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2011 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. Selected materials will be made available online as digital versions become available. Scroll down to see available webcasts and event flyer essays for the 2011 season.

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John Killen
Librarian John Killen.
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November 29, 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor, James Madison Building

Belfast's Linen Hall Library: "Exciting a spirit of general enquiry" in Irish Folklore, History, Politics, and Religion since 1788 presented by John Killen.

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2 pp., 135KB]

View the webcast Running time 01:19:38

In this talk, John Killen, the twenty-first Librarian of Belfast's Linen Hall Library, will bring to life the collections of this unique Irish institution.   The Linen Hall Library was envisioned as the archive of its community; its mission statement, written on 1 January 1795, outlines its goals:

"The object of this society is the collection of an extensive Library, Philosophical Apparatus and such productions of Nature and Art as tend to improve the mind and excite a spirit of general enquiry; the society intends to collect such materials as will illustrate the antiquities, the natural, civil, commercial and ecclesiastical history of this country [Ireland] – provision has been made to render the institution as permanent as the vicissitudes of human affairs permit by making the Library…a general and hereditary property…."

According to Killen, "the collections in the Linen Hall tell the story of Ireland, the divisions in its society, its trials and tribulations, its successes and failures; and, throughout, they tell of the spirit of a people. All books tell a story; but the story behind each book can be equally (or more) important. They show the inter-connectivity of human experience in communities that are different in many ways, but similar in that the human spirit is shared by all."

November 10, 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor, James Madison Building

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Dr. Benjamin Luft
Dr. Benjamin Luft.
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"We're Not Leaving":  Responders Oral Histories Redefine 9/11 presented by Benjamin Luft

Read the flyer essay [PDF, 2pp., 85 KB]

In this talk, Dr. Benjamin Luft, Professor of Medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and founder of the Long Island World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Center, which follows approximately 6,000 responders to the 9/11 disaster, will discuss the oral histories he has collected as part of his Center's mission. These oral histories, told from the vantage point of World Trade Center disaster workers – police officers, firefighters, construction workers, and other volunteers at the site – form that basis of Luft's powerful new book, "We're Not Leaving": 9/11 Responders Tell Their Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Renewal. Dr. Luft's oral histories also form part of a larger World Trade Center History Project at the Long Island World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Center and have served as a basis for a documentary created in collaboration with public television stations WLIW21 and WNET13, as well as the independent documentary film, 9/11: An American Requiem, which debuted at the 2011 Stony Brook Film Festival. In addition, Dr. Luft has established a website, www.911respondersremember.org,External Link where people can view excerpts from the interviews and learn more about the project. Due to the quality and historical importance of these first-person narratives, the American Folklife Center has expressed an interest in serving as the repository for Dr. Luft's oral histories upon completion of his project in September 2012, and has worked with Dr. Luft on archiving and interviewing methodologies for the project.

Dr. Benjamin J. Luft is the Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an internationally recognized expert in the treatment of Lyme disease and AIDS-related conditions. He has been at the forefront of developing new diagnostic tests and therapeutics based on a fundamental understanding of the patient and the disease process, and the formation of multidisciplinary teams of physicians, molecular biologists, chemists, evolutionists, and physicists. His work has contributed to the development of many of the modalities that are used in the treatment of both toxoplasmosis and Lyme disease. Shortly after the 9/11 disaster, Luft and his colleagues established the Long Island World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Center at SUNY Stony Brook, which has been an incubator of inventive and empathetic "team care" programs for responders that have benefited not only its patients, but medical students, the local community, and society at large. Since 2008, Luft has offered a successful seminar based at the Center for medical students called "9/11: The Anatomy of a Health Care Disaster," which features experts from a variety of disciplines, including lawyers, ministers, philosophers, social workers, psychiatrists, economists, industrial hygienists, and others who present and mentor the medical students in a kaleidoscope of viewpoints on the disaster.

September 8, 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor, James Madison Building

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New Lost City Ramblers
The New Lost City Ramblers. Left to right: Tracy Schwarz, Mike Seeger, and John Cohen. Photo by John Cohen.
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Passing for Traditional: The New Lost City Ramblers and Folk Music Authenticity, presented by Ray Allen, Brooklyn College, CUNY. (Book Talk)

Read the flyer essay

View the webcast Running time 00:58:14

The New Lost City Ramblers were pioneers in the old-time music revival that paralleled the great folk music boom of the 1960s. Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Tom Paley (later replaced by Tracy Schwarz) were city-born and suburban-bred folk musicians who specialized in recreating the sounds of rural southern stringband and early bluegrass music at a time when the folk music scene was dominated by commercial singers and political singer/songwriters. The Ramblers raised key questions over what constituted authentic folk music, encouraging city musicians to concentrate on instrumental and vocal performance styles gleaned from recordings rather than depending on words and melodies learned from written collections. But as cultural "outsiders" their own status as authentic practitioners of southern mountain music would be challenged by academics and governments folklorists.

