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2018 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.

American Folklife Center Summer Music Jam and Mini-Concert (Ballads)

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Bobby McMillon
Bobby McMillon
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August 10, 2018, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Mumford Room, 6th Floor
James Madison Building
(note this change in the location)

The American Folklife Center is hosting a series of informal jams to celebrate our living folk traditions, and to bring to life the collections from our vast ethnographic archive. The third in this series will be a ballad sing. The first part of this event will feature a mini-concert by the famed North Carolina traditional singers Rick Ward and Bobby McMillon, along with Susan Pepper, William Ritter and James Leva. Then we’ll go around the room and everyone can sing their favorite ballad.

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Rick Ward
Rick Ward
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Rick Ward, of the well known Ward family of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, continues his long-established family musical and instrument-building traditions. Ballad singer and storyteller Bobby McMillon of Burnsville, North Carolina, is a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient and has appeared at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the A.P. Carter Memorial Festival.

Co-sponsored by Black & Global Roots Concerts, Appalachian State University, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or [email protected]

 

Philadelphia Folklore Project: Sustaining Community Cultural and Artistic Practices
Including a Screening of the Film Because Of The War 

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 Because of the War, A film by Tony Shapiro-Phim. Artwork shows four women surrounded by flowers.
Because of the War
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August 9, 2018, 3:30-6:30 pm
Pickford Theatre, Third Floor
James Madison Memorial Building

This presentation and film screening features an overview of the influential Philadelphia Folklore Project, followed by a screening of PFP's recently completed documentary Because of the War, with Selina Morales, Philadelphia Folklore Project director; Toni Shapiro-Phim, cultural anthropologist and filmmaker; and Fatu Gayflor, performer and artistic director of the Liberian Women’s Chorus For Change. (Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or [email protected] )

The Philadelphia Folklore Project

Since 1987, the Philadelphia Folklore Project has worked to sustain vital and diverse living cultural heritage in communities in the Philadelphia region through collaborative projects, research, documentation, and education, prioritizing folk and traditional arts in service of social change. Philadelphia Folklore Project staff members identify local folk artists and support their artistic growth; produce public programs advancing folk artists and traditions significant to Philadelphia communities; develop education programs benefiting children and adults; and document outstanding practitioners and practices. This presentation will include a screening of the Folklore Project's latest production: the documentary film, Because of the War, which tells the stories of four Liberian women who have been using their music to address injustice and inspire action for social change. Survivors of Liberia's civil wars, they are accomplished, brilliant singers—as well as mothers, refugees, immigrants, and Africans – who haven't stopped contributing positively to the world, no matter the obstacles. Because of the War documents the power of traditional songs to make meaningful connections between and among people, and to help rebuild communities impacted by violence and migration. A discussion session with the filmmaker and featured artist follows the screening.

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Fatu Gayflor, singing
Fatu Gayflor
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Fatu Gayflor

Fatu Gayflor is an award-winning singer from Liberia. She was a principal member of Liberia’s National Cultural Troupe, the country’s premiere performing arts ensemble, in the 1970s and 1980s, and became a very successful recording artist. Now a resident of the United States, where she has lived since 1998, she performs at Liberian community events across the country. In 2013 Fatu co-founded and became the artistic director of the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change, an ensemble of highly accomplished Liberian women singers, dancers and songwriters, all based in Philadelphia.

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Selina Morales
Selina Morales
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Selina Morales

Selina Morales is a public folklorist, and the director of the Philadelphia Folklore Project, where she tends the folk arts and social justice mission of the organization and collaborates with colleagues to develop innovative programming. Selina completed her MA in Folklore at Indiana University. She is a faculty member of the Master of Arts in Cultural Sustainability program at Goucher College. Selina has been an invited speaker in university and community settings on social justice and folklore, urban folklore, Caribbean folk healing and belief, public folklore, and collaborative exhibition design.

