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With a Life of Aesop
In 1489 Johan Hurus printed the first collection of fables in Spain, Lavida del Ysopetconsusfabulas hystoriadas. Illustrated with nearly 200 woodcuts, this work quickly became the most-read book in Spain, beloved of both children and adults. Reprinted many times in the next three centuries and carried to the New World, it brought to Spanish letters a cornucopia of Aesopic fables, oriental apologues, and folktales that were borrowed by such writers as Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and especially the fabulists Iriarte and Samaniego. John Keller and Clark Keating now present the first English translation of this important literary work.
The Latin and German lineage of La vida was significant, for it placed Spain in the mainstream of European fable lore. The highly fictitious life of Aesop, the misshapen Greek slave who reached the highest social level, contributed to the development of medieval romance and the picaresque novel. The book is thus important to students of comparative literature, literary history, and the development of the Spanish language.
Of equal value are the woodcuts, which depict the daily life of medieval Europe and contribute to a better understanding of fifteenth-century art history, bookmaking, natural history, and the visualization of narrative. La vida del Ysopet thus constitutes one of the finest concordances of text and illustration in European literary history.
Writing Nikkei in Peru
In The Affinity of the Eye: Writing Nikkei in Peru, Ignacio López-Calvo rises above the political emergence of the Fujimori phenomenon and uses politics and literature to provide one of the first comprehensive looks at how the Japanese assimilated and inserted themselves into Peruvian culture. Through contemporary writers’ testimonies, essays, fiction, and poetry, López-Calvo constructs an account of the cultural formation of Japanese migrant communities. With deftly sensitive interviews and comments, he portrays the difficulties of being a Japanese Peruvian. Despite a few notable examples, Asian Peruvians have been excluded from a sense of belonging or national identity in Peru, which provides López-Calvo with the opportunity to record what the community says about their own cultural production. In so doing, López-Calvo challenges fixed notions of Japanese Peruvian identity.
The Affinity of the Eye scrutinizes authors such as José Watanabe, Fernando Iwasaki, Augusto Higa, Doris Moromisato, and Carlos Yushimito, discussing their literature and their connections to the past, present, and future. Whether these authors push against or accept what it means to be Japanese Peruvians, they enrich the images and feelings of that experience. Through a close reading of literary and cultural productions, López-Calvo’s analysis challenges and reframes the parameters of being Nikkei in Peru.
Covering both Japanese issues in Peru and Peruvian issues in Japan, the book is more than a compendium of stories, characters, and titles. It proves the fluid, enriching, and ongoing relationship that exists between Peru and Japan.
In this new history of music in Zimbabwe, Mhoze Chikowero deftly uses African sources to interrogate the copious colonial archive, reading it as a confessional voice along and against the grain to write a complex history of music, colonialism, and African self-liberation. Chikowero's book begins in the 1890s with missionary crusades against African performative cultures and African students being inducted into mission bands, which contextualize the music of segregated urban and mining company dance halls in the 1930s, and he builds genealogies of the Chimurenga music later popularized by guerrilla artists like Dorothy Masuku, Zexie Manatsa, Thomas Mapfumo, and others in the 1970s. Chikowero shows how Africans deployed their music and indigenous knowledge systems to fight for their freedom from British colonial domination and to assert their cultural sovereignty.
The latest work from Harold Scheub, one of the world's leading scholars of African folktales, is the broadest collection yet assembled with tales from the entire continent of Africa, north to south. It brings together mythic, fantastic, and coming-of-age tales, some transcribed more than a hundred years ago, others dating to modern-day Africa. Scheub includes the work of storytellers from major African language groups, as well as many storytellers whose work is not often heard outside of Africa. This anthology offers a classroom-ready collection that should appeal to any scholar of African literature and culture. Realizing that these tales are part of a dying art, Scheub writes for the inner ear in everyone, bringing an oral tradition to life in written form.
In the rational modern world, belief in the supernatural seemingly has been consigned to the worlds of entertainment and fantasy. Yet belief in other worldly phenomena, from poltergeists to telepathy, remains strong, as Gillian Bennett's research shows. Especially common is belief in continuing contact with, or the continuing presence of, dead family members. Bennett interviewed women in Manchester, England, asking them questions about ghosts and other aspects of the supernatural. (Her discussion of how her research methods and interview techniques evolved is in itself valuable.) She first published the results of the study in the well-received Traditions of Belief: Women and the Supernatural, which has been widely used in folklore and women's studies courses. "Alas, Poor Ghost!" extensively revises and expands that work. In addition to a fuller presentation and analysis of the original field research and other added material, the author, assisted by Kate Bennett, a gerontological psychologist, presents and discusses new research with a group of women in Leicester, England.
Bennett is interested in more than measuring the extent of belief in other worldly manifestations. Her work explores the relationship between narrative and belief. She anticipated that her questions would elicit from her interviewees not just yes or no replies but stories about their experiences that confirmed or denied notions of the supernatural. The more controversial the subject matter, the more likely individuals were to tell stories, especially if their answers to questions of belief were positive. These were most commonly individualized narratives of personal experience, but they contained many of the traditional motifs and other content, including belief in the supernatural, of legends. Bennett calls them memorates and discusses the cultural processes, including ideas of what is a "proper" experience of the supernatural and a "proper" telling of the story, that make them communal as well as individual. These memorates provide direct and vivid examples of what the storytellers actually believe and disbelieve. In a final section, Bennett places her work in historical context through a discussion of case studies in the history of supernatural belief.
Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War
Louisiana’s Neutral Strip, an area of pine forests, squats between the Calcasieu and Sabine Rivers on the border of East Texas. Originally a lawless buffer zone between Spain and the United States, its hardy residents formed tight-knit communities for protection and developed a reliance on self, kin, and neighbor. In the early 1900s, the timber boom sliced through the forests and disrupted these dense communities. Mill towns sprang up, and the promise of money lured land speculators, timber workers, unionists, and a host of other characters, such as the outlaw Leather Britches Smith. That moment continues to shape the place’s cultural consciousness, and people today fashion a lore connected to this time. In a fascinating exploration of the region, Keagan LeJeune unveils the legend of Leather Britches, paralleling the stages of the outlaw’s life to the Neutral Strip’s formation. LeJeune retells each stage of Smith’s life: his notorious past, his audacious deeds of robbery and even generosity, his rumored connection to a local union strike—the Grabow War—significant in the annals of labor history, and his eventual death. As the outlaw’s life vividly unfolds, Always for the Underdog also reveals the area’s history and cultural landscape. Often using the particulars of one small town as a representative example, the book explores how the region remembers and reinterprets the past in order to navigate a world changing rapidly.
Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World
Amazons—fierce warrior women dwelling on the fringes of the known world—were the mythic archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Heracles and Achilles displayed their valor in duels with Amazon queens, and the Athenians reveled in their victory over a powerful Amazon army. In historical times, Cyrus of Persia, Alexander the Great, and the Roman general Pompey tangled with Amazons.
But just who were these bold barbarian archers on horseback who gloried in fighting, hunting, and sexual freedom? Were Amazons real? In this deeply researched, wide-ranging, and lavishly illustrated book, National Book Award finalist Adrienne Mayor presents the Amazons as they have never been seen before. This is the first comprehensive account of warrior women in myth and history across the ancient world, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Great Wall of China.
Mayor tells how amazing new archaeological discoveries of battle-scarred female skeletons buried with their weapons prove that women warriors were not merely figments of the Greek imagination. Combining classical myth and art, nomad traditions, and scientific archaeology, she reveals intimate, surprising details and original insights about the lives and legends of the women known as Amazons. Provocatively arguing that a timeless search for a balance between the sexes explains the allure of the Amazons, Mayor reminds us that there were as many Amazon love stories as there were war stories. The Greeks were not the only people enchanted by Amazons—Mayor shows that warlike women of nomadic cultures inspired exciting tales in ancient Egypt, Persia, India, Central Asia, and China.
Driven by a detective’s curiosity, Mayor unearths long-buried evidence and sifts fact from fiction to show how flesh-and-blood women of the Eurasian steppes were mythologized as Amazons, the equals of men. The result is likely to become a classic.
Cultural Tourism and the Negotiation of Tradition
At the 1989 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, throngs of visitors gathered on the National Mall to celebrate Hawai‘i’s multicultural heritage through its traditional arts. The "edu-tainment" spectacle revealed a richly complex Hawai‘i few tourists ever see and one never before or since replicated in a national space. The program was restaged a year later in Honolulu for a local audience and subsequently inspired several spin-offs in Hawai‘i. In both Washington, D.C., and Honolulu, the program instigated a new paradigm for cultural representation. Based on archival research and extensive interviews with festival organizers and participants, this innovative cross-disciplinary study uncovers the behind-the-scenes negotiations and processes that inform the national spectacle of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Intersecting the fields of museum studies, folklore studies, Hawaiian studies, performance studies, cultural studies, and American studies, American Aloha supplies a nuanced analysis of how the carefully crafted staging of Hawai‘i’s cultural diversity was used to serve a national narrative of utopian multiculturalism—one that collapsed social inequities and tensions, masked colonial history, and subordinated indigenous politics—while empowering Hawai‘i’s traditional artists and providing a model for cultural tourism that has had long-lasting effects. Heather Diamond deftly positions the 1989 program within a history of institutional intervention in the traditional arts of Hawai‘i’s ethnic groups as well as in relation to local cultural revivals and the tourist industry. By tracing the planning, fieldwork, site design, performance, and aftermath stages of the program, she examines the uneven processes through which local culture is transformed into national culture and raises questions about the stakes involved in cultural tourism for both culture bearers and culture brokers.
Histories of Irish Traditional Music and Dance
This book is about the history and practice of recording Irish traditional music and dance, and the variety of documents that exist as a result of the activities of collectors both in Ireland and in North America.Essay topics range from analyses of nineteenth-century printed documents, to the earliest wax cylinder recordings, to famous, rather large collections, and small all but unknown ones. Authors examine the role of the fieldworker/collector, the impact of broadcasting on regional style, the idea of “Irish” versus “American” style in early uilleann pipe recordings, and the impact of the recording process and marketing on traditional song, amongst other topics. Approaches vary from the analytical—comparing and analysing various settings of tunes and titles—to the personal—reflecting on the impact of one’s own collecting and fieldwork on a regional tradition.Authors also interrogate how music serves to create and articulate identity, how changing contexts and emic and etic perspectives on music can influence a music’s evolution. From original manuscripts in the National Library, to printed documents, audio and video recordings, and art work, this book examines the reception history of Irish traditional music and dance.