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 home >> online collections >> event archive >> botkin lecture archive >> 2013 botkin lectures
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2013 Botkin Lectures

Online Archive of Past Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lectures

All of the materials from the Botkin Lectures are available to visitors in the Folklife Reading Room. Links to webcasts and selected materials will be made available online as digital versions become available.

Traditional Music of Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings, presented by Joshua  Caffery, Alan Lomax Fellow in Folklife Studies, Kluge Center, Library of Congress

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Joshua Caffery
Joshua Caffery.
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December 11, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor
James Madison Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 266K]

View the webcast Running time 00:58:01

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Related article: "The Lomaxes’ 1934 French Louisiana Recordings Go Online," by Joshua Caffery. Posted in Folklife Today, July 15, 2014.

This talk examines the songs recorded in the summer of 1934 by John Lomax, with assistance from his son Alan, who was then a teenager. While the music they recorded there has often been described as Cajun or Creole music, what they actually found was much more complex: a diverse admixture of old medieval lays, Continental pop songs, blues ballads, round dance songs, traditional ballads in French, a Scottish jig, and much more. This talk coincides with the release of the book Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana, a study of the 1934 trip.

Dr. Josh Caffery is a writer and musician, and a native of Franklin, Louisiana. He is a founding member of The Red Stick Ramblers and a longtime member of the Louisiana French band Feufollet. Caffery was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 for his work on the Feufollet album En Couleurs. He is currently the Alan Lomax Fellow in Folklife Studies at the John W. Kluge Center in the Library of Congress.

Jewish Folk Song, Ben Stonehill, and the Hotel Marseilles:  Collecting Cultural Treasures in a Post-WWII New York Lobby, presented by Miriam Isaacs, Sociolinguist and Yiddish Scholar

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Miriam Isaacs
Miriam Isaacs.
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November 13, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Ground Floor,
Thomas Jefferson Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 298KB]

View the webcast Running time 01:02:00

And on Library of Congress YouTube

During the summer of 1948, only three years after the end of World War II, Ben Stonehill, a man devoted to Jewish culture, recorded recently-arrived Jewish survivors of the war who were temporarily housed in a hotel in upper Manhattan. The singers included men, women, and children. Stonehill collected over a thousand songs of many kinds: joyful as well as sad, mainly in Yiddish but also in Hebrew, Polish, and Russian. These songs are musical testimonies to the resilience of the survivors, a direct link to pre-war Jewish life in Eastern Europe, and a cultural treasure. The music and chatting that went on in between the songs tell not only of the singers' terrible traumas but also of their hopes, and reflect the sheer pleasure of reconnecting with others through song. In this talk, Dr. Isaacs describes the role of the Library of Congress in preserving this unique musical treasure. She will play some of these almost forgotten recordings and talk about the collector, the singers, and their times.

Dr. Isaacs holds a doctorate in linguistics and has an extensive background as a scholar and educator, including serving for sixteen years as Professor of Yiddish Language and Culture at the University of Maryland, College Park. A native Yiddish speaker, she was born in a German Displaced Persons' camp and raised in the multi-ethnic cities of Montreal and Brooklyn. Specializing in sociolinguistics, she has published widely on aspects of Yiddish among Hasidim in Israel and America, as well as on questions of language function and loyalty in the postwar Displaced Persons Camps. Presently, she is completing a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on the Stonehill Collection.

This is event is co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center and the Hebraic Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress.

One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia, A book talk by Tom Rankin, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University

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Tom Rankin Tom Rankin.
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October 30, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Ground Floor,
Thomas Jefferson Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 502K]

View the webcast Running time 00:57:00

And on Library of Congress YouTube

While Paul Kwilecki (1928-2009) ranks among the most important American documentary photographers of the twentieth century, he is also one of the least well known. One Place is about the evolution of an artist and the life of a community in southwest Georgia. Paul Kwilecki's years of photographing and writing about the place where he lived produced a body of work that not only reflects a vision and understanding of Decatur County but reveals the cultural landscape of the deep South in America in the latter half of the twentieth century. A book signing will follow.

Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai'i, book talk presented by Franklin Odo, Founding Director, Asian Pacific American Program, Smithsonian Institution

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Franklin OdoFranklin Odo
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September 20, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor,
James Madison Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 144KB]

View the webcast Running time 00:57:00

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Folk songs are short stories from the souls of common people. Some, like Mexican corridos or Scottish ballads reworked in the Appalachians, are stories of tragic or heroic episodes. Others, like the African American blues, reach from a difficult present back into slavery and forward into a troubled future. Japanese workers on Hawai'i's plantations created their own versions, in form more akin to their traditional tanka or haiku poetry. These holehole bushi describe the experiences of one particular group caught in the global movements of capital, empire, and labor during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Drawing on research for his recent book, Voices from the Canefields (forthcoming 2013), author Franklin Odo situates over two hundred of these songs, in translation, in a hitherto largely unexplored historical context. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Asian Division, Library of Congress.

