Monday, November 30, 2009

Folklorists & Musician Bess Lomax Hawes dies at 88

From the LA Times:
Bess Lomax Hawes, a musician and folklorist who tapped into the legacy of her influential family of archivists and became a prominent anthropologist at what is now Cal State Northridge, has died. She was 88.

Hawes, who directed folk and traditional arts programs at the National Endowment for the Arts from 1977 to 1992, died of natural causes Friday in Portland, Ore., where she had been living the last two years, her daughter Naomi Bishop said.

CSUN houses the Bess Lomax Hawes Student Folklore Archive, a collection of student research projects that Hawes oversaw. She was particularly interested in children's folklore; among her documentary films is “Pizza Pizza Daddy-O,” showing black schoolgirls singing and clapping on a Pacoima playground in 1967. With Bessie Jones she made another film, “Georgia Sea Island Singers,” and they co-wrote "Step It Down: Games, Plays, Songs and Stories from the Afro-American Heritage" (1972).

"To me, it's another way of getting to the human mystery -- why people behave the way they do," Hawes said in a 2000 Times interview in explaining the value of studying folklore.

Steeped in folk music from birth, she was the youngest child of John A. Lomax and Bess Bauman Brown. Born Jan. 21, 1921, in Austin, Texas, she was home-schooled by her mother, who also taught her to play piano. Her father and her brother, Alan Lomax, collected seminal field recordings of traditional songs that had been sung by cowboys, prisoners and slaves.

After her mother died in 1931, the family moved to Washington, D.C., and Hawes assisted her father's pioneering research compiling the folk song archive at the Library of Congress.

She graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology from Bryn Mawr College in 1941 and worked during World War II as a radio programmer for the Office of War Information. She was also one of a rotating crew of vocalists in the Almanac Singers folk ensemble, along with Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and her future husband, Baldwin "Butch" Hawes.

The couple married in 1943 and moved to Cambridge, Mass., where Hawes co-wrote the folk song "M.T.A." that later became a hit for the Kingston Trio.

She also began a successful career as a music instructor.

"Everyone wanted to sing and play guitar like Bobby Dylan," Hawes told the Daily News in 2002. "Folk music was a real postwar phenomenon. Everyone had either been tromped over or was out tromping over someone else during the war, and people were anxious to get back a sense of their roots."

In 1952 Hawes and her husband, an artist, moved to California and settled with their children in Topanga Canyon, immersing themselves in the bohemian community anchored by actor Will Geer.

Besides performing in coffeehouses and at music festivals, Hawes taught guitar, banjo, mandolin and folk singing through UCLA Extension courses, at the Idyllwild summer arts program and, starting in 1963, at San Fernando Valley State College. She expanded her instruction to folklore, folk music and ethnomusicology and, after receiving a master's in folklore from UC Berkeley studying under Alan Dundes, became head of the anthropology department at what is now CSUN.

Hawes began shifting from teacher to arts administrator in 1975 when she led a group of folk music and arts performers from California in a program on the National Mall presented by the Smithsonian Institution. The next year she participated in a bicentennial event staged by the Smithsonian, and in 1977 she joined the NEA.

She directed the national arts agency's folk and traditional arts program and created the agency's National Heritage Fellowships, which recognize traditional artists and performers from across the country. She retired in 1992 and the next year was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.

To Hawes, folk art was "an identifier . . . a public statement of what a hell of a fine thing it is to be a Lithuanian or a Greek or a Comanche Indian . . . so that you feel good and people looking at the work will say, 'That's good,' or 'That's beautiful,' or 'That's different.' "

All three of Hawes' children followed in her footsteps professionally. Her daughter Naomi Bishop of Portland, Ore., is a retired CSUN anthropology professor; another daughter, Corey Denos of Bellingham, Wash., is a teacher; and her son, Nicholas Hawes of Portland, Ore., is a folk musician.

Besides her children, Hawes is survived by six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1971.

Services will be private.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why are the Quileute people werewolves in 'Twilight'?

It turns out Stephanie Meyer's Twilight saga is based on some documented folklore--at least when it comes to werewolves.

in reference to:

"The Quileute Nation has lived on the Olympic Peninsula for thousands of years. Today, the Quileute Tribe is located in La Push, Washi., on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. La Push is not far from Forks, Wash., where the "Twilight" series takes place. Author Stephanie Myers references Quileute folklore in her decision to create Quileute characters in her story that transform into werewolves. The actual "origin" story of the Quileute people, as documented in "Quileute Religion: What the Old People Believed," prepared by the Quileute Tribal School in 1989, reads: "There was a kixi' (elder/knowledge carrier) that tells how k'w a'-ti (the transformer) was on First Beach when the wolves came down to run on the beach. The k'w a'-ti often had trouble with the strong and fierce wolves. So the transformer decided to be free from the wolf problem once and for all. He transformed the pack of wolves into the Kwo' li' yot, the people who live at the village, which came to be called La Push. …That is how the Quileutes of La Push came to be.""
- Why are the Quileute people werewolves in 'Twilight?' (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dell Hymes Obituary

