As part of the “Sustaining Scandinavian Folk Arts in the Upper Midwest” project, we regularly offer summer field schools to students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as well as to students at other colleges and universities in the Upper Midwest.
Field schools, situated in historically and culturally significant locales, offer invaluable opportunities for intensive immersion in cooperative, hands-on, intergenerational work involving advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students, experienced public folklorists, organizations involved in public presentations, and folk cultural practitioners. Students will receive training and develop transferable skills that will serve them well in a variety of career paths, from learning how to conduct interviews to gaining intercultural knowledge and competence. In the summer of 2018, students traveled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to work with Finnish-American communities in the region, where they helped build the bonfire for the local midsummer festival known as the Juhannus festival in Toivola, Michigan. John Prusynski created a photo essay documenting the Finnish-American Juhannus festival as part of the course.
The next year, students traveled to the Driftless Area of northeastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, and southwestern Wisconsin to document the Norwegian-American traditions of the region. Students met with artists, museum professionals, toured a soda pop factory, and attended a local dance. Anika Quinn also created a photo essay, this one documenting the Highlandville Dance at the schoolhouse in Highlandville, Iowa.