About the Mag

Kentucky Folklife is a multimedia1 digital publication dedicated to highlighting emergent contributors2 exploring what we call “folklife,”3 or diverse expressive cultures4, across the Commonwealth.

1 Our digital magazine accept entries in a variety of media, including written essays, photo essays, audio/video productions, and artistic interpretations like poetry and visual arts. If your project style is not listed, just ask one of our editors! We are open to exploring new ways of presenting the documentation of expressive culture and traditions.

2 We’ve discovered that many people around the Commonwealth are doing great folklife research and cultural conservation work without even calling it by those names. So we created a place for sharing research and work centered on Kentucky folklife. We encourage entries from folks working in a variety of fields and at all levels. Whether you’re a chef, park ranger, painter, Community Scholar, teacher, community activist, the family archivist, or have a degree in folklore or related fields, editors will work with you collaboratively to hone your piece for publication.

3 Folklife is another word for the expressive culture of everyday life. Folklorists—along with others who document, present, and conserve folklife—have used the term since about the 1960s to suggest a broader approach to those activities, practices, and products that we also call folklore.

4 Kentucky Folklife is interested in those traditions, both old AND new, done by everyday people that make the Commonwealth a distinctive place to live. Food, occupation, recreation, stories, hobbies, artistic expression, gatherings, and more are all part of the ties that bind us and sometimes divide us. By exploring all these expressions of culture, no matter how seemingly small, we explore our humanity and interdependence.


Mark Brown, the Kentucky Arts Council’s Folk and Traditional Arts Director, has worked with folk artists and communities in the Commonwealth since 2001, when he earned a master’s degree in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University. He manages the Kentucky Community Scholars program, the Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program, and folk arts traveling exhibits. Mark’s interests in music, writing, audio, and working with diverse traditional artists are at the heart of his efforts with Arts Council goals and programs.

Ellie Dassler is a graduate student in the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology at Western Kentucky University. She is a former Editorial Assistant for the Journal of American Folklore, the 2020 Summer Folklife Intern at the North Carolina Arts Council, and the current Graduate Assistant for the Kentucky Folklife Program.

Ann K. Ferrell is an Associate Professor of Folk Studies, Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology, Western Kentucky University. She holds a Ph.D. from Ohio State University and an MA in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University, and she is the author of Burley: Kentucky Tobacco in a New Century (University Press of Kentucky, 2013). She was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of American Folklore, the flagship journal of the American Folklore Society, from 2016-2020. 

Emily Jones Hudson is a native of Hazard, Kentucky. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Berea College and is a writer, author, pastor, and poet. Her published books are Water-Walking Faith, Touch the Hem, and Soul Miner. She is the mother of two children and “Nana” to one granddaughter. A former city dweller, Hudson loves the hills of southeastern Kentucky and loves to tell their story. She recently started the Southeast Kentucky African-American Museum and Cultural Center.

Delainey Bowers is the Managing Editor of Kentucky Folklife and an independent folklorist working in southeastern Kentucky. With a background in archives and public librarianship, her interests rest in community curatorship, progressive preservation efforts, and applied folklore practices.