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2015 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.

"The African Roots of the Fiddle and Banjo," presented by Kluge Center Alan Lomax Fellow Cece Conway with performances by Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton and the Down Hill Strugglers. (webcast forthcoming)

>September 30, 2015
Lecture and performance 4:00-5:00
Pickford Theatre, 3rd floor, James Madison Building

"The Poetry of Everyday Life," presented by Steve Zeitlin, Director, City Lore, New York City.

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Steve Zeitlin
Steve Zeitlin
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August 20, 2015
Lecture 4:00-5:00 discussion 5:00-6:30
Mumford Room, 6th floor, James Madison Building

View the webcast Running time 00:51:12

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Lecture 4:00-5:00, followed by a film screening and discussion with Steve Zeitlin and Paul Wagner of Paul Wagner Films from 5:00-6:30. The films are: Boom and Bust - America's Journey on the Erie Canal and The Grand Generation.Mumford Room, 6th floor, James Madison Building.

Steve Zeitlin, folklorist and poet, describes this presentation as follows:

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Paul Wagner
Paul Wagner
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Folklore is often defined as traditions handed down by word of mouth across generations. For The Poetry of Everyday Life I combine a folkloric perspective, which documents the creative expressions of a culture, with a creative-writing approach, which addresses our personal creativity. Years before I began studying folklore, I was a poet, which I define as someone who writes poems, not as someone who necessarily publishes poetry or is beloved as a poet. My career of observing and collecting folklore melds with my creative writing; I see every phrase as a potential poem or story. I believe this convergence of poetry and folklore gives birth to something new: a new way of seeing ourselves, and a new way of being in the world. I hope to expand your consciousness of the beauty in your own world—and to inspire you to draw on words and other forms of creative expression to acknowledge and share this heightened awareness. To live a creative life is a meaningful way to engage with the beauty of the everyday.

The characters I’ve gotten to know in my work, many of whom have passed on, come back to me through stories and poems. I discover again and again what the folklorist Sandy Rikoon narrowed into three words: "People are smart." I consider them geniuses in the art of living. They are my teachers, and much of what I know about life I've learned from them. As a folklorist, I hope in a modest way to shape a more democratic history, revealing the lives of the marginalized people who rarely see their stories writ large. My relationship with the extraordinary individuals I describe here is a testament to solidarity and connection across difference. (I am not denying the differences in our situations or walks of life, but they are kindred spirits nonetheless.) In my work we often talk about what these iconic individuals are doing for the world. Here, I take notice of what I have learned from them.

At the conclusion of the talk, we will screen two films I made with Academy Award winning filmmaker Paul Wagner. The first, The Grand Generation, presents the wisdom of elders. The second, supported by an Archie Green Fellowship of the Library of Congress, is Boom and Bust: America's Journey on the Erie Canal is a a meditation on economic cycles and the American Dream. This remarkable film tells the story of industrial expansion and decline along the Erie Canal, and examines its impact on the lives of workers in steel, grain, textiles and shipping. In the wake of economic collapse, can the people of America's cities find meaning and worth?

Open Mic: Interview with Fiona Ritchie, Thistle & Shamrock Host on Celtic music and her recent book, Wayfaring Stranger: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia.

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Fiona Ritchie in her recording studio
Fiona Ritchie
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July 14, 2015
12 noon to 1 PM
Mumford Room, 6th floor, James Madison Building

View the Webcast

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Scottish broadcaster Fiona Ritchie, the founder, producer, and host of National Public Radio's influential hour-long weekly program, The Thistle & Shamrock, participates in a public interview about her career on both sides of the Atlantic and her experiences researching Wayfaring Stranger: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia. Co-authored with Doug Orr Wayfaring Stranger, which was released in 2014 by University of North Carolina Press, was deemed "essential" by the New York Times. Ritchie, who was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth in 2014, will be interviewed by AFC folklorist Nancy Groce.

