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NEH Dvor


Title: PowerPoint Presentation Author: College of Liberal Arts Last modified by: Lynn Riale Created Date: 6/11/2005 9:13:27 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: NEH Dvor

NEH Dvorák Project Myth-Makers Culture
Heroes A Fireside Poet, a Bohemian
Composer, and a Native American
Definition of Myth
  • Myth mith noun
  • a traditional or legendary story, usually
    concerning some being or hero or event, with or
    without a determinable basis of fact or a natural
    explanation, esp. one that is concerned with
    deities or demigods and explains some practice,
    rite, or phenomenon of nature.
  • Origin 182030 lt LL mythos  lt Gk mythos
     story, word
  • What are some common myths?

Culture Hero
  • A culture hero is a mythological hero specific to
    some group (cultural, ethnic, racial, religious,
    etc.) who changes the world through invention or
    discovery. A typical culture hero might be
    credited as the discoverer of fire, or
    agriculture, songs, tradition and religion, and
    is usually the most important legendary figure of
    a people, sometimes as the founder of its ruling
    dynasty. The hero is sometimes said to be still
    living, but is often instead a star,
    constellation, animal, or purely spiritual in
    nature. A culture hero is generally not the
    person responsible for the creation but the one
    who completes the world and makes it fit for
    human life in short, he creates culture.

Does the U.S. have its own MYTHOLOGY?
  • Do we have any

American Mythological Heroesare they cultural
  • Paul Bunyan
  • Johnny Appleseed

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807 1882
What is a Fireside Poet ?
  • Until the third decade of the nineteenth century,
    America had little real literature to call its
  • Fireside poets like Longfellow, Oliver Wendell
    Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, and William
    Cullen Bryant represented a literary
    coming-of-age for America.
  • These popular poets works were widely read by
    the fireside in American homes for entertainment
    and in the classroom where generations of
    Americans memorized them.
  • The poems usually contained American settings and

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a powerful figure
    in the cultural life of nineteenth century
  • Born in 1807, he became a national literary
    figure by the 1850s and a world-famous
    personality by the time of his death in 1882.

One Technique
  • One of Longfellow's writing technique is the
    backward glance.
  • People in the present look back into their
    distant pasts and make a discovery. What had once
    been history political, conflicted, sad, and
    bloody could now be seen as imaginative myth
    ordered, noble, and a source of strength.
  • Longfellow wrote for a young nation ready to make
    this backward glance. This technique is a key to

Why was Longfellow So Popular?
  • Longfellow employed easy rhyme.
  • He wrote poetry with natural grace and melody
  • Read or heard once or twice, his rhyme and meters
    are easily remembered.
  • Longfellow wrote on obvious themes with mass
  • His poems are easily understood.
  • Above all, his tone has a spirit of optimism and
    faith in the goodness of life.

Longfellows Themes
  • Longfellow was among the first of American
    writers to use native themes.
  • He wrote about American scenes and landscapes,
    the American Indian (Song of Hiawatha), and
    American history and tradition (The Courtship of
    Miles Standish, Evangeline).

Longfellows World View
  • Henry was born February 27, 1807, in Portland,
  • Portland was a seaport, and this gave its
    citizens a breadth of view lacking in the more
    insular New England towns.
  • The variety of people and the activity of the
    harbors intrigued the young man and gave him a
    curiosity about life beyond his own immediate

Longfellows Inspiration
  • The book which influenced Longfellow the most was
    Washington Irving's Sketch Book.
  • Irving was another American author for whom
    native legends and landscapes were sources of
  • "Every reader has his first book," wrote
    Longfellow later. "I mean to say, one book among
    all others which in early youth first fascinates
    his imagination, and at once excites and
    satisfies the desires of his mind.
  • To me, the first book was the Sketch Book of
    Washington Irving."

