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Benjamin A. Botkin. Photo courtesy of the National Council for the Traditional Arts.

Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series

Through the Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series, the American Folklife Center presents the best of current research and practice in Folklore, Folklife, and closely related fields. The year-round series of monthly lectures invites professionals from both academia and the public sector to present findings from their ongoing research and fieldwork. The Botkin series is free and open to the general public. In addition, each lecture is video and audio recorded by the AFC for permanent deposit in the Archive of Folk Culture, where students, scholars, and other interested people can access them.

Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975) was a pioneering folklorist who believed that people continually create folklore out of their collective experiences. According to historian Jerrold Hirsch, Botkin "attempted to formulate an approach to the study of American folklore that took into account the nation's different regions, races, and classes, and showed the interrelationship between folk, popular, and high culture." Botkin worked on the interregional Folk-Say anthologies (1929-32), was national folklore editor of the Federal Writers' Project (1938-39), chief editor of the Writers' Unit of the Library of Congress Project (1939-1941), head of the Archive of American Folksong (1942-45), and author of numerous folklore treasuries, beginning with A Treasury of American Folklore (1944). Botkin left today's folklorists an inspiring treasury of ideas and phrases that they readily use and honor, and the American Folklife Center itself is heavily indebted to his work as both a folklorist and a government official. For all these reasons, the American Folklife Center has chosen to name this lecture series in his honor. >> more about Benjamin Botkin


Schedule to be posted.

Past 2009 Lectures:

January 27, 2009, 12:00 noon - 1:00 pm
Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor, James Madison Building

Robert ProvineRevolutionaries, Nursery Rhymes, and Edison Wax Cylinders: The Remarkable Tale of the Earliest Korean Sound Recordings, presented by Robert Provine, University of Maryland.

On July 24, 1896, the pioneering ethnologist Alice Fletcher recorded six wax cylinders documenting the singing of three Koreans who were studying in Washington, D.C. Now housed in the American Folklife Center Archive, these cylinders have proved to be the earliest known recordings of Korean music. As interesting as the recordings themselves, are the extraordinary circumstances surrounding how they came to be made, as well as the remarkable group of people, both Korean and American, who were involved in this landmark project. This richly illustrated lecture explores the historical circumstances and the musical significance of these remarkable and remarkably early wax cylinders. Ethnomusicologist Robert Provine is a Professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Music. From 1978 until 2000, he was Professor of Music at the University of Durham in the U.K. A past President of the Association for Korean Studies in Europe, he is author of Essays on Sino-Korean Musicology: Early Sources for Korean Ritual Music (1988), as well as numerous articles on Korean traditional music.

Botkin Lecture Series Online Archive

Includes descriptions of each lecture and informational essays from the event flyers. Online video of the lectures are available for selected events.

2008 Lecture Series

2007 Lecture Series

2006 Lecture Series

2005 Lecture Series

2004 Lecture Series


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  home >> events and announcements >> Botkin Lecture Series

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  The Library of Congress >> Research Centers
  January 27, 2009
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