I wish to note the passing of fellow Floridian and folklorist Stetson Kennedy. I did not know him, but I admire his work and his remarkable career. As the detailed obituary published Tuesday in the New York Times will suggest, he is very much a person worth knowing about. To have hung out with Woody Guthrie and Zora Neale Hurston, married seven times, and crippled the Ku Klux Klan via a Superman radio show and lived to 94–that’s a life. Rest in Peace.
Posts from the ‘Folklore’ Category
This is a shout-out. I have boundless respect and admiration for my senior colleague Hasan El-Shamy. Dr. El-Shamy is continuing to make crucial contributions to the social sciences and humanities, especially in his beloved field of folklore studies. He is a leader in considering the mutual implications of psychology and folklore studies. He is a world renowned scholar of Middle Eastern expressive culture and belief systems. He has advanced comparative methods and theories in folklore studies, adapting them for the current century. He has argued persuasively for the importance of recognizing vernacular theorizing on the human condition and he has an uncanny ability to recognize the lay social theories expressed in the most humble of expressive genres and folk beliefs and to connect these to the longterm concerns of psychological, social and cultural theory in the academic mode. At another end of the continuum, he is in dialogue with literary scholars as a consequence of his detailed studies of a key canonical text in world literature—The Thousand and One Nights. The glowing reviews that his works receive and the global community of admirers in dialogue with his studies speak to his centrality and influence to our field.
In the past several years, Dr. El-Shamy has published numerous important books, including Tales Arab Women Tell (IU Press, 1999), Popular Stories of Ancient Egypt (Oxford University Press, 2002), Types of the Folktale in the Arab World (IU Press, 2004), Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature (Sharpe, 2005), A Motif Index of The Thousand and One Nights (IU Press, 2006), and Religion Among the Folk in Egypt (Praeger, 2008). In one of countless high profile recognitions that he has received, this year he was recognized with the honor of being the “Great China Lecturer” at East China Normal University in Shanghai. He was the 94th internationally recognized scholar to be accorded this distinction.
Dr. El-Shamy is on a well-deserved research leave this semester and I wish him well in his continuing research endeavors.
Preprint: The Story of Colonialism, or Rethinking the Ox-hide Purchase in Native North America and Beyond
It will be more than a year and a half before my paper on the ox-hide purchase story is published in the Journal of American Folklore. Since my revisions are now complete, I am happy to temporarily post a preprint here. I am a big advocate for institutional repositories such as IUScholarWorks Repository and my fellow repository boosters may wonder why I have not (as I so often preach) placed the preprint there. In this case, the American Folklore Society is transitioning to a new author agreement that will, when the time comes, allow me to post the final published version to IUSW. For that reason, I am making the preprint available in a way that will be easy to take down once the paper is published.
This is a paper that many great people helped me work on over many years. To all of them, thank you!
Just got back from the Khaira Arby concert here in Colorado Springs. The students in my Introduction to Folklife course went with me. It was awesome. It was great in an everyday sense and also in a “great to go along with my course” sense. She is awesome, has a great band, and is really fun to watch and to listen to. Because of rain earlier today the concert had to move inside (it was going to be on the lawn on campus here) but the hall was comfortable and it worked out and sounded great. I am not an expert in the music of Mali (or anyplace), but I like Ali Farka Touré’s music and I guess that is a start. Khaira Arby and her band are in the same basic territory. The main difference is that she and her band rock more and her voice is an amazing, expressive instrument. Her band is extremely talented and they came off as a very well rehearsed unit. Really great.
The concert was a perfect compliment to a film that I showed in my class. It is a documentary on the adobe architecture of Mali called Heavenly Mud. I love to teach vernacular architecture with this film but one of its fringe benefits is that it has great music in its soundtrack. Khaira Arby is from the region near Timbuktu and her music is recognizably akin to the music in the film (which shows in detail the remarkable architecture of both Timbuktu and the equally amazing city of Djenné) This provided a point of contact between the class and the concert. On top of that, yesterday and today our focus has been music. What could be better?
Her MySpace page suggests that this was her last concert in the U.S. Her next stop is the U.K. for three shows, then two in Belgium, then one in Poland (at the Africa Museum!). Hopefully some of my friends and readers will have a chance to see her. She and her band would be great at the Lotus Festival in Bloomington one of these years.
Someone needs to make a English wikipedia page for her!
Here is a music video that shows her singing and the architecture around Timbuktu.
Here is NPR coverage of Khaira Arby. http://www.npr.org/artists/134000718/khaira-arby
It is funny to see online that she is represented on her tour by Rock Paper Scissors, the world music agency headquartered in Bloomington. Maybe the bodes well for a Lotus visit?
