Sheila Bock

Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies
Expertise: Folklore, Vernacular Health Beliefs

Biography

Sheila Bock is an associate professor of interdisciplinary studies in the department of interdisciplinary, gender, and ethnic studies. She is a folklorist, which means she studies traditional, informal culture – the expressive forms that emerge from the ground up and communicate the beliefs and values of individuals and communities.

While folklorists do study what people recognize to be more profound genres, like creation myths and religious rituals, they also take seriously those things that many people write off as trivial, including jokes, contemporary (urban) legends, memes circulating on the Internet, and decorated mortarboards.

Bock’s diverse research interests include the contested domains of illness experience, vernacular health beliefs, material/digital enactments of personal and community identities, and the intersections between folklore and popular culture.

Education

  • Ph.D., Ohio State University, English
  • M.A., Ohio State University, Comparative Studies
  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley, Anthropology

Search For Other Experts On

arts & culture

Sheila Bock In The News

Boston Globe
May 29, 2019
It’s commencement season in Boston, a city that boasts almost 30 colleges and universities. On any given weekend, you’re almost as likely to catch a glimpse of someone wearing a cap and gown as you are to see a fan in a Red Sox hat. But the caps and gowns worn by graduates have a much longer history. In recent decades, caps even have become space for graduates to express their individuality.
New York Times
October 4, 2018
"What happens in ... stays in ...."
Sirius XM
June 5, 2018
BYU Radio/Top of Mind with Julie Rose: Commencement ceremonies are an exercise in uniformity. Seen from the front, the graduates are an indistinguishable sea dressed in identical caps and gowns. But look at a group of 2018 graduates from the back and their individuality shouts at you from the flat tops of their caps. Folklorist Sheila Bock has documented the rise of this graduation cap-decorating fad.
KJZZ Phoenix
May 30, 2018
As images of college graduates walking across that stage in their caps and gowns have dominated our social media feeds over the last few weeks, you might have noticed a trend that’s taking off. Their graduation caps — those mortarboards sitting on top of their heads — are decorated.

Articles Featuring Sheila Bock

petri dish and beakers containing liquids
ResearchDecember 26, 2018
In 2018, faculty and students collaborated with one another and international colleagues on scientific exploration that sought to help people make sense of themselves and the world around them.
decorated commencement cap
PeopleApril 26, 2018
The emerging tradition of DIY decorated mortarboards offers professor insight into current day culture.