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Category: Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series

A man speaks to an audience

Cormac Ó hAodha and the Múscraí Gaeltacht: Botkin Plus Podcast!

Posted by: Stephen Winick

We're back with another entry in the Botkin Plus series AND another episode of the Folklife Today podcast! In this entry, we'll provide the video of a Botkin Lecture and a podcast interview, both of them featuring Cormac Ó hAodha. Cormac is the most recent Lovelace Fellow (aka Lomax Scholar) at the Library of Congress's John W. Kluge Center. That's a fellowship established within the Kluge Center especially for the study of the Alan Lomax collection, one of the American Folklife Center's signature collections. Cormac comes from the village of Cúil Aodha in the Múscraí Gaeltacht of Co. Cork in Ireland, a recognized heartland of the Irish language and traditional Irish-language singing. He is conducting in-depth research on the material Lomax collected some 73 years ago from singers in the Múscraí singing tradition, the same singing tradition Cormac grew up in and is a part of. Some of the people recorded by Lomax are Cormac's relatives, and his research seeks to illuminate their songs, their language, and their traditions. Follow the link to the post, the video, and the podcast!

Dr. Melissa Cooper delivering a lecture as part of the American Folklife Center's Benjamin A. Botkin Lecture Series at the Whittall Pavilion at the Library of Congress.

Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus: Dr. Melissa Cooper, Scholar of Gullah Geechee Cultural History

Posted by: Douglas D. Peach

On April 10, 2024, Dr. Melissa Cooper (Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University-Newark) presented a fascinating lecture on Gullah Geechee cultural history at the Library of Congress, as part of the American Folklife Center's Benjamin A. Botkin Lecture Series. In this post, we highlight the video recording of Cooper's lecture and an oral history interview with Cooper, conducted by American Folklife Center staff members.

A man and a woman sit on chairs on a small stage.

Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus: Michael Ford, Mississippi Ethnographer, Photographer, Filmmaker, and Author

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Enjoy two video interviews with the ethnographer, photographer, and filmmaker Michael Ford. Michael first visited the American Folklife Center in 2014, soon after we were able to acquire his significant collection of materials documenting traditional life and culture in the hill country of northern Mississippi. Michael first moved to Mississippi in the 1970s after receiving his BFA in photography and film from Rochester Institute of Technology and an MS in broadcasting and film from Boston University. Michael became captivated with his new home, and soon became a part of community life. He completed an apprenticeship in a local blacksmith's shop and began to realize that local life and culture was rapidly changing. He spent several years documenting music, local farming practices, and other aspects of community life, primarily in Lafayette, Marshall, Tate, and Panola Counties in Mississippi. He shot over 16,000 feet of 16 mm film, recorded many hours of interviews and music, and took over 1000 still photographs. These have formed the basis of films, books, and more. As a special treat, we include links to streaming video of several of his films, exploring traditions of blues music, blacksmithing, quilting, and more! As usual for posts in this series, you'll find two embedded videos and a set of links to explore.

A man poses with a religious icon of Jesus

Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus: Joseph Palackal on Syriac Christian Music

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In the Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus series, we present selected lectures in our Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lectures series that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. In this post, we'll present a classic lecture from 2018: Joseph J. Palackal and his presentation Syriac Chants & Aramaic Christianity in India. As usual for posts in this series, you'll find a lecture video, an interview video, and a set of links to explore.

Head and Shoulders portrait of a man

Botkin Folklife Lectures Plus: Barry Jean Ancelet on Theory and Practice of Folklore in Cajun and Creole Louisiana

Posted by: Stephen Winick

In this post, we'll feature a Botkin Lecture classic: Barry Jean Ancelet, Professor Emeritus at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, speaking on Theory and Practice of Folklore in Cajun & Creole Louisiana. As usual, this blog features videos of both the lecture and an interview with Barry Jean Ancelet. As you'll hear John Fenn say in introducing our speaker, we have presented many eminent colleagues in the Botkin series, but few of them have made as significant an impact on the documentation, public awareness, and revitalization of their chosen areas of interest as Professor Ancelet has for Cajun and Creole culture in Louisiana. Even fewer of them have been officially knighted by the government of France for their efforts. Those are just a few of the reasons we're delighted to present his lecture in our series.

Portrait of Beverley Diamond

Botkin Folklife Lecture Premiere: Beverley Diamond

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome to a video premiere in the Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series! This lecture, Listening to Divergent Histories through Canadian Music, features ethnomusicologist Beverley Diamond, Professor Emerita, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland. Dr. Diamond is a Canadian ethnomusicologist who assumed the Canada Research Chair in Traditional Music at Memorial University in 2002. She has worked extensively with indigenous peoples in North America, Norway and Finland exploring the relationship of music to issues of cultural identity. In this video, Listening to Divergent Histories through Canadian Music, Dr. Diamond reflects on how her approaches to documenting culture have shifted over fifty years, echoing not only changes in the academic realm but changes in her relations with Indigenous and other culturally diverse communities. You’ll find the video embedded in this blog post.

Two women stand by a bust of Thomas Jefferson

Botkin Folklife Lecture Premiere: Paddy Bowman and Lisa Rathje

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Welcome to a video premiere in the Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series! This lecture features folklorists Paddy Bowman and Lisa Rathje, respectively the founding director and executive director of Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education. In this video, Bowman and Rathje present an overview of folklore in K-12 education in the U.S. They discuss their work with Local Learning, their visions, and the diverse and dynamic ways that folklorists and traditional artists are currently engaged in K-12, museum, and community education. For 30 years, Local Learning has trained American educators in folkloristics, created opportunities in education for traditional artists, created resources that bridge folklore and education, and developed important partnerships, including an ongoing relationship with Teaching with Primary Sources here at the Library of Congress. You'll find the video embedded in this blog post!

Head and shoulders portrait of Steve Zeitlin

Botkin Folklife Lecture Premiere: Steve Zeitlin

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The Poetry of Everyday Life: Reflections of an Urban Folklorist. Welcome to a video premiere in the Benjamin Botkin Folklife Lecture Series! This lecture features folklorist Steve Zeitlin, the founding director of City Lore, one of America’s leading research centers for the documentation of urban folklife and grassroots culture. You'll find the video embedded below! In his lecture, Steve eloquently reflects on his career, recounts some of his most meaningful projects, and discusses the relationship of folklore to everyday language and speech in contemporary America. Drawing on his experiences as both a folklorist and a poet, he discusses how colloquial speech and shared verbal art forms like poetry work to preserve cultural heritage and create community in a complex metropolitan landscape like New York and, more broadly, throughout 21st-century America.

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

“Show the Girls the Snakes!” – Watch as The Kitchen Sisters and Frances McDormand Charm the Library of Congress

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The American Folklife Center was delighted to relaunch our in-person Botkin Lectures on September 15 with a major event in the Coolidge Auditorium here at the Library of Congress. The evening presentation, which was part of the Live! At the Library series, featured the renowned documentarians The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva) in conversation with their friend and collaborator, the Academy-Award-winning actor Frances McDormand.  Fortunately, if you were unable to attend -- or you want to hear it again – the entire event was recorded on video, and you can watch it right in this blog post!