Truman Review Winter 2001 - Index
Vol. 6. No. 2
Battle for the Hickory Stick
Around the Quad
Faculty / Student Profiles
Class Notes section for this issue is no longer
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Truman Review Winter 2001 - Profiles
Contribution to the
Study of American Folklore
and literature's Adam Brooke Davis works with folklore in Missouri and on
Adam Brooke Davis, associate professor of English at Truman, holds a well-kept
secret, the study of folklore and culture. Davis is the incoming president
and webmaster of the Missouri Folklore Society, running one of the most widely
used web-sites on the subject nationwide. He is recognized for his knowledge
of folklore, as well as for his work as a writer of fiction and poetry, teacher
of medieval literature and linguistics, and literary advocate.
Davis explains that folklore is often misunderstood by both the academic and
social community. Folklore is not history; it is not necessarily factual -
and it is not necessarily non-factual either. Rather, he describes it as lessons
and information passed from person to person, from non-institutional sources,
and outside the typical authority structures. "It is functional; it serves
some purpose for the people who produce and perpetuate it," says Davis.
An example would be the myth of poisoned Hallowe'en candy. "Thorough
investigation has failed to reveal even a single instance of stranger-adulterated
treats," he notes, "but even if fact is lacking, there's an important
truth in the belief: not everybody is your friend. It's not history, but it's
a useful thing to understand."
Davis designs and maintains the organization's web site, and has achieved
praise from the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the
United Nations Cultural Organization. The Missouri Folklore Society and Davis
himself field questions from all over the world about United States culture
and folklore. "Folklore's still happening, even when you don't recognize
it. Families tell stories about a grandmother who missed her passage on the
Titanic. I won't be around to collect on the bet, but I can tell you, a 100
years from now, kids will be talking about how their great-grandmother was
supposed to have been in the World Trade Center on the morning of September
Truman looms large in both the academic and performance aspects of folklore
and will host the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Missouri Folklore Society. "The
meeting is not just ghost stories and urban legends but also the history and
impact of folk-architecture, music, textiles, and much more," says Davis.
In the near future Davis has the research and writing on a documentary for
PBS on oral tradition in the works, a commissioned guide to the folk culture
of Missouri in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Missouri Folklore
Society, and a related cookbook of Missouri-inspired traditional food and
The Missouri Folklore Society's web site can be found at http://www2.truman.edu/~adavis/mfs.html.
Lindsey Schroeder, a junior from St. Louis, Mo., is studying political
science and justice systems.
public relations to showing horses, Truman senior Tanner Williams continually
balances a broad range of experiences.
Tanner Williams, a senior political science major from Green City, Mo.,
knows exactly what it means to be involved in all aspects of life. In addition
to serving as a leader for countless organizations off campus, Williams
still manages to devote time to the improvement of his own school.
This is Williams' third year as Student Senate's Public Relations
chairman at Truman State University. He has developed an effective new PR
model for the organization, and under his leadership, the Public Relations
committee now controls the entire output of information for Student Senate.
His own "Tanner Plan" aims to improve communication between Senate
and the University community through the creation of four separate discussion
groups incorporating all student organizations. These roundtable discussion
groups provide a cross-sampling of the issues and concerns affecting the
campus at large and facilitate interaction between organizations and Student
Senate as a method of addressing those issues.
As the PR chairman, Williams promotes Student Senate and seeks new ways
to increase its presence on campus. He encourages the senators to attend
organization meetings and participate in the "Dine With Senate"
program, which invites students to talk with student senators over dinner
in the residence halls. Williams is also charged with the difficult task
of running the Student Senate elections. Under his leadership the elections
have seen an increase in voter turnout, and Williams hopes the goal of a
30 percent voter turnout from the campus at large will soon be achieved.
While remarkable on their own, these accomplishments are made even more
impressive by Williams' busy schedule. He has worked as an intern at
the Missouri State Capitol for State Senator Stephen M. Stoll, where he
typically worked from 8 a.m. until midnight each day. He spends a considerable
amount of time modeling through a Kansas City-based agency, and he also
enjoys showing horses. Williams recently placed third in the world with
his three-year-old stallion, Pizzazz Me Mr, at the AQHA World Championship
But even with all these activities, Williams says his primary focuses are
still his class work and Student Senate. He is particularly proud of his
role in the recent accomplishments of the Senate. "It is important
for me to make a difference on campus," says Williams. "Some of
the issues that seemed only like dreams a few years ago are becoming a reality
Kevin Drzakowski is a senior English major from St. Charles, Mo.