The Center is located in the History Department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Northern Illinois University, where the director maintains office space and secretarial aid.  Seminars are held at the Newberry Library, Chicago. The Center is sponsored by the Center for Renaissance Studies, Newberry Library, and in common with other functions of the Renaissance Studies Center, funds for travel to the Festive Culture seminars are available to graduate students and faculty from any of the consortium of universities with which the Center for Renaissance Studies is affiliated. 

Contact us to register as a subscriber. Subscribers receive announcements about the seminars and the Center's activities.   They can also request papers  for the upcoming seminars.  We email the papers or send them by mail  about one month in advance of the seminar's date.

email: or:

Phone : (815) 753- 6820 or:  (312) 255-3666

About CFRC 


Samuel Kinser: CRFC director, Distinguished Research Professor of History, Emeritus, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois.

Helene Bellour: Independent Researcher, Chicago, Illinois. `

Jeffrey Chock, photographer, Port of Spain, Trinidad

Jack Santino: Professor of Popular Culture, Bowling Green University, Ohio.

Martin Walsh: Associate Professor of Drama, Residential College, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Kathy Wright:  Director External Programming, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois


Samuel Kinser is the founder and director of the Center for Research on Festive Culture. He is the author, among other books, of Rabelais's Carnival (Berkeley: U. Cal. Press, 1990) and Carnival American Style, Mardi Gras at New Orleans and Mobile  (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1990), and is at present completing two books entitled Crazy by Convention: From Mardi-Gras to Halloween, American Festivals and the Carnivalesque and Between Emblem and Scene: Amerindian Festive Representations in Europe and the Americas. His publications discuss festive culture in Western Europe and the Americas of both official (e.g., princely entries and presidential inaugurations) and unofficial kinds (e.g., Carnival, Saint James Day), accenting carnivalesque elements.      
    The idea for the Center, founded in 2003, came from Kinser's associations with colleagues and friends at the Medieval Institute, Kalamazoo, Michigan, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, Centre des Etudes Interdisciplinaires, Quebec City, Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Center for International Studies, University of the West Indies, Port of Spain, Trinidad, Museo de Tonallan, Guadalajara, Mexico, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Northern Illinois University, and Center for Renaissance Studies, Newberry Library, Chicago. Kinser is Presidential Research Professor Emeritus in History, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. 

  1. *  E-mail:
    *   Phone: (815) 753 6822
    *  Address:
    Samuel Kinser
    Department of History
    Northern Illinois University, 
    DeKalb, IL 60115


Helene Bellour was born in France and worked in Paris as a free-lance editor and translator before coming to live in the United States. After taking an M.A. in French literature at Northwestern University she taught French at the Alliance Française in Chicago and at Rosary College (now Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois) where she gave classes on Caribbean and African literature.  In 1996 she was part of an international team invited  to study the traditional Carnival of Trinidad  and has since then pursued research on that topic.  She directed editorship of Renegades: The History of the Renegades Steel Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago (London: Macmillan Caribbean, 2002), and  is currently collaborating with photographer Jeffrey Chock to document the lifestory of Narrie Approo, a Trinidadian carnival performer and costume designer.  She wrote with S. Kinser  "Amerindian Masking in Trinidad's Carnival"  in Milla Cozart Riggio ed., Carnival: Culture in Action - The Trinidad Experience (New York: Routledge, 2004). Hélène Bellour coordinates the CRFC website and can be contacted in all matters regarding the site at:



Jeffrey Chock is a professional photographer, born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. His family lived in Belmont, a neighborhood with a rich Carnival history and they were involved in the Carnival process. He started making photographs during his teen years and later studied photography at the Regent Street Polytechnical Institute in London.  Since his return to Port of Spain in the 1970s, his work has focused on the performing arts and on the practitioners of these disciplines, both in their productions and in real life.
    In the last thirty years. Jeffrey Chock has photographed the work of all Trinidad's leading artists and performers, with a special concentration on dance, theater and Carnival. He has documented every single Carnival since 1979 and has acquired extensive information about the history and in-workings of the festival. His work in that area is closely related to his interest in performance. His other major objective, which also informs his Carnival coverage, is to record the urban and rural landscape of Trinidad and way of life of ordinary folk.
    Chock's photographs  have been exhibited internationally and were featured in the fall 1998 issue of The Drama Review and in Carnival: Culture in action - The Trinidad Experience (Milla Cozart Riggio ed., New York and London: Routledge, 2004).  He was an invited participant at the World Carnival conference held in Hartford, Con. in 1998 and was consultant and main photographer for The History of the Renegades Steel Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago (London: Macmillan Caribbean, 2002).  He is currently preparing a monograph of Narrie Approo, a legendary Carnival performance artist.



Jack Santino holds a Ph.D. degrees in Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania and is professor of folklore and popular culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He has worked formerly at the Smithsonian Institution's folklife program, organizing presentations at the annual Festival of American Folklife on the National Mall.  He also coordinated the "Folk Medicine: Herbalists,Curers, and Healers" program for the National Museum of American History, and the "Living Celebration" series held in the Renwick Gallery. In 2000 he was a guest professor at the Institute for North American Studies at the University of Alcala, Spain.
    Jack Santino has worked on ethnographic films such as the multiple Emmy Award-winning Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle: The Story of the Black Pullman Porter. He has published scholarly articles in all major folklore journals, as well as the American Anthropologist and Natural History magazine. He is the author or editor of six books, including most recently Signs of War and Peace: Social Conflict and the Public Use of Symbols in Northern Ireland (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2004). From 1996-2000 he was the editor of the Journal of American Folklore and is currently completing a term as President of the American Folklore Society.
    Jack Santino's research interests include the celebration of American holidays and festivals; emergent rituals of death and politics, such as spontaneous shrines and public death memorialization; and the creative reinvention of ritual. He coordinates an annual conference on Holidays, Ritual, Festival, Celebration, and Public Display at Bowling Green State University.

E-mail :


Martin W. Walsh holds a PhD. from Cambridge University. He heads the Drama Concentration at the Residential College of the University of Michigan, and is an Adjunct Assoc. Professor in the Department. of Theater and Drama. For many years he acted, directed, and served as dramaturge in Ann Arbor's Brecht Company. He also founded The Harlotry Players in 1983, which has produced some two dozen works of early drama in a variety of languages and several original translations.
    Walsh is widely published in medieval drama and early popular culture, particularly that related to festivity and clowning with other publications in modern drama and Native American studies. He was part of an international team devoted to the study and preservation of the traditional Carnival of Trinidad, with his articles appearing in the fall 98 issue of The Drama Review, and elsewhere. He is co-author of an edition and translation of the 15th cent. Dutch play Mariken Van Niemeghen (Columbia.So.Car.: Camden House, 1994) and is currently working on a student edition of Everyman/Elkerlijk. He is also completing a large-scale study of the popular cultural aspects surrounding the feast and figure of Martin of Tours.



Kathy Wright 

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