I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, in Los Angeles County. An avid reader, my interest in storytelling and other cultures was sparked early on. I attended the University of California, Berkeley for my undergraduate degree, majoring in interdisciplinary studies (with a focus in narrative folklore). Having been bit by the folklore bug, I moved to Bloomington, Indiana to pursue my MA and Ph.D. in folklore at Indiana University.
I completed my Ph.D. in folklore with a minor in gender studies at Indiana University in 2012. My dissertation is on gender and the body in European fairy tales, and I’m in the process of culling its chapters to turn into journal articles. I also study body art, feminist approaches to folk narrative, dance, personal narratives, digital humanities, speculative fiction, the occult, and historical constructions of gender and sexuality.
Because I love teaching and research, I anticipate staying in the academy once I find a position that’s good for me. I am active in professional organizations including the American Folklore Society, the International Society for Folk Narrative Research, and the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. I also use my knowledge outside the ivory tower, as in my current blogging at Patheos and my past blogging work on My Sex Professor, a sexuality education website affiliated with a researcher from the Kinsey Institute.
Additionally, I am a professional dancer, primarily trained in Middle Eastern dance or belly dance. I have been belly dancing for over 20 years, and I have been teaching and performing around Bloomington and Indianapolis as a soloist and with the troupes Different Drummer Belly Dancers and Indy Tribal, which I founded and currently direct. I practice American Tribal Style® and tribal fusion styles, but I also fuse belly dance with the other dance forms I practice, including modern dance, African dance, and hoop dance. I also perform circus arts with my friend and colleague Scott Weingart in the collaborative duo Circle & Spice. More on this at my “dance” page.
My creative outlets, from dancing and costuming to cooking and baking, help reinforce my identity as a scholar interested in aesthetics and embodiment. I believe that the stories we tell are in turn very telling about us; our identities and our values both shape and reflect the artistic forms we cherish, and the ways in which we chose to lead our lives.
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