Andrea Kitta of Eastern Carolina University Wins the 2020 Chicago Folklore Prize

Andrea Kitta, associate professor of English at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, is one of two winners of the 2020 Chicago Folklore Prize. She was honored for her book The Kiss of Death: Contagion, Contamination and Folklore (Utah State University Press, 2019). This timely book, published five months before the onset of the current COVID-19 global pandemic, sheds light on how information and misinformation spread during an outbreak of a deadly disease.

First awarded in 1928, the Chicago Folklore Prize, awarded to the author(s) of the best book-length work of folklore scholarship for the year, is the oldest international award recognizing excellence in folklore scholarship. Occasionally, a joint recipient is selected. The prize is offered jointly by the American Folklore Society and the University of Chicago. From its inception, the administrators and judges for the prize have interpreted “folklore” in a broad and inclusive sense, and winners have traditionally come from the fields of folklore study, cultural studies, ethnomusicology, literary study, anthropology, sociology, cultural geography, and dance ethnology.

“I’m very honored to be one of the winners of the Chicago Folklore Prize. This is the highest book award in my discipline,” Dr. Kitta said. “The award is such a big deal that I never anticipated winning it at any point in my career. This is an overwhelming achievement that I’m having difficulty putting into words. I am so stunned and honored.”

Dr. Kitta joined the faculty at Eastern Carolina University in 2009 and was promoted to associate professor in 2014. She is co-editor of Contemporary Legend, a scholarly journal published annually by the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research.

Dr. Kitta is a graduate of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, where she majored in history. She holds a master’s degree in folk studies from Western Kentucky University and a Ph.D. in folklore from the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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