 

"Listen to Our Story": Alan Lomax, Folk Producer / Folk Promoter, presented by Nathan Salsburg, Association for Cultural Equity.

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Nathan Salsburg
Nathan Salsburg
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June 10, 2015
12 noon to 1 PM
Whittall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building

View the Webcast Running Time 01:13:04

Also on Library of Congress YouTube

"You and your CBS and all the big amusement industries represent a way of silencing everybody. Communication was supposed to be two-way, but it’s turned out to be basically one way: from those people who can afford to own a transmitter which costs a few million dollars to the little guy who can afford to own a receiver that costs a few bucks.  So there are millions of receivers and only a few transmitters. And I think that is one of the major –if not the major–human problems now. Because everybody is off  the air . . . . The most important thing that anybody can do is to try to restore the balance. I call this cultural equity." –Alan Lomax to Charles Kuralt, 1991.

Alan Lomax is known primarily as a folklorist and a documentarian, terms that suggest that his work was largely in service of the archival preservation of traditional and vernacular culture. But Lomax, from the tender age of 17, saw a more activist mission for himself: giving a "voice to the voiceless" by laboring to carve out space in the communication system for "all the submerged cultures" and their specific expressive traditions. Over the course of six decades, from print to radio to records to television to CD-ROM, Lomax channeled his documentary collections into the public sphere, where they found audiences far and wide beyond the shelves of the archive. Nathan Salsburg, curator of the Alan Lomax Archive at the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), will explore two key undertakings from this aspect of Lomax's career—namely his 1959 "Southern Journey" field-recording trip and its later ancillary, the American Patchwork video recording project (1978­-1985)—and argue that Lomax's technological, curatorial, and promotional savvy were fundamental to the success of his mission. He will also discuss the outlets that ACE has pursued, since Lomax’s retirement in 1998, to further publish and promote his work and that mission—from CDs to LPs to YouTube to site-specific repatriation initiatives. 

Alan Lomax in Italy, 1954-1955, presented by Goffredo Plastino, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK. 

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Goffredo Plastino
Goffredo Plastino
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May 5, 2015
12 noon to 1 PM
Whittall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building

Dr. Goffredo Plastino is a Reader in Ethnomusicology at Newcastle University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. He holds advanced degrees from the University of Rome and the l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales of Paris, has done fieldwork in Southern Italy and Spain, and published extensively on ethnomusicology, popular music, organology, jazz, and photography. The Chair of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, he is coeditor of the Routledge Global Popular Music Series, and served as editor for the Italian Treasury in the Alan Lomax Collection (Rounder Records), an annotated CD series culled from a previously unedited recordings collected in Italy by Lomax and Diego Carpitella between 1954-55.

 

"A Bourgeois Town": Lead Belly in Washington, D.C., presented by Terika Dean, Lead Belly Estate and Alvin Singh, Lead Belly Archive.

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Terika Dean
Terika Dean
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April 24, 2015
12 noon to 1:00 PM
Whittall Pavilion, Ground Floor, Thomas Jefferson Building

View the Webcast Running time 00:59:12

And on Library of Congress YouTube

To celebrate the 125th birthday of the legendary folk singer Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, American Folklife Center archivist Todd Harvey welcomes Lead Belly family members Terika Dean and Alvin Singh for a discussion about their famous relative, his contributions to American culture and world music, and an overview of the significant Lead Belly materials in the Center’s archive.

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Alvin Singh
Alvin Singh
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Terika Dean is Lead Belly’s great-great niece. Mrs. Dean is a board member for the Lead Belly Foundation and currently works as the Licensing Manager for the Lead Belly Estate. She assisted with the recently opened exhibit "Lead Belly: A Musical Legacy" at the Grammy Museum in Los Angles and the just released CD boxed-set "Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection."

Alvin Singh is an author and entrepreneur who has served as a consultant for Fortune 500 organizations, governments, non-profits organizations and technology start-ups. As historical curator of the Lead Belly Archives, Singh provided material for major Lead Belly exhibits at the Grammy Museum and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Co-author of the book Lead Belly: A Life in Pictures, he currently lives in South Africa.

