Danille Elise Christensen holds a PhD in Folklore from Indiana University, where she learned to pay close attention to the patterned things people say, make, and do in the course of daily life. Her work explores why the taken-for-granted matters. Broadly concerned with rhetorics of vernacular performance, she combines archival and ethnographic research with close analysis of texts, objects, and technologies, focusing on the ways social hierarchies are maintained and refigured through discursive and material means. Her research into football game-day celebrations, slack key guitar (kī hoʻalu), scrapbooks, and food preservation has examined the choices involved in shaping these things and events, both literally and ideologically. Her current book project–a study of how and why home canning has been promoted in the United States over the last century or so–grew out of a 2016 Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress and concentrates on how repeated canning enthusiasms reflect varied social and technological contexts even as they bolster fairly stable notions about who possesses legitimate, authoritative knowledge.
In August 2015, Christensen joined Virginia Tech’s Department of Religion and Culture as Assistant Professor of Public Humanities, where she works with undergraduates in American Studies and Appalachian Studies and with graduate students pursuing the Material Culture & Public Humanities degree.
Dr. Christensen is especially interested in the rhetorical potential of complex genres and has written, for instance, on the politics and meanings of football game day in central Ohio. Her dissertation, “Constructing Value: Women, Scrapbooking, and the Framing of Daily Experience,” explored how today’s scrapbookers use material culture and public venues to make varied statements about carework and other forms of gendered labor. Her publications include “’Look at us now!’: Scrapbooking, Regimes of Value, and the Risks of (Auto) Ethnography,” as well as other pieces in the Journal of American Folklore, the Journal of Folklore Research, and Museum Anthropology Review. Her current book project is Freedom from Want, a cultural history that explores who has promoted home canning in the last century, and why; a related essay, “Simply Necessity? Agency and Aesthetics in Southern Home Canning,” was featured in (and is freely accessible through) JSTOR Daily. For more on her research interests, click here. For a more comprehensive list of publications, click here.
At Indiana University, she taught in the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology, the Department of Communication & Culture, and the American Studies Program; in January 2011, she began teaching folklore and American studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In August 2012 she joined the faculty in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy at The Ohio State University (where she was also affiliated with the Center for Folklore Studies); during her three years at Ohio State, she taught rhetorical analysis and ethnographic skills in courses that focused on vernacular culture, poetry and protest song, and the politics of food and food advertising.
In 2010, Dr. Christensen was one of four Research Associates working on the Civil Rights History Project (CRHP), a Congressionally mandated effort to locate and document oral histories related to the Civil Rights Movement. Other recent projects include participation in a Teagle Foundation grant to improve the quality of undergraduate education and organizing the poster session at Shared Tables: A Triangle Symposium on Local and Global Food Studies (jointly hosted by Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in February 2012). For more on these public projects, click here.
From May 2010-May 2013, Christensen served as Managing Editor of the Journal of Folklore Research, a peer-reviewed international forum for current theory and research in the study of vernacular expressive culture. Her duties included reviewing and editing submitted manuscripts, training and supervising the Editorial Assistant, and working with Indiana University Press to manage the journal’s production schedule. In 2013, JFR celebrated its 50th anniversary.
When not tied to a computer, she enjoys water exercise, yoga, hiking, salvaging things, learning the names of local plants, cooking, and traveling.
Contact her at dec09 [at] vt.edu.