddis (2017) is an historian of the spatial, material, and cultural history of the South. Currently an assistant professor of history at Auburn University, Elijah teaches courses in public history, digital humanities, and African American history. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
|Rachel Gelfand (2018) has a Ph.D in American Studies from UNC Chapel Hill where she was a Royster Fellow. Her dissertation: Nobody’s Baby: Queer Intergenerational Thinking Across Oral History, Archives, and Visual Culture applies a queer analysis to modes of memory transmission. The interdisciplinary project draws on LGBT archives, oral history praxis, Jewish studies, queer theory, and visual culture. Gelfand’s work has appeared in The Oral History Review, OutHistory, and Qualitative Inquiry. Her audio documentary work has been featured on KPFK, WPEB, and national programing for Making Contact. During her time at UNC, she was involved on campus as the graduate chair of the Program in Sexuality Studies Advisory Board and as graduate assistant to the Racial Literacies Seminar.
|Elijah Heyward III‘s (2018), research interests are the Gullah culture and the Penn School in Beaufort, S.C. A native of Beaufort, Heyward formerly lived in Washington, D.C., where he directed the Youth Scholar Academy, a nationwide college access program that he created as a Yale President’s Public Service Fellow. Heyward received his bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in leadership studies from Hampton University and his master’s degree in religion from Yale Divinity School.
|Josh Parshall (2017) is interested in American Jewish identity, with an emphasis on the American South. His current research focuses on the activities of the Southern District of the Workmen’s Circle during the first half of the twentieth century. Previously, Josh worked as an oral historian in Jewish communities throughout the region. He holds a B.A. in American studies from the University of Kansas and a M.A. in folklore from UNC.|
|Trista Reis Porter (2018) is interested in a variety of topics falling under the scope of American Art and Material Culture. She received her M.A. in the History of Art from Indiana University in 2014, where her thesis focused on the exhibition history of American folk art over the last century. This interest and approach continues to inform the way she thinks about canons in American visual and material culture, how and by whom those canons have been established, and the ways they are constructed around genres such as pottery and sculpture, and descriptors such as folk, fine, outsider, visionary, and immigrant. An Iowa native, Trista received her B.A. in Art History from the University of Iowa in 2012.
|Mathew Swiatlowski (2018), originally from western Massachusetts, holds a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a M.A. in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts-Boston. His research interests include recorded music, sound studies, and working class cultural history. His dissertation project was on the circulation of prewar ethnic American vernacular recordings in the postwar reissue music economy. He is currently a post-doctoral scholar in the department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.