Monday, December 12, 2011

Preliminary Blog Post

Unit One: Folk Knowledge
Unit Two: Oral Knowledge
Unit Three: Written Knowledge
Unit Four: Print Knowledge
Self-directed Learning
Other’s Blogging
Collaborative Learning

Unit One: Folk Knowledge
“Folk knowledge is practical knowledge for living that gets passed on from one generation to another within families and groups, independent of formal schooling. Such knowledge is especially related to physical well-being and material existence, but also includes cultural knowledge required for survival within a given society. Folk knowledge includes the critical "ways of the world" within a given time and place. These may be passed on orally or even through written means, but this knowledge depends more upon contextual understanding than textual information; more upon doing than learning; and more upon imitation and demonstration than upon skills of speaking or thinking.
Rather than viewing folk knowledge as primitive, it should be thought of as primary, or primal. People learn how to function, how to cope with their bodies, how to manage their close interpersonal relationships, and how to survive in their societies even if never formally instructed to do so. That's folk knowledge.”
· domestic arts (cooking, sewing, midwifery)
· healing, hygiene, homeopathy
· athletics, sports, and hunting (as practiced outside of school systems)
· religious practices and rituals (obviously overlapping with other knowledge systems)
· civic and community practices and ceremonies
· spiritual-physical practices (like yoga, meditation)
· arts (dancing, music, or art not taught in schools)
· building
· shopping
· trade and commerce
· travel and transportation
· logistics (ordering and arranging objects in space and across distances)
· playing games
· entertaining
1. Self Directed Learning
· In her post “Slip, Chain Two, Double Crochet”, Rachel Olson talked about how her mother originally taught her how to crochet, but she forgot how. Her roommate then re-taught her. “I shy away from crocheting, but as she taught me, corrected my mistakes, helped me to unravel the parts I'd done wrong, and eventually instructed me on how to single loop, double loop, make a slip, and chain, I made something! Her hands-on instruction enabled me to attempt what, sitting alone with a set of instructions written in crochet short-hand, I could not.” Rachel Olson, Group 7
· In his post about teaching his fiancĂ© to make paper origami for their reception, Scott Welling said, It was a lot of fun passing on folk knowledge because you can find something in common with another person that you both enjoy. I obviously don't have kids, but I imagine that it will be fun to pass things on to them that I enjoy and to then be able to do those things with them. As we have studied folk knowledge, I have felt more and more that that is a purpose or result of it. I feel strongly that it can bring us together as we share something with someone and they take it and run with it. You are connected because you will, in their minds, always be the person that taught them that thing. There is a lot of value in teaching others what we know. Both parties are edified.He taught her how to make a beautiful craft that benefited them both because they were able to use their craft for their wedding reception.
2. Other’s Blogging
· In her post, “Akkadian Stories”, Emily Fullwood talked about myths from the ancient Akkadian Empire. “In an earlier post (First Look at Akkadian Civilization) I wrote how Sargon became the first king of Akkadia. This made me wonder if we have any of our own stories about how something came to be. Then it hit me! George Washington! There are definitely some George Washington stories that may or may not be true, but that we like because it shows what amazing qualities the man had. The story of the Cherry tree for example. Is it true? Does anyone care if it's true? Not really. The people of the United States know the story because it shows how fantastic their first president was and how much integrity he had. That's like the story of Sargon. Did a Goddess really take a fancy to the man and save him? I'm going to say it's unlikely, but it did show how favored the King was of the Gods giving him a reason (divine right of kings) to be on the throne.”
3. Collaborative Learning
· When Dane (group 7) posted about coming-of-age rituals, everyone chimed in and had a very interesting discussion about what it means to “come-of-age” in different communities.
4. Projects/Activities
· For Folk Knowledge, we each had to learn a new craft/skill, and I chose beadwork. My RA comes from a family of women obsessed with beads and their heritage. As she taught me how to make a bracelet, she also told me where all of her different beads came from, what it took to make them, and the stories behind them.
Unit Two: Oral Knowledge
In our folk knowledge unit we emphasized the practical and material knowledge that is passed on even without language, but these typically go together, and that's where we get folklore. "Lore" is a body of knowledge passed on by word of mouth by the people, the "folk," and folks tend to embed such knowledge in narratives. Learning how to fish? Well, you are as likely to hear your father tell you about the big one that got away as you are to hear tips about baiting your hook; they go together.
· What is the role of storytelling within cultures from antiquity?
· What kinds of information are preserved and passed on through stories and song?
· What do stories and songs do? What are their effects?
Myth and Legend
Stories have been a major way people make sense of the world. They are used to explain natural phenomena, or to make claims about the origins of life or of a people. Myths and legends are at once a universal phenomena, and also particular to a given place or people. They are tied to art, religion, and politics. They are central to oral knowledge and culture.

