Michigan State’s Marsha MacDowell Honored for a Lifetime of Work in Public Folklore

Marsha MacDowell, a professor of art history and visual culture at Michigan State University is the recipient of the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize from the American Folklore Society. The prize is awarded in recognition of the work of Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975), an eminent New Deal-era folklorist, national folklore editor of the Federal Writers’ Project in 1938-1939, advocate for the public responsibilities of folklorists, and author and compiler of many publications on American folklore for general audiences. The award is given for significant lifetime achievement in the field of public folklore.

“Dr. MacDowell’s ground-breaking work spans 40 years and serves as a model for public work in folklore, traditional arts, and the humanities,” remarked Jessica Turner, executive director of the American Folklore Society.

Professor MacDowell also serves as the curator of Folk Arts and Quilt Studies at the Michigan State University Museum. Her research interests include South Africa quiltmaking; traditions of patchwork covers in China; quilts and health; the history and meaning of lau hala in Hawaiian cultural history; folk arts, social justice, and education; and the intersection of ethnography and museums in the digital age. Dr. MacDowell has been on the museum’s staff since 1977.

Professor MacDowell holds a bachelor of fine arts degree, a master of fine arts degree, and a Ph.D., all from Michigan State University.

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