Thomas A. DuBois
Halls-Bascom Professor of Scandinavian Studies, Folklore, and Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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.
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 was fortunate to be able to share my Sámi course with students at the University of Minnesota and the Ohio State University during the spring of 2014. During the spring term of 2015 I shared my course on the Kalevala with students at the University of Minnesota as well. I recorded the lectures for the Sámi course using a program that let me record my desktop and my voice during a powerpoint lecture. I have mounted one example of a lecture from the course here so that you can see what my lecturing is usually like. The lecture was about the different kinds of non-human beings that Sámi knew of traditionally and what Johan Turi and Emilie Demant Hatt said about these in their books from the early twentieth century. The beings covered include reindeer, dogs, ulddat, mannelaččat, bears, stállut, čuđit, and wolves.
I also regularly teach a 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. For the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, I have taught courses on Celtic studies, Irish and Irish-American Folklore, and Pedagogy in Discussion Classrooms.
Particularly with graduate students and advanced undergraduates, I like to follow a "learning with" rather than a "learning from" approach: i.e., I look for ways that we can collaborate on a research project, producing something in which we share tasks, insights, and responsibilities. See the article I co-authored with Jon Lang on Johan Turi's healing techniques in my CV below, or the films and article related to cultural repatriation projects at the Lac du Flambeau reservation that I produced together community partners at the reservation and with graduate students and colleagues in Scandinavian Studies and CLFS. Because Tim Frandy and I were going to be showing the film to Sámi community members in Umeå, Sweden, in January 2016, Marcus Cederström and I worked up closed captions for the first film in Swedish. The second film, completed in June, 2016, focuses on a day of wild rice harvesting in September 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 Academia.edu.
Articles and chapters since 2000
Full CV available here.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
"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.
“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.
“‘That Strain Again!’, or, Twelfth Night, a Folkloristic Approach” Arv 56 (2000): 35-56.