Benjamin A. Botkin, former head of the Archive of American Folk Song, Library of Congress. Photo courtesy
of the National Council for the Traditional Arts.
Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series
Through the Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series, the American
Folklife Center presents the best of current research and practice
in Folklore, Folklife, and closely related fields. The series invites professionals from academia
and the public sector to present findings from their research. The lectures are free and open to the public. In addition, each lecture is recorded for permanent deposit in the Archive of Folk Culture, where
researchers can access them.
Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975) was a pioneering
folklorist who believed that people continually create folklore
out of their collective experiences. He
was national folklore editor of the Federal Writers' Project
(1938-39), chief editor of the Writers' Unit of the Library
of Congress Project (1939-1941), head of the Archive of American
Folksong (1942-45), and author of numerous folklore treasuries. The American Folklife
Center is indebted to his work as both a folklorist
and a government official. For all these reasons, the American
Folklife Center has chosen to name this lecture series in his
honor. Select this link for a biographical sketch, " Benjamin
Botkin's Legacy-in-the-Making," by Jerrold Hirsch.
2012 Botkin Lectures
November 16, 2012, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Whitthall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building
I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy, a book talk by Bob Riesman.
A major figure in American blues and folk music, Big Bill Broonzy (1903–1958) left his Arkansas Delta home after World War I, headed north, and became the leading Chicago bluesman of the 1930s. His success came as he fused traditional rural blues with the electrified sound that was beginning to emerge in Chicago. This, however, was just one step in his remarkable journey: Big Bill was constantly reinventing himself, both in reality and in his retellings of it. Bob Riesman's groundbreaking biography tells the compelling life story of a lost figure from the annals of music history.
I Feel So Good traces Big Bill's career from his rise as a nationally prominent blues star, including his historic 1938 appearance at Carnegie Hall, to his influential role in the post-World War II folk revival, when he sang about racial injustice alongside Pete Seeger and Studs Terkel. Riesman's account brings the reader into the jazz clubs and concert halls of Europe, as Big Bill's overseas tours in the 1950s ignited the British blues-rock explosion of the 1960s. Interviews with Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, and Ray Davies reveal Broonzy's profound impact on the British rockers who would follow him and change the course of popular music.
Bob Riesman is co-editor of Chicago Folk: Images of the Sixties Music Scene: The Photographs of Raeburn Flerlage. He produced and co-wrote the television documentary American Roots Music: Chicago, and was a contributor to Routledge's Encyclopedia of the Blues.
Includes descriptions of each lecture and informational essays
from the event flyers. Links to webcasts of lectures are included as available.
2012 Lecture Series
2011 Lecture Series
2010 Lecture Series
2009 Lecture Series
2008 Lecture Series
2007 Lecture Series
2006 Lecture Series