Dancing Ireni: Reimaging and Reimagining Alan Lomax’s Choreometrics Project, Forrestine Paulay and Meriam Lobel in a conversation with Miriam Phillips.

April 16, 2015
2:00-3:00 PM exhibit, a presentation beginning at 3:00, followed by a reception ending at 5:00 PM
Mumford Room, 6th floor, James Madison Building

View the webcast Running time 01:54:55

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center and the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, this event is the first part of a three-day symposium that explores Alan Lomax’s contributions to dance research and theory. The April 16th event features pioneer choreometrics scholars Meriam Lobel and Forrestine Paulay interviewed by University of Maryland faculty member Miriam Phillips. A special exhibit of choreometric and other rarely exhibited dance materials from several Library of Congress divisions opens the program at 2:00. The conversation begins at 3:00 and will be followed by a reception. For additional information on the free public symposium, Dancing Ireni: Reimaging and Reimagining Choreometrics, University of Maryland, College Park, continuing on April 17-18, see the article and registration form at the link.

Participants in "Dancing Ireni":

Meriam Lobel worked various phases of the Choreometrics Project between 1971 and 1994. A modern dancer with interested in ethnographic film, Lobel was trained by Lomax and Forrestine Paulay in the Choreometrics analysis system, and worked as the assistant editor on three of the project's films — Dance and Human History, Palm Play and Step Style — and coded hundreds of dance sequences for the Global Jukebox.

Miriam Phillips, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, is a dancer and a specialist in dance ethnology whose work explores and challenges assumptions of cultural values and meanings intrinsic in dance styles, performance spaces, and the people who dance.

Forrestine Paulay collaborated with Alan Lomax in creating the method of cross-cultural dance analysis known as Choreometrics. A former ballet dancer who later moved to modern dance, she is a movement analyst, teacher, and consultant in cross-cultural movement style. She is also a co-developer of the Laban Effort/Shape training program, which together with physiotherapist Irmgard Bartenieff and Martha Davis, she taught at the Dance Notation Bureau in New York in the early 1960s. Paulay joined Lomax's Performance Style Project in 1965, and in 1970 she succeeded Bartenieff as Associate Director of the Choreometrics Project. Working closely with Lomax, she contributed a chapter to Folk Song Style and Culture (1968); produced four documentary films — Dance and Human History (1970), Palm Play (1977), Step Style (1977) and The Longest Trail (1984) — and also coauthored the unpublished book, World Dance. Paulay continues to consults with the Lomax’s Association for Cultural Equity on Performance Style Research and Choreometrics.

"Wait! Does This Belong to Us?”  New Ideas of Music Ownership and the Musical Life of the Kïsêdjê," a Remote Indigenous Society in Brazil, presented by Anthony Seeger, Distinguished Professor of Ethnomusicology, Emeritus, UCLA.

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Anthony Seeger
Anthony Seeger
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April 8, 2015
12 noon to 1 PM
Pickford Theatre, 3rd floor, James Madison Building

View the webcast Running time 00:57:36

And on Library of Congress YouTube

The introduction of ideas taken from international intellectual property regimes to communities of indigenous peoples can lead to serious repercussions. This presentation discusses some of the results of the arrival new ideas and language about music and ceremonial ownership on central aspects of the musical, artistic, and economic life of a group of Brazilian Indians known in the literature as the Suyá, but who now prefer to be called Kïsêdjê. It examines shifts in language and concepts related to performing the music of others and the impact of these on their musical performances, body paint, and material culture based on data collected since 1971, recent publications by Brazilian scholars, and discussions on e-mail using a linguist intermediary.

Open Mic: with David Broza and Mira Awad, presented in cooperation with the Hebrew Language Table at the Library of Congress and Washington Jewish Film Festival.