Dell Hathaway Hymes Dell Hathaway Hymes, 82, a founding figure in the field of sociolinguistics and Commonwealth Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, at the University of Virginia, died Friday, November 13, 2009. An innovative thinker, an energetic researcher and writer, and a tireless intellectual advocate, Hymes worked for more than five decades at the intersection of linguistics and anthropology, exhorting linguists to move beyond treating language as a purely formal system and to study its mutual interactions with culture and society. His work has had an impact not only on his own dual fields of anthropology and linguistics but on the study of folklore, literature, and education. Hymes, the son of Howard Hathaway Hymes and Dorothy Bowman Hymes, was born and grew up in Portland, Oregon, where he first developed his lifelong interest in the study of Native American language and culture, conducting his first field research on the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon while he was still an undergraduate at Reed College, and beginning friendships and collegial relationships with members of the Wasco, Wishram, and Sahaptin peoples that he would maintain throughout his life. Interrupting his college education, Hymes served in the army in American-occupied Korea, working as a decoder and reaching the rank of staff sergeant, and returned to Reed to graduate in 1950. Hymes and his close friend the poet, Gary Snyder, were the first two Reed students to combine majors in literature and anthropology. Hymes went on to graduate work in linguistics at Indiana University, where he met fellow student Virginia Wolff, n‚e Dosch, whom he married in 1954. He earned his Ph.D. in 1955 with a dissertation on the Kathlamet language, formerly spoken near the mouth of the Columbia River. Between 1955 and 1987 Hymes taught successively at Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the departments of Anthropology and Folklore and then served as Dean of the Graduate School of Education for 12 years. In 1987, Hymes moved to Virginia, taking up a joint appointment in anthropology and English, and remained at Virginia until his retirement in 1998. Throughout his life Hymes was a writer of poetry alongside his academic work, and many of his poems have been published. He was also a man of strong political views and engagements, a lover of music and amateur pianist, an excellent joke-teller, and an avid reader across a multitude of fields, in his later years especially including theology and the history of religion. Since he arrived in Charlottesville 22 years ago, he has been a congregant of St. Paul Memorial Church and more recently of Peace Lutheran Church. His love of his native Pacific Northwest was a deep theme not only in his work but in his life, and for more than three decades, while living and working in Philadelphia and then Charlottesville, he spent every summer on Mt. Hood, which lies between Portland where he was born and Warm Springs where he did his fieldwork. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Virginia Dosch Hymes, a researcher and teacher in her own right in linguistics, anthropology, and the study of narrative; a brother, Corwin Hymes; and by four children, Vicky Unruh, Robert Hymes, Alison Hymes and Kenneth Hymes; as well as five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service will take place 1 p.m. Saturday, November 21, 2009, at Peace Lutheran Church, Charlottesville. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice (CCPJ) or a charity of choice.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fellowships in honor of Archie Green

Archie Green Fellowships

Current application deadline: November 30, 2009


To honor the memory of Archie Green (1917-2009), the pioneering folklorist who championed the establishment of the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress and was a scholar and advocate for the documentation and analysis of the culture and traditions that arise from and are passed on by American workers, a fellowship program has been established at the American Folklife Center. The Archie Green Fellowships will support new documentation and research into the culture and traditions of American workers and will create significant digital archival materials (audio recordings, photographs, motion pictures, field notes) that will be preserved in the Folklife Center's archive and made available to researchers and the public.

Program Description

The American Folklife Center will award up to three fellowships for the period February 2010 – February 2011 that will support new, original, independent field research into the culture and traditions of American workers and/or occupational groups found within the United States. Applicants must develop a project plan detailing the subject of the research and methods of digital documentation. The original documentary materials generated during the course of the fellowship will become part of the Folklife Center's Archie Green America Works Collection.

Applicants must submit proposals to be received by the American Folklife Center no later than November 30, 2009. The term of each fellowship will be limited to a period of one year and will be supported with funds up to $45,000.

Eligibility Requirements

U.S. citizens are eligible to submit applications for a fellowship to support their new, original research on and documentation of occupational culture. Applicants may include individuals, organizations or groups. Occupational groups, labor unions or organizations may wish to involve folklife researchers for the purpose of undertaking fieldwork projects on their behalf.


Proposals for the Archie Green Fellowships will be evaluated by a committee that is composed of the Director of the American Folklife Center, Head of Research and Programs for the American Folklife Center, Head of the American Folklife Center archive, the Chair of the American Folklife Center Board of Trustees, and the Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress. A summary of the proposals and a recommendation for selection will be provided to the Librarian of Congress, who will make the final selections.