World View Actualized
  • After graduating from Bowdoin College In May of
    1826, he set out for Europe to turn himself into
    a scholar and a linguist. He stopped at small
    inns and cottages, talking to peasants, farmers,
    traders. He traveled in Spain, Italy, France,
    Germany, and England, and returned to America in
  • At 22, he was launched into his career at Bowdoin
    as a modern European language professor. He had
    to prepare his own texts, at that time
    none were available.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • In 1834, he was appointed a professorship at
    Harvard and traveled to Europe again to prepare.
    This time with his young wife, Mary.
  • The journey ended in tragedy. In Rotterdam, his
    wife died, and Longfellow returned alone. He took
    a room at the now historic Craigie House.

Craigie House
  • Seven years after he came to Cambridge, MA,
    Longfellow married Frances Appleton. Craigie
    House was given to Longfellow as a wedding gift.

Becoming Exclusively a Writer
  • In 1854, he resigned from Harvard. With a great
    sense of freedom gave himself entirely to the
    task of his own poetic writing. In June of that
    year, he began The Song of Hiawatha.

Hiawathathe Real Person
  • Who was Hiawatha? The historic figure lived among
    the Iroquois Nation.
  • In the early 15th Century, about a hundred years
    before Columbus undertook his voyage, chaos and
    warfare reigned among the tribes.
  • According to Iroquois oral tradition, Hiawatha
    was a solitary warrior he lived in isolation
    until called by the earths creator (God) to
    promote peace among the tribes of the Iroquois.

Historical Hiawatha
  • Hiawatha became the founder of the Five Nations
    of the Iroquois, from west to east across New
    York state Seneca (People of the Great Hill),
    Cayuga (People of the Swamp), Onondaga (Keepers
    of the Fire), Oneida (People of the Standing
    Stone), and Mohawk (People of the Flint). His
    internal peacekeeping measures helped the Five
    Nations grow and prosper.

Longfellows Native American
  • In 1820s Maine, Longfellow was exposed to a few
    local Native Americans.
  • As a Harvard professor he talked with the young
    Ojibwa writer and preacher Kah-ge-ge-gah-bowh
    (also known as George Copway), who visited Boston
    in 1849.
  • Native American languages fascinated Longfellow,
    his view was similar to many of his white
    contemporaries the tribal peoples were a
    vanishing race soon to disappear or be absorbed
    into the dominant white society.
  • As a keen student of national epics, he was
    determined to preserve the ballads of a people
    i.e. myth, before they became lost forever.

Longfellows Hiawatha
  • The Song of Hiawatha was published on November
    10, 1855, and was an immediate success. In 1857,
    Longfellow calculated that he had sold 50,000
    copies of it.
  • An 1890 edition featured illustrations by
    Frederic Remington, and continued the publics
    love affair with the epic poem.
  • Hiawatha is the heronot the antagonist.
  • Longfellow created poetical American mythology
    using the legend of Hiawatha.

The Song of Hiawatha 1855 Epic Poem
  • 1890 Book Cover by Fredric Remington
  • Inside IllustrationRemington

Synopsis of Longfellows The Song of Hiawatha
  • The Song of Hiawatha adapts its meter from a
    Finnish national epic Kalevala (call-e-vall-ah).
  • The 22 cantos, or books, of Hiawathas song tell
    the story of the childhood and young adulthood of
    a god-like hero strong enough to wrestle
    monsters and demons, gentle enough to woo and win
    the beautiful maiden Minnehaha.
  • Her name, says the poet, means Laughing Water.

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft
  • As a background for the poem, Longfellow
    consulted Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's book on the
    Indian tribes of North America and perpetuated an
    error of Schoolcraft's that placed Hiawatha among
    the forest tribes of the northern Midwest as
    opposed to New York state.
  • Despite its historical inaccuracies, Longfellow's
    poem inspired the publics love for the natural
    beauty of the Minnesota forest that continues

Minnesotas Minnehaha Falls Hiawatha Statue
Song of Hiawatha Synopsis
  • Raised by his grandmother, Nokomis, the young
    Hiawatha learns the ways of the world from forest
    animals, then teaches his own people to plant
    corn and establish a civilization.
  • He also teaches them picture-writing, so that
    memory of their accomplishments will never fade.
  • The final cantos of the poem take on a somber
    tone, that reflects the abolitionist Longfellows
    unease with the countrys growing conflict over
    slavery that would soon lead to the Civil War.

  • Famine strikes Hiawathas people, Minnehaha dies,
    and soon the Black Robes (Catholic French
    Canadian priests) appear, marking the end of
    Hiawathas culture.
  • The hero paddles his canoe into the sunset and
    disappears. The poem ends like Kalevala, where
    the old and wise central character (who
    represents paganism) makes way for a new king

Critical Response to Hiawatha
  • While The Song of Hiawatha was roundly praised on
    both sides of the Atlantic after its publication,
    criticism in more recent years has been
    considerably less favorable.
  • Longfellow's choice to mimic the solemn, unrhymed
    meter of the Kalevala has caused his poem to be
    criticized by many, to the extent that some feel
    Longfellow plagiarized the Finnish work.
  • However, the poem resonated with the public,
    regardless of any negative press.

Critical Response
  • While the poem was sometimes mocked by his
    contemporaries, it has been subjected to
    increasing satire through the years, even being
    lampooned in Marx Brothers films and Bugs Bunny
    cartoons. Keep the idea of stereotypes in mind as
    you watch.
  • Hiawathas Rabbit Hunt--1937
  • http//

Another Parody
  • The Logging-in of Hakawatha
  • F.X. Reid, 1987
  • First, he sat and faced at the console Faced the
    glowing, humming console Typed his login at the
    keyboard Typed his password (fourteen
    letters) Waited till the system answered Waited
    long and cursed its slowness (Oh that irritating
    slowness - Like a mollusk with lumbago) Waited
    for what seemed like hours Till the operating
  • Printed out the latest whinings From the man
    called superuser - Moaning that some third year
    students Played adventure games at
    lunchtimes, Moaning that the Disc was
    nearly (Very nearly) full to bursting, Growling
    that he wouldn't take it Screaming that he'd get
    his own back By deleting peoples' disc files.

Antonín Dvorák (DVOR-ZHAHK)
  • 1841 1904
  • What does a Czech composer born in 1841 have to
    do with Longfellows Hiawatha?
  • Dvorák composed his New World Symphony while he
    visited the United States during 1892-1895. Parts
    of the symphony are based upon Hiawatha, a poem
    that Dvorák read and appreciated in Czech in his
    native Bohemia.

  • 1892While in America, Dvorák takes an interest
    in the music of African-Americans and American
  • He urges American composers to compose in the
    spirit of the music they hear around them.
  • What is American Music in your opinion? Do you
    think of Native Americans when you think of
    American music?

Why was Dvorák in the U.S.?
  • Also in 1892, a wealthy American philanthropist,
    Jeannette Thurber, persuaded Dvorák to become
    director of a National Conservatory in New York
    that she (via her husband) was helping to
  • America was embarking on its own quest for a
    musical identity ironically, Thurber and certain
    New York music critics had decided that Dvorák
    should create that identity for them. "He was a
    master chef who had cooked up Bohemian music,"
    says Dvorák scholar Michael Beckerman. "Now they
    wanted him to cook up American music to a similar

Dvoráks Results
  • Dvorák was so taken with the poem that he even
    attempted (and abandoned) an opera of Hiawatha.
  • Some critics believe Dvoráks Hiawatha is
    influenced by Longfellows romanticized view, not
    genuine Indian culture.
  • However, noted Dvorák expert Joseph Horowitz
    discusses "the 'Indianists' movement Dvorák
    helped to create," which produced "a huge
    repertoire of Indianist songs, sonatas, and even
    operas, many of which quoted actual Native
    American tunes.

