Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Chris Roush
IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology

Last modified: Monday, March 28, 2011

Roger Abrahams to present inaugural Richard M. Dorson Memorial Lecture

March 28, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Roger Abrahams, Hum Rosen Professor of Humanities Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, will present the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology's inaugural Richard M. Dorson Memorial Lecture on April 5.

Richard Dorson

Richard Dorson

The title of Abrahams' lecture will be "The Zoot Suit Kid Goes Global: From Tango to Hip Hop," and it will test the thesis of African retentions by examining the brash youth cultures that emerged in the post-Emancipation Atlantic. The lecture will begin at 6 p.m. at the Wells House, 1321 E. 10th St. A light reception will follow the lecture.

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 taught in the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Folklore and Folklife and is the author of many influential books and articles, including the groundbreaking Deep Down in the Jungle: Black American Folklore from the Streets (1964), the well-regarded Man of Words in the West Indies: Performance and the Emergence of Creole Culture (1983), and his most recent monograph, Everyday Life: A Poetics of Vernacular Practices.(2005).

Abrahams, who also earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, returned there in 1986 after teaching at the University of Texas and at Scripps and Pitzer Colleges in Claremont, Calif.

He is the founding director of Penn's Center for Folklore and Ethnography, a research and public outreach unit associated with the Department of Folklore and Folklife. He was awarded the Kenneth Goldstein Award for Lifetime Academic Leadership by the American Folklore Society in 2005 and is also an American Folklore Society Fellow.

The lecture series is named for 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, and later chairing the Folklore Department, until his death in 1981. For these efforts, Dorson has been called the "father of American folklore."

Today, IU's Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, has been recognized as one of the top programs in its field. It is home to internationally recognized scholarship on music and culture of the United States, Africa and the African diaspora, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Later this year, it will host the national meeting of the American Folklore Society.