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Jennifer Eastman Attebery

Jennifer Eastman Attebery

Professor of English; Director, Folklore Program

Office: LA 158

(208) 282-1315


PhD, Folklore and American Studies (1985), Indiana University

MA, Folklore (1974), Indiana University

BA, English (1973), College of Idaho

Having grown up in Idaho, I have always been fascinated with the peoples of the Western region, their many cultures and common history. Those interests led me to studies at Indiana University's Folklore Institute, and they have always guided my research and teaching. I am currently working on a research project exploring the historical and family legends told and written by the Swedish immigrants to the Western United States as narratives used to understand group origins and guide actions.

My previous projects have examined the meanings and functions of Scandinavian-American holidays (Pole Raising and Speech Making), vernacular writing of immigrants (Up in the Rocky Mountains) and horizontal timber construction (Building with Logs).

I served during 2011 as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at Uppsala University and was also a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 1998 at University of Gothenburg. In 2016, I received the ISU Distinguished Researcher Award and in 2014 the ISU Achievement Award.

I joined the ISU Department of English and Philosophy in 1992 after having worked for many years at the Idaho State Historical Society. During my time with the historical society I completed Building Idaho: An Architectural History, which deals with both designed and vernacular architecture. The book won the Idaho Library Association Book Award for 1991 and a commendation from the American Association for State and Local History.

It has been my privilege to chair the Department of English and Philosophy from fall 2012 to spring 2018.


Pole Raising and Speech Making: Modalities of Swedish American Summer Celebration. Volume 3, Ritual, Festival, and Celebration series, ed. Jack Santino. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2015.

Up in the Rocky Mountains: Writing the Swedish Immigrant Experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

Building with Logs: Western Log Construction in Context. Moscow: University of Idaho Press, 1998.

Building Idaho: An Architectural History. Moscow: University of Idaho Press, 1991.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

"Scandinavianism in the Rocky Mountain West, Pragmatic and Programmatic." Swedes and Norwegians in the U.S., ed. Dag Blanck and Philip Anderson. Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2011. 295-307.

"Peasant Letters Revisited," Swedish-American Historical Quarterly 56.2-3 (2005):126-40.                                                                                                                      

"Swedish America in the Rocky Mountain West, 1880-1917: Folkloric Perspectives on the Immigrant Letter," Scandinavian Studies 77 (2005): 53-84.

"Swedish Immigrants and the Myth of the West," Swedish-American Historical Quarterly 60.3 (2004): 179-93.

"Claiming Ethnicity: Implicit and Explicit Expressions of Ethnicity among Swedish Americans." Not English Only, ed. Orm Øverland. European Contributions to American Studies, no. 48. Amsterdam: VU University Press, 2001. 12 28. Also published in American Studies in Scandinavia 32.1 (2000): 6-28.


Distinguished Researcher, ISU, 2016

Master Researcher, ISU, 2008, 2009, 2014

Outstanding Service, ISU, 2000

Achievement Award, ISU, 2014

Courses Taught

6000-level: Seminars in Interdisciplinary Studies, Vernacular Texts, and Ethnic Literature

4490/5590: Topics in Folklore (with focus on various genres and themes)

2212: Introduction to Folklore/Oral Tradition