In fact, myths and legends tend to fall into some common categories: creation, culture heroes and fertility gods, mortality and death, parents and children, animal helpers, rebellion and conformity, heroes and heroines, and clever beings. That's a thematic list that I got from Folklore, Myths, and Legends: A World Perspective by Donna Rosenberg (1997).
The most famous book about mythology (for Greek, Roman, and Norse myths) is Edith Hamilton's Mythology (1940). Another oft-cited book about myths in history is Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth (1988).
Epic Poetry
Often stories and myths were sung or chanted in long narrative poems known as epics. The most famous of these are the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer (Greek, around 800 B.C.); the Aeneid by Vergil (Roman, first century) and Beowulf (Anglo-Saxon, around 700 A.D.). But these are not the only ones. The Epic of Gilgamesh is far older (Sumerian, around 3000 B.C.), and from India arose the Mahabharata (around 300 A.D.). In general, most pre-literate societies have had some kind of oral-formulaic or bardic tradition in which stories important to the culture have been preserved and added onto over the years until they become long, complex stories.

Poetry fits more naturally with oral knowledge. The patterns, rhythms, rhymes, imagery -- and the story elements for narrative poetry -- are mnemonic in nature. They help people to remember (and to enjoy) their content.

What kinds of poetry are evident in the culture you are studying? Are there poems that tell stories (narrative and epic poetry)? What do those stories say about the values and lifestyles of their culture? Poetry was not read silently and privately from something written -- not for centuries. No, in antiquity poetry was spoken and shared with others. It has been a form of both private and public entertainment, as well as being a carrier of culture. In that respect, it compares to another important manifestation of oral knowledge: drama.

Another way that stories have been formalized and preserved has been through plays and theater. It takes it up a level when stories are not just told but acted out. Drama and theater have always been communal, often associated with religious rites and sometimes with politics and statecraft. What kinds of dramatic presentations have there been in the culture that you are studying?
Like drama and poetry (both of which sometimes coincided with music), song has been a dominant mode of oral knowledge. The bards and scops of ancient cultures would strum a lyre or harp as they chanted or sang epic poems. And of course, there have been many other types of singing that have also preserved and passed on a culture and its stories. What are the types of music in the culture you are studying? Were these tied to poetry and storytelling?

