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Henry Glassie Named Haskins Prize Lecturer

Great news for my Department in the form of a ACLS press release circulated today.


Henry Glassie, College Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University, Bloomington, will deliver the 29th Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture at the 2011 ACLS Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.

Named for the first chairman of ACLS (1920-26), the Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture series, entitled “A Life of Learning,” celebrates scholarly careers of distinctive importance. The lectures are published in the ACLS Occasional Paper series. The list of previous lecturers includes John Hope Franklin, Gerda Lerner, Helen Vendler, Peter Brown, Clifford Geertz, and William Labov. Historian of science Nancy Siraisi will deliver the 2010 Haskins Prize Lecture at the ACLS Annual Meeting on May 7th in Philadelphia.Henry Glassie is one of the intellectual leaders who broadened the discipline of folklore from a study of the texts of ballads and tales into a kind of descriptive and interpretive ethnography, without leaving behind the scrupulous recording initiated by Franz Boas. Professor Glassie’s commitment to art and artists has rendered his sort of folklore study unique. The formidable comprehensiveness of his first book, Pattern in the Material Folk Culture of the Eastern United States (1969), demonstrated that material culture studies had to take in the history not only of objects, but of the human artists who produced them.

His first major ethnography, Passing the Time in Ballymenone (1982), demonstrated the centrality of folklore to people’s lives in times of dreadful crisis, and pioneered  the interdisciplinary breadth of folkloristics by embracing Irish vernacular architecture, folksinging, material culture, storytelling, oral history, and farming practices. His other major ethnography, in a totally different country, was Turkish Traditional Art Today (1993), an immensely detailed account of calligraphy, ceramics, woodworking, carpet weaving, pottery, and their creators. Between these two works, Glassie produced a major statement of aesthetic philosophy in The Spirit of Folk Art (1989). For him, “art is a universal reality . . .  works of art are the richest expressions of the manifold human experience, and . . . works are called ‘folk’ as part of an academic effort to designate for consideration creations that would be ignored if the presuppositions of study remained unexamined.”

Professor Glassie received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also served in the Department of Folklore and Folklife before coming to Indiana University. He taught several generations of American folklorists, as well as students in Turkish, American, Central Eurasian, Middle and Near Eastern, and India Studies. He is the recipient of the Award of Honor for Superior Service to Turkish Culture from the Ministry of Culture of the Turkish Republic, and the Friend of Bangladesh Award in Recognition of Outstanding Contribution toward Bangladesh from the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America. Glassie served on the board and as president of the American Folklore Society (1988-90) and was the first appointed state folklorist in the United States. In 2003, the Vernacular Architecture Forum renamed its award for outstanding achievement to honor Professor Glassie; in 2006, the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology did the same for its award for excellence in teaching by a graduate student.

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