Folklorist Kelley Totten (MA, U Oregon) will soon join the Ph.D. program in folklore at Indiana University. (Welcome Kelley!) Before arriving here, she and some colleagues are organizing the second Looplore event on July 22-24, 2011 at the Indian Henry Campground near Estacada, Oregon. The first such gathering was held last year and it looks like it was a great success. This DIY/crafts/music/food summer camp for grownups looks to be even better this year. To secure the longer term future of the gathering, the organizers have a Kickstarter campaign underway. Even if you are unable to make a small donation to support them, seeing the excellent Kickstarter video that they made is a great way to learn both about the event and about what a wonderful resource Kickstarter is. Check it out at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/looplore/the-looplore-experiment . Learn everything you might wish to know about the Looplore event at their website: http://thelooploreexperiment.wordpress.com/
The Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology has recently announced the 1st Annual Richard M. Dorson Memorial Lecture with Dr. Roger Abrahams.
“The Zoot Suit Kid Goes Global: From Tango to Hip Hop”
Tuesday, April 5th
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Wells House, 1321 E. 10th St.
The lecture series is named for Richard M. Dorson, who is credited with establishing folklore studies as an academic discipline in the United States through his many years directing the IU Folklore Institute, beginning in 1956. He later chaired the Folklore Department, until his death in 1981. For these efforts, he has been called the “father of American Folklore.”
In this lecture, Roger Abrahams brings into focus the development throughout the post-emancipation era of high-flash street-corner groups that have emerged in virtually every port of call in the commercial Atlantic world. Abrahams argues that there is a pattern linking these manifestations, though they are commonly regarded as being unique to one metropolitan area or another. Each has founding legends, stories of the great song-makers, dancers, stick-fighters, and so on. This research tests the argument between those who have argued for the retention of African cultural traits and those who have argued for culture-loss under enslavement conditions. The West Indian performers with whom Abrahams has worked maintain that their repertoires are played not only for enjoyment but more importantly, as embodiments of the history and the strength of ties within the community. The burden of the argument, at last, is that doing folklore involves both extensive live-there field work and comparative study to situate what it is that you have collected.
Roger D. Abrahams is a prominent folklorist whose work focuses on the expressive cultures and cultural histories of the Americas, with a specific emphasis on African American peoples and traditions. He is the Hum Rosen Professor of Humanities, Emeritus, at the University of Pennsylvania where he taught in the Department of Folklore and Folklife. He is the author of a large number of books, among which Everyday Life: A Poetics of Vernacular Practices is a recent title.
A light reception will follow Dr. Abrahams lecture.
An important Utah State University Press release:
LOGAN — In an agreement called transformative, Utah State University Libraries has joined the HathiTrust, a shared digital repository that more than doubles the available books in USU’s collection.
“With the scope and range of HathiTrust, a national digital library is coming into being and Utah State University is among the first ranks in that effort,” said Rick Clement, dean of libraries at USU. “This is an exciting development, not only for the main campus but for the five other campuses in the USU system and for our distance education students.”
Utah State University signed a partnership agreement with HathiTrust, becoming the 35th school in the country to become a partner institution. The previous three partners to join HathiTrust are Cornell, Dartmouth, and the Triangle Research Libraries Network (including Duke, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina Central and North Carolina State).
“Utah State University now has a seat at the table at this important enterprise,” Clement said. “We join important and diverse partners, including Google, Microsoft and the Internet Archive.”
HathiTrust is a partnership of major academic and research libraries collaborating in a digital library initiative to preserve and provide access to the published record in digital form. It was launched in 2008 and has a growing membership of visionary schools.
Utah State University is the first university in the state of Utah and the region to become a partner member of HathiTrust.
“Utah State brings a unique perspective to the HathiTrust,” said John Wilkin, executive director of HathiTrust. “Our collection will be enhanced by the hundreds of open access titles that USU Press will deposit, and we welcome their contribution to digital preservation and services as a sustaining partner.”
HathiTrust was originally conceived as a collaboration of the 13 universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (the Big Ten schools) and the University of California system to establish a repository for the universities to archive and share their digitized collections.
As the 35th partner school, Utah State University has access to 1.6 million electronic, or digitized, items in the public domain. For comparison, on-site, USU has the same number of books in the Merrill-Cazier Library collection.
“This doubles the number of books in our collection,” Clement said. “For a university like Utah State University, this is such a good fit.”
The move is not only a valuable resource for students and faculty at the Logan campus, but at the five other campuses and distance education sites throughout the state.