"I done what I could": Occupational Folk Poetry in the Pacific Northwest, presented by Jens Lund, Folklorist & Program Manager Emeritus, Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission

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Jens Lund Jens Lund. Photo by Sharon K.P. Rasmussen.
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September 12, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor,
James Madison Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 380KB]

View the webcast Running time 01:00:00

And on Library of Congress YouTube

The dangers and difficulties of certain challenging occupations are sometimes expressed in the tradition of composing and reciting poems, often in the traditional ballad form of rhymed couplets. This tradition, best-known in the cowboy poetry of the American West, also occurs among other occupational groups and is still found among workers in the Pacific Northwest such as loggers, commercial fishers, and miners.

Folklorist Jens Lund was born in Denmark and grew up in suburban Stamford, Connecticut. He holds a PhD in Folklore and American Studies from Indiana University and has worked as a freelance field researcher in folklore and oral history in twenty-three states. He has taught at five universities, was director of the Washington State Folklife Council, and developed and managed Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission’s Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks Program. He is the author of Folk Arts of Washington State (1989), Flatheads and Spooneys (1995), and numerous articles and reviews. Lund has worked extensively in cultural tourism and developed Washington's first highway audio heritage tours.

I'd Still be Puerto Rican, Even if Born on the Moon: Documenting Puerto Rican Migration and Community through the Arts, presented by Elena Martínez, Folklorist, City Lore and the Bronx Music Heritage Center

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I'd Still be Puerto Rican Even if Born on the Moon (sticker)
I'd Still be Puerto Rican Even if Born on the Moon.
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August 8, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor,
James Madison Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 514KB]

View the webcast Running time 01:08:00

And on Library of Congress YouTube

This presentation tells the story of the Puerto Rican diaspora to the mainland United States during the twentieth century and into the twenty-first through the lens of expressive culture. This history has been well recorded, but by drawing on the work of folk and traditional artists, as well as the work of contemporary artists, the speaker will explore the traditions practiced or developed in New York by Puerto Ricans and Nuyoricans.

Elena Martínez received an M.A. in Anthropology and an M.A. in Folklore at the University of Oregon, and has been a folklorist at City Lore: The Center for Urban Folk Culture in New York City since 1997. She co-produced the 2006 video documentary From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale, which aired on PBS and won the NCLR's (National Council of La Raza) 2007 ALMA Award for Best TV Documentary. Elena curated the traveling exhibition "¡Que bonita bandera!: The Puerto Rican Flag as Folk Art," and served as the assistant curator for the landmark 2011 exhibit Nueva York: 1613-1945 at Manhattan's El Museo del Barrio.

Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946, presented by Jim Leary, University of Wisconsin

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Jim Leary Jim Leary
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July 18, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mumford Room, 6th Floor
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 588KB]

View the webcast Running time 01:00:25

And on Library of Congress YouTube

America's Upper Midwest is a distinctive region wherein a staggering array of indigenous, immigrant, and enslaved peoples have collectively maintained, merged, and modified their folk song traditions for more than two centuries. During the 1930s and 1940s, Sidney Robertson Cowell, Alan Lomax, and Helene Stratman‑Thomas set up field studios in homes, hotels, community halls, church basements, and parks throughout Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to record roughly 2000 folksongs and tunes. Since the late 1970s, working incrementally with many generous individuals, partners, and organizations, folklorist Jim Leary has been part of a movement bent on bringing this body of extraordinary folk music of the Upper Midwest to the attention of the larger public. Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946, to be published in fall 2014 by the University of Wisconsin Press, combines five compact disks, a DVD, and a book. Focusing on 175 representative performances by more than 200 singers and musicians — and including biographical sketches and photographs of performers, as well as transcriptions, translations, and annotations for songs in all twenty-five languages.

Jim Leary was born and raised in Rice Lake, a farming and logging town in northern Wisconsin. His field and archival research since the 1970s on the cultural traditions of the Upper Midwest's diverse peoples have resulted in numerous media productions, museum exhibitions, and publications. The Birgit Baldwin Professor of Scandinavian Studies and a professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Leary is co-editor of the Journal of American Folklore, and a co-founder and the current director of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures.

Music from the True Vine: Mike Seeger's Life and Musical Journey, a book talk presented by Bill C. Malone, Emeritus Professor of History, Tulane University

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Music from the True Vine: Mike Seeger's Life and Musical Journey book cover
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June 12 , 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater,
3rd Floor, James Madison Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 93KB]

View the webcast Running time 01:08:37

And on Library of Congress YouTube

A musician, documentarian, scholar, and one of the founding members of the influential folk revival group the New Lost City Ramblers, Mike Seeger (1933-2009) spent more than fifty years collecting, performing, and commemorating the culture and folk music of white and black southerners, which he called "music from the true vine." In this biography, Bill Malone explores the life and musical contributions of folk artist Seeger, son of musicologists Charles and Ruth Crawford Seeger and brother of folksingers Pete and Peggy Seeger.

