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Michael Dylan Foster
Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, October 26, 2009

IU professor and alumnus share Chicago Folklore Prize

Oct. 26, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A professor and an alumnus of Indiana University's Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology have been selected to share one of the most venerated awards in their field, the Chicago Folklore Prize.

Michael Foster

Michael Foster

Print-Quality Photo

Offered jointly by the American Folklore Society (AFS) and the University of Chicago, the honor has been bestowed upon Michael Dylan Foster, an IU assistant professor in the departments of folklore and East Asian languages and cultures; and Ray Cashman, an associate professor of folklore at Ohio State University who earned his doctorate at IU.

First awarded in 1928, the Chicago Folklore Prize is awarded to authors of the best book-length works of folklore scholarship for the year. It is the oldest international award recognizing excellence in folklore scholarship. Occasionally, it is presented to more than one recipient.

Foster and Cashman were presented with the honor last week at the AFS' annual proceedings in Boise, Idaho. This is the second major prize awarded this year to a member of IU's Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. A book written by Pravina Shukla, an associate professor of folklore and ethnomusicology, received the 2009 Millia Davenport Publication Award.

"It is unusual for the Chicago Folklore Prize to be shared," said Jason Baird Jackson, the folklore department's chair. "In their statement announcing the award, the committee highlighted the two sides of our discipline, the ethnographic and the literary-historical. Ray's book was cited as exceptional ethnography, Michael's as exceptional work in the literary-historical approach.

"This is a wonderful achievement for these two great scholars and a great bit of news for our entire program," Jackson added.

"Pandemonium and Parade"

Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai

Foster was recognized for his book, Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Ykai (University of California Press). Cashman's book, published by IU Press, was Storytelling on the Northern Irish Border: Characters and Community.

Water sprites, mountain goblins, shape-shifting animals, and the monsters known as ykai have long haunted the Japanese cultural landscape and have been expressed in the East Asian country's folklore, literature, art, science, games, manga, magazines and movies. In his book, Foster tracked ykai over three centuries, from their appearance in 17th century natural histories to their starring role in 20th century popular media.

Foster, a member of the IU faculty since 2008, received his doctorate in Asian languages from Stanford University and also has studied at Kanagawa University and the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies (both in Yokohama, Japan); the University of California at Berkeley; Wesleyan University and the University of Edinburgh.

Cashman's book, which also has received the Donald Murphy Award for Distinguished First Book from the American Conference for Irish Studies, focuses on Aghyaran, a mixed Catholic-Protestant border community in Northern Ireland. Stories Cashman heard during local gatherings offered insights into the community and its identity in the wake of decades of violent conflict and change. It began as his IU dissertation.