“The access this provides is invaluable for our students,” Clement said. “The library is being used more, but not always by students coming through the door. Library usage is up but there is more and more available in the electronic world. The resources made available through HathiTrust can be tapped via our library website by students throughout the USU system.”
Over the past two years, HathiTrust member schools have contributed more than 7 million volumes to the digital library, digitized from their library collections through a number of means, including Google and Internet Archive digitization and in-house initiatives. Of that 7 million, more than 1.6 million of the contributed volumes are in the public domain and are freely available on the Web.
An advantage of being a partner school is that students and faculty at USU can both view and print all or a portion of each available book. Non-member schools can view the items but cannot produce printed copies. And while a book from the stacks of the Merrill-Cazier Library can only be used by one individual at a time, the digital volumes in HathiTrust can be viewed and used by an infinite number at the same time.
HathiTrust serves a dual role. First, as a trusted repository it guarantees the long-term preservation of the materials it holds, providing the expert curation and consistent access long associated with research libraries. Second, as a service for partners and a public good, HathiTrust offers persistent access to the digital collections. This includes viewing, downloading and searching access to public domain volumes and searching access to copyright volumes.
USU’s road to joining HathiTrust began with a partnership with Indiana University, Clement said. Indiana, among the founding schools of HathiTrust, has digitized its folklore collection creating an Open Folklore website.
“Indiana and USU are considered among the top folklore programs in the country,” Clement said. “We’re digitizing a great deal of our folklore archive, and Indiana was interested in making available the folklore books published by USU Press. Indiana’s request for this material morphed into our full partner association with HathiTrust.”
USU Libraries’ effort to join HathiTrust was supported by two important offices on campus.
“Executive Vice President and Provost Raymond Coward and the Vice President for Research Brent Miller have been extremely supportive in this move,” Clement said. “USU Libraries appreciates their support and effort in this endeavor. When the partnership agreement was announced, President Albrecht was highly enthused.
“Our partnership with the HathiTrust will bring an ever-growing number of digital books to our students, faculty and staff,” Clement said. “While we continue to value traditional books, we also understand that the HathiTrust is the future for providing access to our multi-campus system and our many distance-education students. It is truly transformational.”
This post is the third in a series   discussing what the efforts bundled as the Open Folklore project can do for the community now, before the portal site that will live at http://www.openfolklore.org/ is finalized.
A part of the Open Folklore effort that has not been discussed here previously concerns the plan to durably archive content-rich websites of relevance to scholars and practitioners in the field of folklore studies. Recently a need arose to put these plans to a quick test. The Community Arts Network (CAN), a not-for-profit service organization that had built up a large and widely used website found itself needing to cease operation of its elaborate site. On August 31, Debora Kodish of the Philadelphia Folklore Project contacted the Open Folklore team at Indiana about the possibility that the project might be able to assist in the preservation of the CAN assets. Discussions and investigations quickly followed and the IU Libraries decided to pursue archiving the site. This work was complete before the time of the scheduled shut down on Labor Day. It all worked and now we can see what a website archived in the manner that we anticipate using looks and feels like. The words of appreciation that have been offered from the community arts and public folklore communities have been most appreciated and are a major source of encouragement for what we are trying to get going with Open Folklore.
To help explicate a bit further, this is a re-posting of an announcement being circulated by the Community Arts Network (CAN). It was crafted with input from the librarians at Indiana who are central to the current early-phase work on the Open Folklore project. Thanks go to everyone who has been involved in these efforts. (See the CAN Facebook page for additional discussion.)
The Community Arts Network (CAN), Indiana University Bloomington Libraries, and the American Folklore Society are pleased to announce that the CAN Web site has been archived as part of the Open Folklore project (http://www.openfolklore.org/). Open Folklore is intended to be an online portal to open-access digital folklore content and plans to launch a prototype in October at the American Folklore Society meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
After CAN announced it would be forced to immediately shut down its Web site due to lack of funds, the IU Bloomington Libraries offered to capture the CAN Web site using Archive-It, a subscription service from the Internet Archive that allows institutions to build and preserve collections of born-digital content. The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded in 1996 to build an “Internet library” with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to collections that exist in digital format. Because CAN is a content-rich Web site that is of great interest to folklorists, the IU Bloomington Libraries made use of their subscription to Archive-It to preserve the site without charge.
The archived CAN is static, but is fully text searchable, though some external links and some internal scripted functions may no longer work. It is, however, a unique and permanent record of the site as it existed at the time. Users may visit the archived site at http://wayback.archive-it.org/2077/20100906194747/http://www.communityarts.net/. The full text of the site may be searched at the Archive-It home site, http://www.archiveit.org/.
