The Folklife Today Halloween Podcast is Live
As we hope you’ve come to expect, we have something very special in store this Halloween. As I mentioned in our last post, we’re launching the Folklife Today Podcast on October 29, and hey…that’s today! The first episode is called “Haunting Tunes for Halloween.” It’s hosted by John Fenn and me, and it shares some great songs and tunes with comments and recollections by the two of us, along with Nancy Groce, Carl Fleischhauer, Jennifer Cutting, Nicole Saylor, and Gerret and Jeff Warner. It also includes a clip from Jack Santino’s classic 1982 lecture on Halloween, of which I’ll say more in a moment.
Some of the songs in the episode have already appeared on the blog with somewhat different curatorial commentary. We’re proud of the interviews we did scaring up the opinions and recollections of our guests, but you can find our previous takes on these tunes at the following posts:
We’ll be adding episodes about once a month for the time being, with a plan to create more frequent episodes if time allows in the future.
Bonus Audio: Jack Santino’s Lecture
As I mentioned, “Haunting Tunes for Halloween,” features a short clip from Jack Santino’s 1982 lecture on the holiday, which was held right here at the Library of Congress. In honor of the holiday, we’re presenting the full-length lecture here on the blog. Find it in the player below.
Jack makes an interesting point at the beginning of the talk: the lecture became part of his own way of honoring the holiday. That has become true for us as well: Jack’s lecture is an annual tradition for us. We published a shorter form of the lecture as an essay, and reading and re-reading it, thinking about it, and even responding to it have become important parts of Halloween for us at AFC. Our first blog post here at Folklife Today was in response to Jack’s article, and was posted 5 years ago tomorrow.
Speaking of anniversaries, today is the 36th anniversary of Jack Santino’s lecture, which was held in our Whittall Pavilion (downstairs from the room where I write this) on October 29, 1982. Jack was then working for the Smithsonian Institution as a folklorist, but moved on to chair the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University, to be president of the American Folklore Society, and to author two books about Halloween and another about holidays in American life. Because of all this, I thought it would be fun to digitize the audio of Jack’s 1982 lecture and present it on the blog. Now that I’ve listened to it, I’m delighted (but not surprised) to report that it’s a treasure, and I’m sure I’ll be listening to it at least annually from now on.
Throughout the lecture, Jack refers to slides he is displaying on a screen. In some cases, the images are proprietary, and his descriptions are full enough that you don’t need to see them anyway, but in some cases we had the pictures on hand, or a good substitute. Below the player find a selection of the images. In the captions, I’ll put in the time code of where Jack mentions each image. The image at the very top of the post is from the Mexican tradition of Calaveras, which Jack discusses at 16:15. You can see more such images from Library of Congress collections at this link.
Dr. Jack Santino holds a professorship in Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University and is Director of the Bowling Green Center for Culture Studies. His work focuses on the practices of American holidays, celebrations, and festivals; as emergent rituals and memorialization; as well as occupational culture and popular music. From 1996 until 2000, Dr. Santino was the editor of the Journal of American Folklore. From 2002 to 2003, he was the President of the American Folklore Society. He has worked on ethnographic films, notably the multiple Emmy Award-winning Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle: The Story of the Black Pullman Porter. He has published scholarly articles in major folklore journals, and is the author or editor of many books, including The Hallowed Eve: Dimensions of a Calendar Festival in Northern Ireland; Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life; All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life; New Old-Fashioned Ways: Holidays and Popular Culture; Signs of War and Peace: Social Conflict and the Uses of Symbols in Public; and Spontaneous Shrines and the Public Memorialization of Death.
So now we recommend you make yourself some hot mulled cider or other seasonal treat. (Remember, there was no such thing as pumpkin spice latte in 1982.) Then get comfy by the fire and listen to our podcast (above), and Jack Santino’s fascinating, touching, and at times prescient commentary on the holiday of Halloween (below). You’ll find images directly beneath that.