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Ray Allen
Ray Allen.
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Ray Allen's Gone to the Country: The New Lost City Ramblers and the Urban Folk Music Revival (2010) examines the Ramblers music and the challenges they faced as performers and promoters of traditional folk styles.

Ray Allen is a Leonard and Claire Tow Professor of Music and American Studies at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, and a senior research associate at the Hitchcock Institute for Studies in American Music at Brooklyn College. In addition to Gone to the Country he has edited Ruth Crawford Seeger's Worlds: Innovation and Tradition in American Music (with Ellie Hisama, 2007) and Island Sounds in the Global City: Caribbean Popular Music and Identity in New York (with Lois Wilcken, 1998); and authored Singing in the Spirit: African-American Sacred Quartets in New York City (1991).

Online Archive of Botkin Lectures (2004 - 2011) - View descriptions, flyer essays, and webcasts (as available).

August 10, 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor, James Madison Building

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Russell Frank
Russell Frank.
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Newslore: Contemporary Folklore on the Internet, presented by Russell Frank, Pennsylvania State University. (Book talk)

Read the flyer essay

View the webcast Running time 00:58:00

Russell Frank defines newslore as folklore that comments on, and is therefore indecipherable without knowledge of, current events. Newslore takes multiple forms: jokes; urban legends; digitally altered photographs; mock news stories, press releases or interoffice memoranda; parodies of songs, poems, political and commercial advertisements and movie previews and posters; still or animated cartoons and short live-action films. Such material, he argues in his new book Newslore: Contemporary Folklore on the Internet (University Press of Mississippi, 2011), can teach us more about how "ordinary Americans" responded to such events as the September 11, 2001 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, corporate malfeasance scandals, and the deaths of celebrities than we can learn from the news media.

Newslore is a marriage of Frank's two areas of expertise: He is a folklorist by training and a journalist by trade. He worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers in California and Pennsylvania for thirteen years before joining the journalism faculty at Pennsylvania State University, where he has been teaching newswriting, feature writing, narrative journalism and journalism ethics since 1998. In addition to his scholarly writing on newslore, journalism ethics and narrative journalism, he maintains his connection to the journalism world by writing a weekly column for the website StateCollege.com.External Link

July 7, 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor, James Madison Building

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Decoration Day cover
Decoration Day in the Mountains, by Alan Jabbour and Karen Singer Jabbour, 2010.
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Decoration Day in the Mountains, presented by Alan Jabbour and Karen Singer Jabbour. (Book Talk)

Read the flyer essay

View the webcast Running time 00:43:00

Decoration Day is a late spring or summer tradition that involves cleaning community cemeteries, decorating them with flowers, holding religious services in cemeteries, and having dinner on the ground. These commemorations seem to predate the post-Civil-War celebrations that ultimately gave us our national Memorial Day. Little has been written about this tradition, but it is still practiced widely throughout the Upland South, from North Carolina to the Ozarks and beyond.

Written by folklorist Alan Jabbour and illustrated with more than a hundred photographs taken by his wife, Karen Singer Jabbour, Decoration Day in the Mountains is an in-depth exploration of this little-known cultural tradition. Through interviews, first-hand narrative, photographs, and extensive field and library research, the authors illuminate the meanings behind the rituals. The book describes typical decoration events, surveys the folk cemeteries in which Decoration Day takes place, and explores the symbolic meaning and social significance of the custom in the region’s rural communities. Decoration Day in the Mountains also shows how the tradition led to a grassroots movement to hold the federal government to its promises about cemeteries left behind when families were removed to make way for Fontana Dam and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Jabbours document this movement, which has had a significant impact on the political and cultural life of western North Carolina.

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Alan Jabbour
Alan Jabbour. Photo by Karen Singer Jabbour.
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Alan Jabbour External Link was born in 1942 in Jacksonville, Florida. A violinist by early training, he put himself through college at the University of Miami playing classical music. While a graduate student at Duke University in the 1960s, he began documenting oldtime fiddlers in the Upper South. Documentation turned to apprenticeship, and he relearned the fiddle in the style of the Upper South from musicians like Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, Virginia, and Tommy Jarrell of Toast, North Carolina. He taught a repertory of oldtime fiddle tunes to his band, the Hollow Rock String Band, which was an important link in the instrumental music revival in the 1960s.