 

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Toni Shapiro-Phim holding a camera
Toni Shapiro-Phim
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Toni Shapiro-Phim

Toni Shapiro-Phim received a PhD in cultural anthropology from Cornell University. Her dissertation, books, and other publications focus on the history and cultural context of dance and music around the world, particularly in relation to violence, migration, conflict transformation, and gender concerns. Toni serves as Director of Programs at the Philadelphia Folklore Project where she conducts ethnographic research, curates exhibitions, and produces performances, humanities forums, and publications highlighting aspects of the cultural practices of Philadelphia’s diverse communities. Because of the War is her first film.

 

American Folklife Center Summer Music Jam (Irish)

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Three men, each holding an instrument: a violin, an accordion, and an Irish drum (bodhrán)
Michael Winch, Terence Winch, and Jesse Winch
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July 28, 2018, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Veterans History Project Information & Welcome Center (LJ-G51)
Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

The American Folklife Center is hosting a series of informal jams to celebrate our living folk traditions, and to bring to life the collections from our vast ethnographic archive. All sessions will include a short tour of the resources available to musicians in the Center's Folklife Reading Room. So grab your fiddles, whistles, accordions, or whatever other instruments you play and come on over to the Library of Congress for the second jam, dedicated to Irish music. The session will be led by the Winch family, brothers Jesse (bouzouki and bodhrán) and Terence (accordion), founders of the celebrated Irish band Celtic Thunder, and Terence's son Michael, a member of the Bog Band and a composer of theater scores. The jam will feature well known Irish session standards as well as tunes mined from the American Folklife Center Archive.  

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or [email protected]

American Folklife Center Summer Music Jam (Old-Time)

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A group of men and women playing various instruments including a banjo, guitar, mandolin, and fiddles.
A scene from the Old-Time Jam held to celebrate the life of Alan Jabour in January, 2018. Find the video of this event here.
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July 7, 2018, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Veterans History Project Information & Welcome Center (LJ-G51)
Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

The American Folklife Center is launching a new series of informal jams to celebrate our living folk traditions, and to bring to life the collections from our vast ethnographic archive. Over the next year, there will be jams for Blues to Balkan, Poetry Slams to Sea Shanties, and everything in between. In advance of the jam, the Center will publish a blog about the featured style, highlighting gems from our collections. The jams will be led by local folk luminaries, and all skill levels are welcome. All sessions will include a short tour of the resources available to musicians in the Folklife Reading Room. So grab your fiddles, banjos, mandolins, or whatever other instruments you play and come on over to the Library of Congress for the first jam, dedicated to Old-Time music. The session will be led by Grammy-winning musicians Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, and will feature well known old-time standards as well as tunes mined from the American Folklife Center's Archive. 

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or [email protected]

 

Taiko Drumming in Asian American Los Angeles, Deborah Wong, Professor of Music, University of California, Riverside

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Deborah Wong
Deborah Wong
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June 29, 2018, 3:00 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Ground floor
Thomas Jefferson Building

Taiko is a contemporary form of ensemble drumming that is built on the foundation of traditional Japanese festival music. This "new tradition" is called kumi-daiko, or "group taiko," because taiko ensembles usually feature numerous drums of at least three different sizes played in a fast, loud, virtuosic, athletic style. Taiko is very old, but in most of the ways that matter, it is a modern, transnational, globalized, dynamic heritage tradition that changes by the day. In this presentation, ethnomusicologist Deborah Wong offers a vivid introduction to the Japanese American and Asian American taiko scene in the greater Los Angeles area.

Film Screening: The Last Tightrope Dancer in Armenia (2009)

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Man sitting on a tightrope
The Last Tightrope Dancer in Armenia
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June 22, 2018, 8:00 PM
Pickford Auditorium, third floor,
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

This documentary follows the lives of the only surviving performers of Armenian tightrope dancing, Zhora (76 years old) and Knyaz (77 years old) as they struggle to keep this ancient art alive against the current of contemporary society. Once celebrated masters of this art who were rivals in their professional lives, they come together to find student in order to to pass their knowledge on to a new generation. Produced by Vardan Hovhannisyan and directed by Arman Yeritsyan and Inna Sahakyan. This film was a co-production of BARS MEDIA and ITVS International.

