Truman Review Winter 2001 - Index

Winter 2001-2002
Vol. 6. No. 2

Battle for the Hickory Stick

Homecoming 2001

Around the Quad
Faculty / Student Profiles
Foundation News
Alumni News

Class Notes*

*The Class Notes section for this issue is no longer available online. To request a copy of Class Notes for this issue, e-mail

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Truman Review Winter 2001 - Profiles

Adam Brooke Davis

Truman's Contribution to the
Study of American Folklore

By Lindsey Schroeder

Adam Brooke DavisLanguage and literature's Adam Brooke Davis works with folklore in Missouri and on Truman's campus.

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 11."

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 foodways.

The Missouri Folklore Society's web site can be found at

Lindsey Schroeder, a junior from St. Louis, Mo., is studying political science and justice systems.

Tanner Williams

Renaissance Man

By Kevin Drzakowski

Tanner WilliamsFrom 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 Show.

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 now."

Kevin Drzakowski is a senior English major from St. Charles, Mo.