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Benjamin A. Botkin head and shoulders portrait
Folklorist Benjamin A. Botkin, 1926. Photo courtesy of the Botkin family.
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Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series

Through the Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series, the American Folklife Center (AFC) presents distinguished experts speaking about their research and current issues and best practices in folklore, folklife, ethnomusicology, and related fields. Lectures are recorded for the AFC archive and posted on the Library's website. (See below for list of speakers and topics.) The series honors Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975), a pioneering folklorist who headed the Library's Archive of American Folksong from 1942-1945.


2015 Botkin Lectures

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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

“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.

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.

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

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

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 Pauley 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:

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.

April 24, 2015
12 noon to 1:00 PM
Mumford Room, 6th floor, James Madison Building

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

Alan Lomax is known primarily as a folklorist and a documentarian, terms that suggest that his work was largely in service of the preservation of traditional and vernacular culture. Salsburg, curator of the Alan Lomax Archive at the Association for Cultural Equity in New York, discusses a different aspect of Lomax's career, tracing his many years publishing and presenting folk music through a variety of media—from records to radio to television—and argues that his technological and curatorial savvy were key to the success of his activist mission of "cultural equity." 


Botkin Lecture Series Past Events Archive

Includes descriptions of each lecture, photos, and informational essays from the event flyers. Links to webcasts of lectures are included as available.

2014 Lecture Series

2013 Lecture Series

2012 Lecture Series

2011 Lecture Series

2010 Lecture Series

2009 Lecture Series

2008 Lecture Series

2007 Lecture Series

2006 Lecture Series

2005 Lecture Series

2004 Lecture Series

 

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   March 26, 2015
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