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or [email protected]

 

The Theory and Practice of Folklore in Cajun and Creole Louisiana, Barry Jean Ancelet, Professor Emeritus, University of Louisiana

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Barry Jean Ancelet
Barry Jean Ancelet. Photo by Philip Gould
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June 12, 2018, Noon – 1:30 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Ground floor
Thomas Jefferson Building

Folklorist and University of Louisiana Professor Barry Jean Ancelet is a leading scholar, author, expert, and activist in the revival and revitalization of Cajun and Creole music and culture in Louisiana. He has been a leader not only in the academic study of Cajun and Creole folk culture, but in creating archives where the culture has been preserved, and festivals and other programs where the culture has been shared with diverse audiences. He is also a poet, songwriter and singer, and his 2016 CD with Sam Broussard, Broken Promised Land, was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in the Regional Roots Music category.  In this lecture, Ancelet will talk about his career, his fieldwork, and his current research.  Drawing heavily on his fieldwork experiences, his talk will address the relationship between the theory and practice of folklore, between what folklorists think and how they convey the results of that thought to diverse audiences, including academic colleagues, cultural specialists, and the general public. Although some folklorists have seen a dichotomy between thought and action, Ancelet has always seen them as inextricably integrated. He says that while he is "more interested in discussing practice than theory, both are always in play."

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Andrea Graham
Andrea Graham
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The Art of the Hunt, Andrea Graham, University of Wyoming

June 7, 2018, Noon – 1:00 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Ground floor
Thomas Jefferson Building

The folklore and traditions surrounding hunting and fishing are among the most ancient expressions of traditional culture in contemporary America. Although hunting and fishing are not usually seen as artistic pursuits, a closer examination of the handmade tools and gear used, the skills of guides and outfitters, the decorative crafts involved, and the hunting and fishing stories told among hunters reveal an enormous depth of creativity, beauty, and tradition. These traditions remain strong, especially in the American West. In this presentation, Wyoming-based folklorist Andrea Graham discusses her fieldwork among fishers and hunters in the contemporary American West and explores how these traditions maintain, reinforce, and celebrate deeply-rooted elements of place, family, and community life.

Syriac Chants and Aramaic Christianity in India, Joseph J. Palackal, ethnomusicologist and founder-president of the Christian Musicological Society of India

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Joseph J. Palackal beside a portrait of Jesus
Joseph J. Palackal
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May 31, 2018, Noon – 1:00 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Ground floor
Thomas Jefferson Building

Aramaic Christianity is an essential component of India's religious diversity. Christian faith came to the shores of South India from its source in West Asia, through the medium of the mother tongue of Jesus and the apostles. Christian Aramaic came to be known as Syriac, and due to unusual historical circumstances its tradition survived in India. In spite of the Syriac churches' decision to translate the liturgies into the vernacular in the 1960s, both the Syriac language and the music associated with it continue to be a part of the cultural legacy of India. This presentation includes a brief lecture, a video and a performance of Syriac chants. It calls for a reconfiguration of the ways in which India has been historically imagined.

Joseph J. Palackal is the founder and president of the Christian Musicological Society of India. He earned a doctorate in ethnomusicology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has contributed articles on Christian music in India to several international publications, including The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. He is principal vocalist for over forty releases in five languages, including Sanskrit and Syriac. He made his debut in New York in the off-Broadway show Nunsense. Currently he is working on a project to revive the sound, memories, and melodies of the Indian version of the Aramaic language.

"My Secret Autobiography": The Letters of Ballad Scholar Francis James Child to William Ellery Sedgwick, Michael Bell, Transylvania University.

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Michael Bell
Michael Bell
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May 8, 2018, Noon – 1:00 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Ground floor
Thomas Jefferson Building

Beginning in 1846, soon after his graduation from Harvard College, Francis James Child, Harvard professor, eventual first president of the American Folklore Society, and the greatest ballad scholar of the nineteenth century, began what would become a twenty-year correspondence with his closest college friend and future brother-in-law, William Ellery Sedgwick. Based on this cache of letters contained among the Sedgwick family papers deposited at the Massachusetts Historical Society, this presentation will examine this "secret autobiography" for what it reveals about Child the man; his hopes, dreams, and frustrations; and his growing involvement in the intellectual and social cultures of late antebellum Cambridge.

