Contact Information
last updated: 2/13/2009

Moira Smith Profile

Moira Smith

  • Associate Librarian
  • Head, Subject and Area Librarians Council (2007-2008)
Area of Responsibility
  • Anthropology, Folklore, Sociology, and Social Work
  • MLS (Indiana University), 1994
  • PhD (Folklore), Indiana University, 1992
  • MA (Hons) (Latin and German), Victoria University of Wellington, 1981
Contact Information
Herman B Wells Library E760
(812) 855-1550

After receiving my PhD in folklore and MLS from IU, I was assistant head of the reference department at the University of Miami (Florida, that is). In 1997 I returned to IU (in winter!) to take up my current position. Since 2006 I am also editor of the Journal of Folklore Research (Indiana University Press).

My research interests revolve around humor, witchcraft, legend and belief, and the ethnography of information seeking practices, and I have published articles on these topics in Culture and Tradition, Journal of Folklore Research, International Folklore Review, and Library Quarterly. The following are some of the questions addressed in my research: Are women who write bathroom graffiti really only talking to themselves? When is a joke in bad taste? Did the Inquisition have a sense of humor? And, in what way is a library like a swimming pool?

Currently, I am completing a book on the relationship between humor and practical joking with the tentative title That’s Not Funny: the Art of the Practical Joke.

Selected Publications
    In progress: “Humor, Unlaughter, and Boundaries: The Case of the Mohammed cartoons.”
    2006 (forthcoming) “Wife Sales,” “Croning,” “Region: Australia and New Zealand,” and “Witchcraft, Historical.” In Locke, Liz and Theresa A. Vaughan, eds. Women's Folklore and Folklife: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art. (Forthcoming from Greenwood Press)
    2004 “Soiling the Post Office: The Capping Stunts of New Zealand University Students.” Culture and Tradition 26:38-55.
    2002 “The Flying Phallus and the Laughing Inquisitor: Penis-Theft in the Malleus Maleficarum.” Journal of Folklore Research 39(1):85-117.
    1998 (with Paul Yachnes) “Scholars’ Playground or Wisdom’s Temple: Competing Metaphors in a Library Electronic Text Center.” Library Trends 46(4):718-731.
    1995 “Whipping Up a Storm: The Ethics and Consequences of Joking Around.” Journal of Folklore Research 32 (2):121-136.

last updated: 2/13/2009