After receiving his Ph.D. in 1968, he taught English, folklore, and ethnomusicology at UCLA in 1968-69. He then moved to Washington, D.C., for over thirty years of service with Federal cultural agencies. He was head of the Archive of Folk Song at the Library of Congress 1969-74, director of the folk arts program at the National Endowment for the Arts 1974-76, and director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress 1976-99. Since his retirement, he has turned enthusiastically to a life of writing, consulting, lecturing, and playing the fiddle.

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Leanne Hinton
Leanne Hinton.
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June 16 , 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Coolidge Auditorium, Ground Floor, Thomas Jefferson Building

Reclaiming Lost Languages: The Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages, presented by Leanne Hinton, University of California, Berkeley.

Read the flyer essay

(webcast forthcoming)

In an this era of increasing globalization, language diversity is declining rapidly as the larger languages take control of the economy, education, and communications around the world. Language loss is especially disturbing for indigenous peoples who see their languages as a vital key to maintaining their communities and cultural identities. American Indian languages are especially hard-hit. Most of the languages that existed 500 years ago are no longer spoken at all, and of 175 languages that still have speakers, less than twenty are being transmitted to children by their families. If this trajectory is maintained, this century will see the death of all American Indian languages. But many Native Americans who have grown up without their heritage languages are now fighting to regain them, either learning from the grandparent generation, or, especially for languages with no speakers, from the rich documentation on their languages that are found in our nation's archives. The National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages is being held in Washington, D.C. in June 2011 as part of this effort of language reclamation. Based on the model developed at the University of California at Berkeley, the Breath of Life Institute here will host forty Native American and First Nations people from around the continent, to search the National Anthropological Archives and the Library of Congress for documentation on their languages, and learn linguistic and archival researching skills. Among the instructors will be several Native American linguists who have learned their own languages from the documentation in archives and lead language revitalization movements in their families and communities. Hinton will speak on how people go about transforming the linguistic materials in the archives back into spoken conversation, and how language revitalization is challenging the process of linguistic globalization.

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Don Yoder
Professor Don Yoder
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May 5, 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm

The Two Worlds of the Pennsylvania Dutch, illustrated lecture presented by Don Yoder, professor emeritus, University of Pennsylvania.

Read the flyer essay

View the webcast Running time 1:12:32

The Pennsylvania Dutch culture, which is now over three centuries old and still evolving, is an American hybrid creation put together from Continental Europe, British Isles, and American building blocks in Southeastern Pennsylvania. While this culture is a unit linguistically, and in most other ways, it is divided down the middle by religion. The "two worlds" are those of the "Plain Dutch" — Amish, Mennonites, and Brethren — and the much large world of the Lutheran and Recorded churches of the German and Swiss Reformates. Dr. Yoder will illustrate the differences between these two cultural patterns with slides and ethnographic commentary.

Don Yoder is Professor Emeritus of Folklife Studies at the University of Pennsylvania,External link where he taught for thirty-one years (1965-1996), founding the first graduate Folklife Studies program in the nation. He has written widely on American religious movements, regional culture, folklife patterns of various ethnic groups, especially the Pennsylvania Dutch, covering an area in Pennsylvania the size of Switzerland — and the Pennsylvania Dutch Diaspora in the Upland South, Canada (Ontario and New Brunswick), and the Midwest. He was co-founder of the Pennsylvania Folklife Society and longtime editor of its periodical, Pennsylvania Folklife, and co-founder in 1950 of the Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Festival at Kutztown.

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Steve Roud
Steve Roud
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April 14, 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm

"Chorus and Verse: The Challenges of Designing the Roud Folk Song Index," presented by Steve Roud.

Read the flyer essay

View the webcast

Steve Roud will discuss his work compiling The Folk Song Index, an online index to all the traditional folksongs of the English-speaking world.  The Folk Song Index is a freely-available online database which lists English-language traditional songs collected in Britain, North America, and Australia, whether found in books, sound recordings, or unpublished collections. Entries include details of the song title and first line, name of singer, place and date of collection, and more. As each element is fully searchable, singly or in combination, the Index constitutes a major finding-aid for both enthusiasts and serious researchers. A sister database, The Broadside Index, lists songs which appeared on broadsides, songsters and other street literature before 1900, and is designed to assist those who are interested in the history of popular and traditional songs.  In this presentation, Roud will give special attention to several exciting digitization projects already underway, and others planned for the near future, which have moved the project to an unprecedented level of sophistication and public accessibility.

