Tok Thompson

Professor (Teaching) of Anthropology
Tok Thompson
Email Office STO 100 Office Phone (213) 740-5195

Research & Practice Areas

Folklore, Popular Culture, Mythology, Minority Languages, The Internet, Posthumanism


Tok Thompson was born and raised in rural Alaska. At the age of 17, he began attending Harvard College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. He received a Master’s degree in Folklore from the University of California, Berkeley, and three years later received a PhD in Anthropology from the same institution. After receiving his PhD, Tok engaged in a two-year postdoctoral position with the Centre for Irish-Scottish Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, where he helped launch a new M.Phil. in Translation Studies. He also researched Irish language traditions in County Fermanagh, and taught classes for the University of Ulster. In the Fall of 2006, Tok came to USC, where he has been teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in folklore and related topics. Additionally, he has taught folklore as a visiting professor at universities in Northern Ireland, Iceland, and Ethiopia. While in graduate school, he co-founded the journal Cultural Analysis: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Folklore and Popular Culture, which he co-edited for 15 years. From 2013-2017 he was the editor for Western Folklore. He has recently published two books:  one of his own research entitled Posthuman Folklore (2019) and another (co-authored with Gregory Schrempp) a textbook on World Mythology entitled The Truth of Myth (2020). He currently edits the book series Myth in Theory and Everyday Life for Oxford University Press.


  • Ph.D. Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 2002
  • M.A. Folklore, University of California, Berkeley, 1999
  • A.B. Anthropology, Harvard College, 1988
    • Postdoctoral Researcher, Trinity College, Dublin University, Ireland, 2004-2005
    • Postdoctoral Researcher, Trinity College, Dublin University, 2003-2004
  • Research Keywords

    Folklore, Popular Culture, Mythology, Minority Languages, the Internet, Posthumanism

  • Book

    • Thompson, T. F., Shrempp, G. (2020). The Truth of Myth: World Mythologies in Theory and Everyday Life. Oxford University Press.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2019). Posthuman Folkore. University Press of Mississippi.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2006). Ireland’s Pre-Celtic Archaeological and Anthropological Heritage. New York and Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press.
    • Thompson, Tok Freeland (Ed.). (2006). The Past in the Present: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Italy: Edit Press.

    Book Chapters

    • Thompson, T. F. (2017). Green-Skinned Troublemakers Versus the Humans: Trolls, Aliens, and other Others in the Cyber World. Race and Ethnicity in Digital Culture
    • Thompson, T. F. (2016). Memes, Mashups, and the Battle for the Future of Human Culture. Images and Human Rights: Local and Global Perspect
    • Thompson, T. F. (2013). Trajectories of Tradition: Following Tradition into a New Epoch of Human Culture. in Folk Culture in the Digital Age: The Emergent Dynamics of Human Interaction Edited by Trevor J. Blank. Utah State University Press: Logan.45-69. University of Utah Press.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2012). “Netizens, Revolutionaries, and the Inalienable Right to the Internet. In Folk Culture in the Digital Age: The Emergent Dynamics of Human Interaction Edited by Trevor J. Blank. Utah State University Press: Logan.45-69. Folklore and the Internet, Volume 2.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2012). The Spiritual Life of the Seite and the Implied Cosmological View of the Traditional Sámi. In News From The Other Worlds. Merrill Kaplan and Timothy R. Tangherlini, eds. Pinehurst Press. Festschrift for John Lindow

    Book Review

    • Thompson, T. F. (2019). Review. Qanemcit Amllertur/ Many Stories to Tell: Tales of Humans and Animals from Southwest Alaska. Edited by Ann Fienup-Riordan. (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press. 2018). Journal of Folklore Research.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2018). Review. Sustaining Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A Guide For the Academy. By Regina F. Bendix, Killian Bizer, and Dorothy Noyes. Western Folklore.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2016). Review of Small Language Fates and Prospects. By Nancy C. Dorian (Boston: Brill, 2014). American Anthropologist. pp. 423–424.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2016). Review. Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth. By Mark Williams. Journal of Folklore Research.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2015). Review of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance. By Elizabeth Wayland Barber. Journal of Anthropological Research.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2012). Review of In The Blood: Cape Breton Conversations on Culture. Western Folklore.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2009). Review of: Sedna: The Sea Woman in Inuit Shamanism and Art in the Eastern Arctic by Frederic Laugrand and Jarich Oosten. Journal of Folklore Research..


    • Thompson, T. F., Jordan-Smith, P. (2016). “Folklore, Western Folklore, and the Passage of Time: an Editorial Introduction. pp. 123-131. Western Folklore.

    Journal Article

    • Thompson, T. F. (2019). Listening to the Elder Brothers: Animals, Agents, and Posthumanism in Native versus non-Native American Myths and Worldviews. Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore. Vol. 77, pp. 159-180.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2018). Ghost Stories from the Uncanny Valley: Androids, Souls, and the Future of Being Haunted. Western Folklore: The Journal of the Western Folklore Society. Vol. 78, pp. 139-66.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2018). Folklore Beyond the Human: Towards a Trans-Special Understanding of Culture, Communication, and Aesthetics. Journal of Folklore Research. Vol. 55, pp. 69-82.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2018). What Does it Mean to Be a Human? Green-Skinned Troublemakers and Us. Narrative Culture. Vol. 4, pp. 185-2000.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2016). A Tale of Two Archives, Two Eras: The UC Berkeley Folklore Archives & the USC Digital Folklore Archives. Estudis de Literatura Oral Popular / Studies in Oral Folk Literature. Vol. 5
    • Thompson, T. F. (2011). Beatboxing, Mashups, and More: Folk Music for the 21st Century. Western Folklore.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2010). The Ape That Captured Time: Folklore, Narrative, and the Human-Animal Divide. Western Folklore.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2009). Getting Ahead in Ethiopia: Amharic Proverbs about Wealth. Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship. Vol. 26, pp. 367-386.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2008). Gone Native: Immigrants, Natives, and the Quest for the Real Alaskan. Journal of Intercultural Studies.
    • Thompson, T. F. (2007). Something Fishy Going On: An Analysis of the Role of Fish in American Folk Speech. Columbia Journal of American Studies. Vol. 8, pp. 111-122.
    • LBST 599: Tradition and Modernity: A focus on Ireland, MLS/MPW, 2009-2010
    • Ghost Stories: Throughout Time and Around the World, ARLT-100 course, GE Program, 2008-2009
    • MLS512 Languages in a Globalizing World, MLS, 2007-2008
    • ARLT 100. Bookends of Literature: Folklore and Popular Culture, General Education, 2006-2007
    • ARLT 100. In Their Own Words: North American Natives, General Education, 2006-2007
    • MLS 500 Introduction to Liberal Studies, MLS, 2006-2007
    • New Multimedia Folklore Archives for student collections, 2008-2009
    • Fulbright Award, Core Teaching Specialist for Teaching Folklore in Iceland, Fall 2015
    • Phi Kappa Phi , Spring 2010
  • Committees

    • Member, Faculty Council, 2010 – 2012
    • Member, Undergraduate Education Caucus, Faculty Council, 2010 – 2012

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

    • Appearances on many national and international television shows, documentaries, and the like., 2019-2020

    Other Service to the University

    • Faculty Sponsor, Native American Studies Workshop, 2010 –
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