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Archive: 2021 (43 Posts)

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Saint George and the Hacker: A Zoom Meeting Mummers Play

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The American Folklife Center's 2021 Mummers play is about a zoom meeting that gets invaded by a hacker who won't let the participants leave until he gets a bitcoin ransom. 2021 has felt like a zoom meeting that wouldn't end, so we hope our audience can relate! Find a video of the play and the complete annotated script in this blog!

A man and woman surrounded by six children, who are examining gifts being unpacked from a large hamper. The father holds a turkey by the feet.

Scrooge’s Prize Turkey: Victorian Christmas Foodways in Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”

Posted by: Stephen Winick

This post is part of an occasional series about ethnography and folklore in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.  Find the whole series here! In our last look at the foodways of Dickens’s classic story A Christmas Carol, we examined the joy the Cratchits take in their small but serviceable Christmas goose, as Scrooge and the Ghost …

Eight people sit around a table. At one end, a woman carves a goose.

Cooking the Cratchits’ Goose: Urban Foodways in Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol reveals an interesting fact about Victorian London: many working class people lacked cooking facilities, with only a hearth fire in their homes. In this post, we'll see some of their strategies for cooking a meal by looking at the Cratchits, the only working class family depicted in the book in a detailed way. We'll also look beyond the Cratchits to other London families in the same boat, and show how Dickens expresses social and political ideas about foodways through Scrooge and his interactions.

Illustration of a man in a chair by a fireplace interacting with a standing ghost

What Scrooge Ate on Christmas Eve: Folk Belief, Folk Medicine, and Foodways in Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In this post, we read segments of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol ethnographically, exploring the aspects of cultural context that stand out as different, surprising, and in need of explanation. In particular, this year we'll examine unusual aspects of Dickensian foodways. In this first post, we'll find out how to determine what Scrooge ate on Christmas Eve, and discuss supernatural belief and folk medicine along the way.

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Homegrown Plus: PIQSIQ Inuit-Style Throat Singing

Posted by: Stephen Winick

It's been a while since we posted a Homegrown Plus post! In this ongoing series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We're continuing the series with PIQSIQ, an Inuit style throat singing duo who characterize their style as being "galvanized by darkness and haunting northern beauty." PIQSIQ is composed of sisters Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik and Kayley Inuksuk Mackay. These talented performers come together to create a unique duo, performing ancient traditional songs along with new compositions. The two grew up in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, with roots in Nunavut, Canada's northernmost territory. After years of hard work on their music, they have developed their own form, blending haunting melodies and otherworldly sounds. As PIQSIQ, they perform their songs with live improvisational looping, creating a dynamic audience experience that changes with every show. In this blog, you'll find their November 2020 concert and their February 2021 oral history interview.

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Pandemic Folk Architecture: Outdoor Dining Sheds and Urban Creativity on the Sidewalks of New York

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The following is a guest post by AFC Senior Folklife Specialist Nancy Groce. Adaptation. New Yorkers are nothing if not adaptable – and creative. Both traits are essential for surviving and flourishing in one of the world’s busiest and most complex cities. The Covid-19 pandemic has only added to the challenges and complexity of New …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

La Llorona: Storytelling for Halloween and Día de Muertos

Posted by: Stephen Winick

La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, is a spirit that haunts the folklore of Mexico and other Latin American countries. In some versions she's a ghost, but in others she's an immortal wanderer, not dead but not really alive either. So far in the series, we've introduced the legend, given some of its history, explored songs related to La Llorona, and discussed the story's role in growing up. Now, we present a telling of the tale. The post contains audio and a transcript of a performance by Joe Hayes, one of the best known storytellers from the American southwest. Hayes's bilingual Spanish-English storytelling has earned him a distinctive place among America’s professional storytellers.

A woman in Día de Muertos makeup

La Llorona on the Folklife Today Podcast

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Halloween and Día de Muertos are almost here! So, believe it or not, Season 4, Episode 1 of the Folklife Today Podcast, our 2021 Halloween and Día de Muertos episode, is ready for listening! It features interviews about the Weeping Woman, La Llorona, a spirit from Latin American folklore, plus related songs and stories. The people interviewed are Juan Díes, leader of the Sones de Mexico Ensemble, Camille Acosta, who wrote her masters thesis on La Llorona before interning at AFC, and Allina Migoni, AFC's Latinx subject specialist. This blog contains links to download the podcast, background on our guests, and links to full audio of the songs.

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Growing Up with La Llorona

Posted by: Stephen Winick

This is the fourth blog post in a series about La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, a spirit that haunts the folklore of Mexico and other Latin American countries. We'll present comments on the legend by the writer Rudolfo Anaya, the scholar Domino Renee Perez, our former intern and Llorona expert Camille Acosta, pioneering Costa Rican writer Manuel Argüello Mora, and Esperanza Sernas, a restaurant worker interviewed in 1977 by fieldworker Philip George for AFC's Chicago Ethnic Arts Project. This blog also contains one of the most gruesome traditional descriptions of La Llorona we've seen so far! The whole series will be published in time for Día de Muertos (aka Día de los Muertos) 2021, so stay tuned....