The latest episode of WFIU’s program Artworks does a great job of introducing the work of two of my IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology colleagues. Kate Horigan discusses so-called urban legends, the subject of one of her current courses. On the occasion of Traditional Arts Indiana being recognized with a Governor’s Arts Award, Jon Kay describes its many projects around the state of Indiana. No point of my writing about it, when the great show is there ready for you to listen to. Find it here:
Posts from the ‘Folklore Studies’ Category
Many things have been happening lately–so many that keeping up with them here has been difficult. Many good things have gone unreported and some bad current events (global and national, not personal) have gone un-commented upon. I am pleased though to celebrate the conclusion of the 2013 Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology. I was invited to join the institute for its last week and a half and to participate in its concluding symposium at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) on the Mall in Washington. In the symposium, SIMA’s twelve graduate student participants presented the initial findings of their four-week research projects utilizing the (amazing) collections–both objects and archival materials–of the NMNH Department of Anthropology. The students came to SIMA from many different graduate programs and backgrounds and possessed a diversity of historical, ethnographic, topical, and theoretical interests. They did wonderful work and I learned a lot from their studies and from their careful and compelling reporting. While they have further to go, of course, with their projects, I think that it is pretty exciting to hear the results of four intensive weeks of research as the concluding act of that same four week process. Quite remarkable.
I am very appreciative of my continued association with this wonderful program. I am glad that I have been able to help it continue moving along so well.
SIMA will happen again next summer. Details will be posted here on the SIMA website in the months ahead.
I was happy tonight to attend the opening for a great new exhibition organized by the Sage Collection and presented at the Indiana University Center for Art and Design Columbus (IUCA+D Columbus). Curated by Sage Assistant Curator Kelly Richardson, the exhibition is titled UBIQUI-TEE: T-Shirts Design Culture. It does a great job of framing the diversity of t-shirts and their many uses in global culture. The show was strikingly presented in a beautiful setting, the still relatively new design-focused center in beautiful downtown Columbus, Indiana.
Extensive Sage collections were supplemented by loans from a number of individuals and institutions, including the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, which lent shirts collected in Native American and African contexts as well as two wonderful, recently collected t-shirt quilts.
Congratulations to Kelly and everyone involved in the new show.
(Columbus had a great downtown. Go see the show.)
Today the Journal of Folklore Research Reviews (JFRR) published my review of A Companion to Folklore edited by Regina F. Bendix and Galit Hasan-Rokem. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). It was an honor to be asked to review such a key volume in the field. Find the review online here: http://indiana.edu/~jofr/review.php?id=1416
Today I had the privilege of beginning work as Director of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. I will surely write about the work of the museum extensively in the months ahead. Here I just want to thank the museum’s staff for welcoming me and thank the Indiana University administration for giving me this exceptional opportunity to do the work that I love.
I could single out countless museum objects, collections, colleagues, goals, or aspirations to write about here, but I will use this post to acknowledge the long and important service of my predecessor Geoffrey W. Conrad. The Mathers Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and Geoff led the museum for nearly 30 of those years. The museum accomplished a tremendous amount over those three decades and it is exciting to have a chance to collaborate in building upon the solid foundation that Geoff and the staff built over the span of his long and distinguished career leading the museum.
During 2013, I will have the honor of editing the Journal of Folklore Research. I will be serving for a year as Interim Editor, bridging Moria Marsh’s editorship and the anticipated service of an outstanding departmental colleague who will be away from campus next year. The opportunity is a valuable one and the time is most auspicious, as 2013 will see the publication of the journal’s 50th volume.
With roots that go back to 1942 and a number of earlier publications, the journal that we now know as JFR was founded in 1964 as the Journal of the Folklore Institute. The journal’s name was changed to its current form in 1983. Long published by Indiana University’s Folklore Institute (which would later become the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology), the journal has been published in its current period in a partnership between the Department and the Indiana University Press. Today the journal is prominently included and heavily used in key services such as JSTOR and Project Muse. It has long maintained a distinctive and international voice in folklore studies and ethnology and has benefitted from a global community of supporters, led by its team of corresponding editors. In keeping with the mandate of its departmental home, the journal has welcomed work by ethnomusicologists throughout its history.
I have learned much shadowing the journal’s able staff throughout the fall and, while Moria begins enjoying life after editing, I will enjoy continuing, in the year ahead, alongside Managing Editor Danille Christensen and Editorial Assistant Miriam Woods. In my preliminary work, I have already learned a tremendous amount about the fields in which JFR publishes. I look forward to the work, and the year, ahead.
Thanks to everyone who has made JFR a success over the past five decades.
As noted previously here at Shreds and Patches, a paper of mine is forthcoming in the Journal of American Folklore. Today is one of those days that scholars dread: discovering–too late–the work of another scholar that deals exactly with the matters taken up in a work of their own that is now fixed in print, precluding acknowledgement of the newly discovered source. Here is the story.
Building upon an aside in my dissertation (Bloomington: Indiana University, 1997) and my book Yuchi Ceremonial Life (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), my forthcoming article (“The Story of Colonialism, or Rethinking the Ox-hide Purchase in Native North America and Beyond”) is based on a lecture composed for a conference–Colonization and Narrative Migrations: Legends of Occupation from the Mediterranean to the Americas–organized by the Center for Folklore Studies at the Ohio State University and held December 12, 2005. After being presented at the American Folklore Society meetings (October 19, 2006) and to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma (January 26, 2007), the paper was revised and submitted to the Journal of American Folklore on May 27, 2011. Following peer-review and acceptance (July 10, 2011) by the journal’s editors, a final author’s version was submitted on July 30, 2011. At this time, a projected publication date was set for early 2013. On August 5, 2011, I posted (in accord with JAF author rights policies) a open access version of the paper here on my website.