1. Self-directed Learning
· In his blog post, “Writing and Learning”, Alex Burton (group 1) lists the traits that separate oral tradition and written tradition:
Especially interesting to me was the comparative list of traits separating orality and the literary. Here is an imperfect version of that list straight from my notes…
· Orality Literary
· 1. Additive 1. Subordinative
· 2. Aggregative 2. Analytic
· 3. Redundant, “copious” 3. Linear, sparse
· 4. Conservative 4. Original
· 5. Close to human life world 5. Detached
· 6. Agonistic (confrontational) 6. Isolating
· 7. Empathetic, participatory 7. Objective
· 8. Homeostatic (present) 8. Archival
· 9. Situational 9. Abstract
2. Others’ Blogging
· Andrew Powley wrote in a post about oral knowledge, “In a modern example, I recently read a speech that Barrack Obama gave in 2009 in Egypt while addressing to the Muslim world. In the speech, I was amazed at his strategies to appeal to an Islamic community. He must have had extensive knowledge of his audience before choosing his words. Proof of this is when he alludes to Muhammad he says the all-important phrase “peace be unto him”. To an Islam, the phrase is one that is used whenever the Prophet’s name is mentioned. The fact that a Westerner recognized that tradition of using that phrase portrays a heightened respect for another culture, no doubt Muslims were impressed. I guess that’s why Obama won the Nobel Prize, right? Anyways to wrap up, I’d like to just highlight that the spoken word has a profound effect on those who listen. Not just with public speeches, but in everyday life as well. Imagine if we viewed what we say may drastically impress another person for better or for worse. “
3. Collaborative Learning
· When we (group 7) made our video blog, we had to learn about each other’s previous blog posts and feed off of each other’s knowledge. We were able to share what we had learned individually to have a collective knowledge of each other’s research.
4. Projects/Activities
· We had to memorize certain verses of King Benjamin’s speech and recite it back to the class to completely orally remember the speech without any written help.
Unit Three: Written Knowledge
A number of associated concepts complement this direction of study, and we list them here as starting points for individual research and blogging:
· Writing systems (physical format; linguistic and symbolic aspects)
· Graphical symbol systems
· The lecture
· The written curriculum
· Letters, missives, and the notarial arts
· The scroll
· The codex
· The manuscript book
· Paper-making; papyrus preparation; vellum
· Patronage
· Apprenticeship
· Guilds
· Medicine
· Astrology
· Architecture
· Runes
· Inscriptions, monuments, graves
· Cartography
· Clocks and Calendars
· Measurement
1. Self-directed Learning
· In my post about Chinese characters, I talked about how the characters changed, modernized, and economized over time: “Something else I love about Chinese characters is how each character is more of an idea or a figure than an actual word. Each whole character is made up of lots of other characters or elements. For example, the character for "devil" is made up of the smaller characters: motion + garden + man + privately. And if you take the character "devil" and combine it with trees + cover, you get the character of "tempter". The character that means "to create" is made up of the characters: breath + dust + walking + alive. Chinese characters are a perfect example of how written language changes according to the needs of each generation.”
2. Others’ Blogging
· In his blog post, “Writing and Learning”, Alex Burton (group 1) lists the traits that separate oral tradition and written tradition:
Especially interesting to me was the comparative list of traits separating orality and the literary. Here is an imperfect version of that list straight from my notes…
· Orality Literary
· 1. Additive 1. Subordinative
· 2. Aggregative 2. Analytic
· 3. Redundant, “copious” 3. Linear, sparse
· 4. Conservative 4. Original
· 5. Close to human life world 5. Detached
· 6. Agonistic (confrontational) 6. Isolating
· 7. Empathetic, participatory 7. Objective
· 8. Homeostatic (present) 8. Archival
· 9. Situational 9. Abstract
3. Collaborative Learning
· In his post, “Failing at Hieroglyphics?” Andrew Powley talked about his group’s endeavor to translate Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics and the struggles they went through.
4. Projects/Activities
· Everyone struggled through the Rosetta Stone Project, attempting to translate different written languages into others while recording them.
Unit Four: Print Knowledge
As you explore these topics, they will naturally extend forward in time toward the present. That is fine, but please base some of your research and discussion in the Renaissance or in general before 1700. You do not need to research the same civilization or culture you have reported on previously.
· Non-European printing
· The rise of publishing as a practice, then as an industry (before 1700)
· History of the printed book (before 1700)
· Materials and methods for printing (1450-1700)
· Printing presses and publishers in the Renaissance
· Standardization and uniformity and how print affected these trends
· Fonts and typefaces (as developed between 1450-1700)
· The economics of the book trade before 1700
· History of publishing, editing (between 1450-1700)
· The rise of the author (before 1700, and perhaps between manuscript and print culture)
· The effects of printing on the Protestant Reformation, or the Catholic Counter-Reformation
· Distribution and dissemination of printed books before 1700
· Reading practices and how these developed or transformed with the coming of print.
· Persistence of oral practices or scribal practices into the print period
· Literary representations of printing, publishing
· The visual arts and how these were present in or affected by printing
· The roles of compositors, type founders, printers, binders, translators, illustrators, engravers, indexers, etc.
· Censorship (before 1700)
· The use of print in education (before 1700)
· New reading practices with the coming of print (such as silent reading)
· Dictionaries and lexicons (before 1700)
· Spelling, and how print affected orthography
· Print and privacy
· Plagiarism (before 1700) or the issue of originality
· Print knowledge and law
· Print knowledge and medicine
· Conventions of print-based knowledge: tables of contents, indexes, pagination, footnotes and endnotes, critical apparatus, etc.
· The history of bibliography (before 1700)
· The development of the anthology as a literary genre
1. Self-directed Learning
· I was required to go to the library and research the history of print on my own. It helped that I had written a previous blog post about the history of Gutenberg’s Bible. I think that getting to research something I was interested in helped me learn better. Typography was probably one of my favorite parts of my topic. I spent a long time in the library just learning about different kinds of arabesques and fonts.
2. Others’ Blogging
· Summer wrote a post about her trip to the Crandall Museum: I walked across the foyer and down the steps to the large open room which was of most importance to me—the room with the Gutenberg press. Along with the press, there were several glass cases with replicas and originals of artifacts spanning written knowledge from antiquity to the times of the Gutenberg press. There was a display about manuscript writing which, as we have discussed in class, preceded printing. Next to that was a small exhibit about the Chinese printing press, explaining the evolution of movable type in the East. There was first clay movable-type (960-1127), then wooden movable-type (1127-1279), tin movable-type (1271-1368), and finally bronze movable-type used widely during the Ming Dynasty. The display credited the Chinese by saying that Gutenberg would have certainly heard of the Chinese printing system with wooden moveable-type and it would have been his inspiration for his later metal type.
3. Collaborative Learning
· After completing our Annotated Bibliographies, we were required to write an essay about our topics (mine was “The Printed Book Before 1700”), and then peer review each others’ essays. It was really interesting getting to read another’s essay about the same topic, but with a different viewpoint and focus. Our papers really fed off of each other and complimented each other well.
4. Projects/Activities
· For my Annotated Bibliography, I searched for books on the topic of “The Printed Book Before 1700”. It was difficult finding books at first, but then, following the advice of Dr. Burton, I was able to find the right material. I was so interesting learning about the sacrifices people had to make for progress, as well as the resulting freedom of knowledge the printing press brought.

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