Anxieties of Authorship and Ownership: Intellectual Property, Indigenous Collections, and Decolonial Futures, presented by Jane Anderson, Center for Heritage and Society, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts

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Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson.
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April 3, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater,
3rd Floor, James Madison Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 121KB]

View the webcast Running time 01:11:03

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Jane Anderson is Assistant Professor in the Center for Heritage and Society, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, and Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Her work is focused on the philosophical and practical problems for intellectual property law and the protection of Indigenous/traditional knowledge resources and cultural heritage. Since 2007 Anderson has worked as an Expert Consultant for the World Intellectual Property Organization on a number of policy proposals for the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions. These include developing a framework for an international alternative dispute resolution/mediation service for intellectual property and Indigenous knowledge disputes, international guidelines for cultural institutions with Indigenous collections, and the development of site‐specific intellectual property protocols to assist local communities enhance and support already existing knowledge-management practices. Anderson is currently working on a project with the Penobscot Nation; the development of the TK Licenses and Labels initiative; and, on her next book, Legal Coloniality: Intellectual Property, Dispossession and the Search for Decolonial Knowledge Sharing Futures.

The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience, book talk by Stephen Wade, Researcher and Author

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Stephen Wade
Stephen Wade. Photo by MaryE Yeomans, 2011.
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March 27, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater,
3rd Floor, James Madison Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 100KB]

View the webcast Running time 0:1:03:00

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Stephen Wade will present a talk related to the research for his recent book, The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (2012), which takes as its starting point thirteen iconic performances captured on Library of Congress field recordings between 1934 and 1942 in locations reaching from Southern Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta and onto the Great Plains. Through decades of research and detective work, musician Stephen Wade tracked down surviving performers and their families, fellow musicians, and community members. Weaving together loving and expert profiles of these performers with the histories of these songs and tunes, Wade brings to life largely unheralded individuals—farm laborers, state prisoners, school children, cowboys, housewives and mothers, loggers and miners—whose music has become part of the wider American musical soundscape. By exploring how these singers and instrumentalists exerted their own creativity on inherited forms, "amplifying tradition's gifts," Wade shows how a single artist can make a difference.

The Cinderella No One Knows: The Grimm Brothers' Tale of Incest, Fur, and Hidden Bodies, presented by Margaret Yocom, George Mason University

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Margaret R. Yocom
Margaret R. Yocom
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February 20, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater,
3rd Floor, James Madison Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 372KB]

View the webcast Running time 01:07:30

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Folklorist Margaret R. Yocom is a professor in the English Department of George Mason University who specializes in traditional narrative, material culture, family folklore, and gender studies. The director of the Northern Virginia Folklife Archive, she established the English Department's Folklore, Mythology, and Literature Concentration; the Folklore and Mythology Minor; and the Folklore Concentration in Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. She teaches courses in traditional narrative and storytelling, traditional arts, folklore and gender, ethnographic writing, the traditional ballad, and folklore and creative writing. She holds a PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has published and edited widely in the field of Folklife and is also a published poet. Her current work in progress is a book on the traditional arts of the Richard family of Rangeley, Maine, entitled "Generations in Wood."

The Will to Adorn: Reflections on African American Identity and the Aesthetics of Dress, presented by Diana Baird N'Diaye, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

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Diana Baird N'Diaye
Diana Baird N'Diaye
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January 30, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater,
3rd Floor, James Madison Building

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 148KB]

View the webcast Running time 01:01:24

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Diana N'Diaye will share stories, observations, and insights from "The Will to Adorn," a community-centered research and public presentation project, which explores and examines the diversity of African American cultural identities as expressed through traditional arts of the body, dress, and adornment. The project, which includes the work and perspectives of researchers and cultural practitioners across the United States, challenges notions of a monolithic African American community at the same time that it explores the ways that dress and body adornment are powerful expressive art forms grounded in the history and experiences of people of African descent in the nation.

Diana Baird N'Diaye is a Cultural Heritage Specialist and Curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Her research interests, specialties, and publications span the areas of African and African Diaspora folklife and ethnicity, ethnoaesthetics of dress, craft and design; cultural representation, heritage education, community-based tourism and cultural policy. She has curated Smithsonian Folklife Festival programs and exhibitions on Senegal, the communities, children's play, and performance of Maroon, African immigrant culture, Bermuda, Haiti and most recently on the African roots of Virginia's culture. She also coordinated program components on fashion for the Silk Road and Mali Festivals. She directed the Smithsonian's participation in the South African National Cultural Heritage Training and Technology Program, in partnership with Michigan State University, the Chicago Historical Society, and several South African cultural institutions. She has served on the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society, on the faculty of Georgetown University's African Studies Program, and as an advisor to several cultural and humanities institutions including UNESCO. She holds a PhD in anthropology and visual studies from The Union Institute.

 

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