| E N G L 491. 001 / A N T H 3 9 9. 002
F o l k l o r e o f t h e A m e r i c a s
Spring 2005 M 4:30-7:10pm
Dr. Margaret R. Yocom, English;
Office: Robinson A439 Phone: 993-1172
Franz Kafka has famously said that a book is an ax for the frozen
sea within. How more accurate to see any artwork as a portal of a kind
through which we step, like Alice through the looking-glass, into worlds
not our own and unimaginable by us, conjoining ourselves with persons
not known to us.
Artworks such as quilts and carvings, masks and costumes, festive foodways and treasured mementos do provide portals to worlds unimaginable to us, but they also enable us to re-envision those worlds we’ve grown up into and think we know well. To learn about traditional creativity and the forms it takes we’ll explore the lives and works of many, varied folk artists. Why do members of our families hold fast to particular foods year after year? Why do we treasure mementos that have no worldly value? What prompts European, African, and Native American women to pick up their needles and create bursts of color with swatches of cloth? What propells a Vietnam War veteran to sculpt and paint scenes of the battles he’s survived? Why might a reclusive Kentucky man turn to chairmaking? Why would a Maine woodsman want to spend his off-hours chain-saw-carving images of miniature loggers and giant bears?
In our semester together, we’ll use the lenses of biography and
literature to explore the aesthetic characteristics, the communal bases,
the tug of memory and tradition, and the behavioral and political impulses
intrinsic to traditional arts and artists.
To be announced:
Recommended Texts, no required readings: