Heather Joseph-Witham is a folklorist with a love for fairy tales and myths, festivities and rituals and all things macabre, paranormal, Victorian and Disneyesque. She received her Bachelors in Political Science from UCLA and her Masters and ultimately her PhD in Folklore and Mythology in 1998, also from UCLA where she taught introductory Folklore courses. Heather has worked at Otis College of Art and Design since 1998 and is an Associate Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Department. She has been the coordinator for a number of department sections, including Cultural Studies, Capstone, Social Science, and Creative Action programming. She also created the Otis Storytelling Festival, which ran for 5 years and brought students and the community together for a joyous expression of creativity and tale-telling. Some of the courses she teaches include Fairy Tales, Diversity and Storytelling; Vampire Literature and Lore; Modern Mysticism and the Afterlife; UFOs, Aliens and Otherworlds; Honors Ways of Knowing; Honors Capstone; The Spaces In Between; L.A. Art Spaces; and Witchcraft in Religion and Society. Heather has appeared as a folklore expert and storyteller on a number of podcasts, radio shows, television programs and comicons. These include Mythbusters, KCET’s Artbound, and a host of different shows on Discovery, the History Channel, the Food Network, TLC, and others. Her commentary regards supernatural events and stories, legends, fairy tales, myths, symbols and cultural events. Heather’s book Star Trek Fans and Costume Art was one of the first works to acknowledge cosplay as a meaningful art form. She has published articles on a wide range of interests, including Ironic Bodies and Tattooed Jews; The Magical Harry Potter; and, Political Gnomes and Ice Cream Cones. Currently, she is completing a biography called The Vampyre Sebastiaan and has just finished editing and writing for a Festschrift edition of Western Folklore, both of which will be published in 2024.


Heather Joesph-Witham's Picture


Otis Faculty Development Grants: Fall 2016, Spring 2013, Fall 2009, Fall 2007, 2004-05

OARS Faculty Research Grant: 2015-16

Otis TLC Technnology Grant: 2007