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Live Botkin Lectures Return to the Library with Martha Cooper September 7

In this photo by Sally Levin, Martha Cooper poses with her camera in front of a wall decorated with graffiti art. The image includes the words: Library of Congress American Folklife Center, Benjamin Botkin 2022 folklife lecture series, Martha Cooper, Graffiti, Folklore and Community Life: Photographing Contemporary Culture

Martha Cooper. Photo by Sally Levin.

The American Folklife Center is pleased to announce the return of live events in our Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series!  The first onsite Botkin lecture in over two years will be Wednesday, September 7, at 4:00 pm in the Whittall Pavilion, and will feature the renowned documentary photographer Martha Cooper.

Graffiti, Folklore and Community Life: Photographing Contemporary Culture
Featuring Martha Cooper

Wednesday, September 7, 2022
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm EDT
Thomas Jefferson Building – Whittall Pavilion (LJG45E)
10 1st Street SE, Washington, DC 20540

Martha Cooper has spent decades documenting contemporary culture throughout the world, and has worked closely with folklorists throughout her career. She is especially well-known for her urban photographs, including hip hop culture, children’s play, mural art, ethnic communities, community celebrations, and innumerable other topics. Her book with Henry Chalfant on New York City graffiti, entitled Subway Art, has been called “the graffiti bible.”

Martha Cooper has a long relationship with the American Folklife Center.  She was a fieldworker on AFC’s Working in Paterson project in the 1990s, and almost 3000 of her photos are online as part of the project’s collection.

In this presentation, Cooper will share some of her favorite photographs and discuss her projects, approaches, and reflections on photography and documentation.

As with all our live events, we ask that you request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or [email protected]

For further information and updates, visit this link.

We have already announced our next very exciting live Botkin lecture, featuring the Kitchen Sisters and their special guest Frances McDormand, on September 15.  Find out more at this link!

The Kitchen Sisters and Frances McDormand Live at the Library of Congress September 15

The American Folklife Center is delighted to announce a live program at the Library of Congress:
Live! at the Library: The Kitchen Sisters with Frances McDormand
Stories from the B Side of History
Presented by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
September 15, 2022, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Library of Congress, Coolidge Auditorium

This event is part of the Live! at the Library series and the Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series.

Admission is free, but attendees must secure tickets at the link provided in this blog post. All the info is in the post!

Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus: Camille Moreddu on French American Traditions

This post features a lecture by Camille Moreddu, a cultural historian from France who is studying what she calls the “French Creole Corridor,” French-speaking communities, primarily in the Upper Midwest, which retained fascinating French music and song recorded by collectors in the 20th and 21st centuries. In her lecture. Moreddu reviews the repertoire found in these and related collections–from Great Lakes voyageurs’ songs and French-Canadian fiddle tunes to the ballads, winter ritual songs, and local songs of the Creole settlements of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. She also discusses methods and experiences of the different collectors; the histories of colonial era Francophone settlers as well as later immigrants from France, Belgium, and Canada; and how the French cultural presence was integrated into the narrative and historiography of the American frontier. We also conducted a brief question and answer session with Moreddu, and appended it to the lecture video itself. Moreddu kindly did her lecture twice–once in English and once in French–to make it as accessible as possible to people with an interest in these collections, and we did the Q & A in both languages too!

Fieldwork During the Pandemic: Upcoming Online Lectures July 13 & 20

The American Folklife Center is happy to announce a two-part series of hour-long online Zoom presentations with live Q&A featuring recent and current Archie Green Fellows discussing the impact of the pandemic on their fieldwork experiences. We’re calling the event Occupational Folklife and Fieldwork in the Post-Pandemic World: Adaptation, Innovation, and the Future, Parts 1 & 2.  Registration is required, but don’t worry…you’ll find the registration links down near the bottom of this post!

Billy Bragg, Skiffle Historian and Singer, Visits the Library July 21

This blog post about the singer-songwriter Billy Bragg is part of a series called “Hidden Folklorists,” which examines the folklore work of surprising people, including people better known for other pursuits. Billy Bragg will be here for a book talk, July 21 at 7:00 pm in the Mumford Room of the James Madison Memorial Building. […]

Alan Jabbour 1942 – 2017

On behalf of the American Folklife Center, I’m very sad to pass on the news of the death of our founding director, Alan Jabbour. Alan was a folklorist, fiddler, fieldworker, and friend of the highest caliber, and he will be missed at AFC and around the world. AFC’s current director, Betsy Peterson, expressed the feelings […]

Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day

On Monday, January 19, we will be celebrating the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States. King, the foremost leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, was actually born eighty-six years ago today: January 15, 1929.  The Civil Rights Movement has struggled and continues to struggle for equal rights for all people, […]