Dylan Eret Home
As a folklorist, I examine forms of stylized communication among diverse groups around the world. More broadly, I explore the ways in which people artistically communicate with one another in everyday life. My present interests: theories of play, games, humor, and creativity; rumor, gossip, stories, and informal networks; orality and literacy; genre and power; the reproduction of social class, lifestyle enclaves, and ethnic differences; the history and impact of emerging communication technologies and new media on identity formation.
While acquiring an unusual degree in Folklore and Folklife, I spent over a decade teaching a variety of subjects within high schools, community colleges, and universities. Like most students, I have never been totally satisfied with the professed methods of any education system or “discipline” – if you were to ask any human being about their interests, it would hardly be confined to a single pursuit of knowledge or “major.” This is why I believe it is fundamental that we are allowed to pursue a wide range of subjects that grab our interest, and to borrow and exchange ideas freely across disciplines. The most daring innovators and community movements throughout history applied principles from numerous intellectual domains in the arts and sciences.
To resist the narrow focus of most educational programs, my courses try to strike a delicate balance between cultural breadth and depth. I always take the time to listen compassionately to the stories each student tells about their lives. I tend to disperse authority and expertise throughout the classroom by drawing from the creative ideas and values of the students themselves. I often re-arrange the classroom setting to make learning more fun and group-oriented. With newer media technologies taking hold, I also tinker with new ways to give students a more powerful “voice” by re-defining the meaning of cultural literacy and mediated knowledge through visual, verbal, and kinesthetic means (currently by experimenting with different forms of multimedia and generating cross-disciplinary learning communities).
I implement project-based forms of intellectual inquiry inside and outside the classroom with the understanding that learning often flourishes when we are able to play and focus with others in an interdisciplinary manner. While reflecting on various cultural texts, I expect students to gain a more nuanced understanding of changing artistic tastes and emerging sacred spaces found among diverse groups around the world. In particular, I encourage students to discover forms of art and religion right in their own neighborhoods: street corners, school buildings, movie theaters, local parks, clothing stores, popular clubs, shopping centers, food markets, comedy shows, underground music scenes, video-game worlds, and local churches. From everyday conversation to extraordinary experience, students are thus expected to tell honest stories and give accurate depictions about various forms of expression they may or may not have encountered before. My ultimate goal during this process is to empower students as they learn to engage with what is most familiar or strange to them. Education, then, becomes an experiential process of bearing witness to being human in all of its creative and destructive forms – from the trivial to the transcendent.
Please feel free to contact me at the email address below if you have any further questions.
Dylan Eret, Ph.D.
Ph.D., Folklore & Folklife, University of Pennsylvania
M.A., Folklore, University of California at Berkeley
B.A., Mathematics, University of California at Berkeley