- Guggenheim Fellow (2004)
Mary Ellen Brown is currently professor emerita of folklore and gender studies, and an adjunct professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. In 1960, she received her bachelor's degree with honors from Mary Baldwin College (Staunton, VA), followed by her master's and doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1963 and 1968 respectively. She started her career at IU Bloomington in 1972 as a visiting assistant professor and was promoted to assistant professor in 1974. She was a visiting tutor at the University of Edinburgh from 1973 to 1974, a research fellow in Scottish literature at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities at the University of Edinburgh from 1978 to 1979 before returning to IU as an associate professor in 1979. She was then promoted to professor of folklore in 1985, professor emerita of folklore and professor of women's studies (now gender studies) in 1988, adjunct professor of English in 1989, director of women's studies (now gender studies) from 1985 to 1991, associate director of the American Studies Center at Warsaw University for the 1993-1994 academic year, and director of the Institute for Advanced Study at IU from 1998 to 2003.
Brown's research interests in her own words are "primarily historical, focusing on the intellectual history of the study of materials designated 'vernacular,' particularly ballads and folksongs." She was initially interested in the work of Scottish poet and lyricist, Robert Burns, but is more recently interested in the life and times of William Motherwell, an early 19th century Scottish poet and journalist.
Brown received her first grant in 1975 and has continued to receive them throughout her academic career. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research and lecture at the University of Glasgow on her work, The Life and Times of William Motherwell, 1797-1835: A Biographical, Social History (January-June 1998). She was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in folklore and popular culture in 2004. She is a member of the Modern Language Association of America and the American Folklore Society.