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Take/Cover: Copying and its Double

The Second Annual Conference of the Center for Folklore and Ethnography

30-31 March 2001, at the University of Pennsylvania,
in the Terrace Room of Logan Hall, 36th and Spruce Streets

Following threads developed during last year's conference, "Second Nature," the program will open up critical, legal, artistic, and moral questions arising from imitation of all sorts by focusing on some of the vernacular terms that performers themselves use to deal with originality and imitation.

Key terms and their related issues to be explored through the conference will include: "Take," as it is used in recording and filming to indicate the repeatable elements of performance that can be rehearsed and, in principle, replayed. But does not each take on a life of its own, once begun? "Cover" as connoted in "retake" and "remake" to indicate the crossing of style lines or resituating of older work. What of translation and the ethnomimetic dimension that is discovered through mediated recordings? "Quotation," the use of strips of action, gesture, movements, tunes, words, and styles of others. How does context change the regard, morality, and use of quotations, as in "citation," "plagiarism," "wit," and "aping"? "Sampling," the term used by DJ's for composing with other people's recordings. Sampling involves a highly evolved aesthetic of pastiche, aimed not at arresting the hearer or listener, but breaking down the sense of artistic enclosure and self-sufficiency. Is there an aesthetic of breaking?

Among the scholars who will participate in the presentations and conversations around these terms will be Carol Ann Muller, whose work focuses on the South African singer Sathima Bea Benjmain and the social milieu in which American jazz is reconstituted; Deborah Kapchan, who is preparing a book on Randy Weston and Sufism; Amy Horowitz, who has documented the underground tape and recording scene among the Yemen community in Jerusalem; Regina Bendix and Lee Haring, who have co-authored a joint paper on the centrality of translation in the process of reproduction and replication in the theater; and Rachel Romberg, who has looked at cultural piracy as a model of health practice in Puerto Rico. Others who will present papers and provide commentary will include John Szwed, Robert Cantwell, Mick Taussig, Margaret Mills, Amy Shuman, Tamar Katriel, Nick Spitzer, Guthrie Ramsey, and Charles Briggs.

Attendance at the conference is free. Pre-registration is encouraged so that participants may receive copies of papers and abstracts prior to the event.

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