Listen to Dvorák
  • Listen to the Largo from Dvoráks New World
  • http//
    related YouTube - Dvorak - Symphony No. 9 "From
    the New World" - 2. Largo ½

Dvoráks Results
  • Beckerman "finds in the Largo of the New World
    Symphony an elegy for the Native American, based
    on more or less explicit allusions to
    Longfellow's Hiawatha."
  • With a little sleight-of-hand, he turned to the
    American Indians for the equivalent of the Czech
    heroes and legends that he'd drawn on in his
    Bohemian works." (Beckerman).

Your Turn
  • Does s music seem inspired by this chapter of
    Longfellows? How?
  • Are there any specific chapters of Hiawatha that
    come to mind when you listened to the piece?
  • What about the written clues?

Dvorák Interpreted
  • Now turn to chapter 16, Pau-Puk-Keewis. We are
    going to listen to a dramatic interpretation of
    that chapter as produced by Joseph Horowitz and
    Michael Beckerman.
  • Beckerman explains, The intense, vigorous
    music portrays the dance at Hiawatha's wedding
    of the magician Pau-Puk-Keewis, the hero's
    adversary and Antichrist figure and the finale
    matches Pau-Puk-Keewis's headlong flight from
    Hiawatha, who finally kills him. But most telling
    of all are the associations that fill the famous
    slow movement.
  • http//

Your Turn
  • What is your reaction to the dramatic
    interpretation of Hiawatha coupled with
  • Dvoráks music?
  • Does it work? Are both the music and text
    enhanced by one another?
  • Can you make a correlation with any popular
    music? What about rap with singing, i.e. B.o.b.s

Did Dvorák devise an American Composition?
Beckerman answers
  • Several recent critics have suggested that
    Dvorák misunderstood American culture. Of course
    he did. So did everyone else. There can be no
    complete grasp of a culture, since the very idea
    of culture is always a combination of reality and
    illusion, a few hard facts and the myths that
    hold them together. Dvorák saw and heard what he
    did through a combination of his specific
    experiences in the United States and his
    predisposed preferences for certain kinds of
    themes and ideas, which he brought with him after
    decades of composing. But he certainly worked
    fervently to imagine what an American music
    might be.

Reading Assignment
  • Page 26-28 in Lit book, From the Iroquois
    Constitution by Dekanawidah (translated by Arthur
    C. Parker).
  • Questions
  • How does IC explode common stereotypes about
    Native Americans?
  • Why does the speaker use the imagery of the tree
    to expand his point?
  • Based on this writing, is Longfellows Hiawatha a
    good reflection of a Native America?

Native American Chants
  • YouTube - WAR SONG.
  • What is your reaction to the song?
  • How is this music different from American
  • Why do you think it is so different?

EssayFive paragraphs three proofs. Choose one
  • Can Longfellows Hiawatha be seen as an example
    of American mythology? Defend or refute.
  • Is the character of Hiawatha a culture hero?
    Defend or refute?

  • Dvorák believed that Native American music was
    the future of American music. Thinking of this
    concept and Longfellows interest in Native
    Americans, why do you believe this group has been
  • There can be no complete grasp of a culture,
    since the very idea of culture is always a
    combination of reality and illusion, a few hard
    facts and the myths that hold them together.
    Based on this lesson, do you agree with
    Beckerman? Why/why not?

  • There can be no complete grasp of a culture,
    since the very idea of culture is always a
    combination of reality and illusion, a few hard
    facts and the myths that hold them together.
    Based on this lesson, do you agree with M.
    Beckerman? Why/why not?

  • According to critic Margaret Atrov, "Until
    recently ... the popular concept of Indian
    literature was shaped not by the Indian and even
    not by his translator, but by the white American
    writer. . . . There is no better way to correct
    the misrepresentations that have ingrained
    themselves in our folklore than to listen to the
    genuine voices of the Indian peoples. Since their
    poems are really songs meant to be chanted or
    sung as part of various rituals, it is indeed the
    voices of the Indians, ancient and authentic,
    despite the drawbacks of translation, that we
    hear when we read them. Do you agree with
    Atrovs idea of the authentic voice? (You may
    use music as an example .)