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Image: Benjamin Botkin
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.

2013 Botkin Lectures

January 30, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Whitthall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building

The Will to Adorn: African American Identity and the Aesthetics of Dress, presented by Diana Baird N'Diaye, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Diana Baird N'Diaye is a Cultural Heritage Specialist and Curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Her research interests, specialties, and publications span the areas of African and African Diaspora folklife and ethnicity, ethnoaesthetics of dress, craft and design; cultural representation, heritage education, community-based tourism and cultural policy. She has curated Smithsonian Folklife Festival programs and exhibitions on Senegal, the communities, children's play, and performance of Maroon, African immigrant culture, Bermuda, Haiti and most recently on the African roots of Virginia's culture. She also coordinated program components on fashion for the Silk Road and Mali Festivals. She directed the Smithsonian's participation in the South African National Cultural Heritage Training and Technology Program, in partnership with Michigan State University, the Chicago Historical Society, and several South African cultural institutions. She has served on the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society, on the faculty of Georgetown University's African Studies Program, and as an advisor to several cultural and humanities institutions including UNESCO. She holds a PhD in anthropology and visual studies from The Union Institute.

Beautiful Music All Around Us book cover
Margaret R. Yocom

February 20, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Whitthall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building

The Cinderella No One Knows: The Grimm Brothers' Tale of Incest, Fur, and Hidden Bodies, presented by Margaret Yocom, George Mason University.

Folklorist Margaret R. Yocom is a professor in the English Department of George Mason University who specializes in traditional narrative, material culture, family folklore, and gender studies. The director of the Northern Virginia Folklife Archive, she established the English Department's Folklore, Mythology, and Literature Concentration; the Folklore and Mythology Minor; and the Folklore Concentration in Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. She teaches courses in traditional narrative and storytelling, traditional arts, folkore and gender, ethnographic writing, the traditional ballad, and folklore and creative writing. She holds a PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has pubished and edited widley in the field of Folklife and is also a published poet. Her current work in progress is a book on the traditional arts of the Richard family of Rangeley, Maine, entitled "Generations in Wood."

Beautiful Music All Around Us book cover

March 27, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Whitthall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building

The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience, book talk by Stephen Wade, Researcher and Author.

Stephen Wade will be presenting a talk related to the research for his recent book, The Beautiful Music All Around Us: Field Recordings and the American Experience (2012), which takes as its starting point thirteen iconic performances captured on Library of Congress field recordings between 1934 and 1942 in locations reaching from Southern Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta and onto the Great Plains. Through decades of research and detective work, musician Stephen Wade tracked down surviving performers and their families, fellow musicians, and community members. Weaving together loving and expert profiles of these performers with the histories of these songs and tunes, Stephen brings to life largely unheralded individuals—farm laborers, state prisoners, school children, cowboys, housewives and mothers, loggers and miners—whose music has become part of the wider American musical soundscape. By exploring how these singers and instrumentalists exerted their own creativity on inherited forms, "amplifying tradition's gifts," Stephen shows how a single artist can make a difference within a democracy.

April 3, 2013, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Whitthall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building

Anxieties of Authorship and Ownership: Intellectual Property and the Future of Indigenous Collections, presented by Jane Anderson, Centre for Heritage and Society, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts.

Jane Anderson is Assistant Professor in the Centre for Heritage and Society, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts and Adjunct Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Jane has a PhD in Law from the Law School at University of New South Wales in Australia. Her work is focused on the philosophical and practical problems for intellectual property law and the protection of Indigenous/traditional knowledge resources and cultural heritage. Since 2007 Jane has worked as an Expert Consultant for the World Intellectual Property Organization on a number of policy proposals for the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions. These include developing a framework for an international alternative dispute resolution/mediation service for intellectual property and Indigenous knowledge disputes, international guidelines for cultural institutions with collections of Indigenous cultural material and the development of site‐specific intellectual property protocols that help local communities enhance and support already existing knowledge management practices. Her most recent publications include Law, Knowledge, Culture: The Production of Indigenous Knowledge in Intellectual Property Law (2009), and the Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Issues Paper, Centre for the Study of the Public Domain, Duke University, 2010.

Botkin Lecture Series Online Archive

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

2005 Lecture Series

2004 Lecture Series


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   November 19, 2012
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