Michael Bell is a folklorist who has been a professor at Wayne State University and Grinnell College, and an administrator at Suffolk University and Merrimack College. He retired as Vice President and Dean of the University, Transylvania University, Lexington, KentuckyHe has been researching Francis James Child and his volumes of ballads for many years.

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or [email protected]

 

Picturing America:  Portraits of National Endowment for the Arts Folk Masters, Barry Bergey, NEA Director of Folk and Traditional Arts (Retired) and Tom Pich, Documentary Photographer

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Photo of a woman holding a basket, standing in a field wit deer and mountains behind her.
Folk Masters: A Portrait of America, cover.
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Feb 28, 2018, Noon – 1:00 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Ground floor
Thomas Jefferson Building

Photographer Tom Pich and folklorist Barry Bergey, co-authors of the recently published book Folk Masters: A Portrait of America, discuss their award-winning project.  Over the past 25 years, Pich has traveled across the country to the homes and studios of recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowships, the highest honor given to America’s folk and traditional artists. His photographs provide a unique portrait of their art, their personalities, and their culture. While each image tells a story on its own, Barry Bergey, the former Director of Folk and Traditional Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts, provides further insight into the lives of the featured artist as well as the remarkable stories behind each photograph. "Folk Masters" documents and honors the extraordinary women and men who take traditional arts to new heights while also ensuring their continuation from generation to generation.

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Portrait of a man standing by a large gate in a fence with a green field behind him.
Tom Pich
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Tom Pich, is a native New Yorker and a professional photographer. Over the past 25 years, in addition to his commercial work, he has traveled across America photographing hundreds of National Heritage Fellows for the National Endowment for the Arts and documenting artists on assignment for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. His portraiture of National Heritage Fellows is featured on the NEA website and has been exhibited at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Russell Senate Office Building. In 2017, one hundred of his NEA portraits were published in Folk Masters: A Portrait of America, a Indiana University Press publication co-authored with folklorist Barry Bergey.

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Barry Bergey
Barry Bergey
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Barry Bergey is a folklorist and the former Director of the Folk and Traditional Arts program at the National Endowment for the Arts. During his 29 year tenure at the NEA, he oversaw grantmaking programs, helped shape cultural policy, served as manager of the National Heritage Fellowship programs, and provided counsel to the U.S. Department of State on international cultural policy issues. Prior to joining the NEA, he served as the state folk arts coordinator for his home state of Missouri, where he first gained renown for documenting traditional musicians in the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks. Over the course of his distinguished career, Bergey has served as a fieldworker, festival organizer, radio producer, curator, and arts administrator. From 1995 to 2000 he served as a consultant to the Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange for their Joint Plan on Yunnan National Cultures Project. His involvement in international arts policy issues also includes serving on the U.S. delegation for the UNESCO Intergovernmental Meetings of Experts to Draft a Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and acting as head of the U.S. delegation to the first meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Culture of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 2003. In 2005, Bergey was a member of the U.S. delegation to UNESCO involved in drafting a proposed Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. In 2014 he served as one of three U.S. delegates at the bi-annual OAS meeting of member cultural ministers in Haiti.

I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival, Rick Massimo (lecture and book signing)

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Rick Massimo
Rick Massimo
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Feb 21, 2018, Noon – 1:00 pm
Whittall Pavilion, Ground floor
Thomas Jefferson Building

Journalist and author Rick Massimo discusses the history of the Newport Folk Festival, an American musical institution that began more than a half century ago and continues to influence our understanding of folk music today. Drawing on his extensive interviews and archival research about the festival, which served as the basis of his 2017 book, I Got a Song, the author details how the American folk music scene has evolved over the decades, absorbing influences from rock and traditional music as well as the now legendary singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s. He recounts some of the many stories about fabled Newport Festival performances, and explores how the iconic festival has reemerged as an influential focal point for a new generation of performers and fans. The talk will be followed by a book signing.

Alan Jabbour, 1942 – 2017
His Legacy in Folklife and Traditional Music

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Alan Jabbour playing the fiddle.
Alan Jabbour performs at a festival at Don West’s Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem, West Virginia, August 1973. Photo by Carl Fleischhauer.
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Thursday, January 18, 2018
Mumford Room, Sixth Floor, Madison Building
6:00 p.m. Reception
6:45 p.m Presentations and Musical Performances

Followed by an Informal Old-Time Jam. Attendees are invited to bring instruments and join in.

View the webcast Running time 02:10:01

Also on Library of Congress YouTube

Alan Jabbour, (1942-2017) was the founding director of the American Folklife Center at The Library of Congress. He was a leader in the field of folklife scholarship, as well as the world of old-time string band music. He headed two of the most important federal programs related to folk traditions, the American Folklife Center and the Folk Arts Program at the NEA. At AFC he established many programs that preserve and present folklife traditions, including field surveys, concert and lecture series, and training programs. As both a scholar and a musician, he brought the music of fiddler Henry Reed and West Virginia's Hammons Family to prominence in the old-time world. With his wife Karen Singer Jabbour, he extensively documented the practice of Decoration Day in the Upland South. These are just a few of his accomplishments. Three speakers who worked closely with Alan will examine the contributions he made during his career to cultural documentation, the promotion of traditional music, and federal cultural policy.

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Carl Fleischhauer
Carl Fleischhauer. Photo by Stan Barouh.
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Carl Fleischhauer was one of the first employees of the American Folklife Center, and one of Alan Jabbour's closest collaborators for decades. He holds degrees from Kenyon College and Ohio University. His work experience includes film and video production at West Virginia University and media documentation activities at the American Folklife Center. He was a fieldworker on many of AFC's field documentation projects in the 1970s and 1980s. His publications for the Library include the CD The Hammons Family (1999), the videodisc The Ninety-Six: A Cattle Ranch in Northern Nevada (1985), and the photographic book Documenting America, 1935-43 (1988). From 1990 to 1994, he coordinated AFC's American Memory program, a pilot project that modeled the dissemination of historical collections in electronic form. Prior to his recent retirement, he worked on various aspects of digital preservation in the Library of Congress Office of Strategic Initiatives. He has now returned to the American Folklife Center as a volunteer working on the digital preservation of AFC fieldwork projects, many of which feature his own fieldwork.

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Stephen Wade
Stephen Wade. Photo by MaryE Yeomans, 2011.
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Stephen Wade has spent nearly his entire life in study of American folklife. Growing up in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s, Wade met vernacular musicians who had moved north to the city from the Mississippi Delta and the Southern Appalachians. By the late 1970s, he developed Banjo Dancing, a theatrical performance that combines storytelling, traditional music, and percussive dance. The show, which opened in 1979 and went on to become one of the longest-running off-Broadway shows in the country, included an invited performance at the White House. Wade’s second theatre piece, On the Way Home, earned the Joseph Jefferson award. In 2003, Wade received the Helen Hayes/Charles MacArthur award for his work as composer, adapter, and musical director of the world premiere of Zora Neale Hurston's Polk County. Stephen Wade's book, The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience, showcases nearly two decades of research during which Wade tracked down the communities, families, and performers connected with iconic AFC field recordings. The book received the 2013 ASCAP Deems Taylor award and the Association of Recorded Sound Collections award for Best History. Wade has released a number of award-winning CDs. His latest recording is Americana Concert: Alan Jabbour and Stephen Wade at the Library of Congress

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Ken Perlman playing the banjo.
Ken Perlman.
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Ken Perlman is a pioneer of the 5-string banjo style known as "melodic clawhammer," a master of fingerstyle guitar, and a folklorist. He is considered one of the top clawhammer banjo players in the world, known in particular for his skillful adaptations of Celtic tunes to the style. He draws his material from traditional sources, including the music of Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, and the American South, but his approach to the music is highly innovative. Also an active folklorist, Ken has spent over two decades collecting tunes and oral histories from traditional fiddle players on Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada, which has resulted in two books and a two-CD anthology of field recordings. He has toured throughout most of the English-speaking world and in Western Europe, both as a soloist and – for over fifteen years – in a duo with Alan Jabbour.

 

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