Thomas A. DuBois

Halls-Bascom Professor of Scandinavian Studies, Folklore, and Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Contact:, 1406 Sterling Hall, 475 Charter St, Madison WI 53706

I teach in the Department of Scandinavian Studies, the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, and the Religious Studies Program.

I am a big believer in academic service, particularly in what we at the UW call the "Wisconsin Idea," i.e. the active engagement of the university with its surrounding constituencies. I make it a goal to bring academic scholars into productive dialogue with members of the broader public, helping contribute to the intellectual and cultural life of our society.


Tom in Media

"Celt, Anglo-Saxon, and Scandinavian Encounters" (2013)

"The Sámi People of the North" (2015)



As a folklorist, I teach and research on a range of topics having to do with the way people think about and use the idea of tradition in their lives. Most of my research focuses on Nordic cultures, especially Finnish and Sámi, although I am increasingly interested in the relations of Nordic peoples with populations and ideas coming from elsewhere, particularly the Celtic world. My recent research and service has also included work on the repatriation of traditions among Wisconsin Ojibwe people, particularly at the Lac du Flambeau reservation.

Some of my research is available in open access format at my address:

Cover photo, An Account of the Sami

Translated. Johan Turi. An Account of the Sámi. Chicago: Nordic Studies Press, 2011.

Cover photo, The Nordic Storyteller: Essays in Honour of Niels Ingwersen

co-edited with Susan Brantly. The Nordic Storyteller: Essays in Honour of NIels Ingwersen. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009.

Cover photo, An Introduction to Shamanism

An Introduction to Shamanism. Introduction to Religion. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Cover photo, Sanctity in the North: Saints, Lives and Cults in Medieval Scandinavia

edited. Sanctity in the North: Saints, Lives, and Cults in Medieval Scandinavia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.

Cover photo, Lyric, Meaning, and Audience in the Oral Tradition of Northern Europe

Lyric, Meaning and Audience in the Oral Tradition of Northern Europe. Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 2006.

cover photo Nordic Religions in the Viking Age

Nordic Religions in the Viking Age. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

Cover photo, Finnish Folklore

co-authored with Leea Virtanen. Finnish Folklore. Studia Fennica Folkloristica 9. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society in association with the University of Washington Press, 2000.

cover photo, Finnish Folk Poetry and the Kalevala

Finnish Folk Poetry and the Kalevala. New York: Garland Publications, 1995.

Articles and chapters since 2000

“Underneath the Self-Same Sky: Comparative Perspectives on Sámi, Finnish, and Medieval Scandinavian Astral Lore”  Nordic Mythologies: Interpretations, Intersections and Institutions. Edited by Timothy Tangherlini. Berkeley: North Pinehurst Press.  2014.

“Anatomy of the Elite: ‘Learned’ vs. ‘Folk’ in the Analysis of Avowedly Pre-Christian Religious Elements in the Sagas.”  Folklore in Old Norse, Old Norse in Folklore. Edited by Daniel Sävborg and Karen Bek-Pedersen. Nordistica Tartuensia no. 20. Tartu: University of Tartu Press, 2014.  Pp. 59—82.

“Borg Mesch: The Role of a Culture Broker in Picturing the North”  Journal of Northern Studies 8/2 (2014): 45—70. "Editing Johan Turi: Making Turi's Muitalus Make Sense" Western Folklore 72/3/4, 2013. Pp. 272—93.

(co-authored with Jonathan Lang)  “Johan Turi’s Animal, Mineral, Vegetable Cures and Healing Practices: An In-depth Analysis of Sami (Saami) Folk Healing One Hundred Years Ago” Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. August 2013. Open access:

“Ethnomemory: Ethnographic and Culture-Centered Approaches to the Study of Memory” Scandinavian Studies 85/3 (2013): 306—331.

“Trois hommes, chez les Sames: le voyage partagé de Frank Butler, Johan Turi et Borg Mesch en 1913 et 1914”  l’Image du Sápmi 2. Ed.Kajsa Andersson, Örebro University.  Humanistica Oerebroensia, 2013.  Pp. 238—57.

“Lars Levi Sunna: Crafting a Sámi Presence in the Swedish State Church” Temenos 48/2 (2012): 131—54.

“Johan Turin Duoddaris” Kalevalaseuran vuosikirja.91 (2012): 93—109.

“Diet and Deities: Contrastive Livelihoods and Animal Symbolism in Nordic Pre-Christian Religions”  More Than Mythology: Narratives, Ritual Practices, and Regional Distribution in Pre-Christian Scandinavian Religions  Ed. Catharina Raudvere and Jens Peter Schjødt.  Lund: Nordic Academic Press. 2012. Pp. 65-96.

“Our Lady’s Maid in Nordic Contexts” News from Other Worlds: Studies in Nordic Folklore, Mythology, and Culture.  Ed. Merrill Kaplan and Timothy R. Tangherlini. Berkeley and Los Angeles: North Pinehurst Press, 2012. Pp. 197-234.

“The Linguistics and Stylistics of Orality.” In Medieval Oral Literature.  Ed. Karl Reichl. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012. Pp. 203-224.

