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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.


2016 Botkin Lectures


Improvising a Musical Metropolis: Detroit, 1940s-1960s, Mark Slobin, Professor of Music and American Studies, Wesleyan University

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Mark Slobin
Mark Slobin
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Thursday, May 12, 2016
12:00 noon-1:00 p.m.
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd floor,
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

Eminent ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin surveys his research on the musical life of his hometown, Detroit, Michigan, during "my day," the 1940s-60s. He positions his personal experience in the wider panorama of a musically dynamic city of recent immigrants from Europe and migrants from the American South, and addresses the role of the schools and subcultures in shaping Detroit's complex cultural landscape.

Dr. Slobin is the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music and Professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University. He has written extensively on American music, ethnomusicology theory and practice, Eastern European Jewish and klezmer music, and the music of Afghanistan, where he conducted research beginning in 1967. He has served as president of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Society for Asian Music and two of his numerous books have won the prestigious ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award.

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov

AFC Directors' Roundtable: A Retrospective of the Center' First Forty Years

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Betsy Peterson, Peggy Bulger, and Alan Jabbour with the 40th anniversary logo for the American Folklife Center.
American Folklife Center Director Betsy Peterson (top) and former Directors Peggy Bulger and Alan Jabbour.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2016
12:00 noon-1:00 p.m.
Mumford Room, 6th Floor
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

Join American Folklife Center director, Betsy Peterson, and former directors of the Center, Alan Jabbour and Peggy Bulger, as they engage in a roundtable discussion about the Center's historical initiatives and programs and its future prospects. The session will be moderated by Cliff Murphy, Director of the Folk & Traditional Arts Program at the National Endowment for the Arts.

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress turns 40 in 2016. To mark the occasion, AFC will sponsor public programs, special events, and other activities throughout the year, celebrating the Center's role in the preservation and promotion of traditional culture. Learn more about the 40th Anniverary events at this link.


Musical Soundscapes of Morocco: From Africa to America, Samuel Torjman Thomas, John Jay and Hunter Colleges, City University of New York

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Samuel Torjman Thomas
Samuel Torjman Thomas
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Monday, June 6, 2016
Noon to 1:00 p.m.
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd floor,
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

Morocco has long been a nexus point between east and west, drawing upon an inherently international position in world history and its own ethnic diversity (including Arab, Jewish, and Berber traditions) for creative musical inspirations. In recent generations, as Moroccans have immigrated in large numbers to North America, Europe, and Israel, they have brought their unique brand of music multiculturalism with them. Samuel Torjman Thomas, ethnomusicologist and artistic director of AsefaMusic and the New York Andalus Ensemble, explores the circulation of Moroccan music in America and the place of music in constructing modern Moroccan-American hybrid identities.

Co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center and the Hebrew Language Table at the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Washington Jewish Music Festival.

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov

Dressing the Past: Civil War Reenactors, Williamsburg Historic Interpreters, and Exploring American Identity through Costume, Pravina Shukla, Indiana University

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Men marching, wearing  U.S. Civil War period uniforms.
Civil War Reenactors. Photo by Pravina Shukla.
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016
1:00-2:00 p.m.
Whittall Pavilion, ground floor,
Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

The periods of the American Revolution and the Civil War remain topics of pride and contention, subjects of popular writing, and inspiration for costumed performance. In eighteenth-century garments at Colonial Williamsburg and in nineteenth-century uniforms on Civil War battlefields, modern Americans celebrate the nation’s history, and at the same time take the opportunity to air their political and cultural opinions while exploring significant aspects of their identities. Their costumes, differing from their daily dress, help them fulfill personal desires while they join with others in collective public performance.

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov

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.

2015 Lecture Series

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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   May 3, 2016
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