Art in the Public Interest, CAN’s non-profit, will continue to seek funding to develop the CAN materials into a sophisticated archive library.
Debora Kodish, founder of the Philadelphia Folklore Project first suggested that Open Folklore might have a role to play in preserving CAN, and this suggestion was enthusiastically and swiftly adopted. IU Bloomington Libraries Dean Brenda Johnson described this sequence of events as an excellent proof of concept for Open Folklore and for the value of collaboration between a research library and the scholarly community it serves. “This is a sterling example of why digital preservation efforts are so important. Without the active collaboration of the folklore community, and without IUB Libraries participation in Archive-It, a unique and valuable online resource would have vanished.”
I invite you to check out the archived CAN site.
And now for something else completely positive.
I got to know many nice and wonderful people during the time that I was on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma. One of them is Dr. Laura Gibbs. Laura is a classicist and a folklorist with an interest in new approaches to both university-level teaching and scholarly communications. Among the many things that illustrate how cool she is, I would point out that she is the most passionate language teacher I have ever seen. And the language that she is passionate about teaching is Latin. How cool is that? She goes all out for her students (and everyone is a potential student) whether or not those students happen to be enrolled in one of her classes. When we were both actually on the OU campus, I would usually see her doing language tutorials with students in a campus coffee shop or someplace similar. (I am not at OU anymore and she mainly teaches online now.)
She is probably most famous for her new translation of Aesop’s Fables published by Oxford University Press, but I want to point to one of her newer book projects, a cool DIY OA book worth checking out even if (like me) you know nothing about Latin.
In a best of times, worst of times (for scholarly publishing) email discussion, she mentioned this project, telling me:
This summer I experimented with self-publishing a book at Lulu.com AND giving it away in PDF format. It’s the most fun I have ever had doing a book: Mille Fabulae et Una: 1001 Aesop’s Fables in Latin. The book is intended for Latin students and teachers; it’s a Latin language manual rather than a scholarly study, but it is based on a really serious survey of the whole scholarly and literary Latin Aesopic tradition, from ancient Rome up through the 19th century (including LOTS of Renaissance fables otherwise unavailable in any modern edition). It has worked out wonderfully, just as I had hoped. Some teachers have bought printed copies for themselves, but the main thing is this: thanks to teachers recommending the book as a free download for their students, there have been over 1600 downloads in just a few weeks. In the weird little world of post-classical Latin, that is a seriously large number. I am really happy! Plus, the fables look GREAT on handheld screens, so offering it as a PDF with the expectation that people might read the book on their iPhone or Android is something new and exciting for me.
The book itself is a celebration of public domain materials–basically me harvesting from GoogleBooks and other digital libraries–and now I am using my blog to link up the Latin texts to the hundreds of public domain images I have found at Internet Archive where the scans are good enough to justify reproducing the images for their own sake.
You can learn more about this project and see and get the book itself on her project website at http://millefabulae.blogspot.com/
When I asked Laura if I could share the story of her project, she replied enthusiastically and commented:
I love telling people about what I am doing because this is a time when people who love stories and music and art can learn and connect and share in ways that just were not easy to do even a few years ago. Now if somebody has a project they want to pursue, all they need is time and enthusiasm – that to me is why open access is important as a principle; if we can remove the access barriers, real education will take place, at last.
What more needs to be said?
In addition to the cool book and website, Laura has leveraged everyday blog features and other software to allow people to do such things as put a Latin fable of the day on their own blogs. There is no end to what she has already created and tried to share with you (or at least with the vast world of budding classicists). Check out not only the 1001 Aesop’s Fable in Latin site, but also her main site where there are piles of stuff made just for you (and everybody else).
My elementary-age daughter and I have been systematically reading all of Andrew Lang’s so-called colored fairy books, thus I have to point to one more of Laura’s projects. She has created a one-stop shop where you can go and not only get basic information on this series, but download (free) copies of all of the books in a very easy way. Check that out at: http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/
Thank you Laura for teaching in more ways than one! And thanks also to the folks at the University of Oklahoma who have supported Laura’s unusual and productive work as a teacher, technologist, and scholar.
An important working paper by my friend Dorry Noyes presenting alternatives to the conceptual oversimplifications common in cultural property and cultural heritage policy has just been circulated by the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Cultural Property at the University of Göttingen. Help make the argument even stronger with your comments and feedback here: http://www.cultural-property.org/2010/cp-101-how-traditional-culture-works
Lots to think with and work on.