I received the copy edited manuscript on August 13, 2012 and the page proofs on November 2, 2012. On Wednesday, November 21, 2012, I recieved, in my role as editor of Museum Anthropology Review, a review copy of Andrew Newman’s On Records: Delaware Indians, Colonists, and the Media of History and Memory (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012). On seeing this volume for the first time, I noticed that it covered much of the same territory addressed in my article. Interested in learning more about the author and his work, I then consulted his professional webpage and learned that the specific section of the book overlapping with my article was also presented in his contribution (“Closing the Circle: Mapping a Native Account of Colonial Land Fraud”) to the volume Early American Cartographies edited by Martin Brückner (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011). The University of North Carolina Press website shows this volume as having been published in December 2011 (after my paper was in press).
I regret not knowing that Andrew Newman was pursuing work on these materials and issues concurrently with me. Had I known of his work in time to do so, I would have certainly incorporated it into my final version. The case offers an interesting opportunity to consider what two scholars at work independently and contemporaneously can make of the same set of cultural materials.
Congratulations to Professor Newman (and the University of Nebraska Press) on the publication of his new book.
Having been asked to do so, I am happy to share news that the Smithsonian Institution is seeking applications for the position of Director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. This is an important and exciting post. See the details below:
The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution, is accepting applications and nominations for a Director. The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is responsible for planning, developing, and managing programs which have as their major objectives the research, documentation, presentation and conservation of living traditional and grassroots folk cultures of the United States and of other countries. The director is responsible for the administrative direction and management of all Center program activities including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, exhibitions, symposia, scholarly research, cultural heritage policy, educational projects and all media, as well as the participation of other Smithsonian museums and programs in national celebration events and National Mall events. The Director represents, at national and international levels, Smithsonian concerns relating to the understanding of the cultural representation of living heritage, as well as public sector folklore, and policies related to them. The Director will have a proven track record of leadership, management and fundraising skills to run a unique multi-disciplinary cultural organization. The successful applicant must have a degree in a relevant field, management level experience in public programming, and have earned a presence in the scholarly and/or cultural community. The Smithsonian offers a competitive salary commensurate with experience and a comprehensive benefit plan including a lucrative, fully vested retirement program with TIAA- CREF. For detailed information on the position, qualifications and application instructions, go to http://www.sihr.si.edu/jobs.cfm and scroll to position announcement EX-13-01. We are only accepting online applications for this position. For questions or additional information, contact Tom Lawrence, 202-633-6319 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
A perfect example of how scholarly research in folklore and anthropology can be made accessible and interesting for a wider audience is the Artisan Ancestors podcast produced and hosted by my friend and colleague Jon Kay. (Jon is, among other roles, the Director of Traditional Arts Indiana.) If you have not yet encountered the Artisan Ancestors show, I urge you to check it out. As Jon describes it, the focus of the show is on strategies for “researching creative lives and handmade things.” Jon does interviews with people involved in such work with the goals of encouraging and guiding newcomers to such studies and of expanding the horizons of those already deeply involved. Long adept in the skills of the public folklorist, Jon has mastered the podcast genre. He is a great interviewer and he knows how to do in interview with the needs of his audience and the requirements of the medium in mind. The production values are high but it is clear that he has worked out a system that gets good results without endless, expensive work.
In his newest episode (#26) Jon interviews Dr. Candace Greene, another friend and the Director of the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA). The interview explores the purposes and goals of SIMA in a way that not only introduces this training program (for which I was a faculty member this past summer) but also encourages deeper understanding of the broader value of museum collections for research in social and cultural history. It is a great interview and listening to it will illustrate not only the value of the SIMA effort but also suggest the value of podcasting initiatives such as Artisan Ancestors. Kudos to Jon and Candace for their great job with this episode.
The William C. Sturtevant collection includes a nice group of coiled, sea grass baskets created by the African American weavers of the Sea Island region near Charleston, South Carolina. The better documented of these were collected by William C. Sturtevant in 1959. In this group is the basket shown above. It was made by Mary Jane Manigault (1913-2010), a basket maker who would go on (25 years later) to be awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1984.
There is a rich literature about the Sea Island basketry tradition. A recent work is the exhibition catalog Grass Roots: The African Origins of an American Art. The volume was edited by Dale Rosengarten, Theodore Rosengarten, and Enid Schildkrout and published by the Museum of African Art in 2008. The associated exhibition led to free online resources on the subject being made available through the Museum of African Art, the National Museum of African Art, and the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.
Interestingly, one of William Sturtevant’s photographs from his 1959 visit to the Sea Island region was featured in the Grass Roots exhibition’s online presence. It is an image of Pearl Dingle weaving a basket at her family’s stand in Mt. Pleasant South Carolina. You can see it on the McKissick website.
The rich obituary for Mrs. Manigault published on the website for the documentary film Bin Yah: There is No Place Like Home is definitely worth checking out. It notes that her baskets are among those in the amazing Sea Island collection curated at the Mathers Museum (at Indiana University) where I work as a Faculty Curator. The NEA National Heritage Fellow profile for her is another great online resource.
This basket is currently identified as T331 and is from the William C. Sturtevant Collection, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.