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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

January 30, 2016 (Saturday)
1:00-2:30 pm
Coolidge Auditorium, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

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Couples dancing in eighteenth century costume.
English traditional dance. Photo provided by the Country Dance and Song Society.
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The Playford Assembly: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Country Dance and Song Society with Lecture, Music and Dance Demonstrations

Dance historian Graham Christian will discuss his new book, The Playford Assembly, a major new collection of historic English dances published by the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) in celebration of their centennial year. Christian's talk will be enhanced by demonstrations of the dances by CDSS dancers and musicians. The Playford Assembly (a follow-up to the seminal 1990 collection The Playford Ball, also published by CDSS) features 125 historical dances, edited for use by contemporary dancers and dance leaders. Reflecting recent scholarship, it revives many of the older dances based on the advice of a committee convened by the author. He will discuss his selection process and the history of English country dance in England and the United States, as well as cultural aspects of the era in which the dances were created.

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Graham Christian
Graham Christian
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Graham Christian is a dance historian, English dance leader, choreographer, director, and musician from Amherst, Massachusetts. He holds a doctorate in 17th century English literature from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is also a librarian who holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. In addition to The Playford Assembly, he writes the dance history column "Tell Me More" for the CDSS News, appears as a caller for English Country dances all over the U.S., and is a frequent presenter at academic conferences on the history of social dance.

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

February 17, 2016
Noon to 1:00 PM
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor,
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

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Jane Beck
Jane Beck
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"Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African American Family Saga," Jane Beck,  Executive Director Emeritus and Founder of the Vermont Folklife Center

Daisy Turner (1883-1988), born in Grafton, Vermont, the daughter of freed African American slaves, grew up listening to her father, Alec (1845-1923), tell stories of his family’s heritage. It was a multigenerational saga spanning two centuries, from enslavement in Africa, to a farmstead in Grafton. In addition to the epic arc of her family narrative, over the course of numerous interviews Daisy shared her own lifestory, one of discrimination, resilience and strength—a powerful and rare account of the African American experience in New Egland from the 1880s forward. This talk considers Daisy Turner’s narrative in terms of memory and within a  larger canvas of social, cultural, and historical events.

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

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Elijah Wald
Elijah Wald. Photo by Sandrine Sheon.
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March 16, 2016 (Wednesday)
12:00 noon – 1:00 pm
Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

Dylan Goes Electric! Music, Myth, and History
Elijah Wald, writer, musician, and historian

Bob Dylan's electric set at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 is an iconic moment in 20th century music: the folk revival’s prophet and "voice of a generation" took the stage with an electric band, and an audience of dedicated folk fans reacted with dismay and booing. The confrontation is often compared to the reaction that greeted Stravinsky’s "Rite of Spring" in 1913, and signaled a new understanding of rock as a modern art form and of rockers as innovative rebels. More broadly, it signaled fundamental changes in American culture—soon to spread around the world—a split between the old and new lefts, and the rise of the counterculture, and its ripples are still being felt fifty years later.

Through recordings, images, and new research, this talk explores the world that shaped Dylan and his music, as well as the varied worlds of the people who loved him, hated him, ignored him, or felt he was betraying them, seeking to understand both the changes happening in that moment and the reasons some people found those changes so threatening. A central figure in that story is Pete Seeger, a complex artist and activist whose work has frequently been oversimplified, including his role in creating the Newport Folk Festivals. It is a story that reaches back to the populist communal movements of the 19th century, and remains as relevant as ever.

Elijah Wald is a musician, historian, and writer whose books include Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Dylan, Seeger, and the Night that Split the SixtiesEscaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues; How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music; and Dave Van Ronk's memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, which was the inspiration for the Coen Brothers' film Inside Llewyn Davis. He has a PhD in musicology and sociolinguistics; has taught at UCLA and lectures widely on pop, blues, folk, and Mexican music; has published thousands of articles in various newspapers, magazines, and journals; and won a 2002 Grammy award.

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

April 21, 2016
12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m.
Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

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Carol Silverman
Carol Silverman
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Global Gypsy:  Balkan Romani Music, Appropriation and Representation, Carol Silverman, Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Folklore, University of Oregon

In the last twenty years,  the popularity of Balkan "Gypsy" music has exploded,  becoming a staple at world music festivals and dance clubs throughout the United States and Western Europe. At the same time, thousands of Balkan Roma (the ethnic group frequently referred to as “Gypsies”) have emigrated westward due to deteriorating living conditions, and entrenched stereotypes have arisen amidst deportations and harassment. In this heightened atmosphere of xenophobia, Roma, as Europe’s largest minority and its quintessential “other,” face the paradox that they are revered for their music yet reviled as people. Focusing on clubs and festivals, this illustrated ethnographic presentation investigates the ramifications of the current scene for Romani performers and non-Romani musicians, producers, audiences and marketers.

Carol Silverman is Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Folklore at the University of Oregon. She has done research with Roma for over 25 years in the Balkans, Western Europe and the US. Her work explores the intersection of politics, music, human rights, gender, and state policy with a focus on issues of representation. She is also a professional performer and teacher of Balkan music, and works with the NGO Voice of Roma. Her book Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora (Oxford University Press, 2012) won the Merriam Book Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology.

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

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

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

Eminent ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin surveys his research on the musical life of his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, from the 1940s to the 1960s. 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 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

 

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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   February 1, 2016
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