EN280 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Bear Family Records, Haida Gwaii, Unilineality

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12 Feb 2016
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EN280: Lecture
Feb. 9th
A Story as Sharp as a Knife
-Raven always reborn as a child
-Great position of power, yet vulnerable at the same time
Classic Haida Literature
-Two poets: Skaay and Ghandl
-Two of the &nest poets to have ever lived in North America
-Conscious literary artists
-Blind, crippled- lots of time tot think through the myths
-Recall: course treats “ID literatures” so what is literary about
these works?
-Language not written, oral- spoken and heard
-Deep symbols between listener and teller
-Can we ‘hear’ it?
-Arises in and from a well established literary culture- follows a
generally known series of conventions, standards, familiar
forms, norms- well-known to both artist and audience
-Characters and episodes are so familiar to the audience the
literary artist need to sketch them 3eetingly, mention them
brie3y (sometimes by gesture or attribute- not even by name)
-Individual artist always makes some original contribution to
established narrative forms/conventions- a demanding tradition
-Material culture (poles, blankets, boxes) deploy same
conventions
-A pantheon- an assemblage of gods (important people)
-Subtle, reserved, economical- power cloaked in extraordinary
reserve, reticence, humility (this is
the
classical character)
-Don’t ‘confess’ emotions overtly- express them through
character and events
-Play with power gently
-Bill Reid: “The Spirit of Haida Gwaii”
-This symbol is on the $20 bill, inspiration is ascending the river
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- The Black Canoe
A literary
classic
-Usually express some artistic quality, an expression of life, truth,
and beauty
-A classic stands the test of time. The work is usually considered
to be a representation of the period, or culture, in which it was
written, and merits lasting recognition
-A classic has a certain universal appeal, still they surprise us
when we reread them- they always o>er more (great depth and
complexity) that we might at &rst be aware
-Great works of literature themes that are understood by readers
from diverse backgrounds and experience. Themes of live,
desire, dreams, food, death, life, faith, touch our core being, our
most basic emotions
-Classics are reread, they are short but you have to continuously
have a dialogue with them
-A classic makes connections
-For more, see essay by Italo Calvion, ”Why read the classics?”
-The listener is always rereading/listening to these stories, this is
the most important part
Pantheon
-The gods of a particular country or group of people
-A group of people who are famous or important
-A temple that is built to honour all the gods of a particular
country or group of people
-Swanton: the Haida pantheon was decorated just as lavishly as
the Roman, and the seem even to have risen to the level of an
Olympian Jove
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