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David Broza and Mira Awad
David Broza and Mira Awad
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February 25, 2015
12 noon to 1 PM
Whitthall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building

Join acclaimed Israeli singer/songwriter and activist David Broza and his special guest, Israeli Palestinian singer, actress and songwriter Mira Awad for a conversation about music, art, life and their new film East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem. More than a singer/songwriter, Broza is well known for his commitment to using music to further humanitarian causes. The program will be conducted as a public "Open Mic" interview for the American Folklife Center archive. Presented in cooperation with the Hebrew Language Table at the Library of Congress and Washington Jewish Film Festival.

 

 

What Is Applied Ethnomusicology and Why Did They Say Such Terrible Things About It? presented by Jeff Todd Titon, Emeritus Professor of Music, Brown University

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Jeff Todd Titon
Jeff Todd Titon
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
12:00 Noon to 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theatre, James Madison Building

Jeff Titon, co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Applied Ethnomusicology, defines applied ethnomusicology as ethnomusicology put to practical use in a community for a social improvement, a cultural good, an economic advantage, a musical benefit, or a combination of these. Guided by ethical principles of social responsibility, human rights, and musical and cultural equity, applied work greatly appeals to contemporary ethnomusicologists. After defining applied ethnomusicology and offering some examples, Titon traces its history, and suggests why the founding generation of the Society for Ethnomusicology held applied ethnomusicology in low regard, and why and how a new generation of ethnomusicologists, beginning in the 1980s, practiced applied work and gradually turned opinions around.

Additional 2015 Lectures and Film Screenings

Film Screening

Flory's Flame

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Flory Jagoda with film title
Flory's Flame
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January 21, 2015, 7:00 pm
The Mumford Room, 6th floor, James Madison Building
101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540

View the webcast of the discussion portion of this event with Curt Fissel, Ellen Friedland, Flory Jagoda. Running time 00:38:07

And on Library of Congress YouTube

Please join us for a screening of Flory's Flame, a one-hour documentary weaving the life story of Flory Jagoda into footage of her 2013 Celebration Concert at the Library of Congress. A Question and Answer session with the filmmakers will follow. Organized by the American Folklife Center at The Library of Congress, the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia to the United States of America, the Embassy of Spain to the United States of America, and JEMGLO Productions.

Free and open to the public. RSVP required to [email protected] Seating is limited so please RSVP. However, even if the event fills up there may still be an opportunity for last minute seating on a first-come-first-served basis. The Library of Congress is located 1 block north of Capitol South Metro stop on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines.

About the Film:

At 90 years old, Flory Jagoda is the foremost interpreter of Sephardic traditional music in the U.S., and has received the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA. Raised in a musical household in Bosnia, she performs songs with roots that go back to the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492. Since most of her family was killed during World War II, Flory's life mission has been to continue her family's cultural legacy through their music. Her strength of spirit shines through her challenging but ultimately triumphant story. Flory's Flame includes performances by Flory and 25 fellow musicians in the Library of Congress's Coolidge Auditorium in September 2013. (More information about this film may be found on the web pages for Flory's Flame.)

About the Filmmakers:

Curt Fissel has directed and been the DP (Director of Photography) on over 25 documentaries, almost all of which have been broadcast on PBS, cable TV, and/or global film festivals. Curt has received numerous awards, including the Cine Golden Eagle and Associated Press Outstanding Documentary Awards, as well as EMMY nominations. Curt co-founded JEMGLO and corporate video production company Voices & Visions Productions, where he serves as a principal. Ellen Friedland was the co-founder with Curt of JEMGLO and Voices & Visions Productions and serves as the president of both. Productions for the two companies have received three silver Tellys, numerous Bronze Tellys, and dozens of other awards. Ellen has written and produced nine documentaries through JEMGLO, seven of which have been broadcast on PBS and cable TV stations nationwide as well as many other global venues. The eighth, Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean, was screened at over 35 international film festivals and won a number of "Best of" awards. Ellen has also worked as an attorney and a political correspondent.

 

 

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