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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


"Open Mic: Stories from StoryCorps," with Naomi Blech, Talya Cooper, Felix Lopez, and Stacey Todd interviewed by Nancy Groce

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An Airstream trailer with the "StoryCorps" logo on the side.
The StoryCorps MobileBooth at the Library of Congress in 2005.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016
12:00 noon-1:00 p.m.
Whittall Pavilion, ground floor, Thomas Jefferson Building

StoryCorps' famed MobileBooth will be collecting interviews at the Library of Congress from April 14th to May 18th. In conjunction with the MobileBooth’s residency at the Library, and as part of the year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of the American Folklife Center, where more than 100,000 StoryCorps interviews are archived, this Botkin "Open Mic" event features four StoryCorps fieldworkers sharing stories, adventures, and reflections about what it is like to tour the country in an Airstream trailer collecting stories for StoryCorps.

Established in 2003, StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind in the world. In 2005, StoryCorps converted an Airstream trailer into a traveling recording studio–a MobileBooth–and launched its first cross-country tour, visiting cities and towns across the country to record the stories of the American people. Partnering with local public radio stations, cultural institutions, and community-based organizations, StoryCorps invites pairs of participants to spend an hour in the MobileBooth recording their stories. Each week, millions of people listen to excerpts of these compelling conversations on NPR’s Morning Edition and on StoryCorps’ Listen page. In recognition of its activities, the Brooklyn-based non-profit has received numerous awards, including two Peabody Awards, and in 2015, its founder, David Isay, received a TED Prize. In 2015 StoryCorps also launched an app, an innovative tool with which anyone can collect stories from friends or acquaintances using mobile devices such as phones.

Joining AFC for this "Open Mic" discussion will be StoryCorps staffers Naomi Blech, Talya Cooper, Felix Lopez, and Stacey Todd.

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Naomi Blech
Naomi Blech
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Naomi Blech began her work with StoryCorps' Mobile Tour after earning her degree in Sociology from Barnard College. As a facilitator, Naomi strives to create a space for all individuals to meaningfully share their stories. She is particularly interested in the intersection of personal narratives and ethnographic research.


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Talya Cooper
Talya Cooper
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Talya Cooper is the Archive Manager at StoryCorps and has been with the organization since 2007. She holds a Master's in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Barnard College.


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Felix Lopez
Felix Lopez
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Felix Lopez began his time at StoryCorps with the Print and Animation department before starting his current role as a Bilingual Mobile Facilitator. Prior to working with StoryCorps, Felix worked in education and arts administration. He earned his bachelor’s degree in History and Chinese Language & Culture from the University of Michigan.

 


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Stacy Todd
Stacy Todd
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Stacey Todd is a native of Michigan and has sailed extensively throughout the Great Lakes, the Andaman Sea, and the Philippines. She earned her bachelor's degree in Linguistics at Brooklyn College. She has been with StoryCorps since 2013 and is thrilled to travel the country full-time with StoryCorps' Mobile Tour.

 

 

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


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

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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   April 21, 2016
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