Margaret R. Yocom (Ph.D., English, University of Massachusetts, Amherst: 1980), a folklorist who specializes in family folklore, oral narrative, material culture, and gender studies, is associate professor emerita of English at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia. The founder of the Folklore Studies Program, she established the Northern Virginia Folklife Archive, the English Department’s Folklore, Mythology, and LIterature Concentration; the Folklore and Mythology Minor; and the Folklore Concentration in Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. Dr. Debra Lattanzi Shutika now directs the Program.
Until her retirement in May 2013, Dr. Yocom taught courses at GMU in traditional narrative and storytelling, traditional arts, gender, ethnographic writing, and folklore and creative writing.
She has conducted fieldwork in her home Pennsylvania German culture as well as with the Inuit of northwestern Alaska and several Northern Virginia communities. Her major fieldsite is a North Appalachian mountain community in western Maine.
She has published articles and photographs on ethnographic fieldwork, regional study, ethnopoetics, family folklore, gender, and material culture. Her most recent work includes “‘We’ll Take Care of Liza and the Kids’: Spontaneous Memorials and Personal Response at the Pentagon, 2001″ in Spontaneous Shrines and Other Public Memorializations of Death (2006); “Exuberance in Control: The Dialogue of Ideas in the Tales and Fan Towers of Woodsman William Richard of Phillips, Maine” in Northeast Folklore: Essays in Honor of Edward D. Ives (2000); and “ ‘Awful Real’: Dolls and Development in Rangeley, Maine” (1993). She is the assistant editor of Ugiuvangmiut Quliapyuit: King Island Tales (1988); and in 1994, she edited and wrote Logging in the Maine Woods: The Paintings of Alden Grant. She has published poetry in Beloit Poetry Journal and elsewhere; her creative non-fiction has appeared in Friends Journal. Her current folklore projects are two books: one on the storytelling of William Richard, one on the folk arts and storytelling of the Richard Family of Rangeley, Maine. In circulation is her poetry manuscript, ALL KINDS OF FUR, an erasure of a Grimm Brothers’ tale she translated.
Active in public sector folklore, she serves as board member of the Rangeley Lakes Region Historical Society, Rangeley, Maine, as well as consultant to various projects at the Smithsonian Institution, the NEA, and the Maine Arts Commission. Until October 2014, she served as curator of the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum. She also serves on the boards of the Maine Folklife Center and Western Maine Storytelling, and on the editorial board of the Journal of American Folklore. She co-founded the Folklore and Creative Writing Section of the American Folklore Society, and serves as liason between the American Folklore Society and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
She lives with her geologist husband, Dr. John F. Slack, in Farmington, Maine.
She is honored to count among her former students at George Mason University, now colleagues, folklorists such as Paul Cantwell (Archivist, Dept of Justice), Sara Cleto (PhD candidate, Ohio State), Kristina Downs (PhD candidate, Indiana), Paulina Guerrero (PhD candidate, Indiana), Kerry Kaleba (MA candidate, Arts Management), Darcy Holtgrave (PhD, Missouri; also MFA poet), Jennifer Spitulnik-Hughes (PhD Missouri), Brittany Warman (PhD candidate, Ohio State), Chrissy Widmayer (PhD candidate, Wisconsin; also MFA non-fiction) and MFA poets such as Matt Blakley, Sarah Colona, and J. Michael Martinez (PhD candidate, Colorado). She is in their debt.