Fellows will provide the American Folklife Center with the original versions of documentary materials created during the course of the fellowship research. All documentation must be in digital formats as outlined below. The cost of creating secondary copies may be factored into the applicants’ research budgets. Fellows will submit completed informant releases and biographical data forms (provided by the American Folklife Center) as well as electronic logs for audio/video recordings and still photographs. Fieldnotes describing daily research activities through the course of the project will be submitted in digital form. These materials will become part of the Archie Green America Works Collection. Fellows will submit a final report and financial accounting to the American Folklife Center upon completion of the fellowship. In addition, Archie Green Fellows will offer a public lecture or presentation at the Library of Congress at the end of their fellowship year, to become part of the Archie Green Fellows Lecture Series. These lectures or presentations will be recorded to become part of the Archie Green America Works Collection. Fellows' travel expenses related to the lectures will be covered separately by the American Folklife Center.

Request for Proposals

Applicants for the 2010 Archie Green Fellowships at the American Folklife Center should submit the following materials by November 30, 2009

* Project Description (1-3 pages)
* Project Budget, which, if necessary, may include the cost of purchasing professional-quality documentation equipment
* List of documentation equipment to be used
* Project Timeline
* Statement of agreement/letter from occupational group to be documented
* Resume (for individuals) or Organization Description (for 501.c.3 orgs.)

Digital Document Requirements & Specifications:

All fellows must comply with the AFC/LOC digital standards and, therefore, provide documentation in the following specifications:

Digital audio: 96khz/24bit bwf (or .wav) file, or 44.1khz/16bit .wav file.

Digital video: high-resolution digital video format (consult with AFC)

Digital images: high-resolution digital images (consult with AFC)

Text files (for logs, fieldnotes, final report, etc.): Microsoft Word

Databases, spread sheets, etc.: consult with AFC

Application Process and Deadlines:
November 30, 2009 2010 Proposals due to AFC
December 15, 2009 2010 Adjudication final and awards announced
February 15, 2010 2010 Awards final and fellowships begin

October 20, 2010 Request for Proposals released by AFC for 2011 Fellowships
November 30, 2010 2011 Proposals due to AFC
December 15, 2010 2011 Adjudication final and awards announced
February 15, 2011 2010 Fellowships final reports and documentation submitted
February 15, 2011 Plans for 2010 Fellows lectures finalized
February 15, 2011 2011 Awards final and fellowships begin
Submit Materials to:

Please email or FAX your submission, do not send via U.S. Postal Service.

Email to: Archie Green Fellows Committee at

FAX to: Archie Green Fellows Committee at 202-707-2076

Questions? Call Mary Bucknum at 202-707-5354

Food, Folklore and Hurston

This article features the D.C. restaurant "Eatonville," dedicated to the hometown and heritage of Zora Neal Hurston. Folklorists everywhere should cheer.

Remembering Dell Hymes

This is the first of what will be many remembrances of Dell Hymes:

Remembering Dell Hymes
by Jason Baird Jackson

While no obituary has appeared yet, there seems to be conclusive understanding via the moccasin telegraph that Dell Hymes has passed away. So soon after the death of Claude Lévi-Strauss, this is another significant loss in the fields of Native American studies, anthropology and folklore studies. Dell Hymes was a amazingly influential folklorist, anthropologist, and linguist who revolutionized the study of language in (/and) culture in general, and of Native American narrative traditions in particular. He made important contributions to the history of anthropology, to descriptive and theoretical linguistics, to sociolinguistics, to folkloristics, and to Native American studies. He essentially created the areas on inquiry known as (1) the ethnography of speaking and (2) ethnopoetics and he played a key role reshaping linguistic anthropology from the 1960s onward. His work is at the root of the performance orientation central in contemporary folklore studies and he directly influenced the work of a great many folklorists, including Richard Bauman, Henry Glassie, and Lee Haring, among many others. His influence in the field as practiced in the United States is pervasive.

Dell Hymes was an especially central figure for his fields of study at Indiana University, where I earned my Ph.D. and to which I returned in 2004 to join the faculty in Folklore and Ethnomusicology. At Indiana, Hymes earned his Ph.D. in 1955, studying under Carl Voegelin, a student of Alfred Kroeber and Edward Sapir, both themselves students of Franz Boas. He was deeply immersed in the Americanist tradition and he took the task of understanding, enriching, and conveying that tradition to new generations to be a key task. When he left Indiana for jobs at Harvard, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia, his impact and influence kept flowing back and influencing the faculty and students here. At Pennsylvania in particular, he worked closely with scholars that have gone on to play a key role in shaping the IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. Evidence of the breadth of his influence and his commitment to the Boasian vision for the study of language, culture and society can be seen in the fact that he served as president of the American Folklore Society, the American Anthropological Association, and the Linguistic Society of America.

More coherent and elaborate remembrances will be written by scholars and friends who knew him well, but I wanted to acknowledge his passing and record my appreciation for his many contributions that have enriched the fields of study in which I work.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Luto for Dell Hymes

Dell Hymes, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and English at UVA, passed away on Friday, November 13, 2009 at the age of 82. I will post links to his obituaries as they are published.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Havana to host international Folklore Conference

Havana will host the 39th Conference of Organizations for Folklore Festivals November 8-15. Representatives from 40 countries will be on hand. UNESCO and the International Council of Organizations for Folklore Festivals will co-sponsor the event.

in reference to: Cuba to host international folklore conference (view on Google Sidewiki)