Lecture Series 2015

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 A lecture series hosted by The Faculty of Letters at Transilvania University of Brașov, with The

Romanian-US Fulbright Commission

Room Gheorghe Crăciun TP8

 April 30, 2015


15.00-15.20 Romulus Bucur, PhD, Transilvania University of Brașov

Ancient Alburnus Maior (Roșia Montană) in Popular Fiction

The present paper tries to analyze the image of ancient gold-mining in Dacia, as a background setting in an action novel, The Wolf’s Gold, the fifth one in Anthony Riches’ series Empire.

15.30-15.50 Jamie Beth Weaver, Fulbright ETA, University of Bucharest

Topophilia: An Appalachian Approach to Re-Mapping Internal Landscapes

Physical geography acts as a metaphor for exploring psychological geography – the memories and emotions distilled from love, loss, and grief which we all must learn to navigate and inhabit. Topophilia is a mixed media artist book that serves as a search kit containing artifacts gathered during the artist’s physical and psychological search for a connection to her late father and their shared Appalachian identity.

15.50-16.00 Break


16.00-16.20 Dan Shope, PhD, Northern Kentucky University (via Skype)

Rain on the Scarecrow, Blood On the Plow: The Post-Industrial Negotiation Process at Cincinnati’s Scarecrow Festival

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, Cincinnati served as an urban employment oasis for migrant Appalachians searching for wage labor jobs. Cincinnati’s surrounding geographical features suited arriving Appalachians quite well, providing hills and fields in the Ohio, Miami, and Little Miami River Valleys where they could continue their traditional ways of life. This era drew to a close as farms and vacant fields were eventually converted into middle class housing developments. To exemplify this by-gone era, a small greenhouse in Symmes Township near Cincinnati, Ohio hosted the Scarecrow Festival to celebrate both the approaching Halloween season, and its memory of a by-gone agricultural era. Though these Appalachian country folks, and their farms were often dismissed as Hillbillies by non-Appalachian city dwellers, an allegiance to Appalachian farm life and their folk art was paid by Scarecrow Festival visitors as they examined rural ways of life, Appalachian roots, and for many new old-fashioned scarecrow images for each generation of visitors via the post-industrial negotiation process.

16.30-16.50 Hyped and Hyper Tradition and Religious Synesthesia at Șinca Veche

This three fold presentation will explore the contemporary mythology surrounding Șinca Veche, a reinvented place of pilgrimage and tourism.

Cristian Pralea, PhD, Transilvania University of Brașov, The Pilgrims’ Theme Park Experience

Robert G. Elekes, PhD, Transilvania University of Brașov, The Rhizomatic Experience of Religious Faith

Georgeta Moarcăs, PhD, Transilvania University of Brașov, Convergent and Divergent Experiences of the Sacred

16.50-17.00 Break


17.00-17.15 Roxana A. Târziu, Transilvania University of Brașov

The Piatra Craiului National Park: mission, initiatives and their impact on the village of Măgura and its inhabitants

The Piatra Craiului National Park stretches over the counties of Braşov and Argeş and it encompasses a series of initiatives that have a major impact on the locals. This presentation will focus on the advantages and disadvantages this institution proposes to and imposes on the inhabitants of Măgura village, as described by the locals themselves.

17.20-17.45 Donald E. Davis, PhD, University of the District of Columbia (via Skype)

“The Call of the Mountains: Appalachians/Carpathians International Conference Update from the U.S. Program Committee.”

17.50-18.00 Break


18.00-18.20 Anamaria Iuga, PhD, National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Bucharest

Rituals for Remembering the Dead during Easter in Buzău county, Romania

During all Easter Lent there are several commemorations of the deceased that happen (every Saturday, on Thursday before Easter), but they all end on the day called “The Easter of the Dead”. This commemoration is closing a circle opened during Lent. The celebration happens, with little differences concerning the exact day, in different villages in northern area of Buzau, around the first Sunday after Easter. It is both a commemoration of the dead, but also a meeting of the whole community and a feast, as well, of the living, who strenghten, thus, their sense of belonging to a community. The research is just at its beginning, and it is done during a research project, GeoSust, who intends to create a Unesco Geopark in the northern mountain part of the ethnographic region of Buzău.

18.30-19.00 J. Tyler Chadwell, Folklorist, Independent Scholar (via Skype)

Tiffany D. Martin, Frank and Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center, Fairmont State University (via Skype)

Appalachian Witchlore

Although Witchcraft has been traditionally thought of as mostly a feminine pursuit, Appalachian witchlore showcases many examples of breaking those gender expectations. In the tales collected by Ruth Anne Musick, Gerald Milnes, and Patrick Gainer, both genders equally demonstrate a knowledge of folk-magic practices. Following an examination of the varying tales surrounding Appalachian witchlore, similar themes emerged which can be attributed to, in part, the unique environment cultivated in the region. Commentary on gender, identity, and cultural fears as seen through the lens of the region are on display in these tales. One such example, the common fear of the outsider, is a central theme. Another cultural value of the region, a strong sense of community heightened by the helping hand of one’s neighbor, are present in these tales. Witches can gain magical control through the acquisition of possessions, often through the willingness to lend a helping hand. In this presentation we wish to explore the ways in which Appalachian beliefs of witchcraft and magic have prevailed through the years. A current turn show’s Appalachian communities following American trends of holistic medicine and folk remedies. However, anecdotal evidence would suggest that the Appalachian community may not have ever stopped practicing folk magic of this kind. For this presentation we will focus primarily on the folk practices of the German influenced Appalachian community that Gerald Milnes Studied in his book “Signs, Cures, and Witchery”.