WSFS Board & Managing Members

Dr. Sheila Bock


Current Associate Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary, Gender, and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Sheila Bock received her Ph.D. in English from The Ohio State University, with a focus in Folklore. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology (University of California, Berkeley) and an M.A. in Comparative Studies (The Ohio State University). She was trained in Folklore Studies, an interdisciplinary field that integrates methods from the humanities and the social sciences to examine vernacular beliefs and practices, the dynamics of tradition, and the aesthetics of daily life. The majority of her work employs narrative and performance approaches to examine vernacular responses to stigma. Specifically, she is interested in how individual and community performances work to reify, negotiate, or resist the discursive mechanisms by which certain voices are valued and others, consequently, are silenced.

Dr. Paul Jordan-Smith


Dr. Jordan-Smith holds BA in Philosophy from San Francisco State College (now University), and a Master’s in Library Science from Columbia University, then worked for several years in the rare book trade before going on to help D. M. Dooling found Parabola Magazine

After earning a PhD in Folklore and Mythology at UCLA, he published scholarly articles in Western Folklore, The Journal of American Folklore, and Journal of Folklore Research. He has guest-edited issues of Western Folklore, and contributed poems to The Folklore Muse. His stories have been reprinted in anthologies and in English Literature textbooks.

Dr. Juwen Zhang


Professor Juwen Zhang earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania, along with an Urban Studies Certificate. He also studied at the graduate programs in Dartmouth College, and Shenyang Normal University in China.

His research interests include, rites de passage, ritual studies, folklore performance, ethnic identity, humor, film and folklore, folktale, and Chinese/Asian American folklore. He has conducted fieldwork in the US and China.

Dr. Lisa Gabbert


Dr. Gabbert received a PhD in Folklore and American Studies from Indiana University. Her research interests are in medicine, humor, landscape/place, and festivity. She teaches graduate classes in fieldwork and research methods, festival, and landscape/place/space, and a variety of undergraduate classes in folklore studies, including children’s folklore, American folklore, folk art/material culture, and festival. She enjoys helping students discover how to analyze and interpret folklore.

Dr. Tok Thompson


Dr. Thompson attended Harvard College and received a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. He received a Master’s degree in Folklore from the University of California, Berkeley, and three years later received a PhD in Anthropology from the same institution. In the Fall of 2006, Tok came to USC, where he has been teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in folklore and related topics. While in graduate school, he co-founded the journal Cultural Analysis: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Folklore and Popular Culture, which he co-edited for 15 years. From 2013-2017 he was the editor for Western Folklore.

Daisy Ahlstone


Daisy Ahlstone studies environmental storytelling through the lens of folklore, eco-criticism, posthumanism, and philosophy. They explore legend, thylacines, extinction, material culture, metaphor, discourse analysis, digital communication, and more! Daisy collaborates on folklore and community-centered projects with the Western States Folklore Society and a YouTube/Twitch streaming channel called Folkwise. They have a B.A. in Folklore from the University of Oregon and an M.A. in English / Folklore from Utah State University, and is a current PhD student of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University, pursuing dissertation research on the impact of extinction in local communities.

Dr. Rachel González-Martin


Dr. González-Martin is a Folklorist and an Associate Professor of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. She holds a PhD in Folklore and Ethnomusicology from Indiana University. Her M.A. explores Mexican, Mexican American, and Chicano masculinities and verbal dueling among Mexican descent men through artistic insults known as “albures”.  She is a Woodrow Wilson Early Career Fellow. She does research across the United States, and Mexico.

She is the editor of the journal Western Folklore, and on the editorial board of the Journal of American Folklore, Aztlan: The Journal of Chicano Studies, and the Oxford Bibliographies of Latino Studies.

Dr. Afsane Rezaei


Dr. Rezaei is an assistant professor of English who has been at Utah State University since 2020. Her research addresses the intersections of folklife, gender, religion, and politics, particularly in the Middle East and its diaspora in the US. Her work on online political humor has appeared in New Directions in Folklore, and she has work forthcoming in the Journal of Middle East Women Studies based on her research on Iranian women’s vernacular religious practices in Los Angeles.