Department of Folklore, Indiana University,
Linda Dégh is a folklorist/ethnologist, specializing in personal and communal identity projections of traditional rural and modern urban communities in Europe and North America. Through personal observation of creative processes in communicating folklore, traditional prose narratives in particular, taking into account historical and situational contexts of performance, she focuses not on the text prototype, the scholarly abstraction of variables of the same content, but on the unique, personal formulations of individuals generated by unpredictable given conditions.
Dégh's 18 books and close to 200 essays have been internationally recognized as initiators of a new approach to folklore study. Her latest monographic survey of the legend in particular (Legend and Belief: Dialectics of a Folklore Genre, 2001), exhibits emergence of stories form novel technological conditions in the U.S. spreading speedy to other industrially advanced nations, expressing fears and concerns of survival in a new world of alienation, globalization, and violence through the defense mechanism rationalizing the irrational.
As a scholar and a teacher, Linda Dégh works best as a team player, in seminars and workshops. Her exploration of the American folk legend began in an introductory folklore class and resulted in the international study of a new genre, emerging from the advancement of modern technology. As young students disclosed an unknown treasury of legends, their teacher founded the journal Indiana Folklore (1968) to publish their stories, and with the collaboration of graduate assistants, develop a new method to collect, and analyze and interpret what is now known internationally as urban or contemporary legend. Ethnographic team research with students is still on her agenda. During the summer of 2001, she initiated a pilot study of Hungarian-Americans in the Calumet Region with students to begin exploration of ethnic cultural identity consciousness as a key to the uniqueness of American democracy maintained by an ideal of unity by diversity.
Professor Dégh was born, raised and educated in Hungary and taught at the Eötvös Loránd University's Folklore Department in Budapest, when she accepted appointment at the Folklore Institute of Indiana University, Bloomington (1965). A new graduate curriculum in the Folklore Institute at that time needed an Europeanist to enhance its already distinguished reputation as "the diamond in the crown of Indiana University" (Herman Wells), and she was fortunate to be chosen. She became Distinguished Professor in 1982.
Awards and Honors include an American Philosophy Fellowship (1968), Guggenheim Fellowship (1971, Subcommittee on Anthropology/Folklore, ACLS and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Joint Committee, co-chair, 1980-88; Fulbright Research Fellowship in Germany, 1984-85; American Folklore Society: Centennial Recognition Award, 1989; National Humanities Center Fellowship, 1990-91; Hoosier Folklore Society Achievement Award, 1991, International Society for the Study of Contemporary Legend Outstanding Contribution Award, 1993; Sigillo D'Oro, Pitré-Salomone Marino Prize, Palermo, Italy, 1995; Ortutay Medal - The Hungarian Ethnographic Society Budapest, 1995. She received the Lifetime Scholarly Achievement Award from the American Folklore Society in 2004.
Currently, she is an honorary member of the International Society for
Folk Narrative Research (Vice-president from 1989-99), and the
International Society of European Ethnology and Folklore. She is
elected member of the Folklore Fellows of the Finnish Academy of
Sciences, Helsinki, Finland, (1993), and Fellow of the American Folklore
Society (1971-), she is Past-president of the American Folklore Society
(1981-83), and editorial board member of the interdisciplinary yearbook
Cultural Analysis (2001).
Office: (812) 855-5864; Fax: (812) 855- 4008; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org