- About the Professor -
   
 
  Jan Harold Brunvand was born in Cadillac, Michigan, in 1933, of Norwegian immigrant parents. He was brought up in Lansing, Michigan, and attended Michigan State University to earn a B.A. in Journalism (1955) and an M.A. in English (1957). While at MSU he took three folklore courses from Richard M. Dorson who became what we would now call his mentor. After a Fulbright student year in Norway with his bride, Judith, an MSU graduate in music, he went to Indiana University and found Professor Dorson newly established there as chairman of the folklore program. Brunvand changed his major from English to Folklore and earned his Ph.D. in 1961. His dissertation was titled The Taming of the Shrew Tale (Aarne-Thompson type 901) in Folklore and Literature.  
   
  Brunvand taught at the University of Idaho from 1961 to 1965, at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville from 1965-1966, and at the University of Utah from 1966 until his retirement. He retired in June 1996 at age 63 as a full professor. During these years the Brunvands had four children and now have six grandchildren. Two of the children are on the faculty at the University of Utah: Erik as an Associate Professor in Computer Science, and Amy as a professional librarian. Daughter Dana is a technical writer and daughter Karen is a mother and homemaker trained as a mathematics teacher. All live in Salt Lake City except Karen who lives in Price, Utah.  
   
  Brunvand served as editor of the Journal of American Folklore from 1976 to 1980 and as president of the American Folklore Society in 1985. He was elected a Fellow of AFS in 1974.  
   
  As a Fulbright scholar in Norway in 1956 to 1957, Brunvand studied the role of the "male Cinderella" figure called "Askeladden" in Norwegian fairy tales. An article on this research in Journal of American Folklore in 1958 was his first real professional publication, the first of about 150 articles, notes, and book reviews. His research interests include folklore and literature, folklore of the American west, and American folklore in general. His interest in urban legends began in undergraduate folklore courses, but did not come to fruition with lectures and publications until about 1980  
   
  Brunvand's first urban legend publication was an article (based on a class lecture) published in Psychology Today in June 1980. This inspired his first book on the subject, The Vanishing Hitchhiker in 1981. The response to the book was so overwhelming (including hundreds of letters from listeners and calls from the media) that a second book appeared in 1984, The Choking Doberman, followed in later years by several others. (See His Books.)  
   
  In 1969, in connection with President Richard Nixon's historic visit to Communist Romania, academic exchanges were increased to that country. Brunvand applied for and won a Fulbright Research Grant to Romania in 1970-1971 as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship for the same period. He returned with grants from the International Research Exchanges Board (IREX) in 1973-1974 and in 1981. These research trips resulted in several articles and, eventually, to his book in 2003 Casa Frumoasa: The House Beautiful in Rural Romania, a study of exterior decoration of peasant houses. (The Romanian words in the title mean "Beautiful House," but with the adjective following the noun, as is done in Romanian.)  
   
  During his retirement, Brunvand has continued with some research and writing, but his main interests now are his family and his hobbies--skiing and fly fishing. Both of these latter activities combine the beauty of nature with the art and science of improving one's skills by regular practice and refinement of technique. Skiing has been a way of life for Brunvand since his father took him out with his brother Tor, who now manages a hotel in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, when they were both small boys. Now Jan Brunvand and his wife ski about 50 times a season, mostly in Utah (home of "The Greatest Snow on Earth"), but also occasionally in other states, usually as part of an Elderhostel group. All of the children ski, and the grandchildren are learning to ski as they come of age. Brunvand's fly fishing also focuses on Utah, but he has also done it in the surrounding states, in Michigan, in Alaska, in Ireland, and in Argentinean Patagonia, with varying degrees of success. In July 2003 Brunvand was a "Trout Bum" sponsored by Fly Rod & Reel magazine. The challenge was to fish for ten days, a different place each day, living on just $300 supplied by the editors, and submitting daily reports of notable adventures and fish caught. The experience was fulfilling and educational, leading Jan to think that maybe next he should try being a ski bum for a season. Or maybe he already is.  
     
  Dr. Brunvand's books are available at the major book stores worldwide near you, plus some large online stores including the following sites:  
  www.amazon.com   www.amazon.co.uk  
  www.barnesandnoble.com   www.wwnorton