Experts Available for Stories Related to Halloween, Dia de los Muertos

Oct. 6, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas at Austin researchers are available to discuss a range of topics related to Halloween and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), including ghosts, folklore, the occult, phobias, vampires and witchcraft.

Vampires in Popular Culture
Thomas Garza
Chairman, Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies;
Director, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
512-471-3607
tjgarza@mail.utexas.edu

Garza researches vampire lore in Slavic culture, the Russian fairytale and the popularity of the vampire in modern America. He has been a consultant on feature films such as "30 Days of Night" and contributed expert commentary to documentaries such as "True Bloodlines: Vampire Legends," which aired on HBO this fall. To learn more, read the feature story "Vampires Never Die."

Halloween Traditions
Joshua Gunn
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies
512-471-3933
slewfoot@mail.utexas.edu

Gunn researches exorcism, demonic possession, the apocalypse, Halloween, folklore, Satanism, occult and occultism, ghosts, haunting, the paranormal, pseudo-science, gothic music, gothic subculture, horror film, and popular television and its impact on daily life. He is the author of "Modern Occult Rhetoric: Mass Media and the Drama of Secrecy in the Twentieth Century." To learn more, read the feature story "Ghost in the Machine."

History of the Witch Trials 
and Demonic Possession
Brian Levack
Professor, Department of History
512-475-7204
levack@mail.utexas.edu

Levack studies witchcraft prosecution in Europe and colonial America, and the history of demonic possession. He is the author of "Witch-Hunting in Scotland: Law, Politics and Religion," and "The Witchcraft Sourcebook." His book "The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe" is in its third edition and has been translated into eight languages. To learn more, read the feature story "Witch Trials."

La Llorona and Ghosts in Latino Folklore
Domino Perez
Associate Professor, Department of English;
Associate Director, Center for Mexican American Studies
512-232-7853
drperez@mail.utexas.edu

Perez studies Chicano literature, popular culture and film. She is the author of "There Was a Woman: La Llorona from Folklore to Popular Culture," which examines cultural representations of the weeping ghost of the Southwest. To learn more, read the feature story "La Llorona's Revenge."

Psychology of Fear
Michael Telch
Professor, Department of Psychology
512-471-3393
telch@austin.utexas.edu

As director of the Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders, Telch researches panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and phobias such as arachnophobia and claustrophobia. To learn more, read the feature story "Fear Factor."

Dia de los Muertos
Peter Ward
Professor, Department of Sociology
512-232-6319
peter.ward@mail.utexas.edu

Ward studies the politics, culture and society of modern Mexico. He introduces students to the religious traditions behind the country's famous Day of the Dead celebration. To learn more, read the feature story "Dia de los Muertos."

For more information, contact: Jennifer McAndrew.