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Heather Joseph-Witham: 2009-10 Faculty Development Grant Report


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I received a faculty development grant to aid me in my research activities during Fall 2009 and Winter 2010. I am in the process of researching various customs and methods people create and maintain in order to contact the dead. This research will culminate in a book-length manuscript. As all of my research is grounded in fieldwork, and particularly in the field method called ‘participant-observation’, I used the grant money for several trips in order to view and join those involved in different forms of afterlife contact.

I have used this research to present a scholarly paper, will use it for a manuscript and I will also incorporate all of it into my Integrated Learning course, ‘Modern Mysticism and the Afterlife’. I would like to thank Otis College for this wonderful grant. I recognize that some of the research topics I choose as a folklorist may seem rather extreme to many scholars but Otis provides a supportive and non-judgmental atmosphere that enables its academics to pursue their academic passions and shine in their disparate areas of expertise. This creates an open and accommodating atmosphere both for instructors and also for students who are likewise inspired to explore aspects of the world they find most fascinating through their papers and artwork.

--Heather Joseph-Witham
Liberal Arts and Sciences

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