Steve Roud is a retired local studies librarian who is now a freelance writer and researcher specializing in folklore and folksong projects in Britain. He has published important works on children's folklore, superstitions, calendar customs, and London lore, as well as compiling the online Folk Song Index and Broadside Index which constitute a major contribution to international folksong scholarship. Both the Folk Song Index and the Broadside Index are available online via the English Folk Dance and Song Society's Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. External link

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Peggy Fleming
Peggy Fleming
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March 18, 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm

"The Capital Pool Checkers Club: Tradition, Competition, and Community in Washington, DC," presented by ethnographic photographer Peggy Fleming, with Maurice Jackson, professor of history, Georgetown University, and special checker club guests Oliver Griffin and Tal Roberts.

Read the flyer essay

View the webcast Running time 00:47:44

Ethnographic photographer Peggy Fleming spent three years photographing and interviewing the members of Washington's Capital Pool Checkers Club. Her resulting study, CROWN ME! (2010), documents more than an interesting recreational club: it highlights a special place in the urban landscape where a group of men come together to share their personal memories, recall the history of their beloved city, and create community. Fleming is joined by Georgetown University historian Maurice Jackson, and several club members for this talk and discussion. Her ten-minute award-winning video about the club, Checkers at 9th & S, will also be screened. For more information about the speaker and her work, see Peggy Fleming's web site. External link

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Wolfgang Mieder
Wolfgang Mieder
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February 10, 2011, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm

"Making a Way Out of No Way: Martin Luther King's Use of Proverbs for Civil Rights," presented by Wolfgang Mieder, University of Vermont.

Read the flyer essay

View the webcast Running time 01:10:06

Professor Wolfgang Mieder has special expertise in the areas of German and international folklore, the history of the German language, the Middle Ages, and especially the study of proverbs. Since 1984 he has been the editor of Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship, an annual book that is published by the University of Vermont with subscriptions from around the world. Proverbium celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2008 with volume 25. Prof. Mieder is also the editor of the Supplement Series to Proverbium. While Wolfgang Mieder has written several books on German literary matters as well as fairy tales and folk songs, he is an internationally recognized scholar of over one hundred books on proverbs, among them Sprichwort-Wahrwort (1992), Proverbs Are Never Out of Season: Popular Wisdom in the Modern Age (1993), Proverbs: A Handbook (2004), and "Proverbs Speak Louder than Words": Folk Wisdom in Art, Culture, Folklore, History, Literature, and Mass Media (2008). In addition, Wolfgang Mieder is the author of more than three hundred articles on proverbs. He served as Chair of the Department of German and Russian at the University of Vermont from 1977 to 2008. He has also been guest professor at the University of Freiburg in Germany and at the University of California at Berkeley.

Other 2011 Lectures and Related Events Sponsored or Co-Sponsored by AFC

Celebrating Native American Language Revitalization in Film

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We Still Live Here
We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân, a prize-winning film that tells the story of cultural revival by the Wampanoag of Southeastern Massachusetts will be featured at this event.
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10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 21
Mumford Room, James Madison Building,
Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave SE
Washington DC.

The American Folklife Center and other divisions at the Library of Congress will join the organization "Cultural Survival" in celebrating innovative tribal language programs and language activists who are revitalizing America’s ancient linguistic heritage.  Join us to celebrate their efforts, learn about the challenges they face, and share in their successes.  Library of Congress curatorial staff will point to resources within the institution's vast collections, with a focus on field recordings, manuscripts, photos, and other archival materials that tribal language programs can incorporate into local curricula.  This will be followed by screenings of several films focusing on Native American language revitalization. 

Schedule

10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Welcoming Remarks

10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Presentations by Library of Congress curatorial staff 

11:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Feature Film screening: We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân External link [site provides information on screening locations and on the DVD], followed by Q & A with community language advocates and language apprentices from the Mashpee Wampanoag and Santa Ynez Chumash Tribes

1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Lunch on your own.

2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Short film screenings, including selections from TalkSauk.com External link [available online] and Minnesota Public Television's First Speakers: Revitalizing the Ojibwe Language External link [available online], followed by Q & A with community member(s)/language advocate(s).

For more information, visit http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/united-states/endangered-languages-program-update-celebrating-native-american-languages-library External link

Other 2011 Lectures

"Chaplains: Reflections from the Past," Ross Trower, Linda George, Michael McCoy, Nathan Abramowitz 2011 Veterans History Project presentation (The link goes directly to the webcast. Running time 1:20:34).

 

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