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Patricia Sawin

Chair of American Studies

Patricia Sawin will serve as interim chair of the Department of American Studies for the academic year 2022-23. Sawin is a folklorist who focuses her research on informal storytelling—the sharing of personal accounts, legends, and, more recently, social media memes—and on the impact of the institutions of adoption and foster care on those involved. She is fascinated with the kinds of stories people share in everyday life, the ways we create and decode narratives in order to make sense of our experiences, and the sparks of artistic performance that enliven mundane communication. “In American Studies,” Sawin says, “we offer students the opportunity to grasp how American culture is constructed through all kinds of creative efforts—from film to food—and we expose students to the cultural variety and the contested visions that constitute this complex place we call ‘America.’ This is a particularly exciting year as we launch a revised Undergraduate Curriculum that makes the intellectual richness of our faculty expertise more accessible to students and as we collaborate with the College of Arts and Sciences to further strengthen American Indian and Indigenous Studies at UNC. I am honored to have this opportunity to support our students in their studies and our faculty in their research and public outreach.”