“’The Same Nature as the Reindeer’: Johan Turi’s Potrayal of Sámi Knowledge” Scandinavian Studies 83/4 (Winter 2011):  519-44.

 “Juxtaposing Cogadh Gáedel re Gallaib with Orkneyinga saga”  Oral Tradition 26/2 (2011).

“Trends in Contemporary Research on Shamanism”  Numen 58 (2011): 100-128.

“Varieties of Medical Treatment and Hierarchies of Resort in Johan Turi’s Sámi deavsttat” Journal of Northern Studies. 1 (2010): 9-44.

“Poem 30: The Pivotal Canto in which Very Little Happens” Journal of Finnish Studies 13/2 (2009): 5-16.

"Frithiof's Motley Cousins: On the Perils of Using Folklore to Create a National Epic" In The Nordic Storyteller: Essays in Honour of Niels Ingwersen. Ed. Thomas A. DuBois and Susan Brantly. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009. Pp. 178-210.

 “Un chanteur devenu poète: Sirma Ovllá et le début de la littérature samie” In L’Image du Sápmi.   Ed. Kajsa Andersson. Humanistica Oerebroensia.  Artes et linguae nr. 15.  Örebro: Humanistic Studies at Örebro University, 2009.  Pp. 306-19.

 “Kaksikymmentä ja yksi Thirty Years Later: Paavo Haavikko’s Kalevala Rewrite and the Epic Genre.” In One and Twenty, Paavo Haavikko.  Beaverton ON: Aspasia Books, 2007.

“Taking Place. Place in the Construction of History in Nordic Literature”  in The Angel of History: Literature, History and Culture.  Ed. Vesa Haapala, Hannamari Helander, Anna Hollsten, Pirjo Lyytikäinen and Rita Paqvalén.  Helsinki: Department of Finnish Language and Literature, 2009. Pp. 83-101.

“Rituals, Witnesses, and Sagas” In Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspective: Origins, Changes and Interactions. Ed. Anders Andrén, Kristina Jennbert, and Catharina Raudvere. Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2006. Pp. 74-78.

 “’I’m a Lumberjack and I’m Okay...’: Popular Film as Collective Therapy in Markku Pölönen’s Kungingasjätkä (1998)” In  Transnational Cinema in a Global North: Nordic Cinema in Transition.  Ed. Andrew Nestingen and Trevor G. Elkington.  Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2005.  Pp. 243-260.

“Writing of Women, Not Nations: The Development of a Feminist Agenda in the Novellas of Aino Kallas.”  Scandinavian Studies 76/2 (2004): 205-32.

“The Little Song-Smith: A Printed Folksong Anthology and Its Reception among Ingrian Peasants, 1849-1900” In Folk Song: Tradition, Revival, and Re-Creation.  Ed. Ian Russell and David Atkinson.  Aberdeen: The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, 2004.  Pp. 41-52.

“A History Seen: The Uses of Illumination in Flateyjarbók.”  Journal of English and Germanic Philology 103(1) (2004):1-52.

“With an End in Sight: Sympathetic Portrayals of ‘Vanishing’ Sámi Life in the Works of Karl Nickul and Andreas Alariesto.” Scandinavian Studies, 75/2 (2003): 181-200.

“Dynamics and Continuities of Tradition—What a Finnish Epic Song Can Teach Us About Two Old Norse Poems” In Dynamics of Tradition: Perspectives on Oral Poetry and Folk Belief. Ed. Lotte Tarkka.  Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2003.  Pp. 233-247.

“Interpreting Lyric Meaning in Irish Tradition: Love and Death in the Shadow of Tralee” Oral Tradition 17 no. 1 (2002): 87-107. Link:

“Narrative Expectations and the Sampo Song.”  Scandinavian Studies 73 no. 3 (2001): 457-474. Reprinted in Epics for Students.  2nd Ed., Vol.2.  Ed. Sara Constantakis.   Gale Group/Cengage Learning.

“Narrators in Two Epics: The Narrator’s Voice in Kalevala  and Kalevipoeg”  Oral Tradition 15 no. 1 (March 2000): 126-144. Link:

“‘That Strain Again!’, or, Twelfth Night, a Folkloristic Approach”  Arv  56 (2000): 35-56.

“Folklore, Boundaries and Audience in The Pathfinder.”  In Sami Folkloristics.  Ed. Juha Pentikäinen.  Turku: NIF, 2000.  Pp. 255-274.




I teach a variety of courses, including Finnish language, a course on the Kalevala, a survey of Scandinavian children's literature, an introduction to Sámi culture past and present, an introduction to shamanism, and a course on Scandinavian-Celtic relations in the Viking Age.

I have been fortunate to be able to share my Sámi course with students at the University of Minnesota and the Ohio State University. I also regularly teach the course called Internship in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as round table courses for the Bradley Learning Community, a residential living community for first-year students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.




birch with snow adhering

Snow Challenge

map of the United States

US Indigenous Peoples Assignment

splash page logo for canoe project site

Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan 2013 Birchbark canoe project

fresco detail, Campo Santo, Pisa

Multimedia Novel:

Pilgrim Reindeer in Pisa, 1348




Department of Scandinavian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Religious Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies