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2004 Botkin Lectures

Online Archives of Past Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lectures

All of the materials from the Botkin Lectures are available to visitors in the Folklife Reading Room. Selected materials will be made available online as digital versions are available and as permissions from the authors can be obtained.

The PDF files of the event flyers on this page require Adobe Acrobat Reader (free from Adobe).

Thursday October 21, 2004 at Noon
Mumford Room, 6th Floor Madison Building

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel"From Bridge to Boardwalk, an Audio Journey Across Maryland's Eastern Shore" an illustrated lecture based on the CD and Book presented by Douglas Manger, folklorist at the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Tatiana Irvine, independent radio producer, and Elaine Eff, folklorist at the Maryland Historical Trust.

Read the event flyer essay (PDF 2 pages, 1157kb)

Assembled by folklorists and community scholars who know the Eastern Shore intimately, the CD and booklet From Bridge to Boardwalk includes two hours of interviews with some of the Shore's most interesting and revealing people, plus music tracks never before available on disc. A separate Booklet features a dozen essays on regional topics, photographs, and tips for learning more about Maryland's Eastern Shore. Contributors to this important work presented an illustrated lecture on the unique culture of the Eastern Shore.

Photo: The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Maryland.

Monday September 20, 2004 at Noon
Dining Room A, 6th Floor Madison Building

George Korson with miners, Nekirk Tunnel Mine 1946"The Lore of America's Coal Miners: A Fresh Look at the George Korson Collection" - presented by Angus Kress Gillespie, Professor of American Studies, Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey

Read the event flyer essay (PDF 2 pages, 1183kb)

Folklorist and journalist George Korson began collecting the songs and stories of anthracite miners in Pennsylvania in 1924, when labor conflicts were a prominent part of American culture. What began as a newspaper assignment became a life-long passion resulting in books, recordings, fieldwork documentation. Celebrating the gift of an archival collection of George Korson's work, including manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, and books by Kings College in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, this lecture by Korson biographer Angus K. Gillespie paid tribute to the life and work of George Korson. Professor Gillespie briefly reviewed Korson's accomplishments; traced the chain of custody of his papers; assessed Korson's place in intellectual history; and reported on the status of occupational folklore scholarship today.

Photo: George Korson, cap in hand, listens as James Muldowney plays the fiddle in the Newkirk Tunnel Mine during the 1946 Library of Congress field trip.

More about the work of Professor Gillespie may be found on his web site via Rutgers University: Angus Kress Gillespie

Recordings from the George Korson Collection available from the Library of Congress Sales Shop (shop online):

Songs and Ballads of the Anthracite Miners (Rounder CD 1502) This CD features the "minstrels of the mine patch" in the Pennsylvania anthracite region. Originally recorded and edited by George Korson in 1946-47.

Songs and Ballads of the Bituminous Miners (Rounder CD 1522) A companion to Songs and Ballads of the Anthracite Miners, this album of mining songs, documented in 1940 by "folklorist of the coal fields" George Korson, presents the performances of bituminous (soft coal) miners, from the time before automation drastically changed the way their work was done.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 at Noon
Dining Room A, 6th Floor Madison Building

Patent medicine label for "Indian Expectorant""From Patent Medicines to Patents for Indigenous Knowledge -- Material and Spiritual Economies" — an illustrated lecture by Margaret Kruesi, American Folklife Center

Read the event flyer essay

People's stories of their illness and healing experiences preserve first-hand knowledge of illness and address anxiety about health within the family and the broader community. In many respects, patent medicines of 150 years ago and the search for new drugs to be patented in the twenty-first century have little in common. Now, specific biochemical compounds and genetic materials are sought after for patents. But in both cases, the first-hand knowledge of native people and their narratives about healing experiences may play crucial roles in access to these medicines, and in both cases, issues of the exploitation of various groups are at stake. This illustrated talk explored the marketplaces for patent medicine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the material and spiritual exchanges that take place in illness and healing narratives and rituals in contemporary societies; and reflected on the current economic interest in "indigenous knowledge" as it is related to traditional knowledge and healing.

Photo: Louden & Co. Indian Expectorant label

Friday July 16, 2004 at Noon
West Dining Room, 6th Floor Madison Building

Basque performers at an Idaho FestivalBasque Culture in the Western United States — an illustrated lecture by Maria Carmen RA. Gambliel, Director Folk and Traditional Arts Program, Idaho Commission on the Arts

Read the event flyer essay (PDF)

The first Basque pioneers came to the United States in the 1860s to escape the restricted economy and military conscription of in the Spanish and French Basque provinces. After two generations their Amerikanuak descendents looked back to the Basque country and the culture of their extended families to find out what it really meant to be Basque.

Photo: Basque performers at an Idaho festival. Photo by Maria Carmen Gambliel. Part of the documentation in Idaho Local Legacies projects.

Wednesday June 16, 2004 at Noon
Room 119, Thomas Jefferson Building

Young woman placing wreath in the water in an  Ivan Kupalo ritual

Ivan Kupalo: Ritual in Post-Soviet Ukraine — an Illustrated lecture by Dr. Natalie Kononenko, Professor of Slavic Languages, Literatures, and Folklore at the University of Virginia.

Read the event flyer essay (PDF 2 pages, 891kb)

Ivan Kupalo, the mid-summer celebration of St. John the Baptist, an ancient festival with deep pre-Christian roots, is a ritual that virtually disappeared during the Soviet period, but is now celebrated across Central Ukraine. Natalie Kononenko discussed the re-emergence of this ritual in the Ukraine and its importance in Ukrainian cultural identity.

Photo: a young woman places a wreath in water as part of an Ivan Kupalo ritual


Tuesday May 25, 2004
West Dining Room, 6th Floor Madison Building

"Music" Chinese Calligrayph by Judy LuEight Sounds of Chinese Musical Instruments — an illustrated lecture by Nora Yeh, Ethnomuisicologist, American Folklife Center

Read the event flyer essay (PDF 2 pages, 365kb)

Nora YehThis lecture traced the history and development of traditional Chinese music and musical instruments, with illustrations of the sounds of instruments and pictures of the instruments themselves dating from 2100 BCE to the present.

Nora Yeh, currently an archivist at the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, received both her MA and PhD from UCLA. She has taught at UC Santa Barbaa; served as a panelist for NEA and as a consultant for the governments of China and Taiwan; received awards to conduct research on East and Southeast Asia; and contributed to publications on Chinese and Asian American performing arts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 at noon
Mumford Room, 6th Floor Madison Building

Yodel-Ay-Ee-Ooo book cover"Yodel-Ay-Ee-Ooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World" — a lecture by Bart Plantenga based on his recent book. Featuring yodelers Randy Irwin and Cathy Fink

Read the event flyer essay (PDF 2 pages, 888kb)

Bart Plantenga's Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World (2004) looked at yodeling as a global phenomenon. Bart Plantenga is the author of cultural, musical, and historical journalism, fiction, and non-fiction.

Photo: Yodel-Ay-Ee-Ooo book cover

Tuesday March 23, 2004 at noon
Dining Room A, 6th Floor of the Madison Building

Grave stone with a portrait of a young man decorated with flowers and  a birthday ballon"Giving a Voice to Sorrow: Creative Responses to Death" — an illustrated lecture presented by Ilana Harlow of the American Folklife Center.

Read the event flyer essay (PDF 2 pages, 1196kb)

Many traditional responses to death involve creativity. This is evident in the stories, music, and art connected to funerary rites. In our time, in addition to these traditions ands sometimes in lieu of them, it has become increasingly common for mourners and the terminally ill to craft personal rituals and memorial art in response to death. Folklorist Ilana Harlow presented illustrations of this trend from her fieldwork and explored its significance.

Photo: Gravestone with a portrait of a young man decorated with flowers and a birthday balloon.

Wednesday February 25, 2004 at noon
Dining Room A, 6th Floor of the Madison Building

Bob Ledbetter with child on his lap"Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories" presented by John Barton, American Folklife Center.

Read the event flyer essay (PDF 2 pages, 988kb)

Go to the online presentation: "Voices from the Days of Slavery"

"Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories"" is a new American Memory presentation that provides the opportunity to listen to former slaves describe their lives. These recorded interviews, conducted between 1932 and 1975, capture the recollections of twenty-three people born between 1823 and the early 1860s and known to have been former slaves.

Photo: Bob Ledbetter, age 72 or 73, interviewed by John Lomax in Oil City, Louisiana, October, 1940.

Thursday, January 22, 2004 at noon
Dining Room A, 6th floor of the James Madison Building

Chinese papercut of a girl dancing"Chinese Folk Art Today" — an illustrated lecture by Xianrang Yong, Artist and professor emeritus of the Bejing Central Academy of Fine Arts

Read the event flyer essay (PDF 2 pages, 715kb)

Xianrang Yong was born in Yangma Island, Muping, Shandong Province, Peoples Republic of China in 1930. He spent his early years in Inchon, Korea and returned to China to earn a diploma in painting from the Bejing National Arts Academy in 1952. In 1880 he became a founding member of the Central Academy of Fine arts Folk Arts Department, for which he served as Chairman until 1990. In his lecture, Professor Yong focused on the origin, development, and current state of Chinese folk arts. (Professor Yong changed the spelling of his name from Yang to Yong. The flyer text gives his name as Yang.)

Image: Chinese paper cut
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