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Research Presentation: PPEH Fellow Jess Holler

Jess Lamar Reece Holler is a PhD. student in Penn's Department of English Literature, and is also completing her MA in Public-Sector Folk Studies under Michael Ann Williams in the Dept. of Folk Studies and Anthropology at Western Kentucky University. Jess works as a public-sector and applied folklorist with a strong interest in the historical and contemporary intersection of rhetorics and practices in U.S. sustainable agriculture and food system-related environmentalism across the last century. Her work looks to the ways that remembrance, performances (textual/material/customary) and narratives of agriculture and environmental history and history of place inflect future-oriented and activist practice. 

Jess's archival work is especially focused on periodicals, print ephemera, fanmail, film and rural popular reading cultures of ecology and environmentalism, from the Great Depression through the Cold War. Her ethnographic work similarly takes up vernacular and popular beliefscapes around ecology, agriculture, food systems and the land -- both their popular and mediated imaginations, and their translations into on-farm technologies. Via public folklore and public history practices, Jess hopes to combine oral history and digital mapping, collections and exhibits tools to collaborate with community members in creating registries of ecological agriculture's diverse history and presents that can simultaneously serve as powerful tools for advocacy, empowerment and communication across difference. Jess has most recently worked as an intern at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus to process, arrange and partially digitize the papers of mid-century national soil conservation organization the Friends of the Land and as an archives and museum intern at Louis Bromfield's Malabar Farm; and she is working with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) to launch an Ohio organic farming movement history oral history project this summer.