Special Collections and Rare Books bids a fond farewell to Agnieszka Matkowska. Matkowska has been in residence during the past academic year to consult the Lord collection. The late Albert Bates Lord (1912-1991) was a professor of Slavic and comparative literature at Harvard University best known for his contribution to the understanding of the world’s oral traditions, especially those of the former Yugoslavia. His family donated his library to Mizzou in the Spring of 2011. It comprises a collection of almost 2000 books, articles, and even artifacts, many of which are in the closed stacks of Special Collections and Rare Books. The A.B. Lord Fellowship in Oral Tradition makes these volumes available to international scholars by allowing them to remain in residence at Mizzou for a semester or longer. Matkowska, PhD candidate from Poznan, Poland, was the award’s first recipient.
[Click on any of the images to enlarge.]
Matkowska studies the oral legends of the Buryat people, a group of 450,000 individuals spread across Siberia, Mongolia, and Inner Mongolia. The Buryat people have a rich heritage of oral tradition, though the current generation of performers might be the last. According to Matkowska, “When in 2011 I was doing my fieldwork in the Irkutsk Oblast’, a region bordering Lake Baikal, it was sometimes hard, so I became doubtful few times. In those moments Galina Vitalievna Afanasyeva-Medvedeva, a befriended professor and an expert in the field of Baikal folklore always raised my spirits emphasizing that what I do is of extreme importance as the folklore of that area is in decline and these processes are irreparable.”
Matkowska, is writing a dissertation that investigates the factors contributing to variation that occurs across multiple tellings of Buryat oral legends. Before coming to Columbia, Missouri, she undertook fieldwork in southern Siberia along the shores of Lake Baikal. While there she recorded performances and interviewed performers. She was even invited to observe a shamanistic ceremony, a privilege seldom granted to an outsider. While in residence at University of Missouri, Matkowska has taken advantage of the many comparative and theoretical studies in the Lord collection, gaining insight into the different methodological approaches she could take: “There are many ways to bite the cake,” she says “I just have to figure out which way will make it taste the best.” Matkowska will defend her dissertation in February at Adam Mickiewicz University.
University of Missouri Professor John Miles Foley, director for The Center for Studies in Oral Tradition, presented a talk entitled, “Albert Lord and the Study of Oral Tradition,” on Thursday, February 10th, 2011. Below is a full length version of Professor Foley’s Lord Library Donation Lecture.
[flv:/blogs/specialcollections/wp-content/uploads/FLVdirectory/foley_lecture_edited.flv /blogs/specialcollections/wp-content/uploads/FLVdirectory/posterframe/foley_lecture_screencap.png 480 368]
Albert Bates Lord and Mary Louise Lord’s private libraries were donated by the generous Lord family to the University of Missouri Libraries in 2010. A University of Missouri Classics and English Professor, John Miles Foley and former student of Albert Lord, was able to secure the collection for the use in University Libraries. On Thursday February 10, 2011 there was a reception and talk by John Miles Foley about Lord and his library. In continued celebration of the Lord collection we thought we should share some images, with our blog readers.
Albert Lord documented oral tradition world-wide; he was specifically interested in oral performance and composition. Due to his B.A. in Classics from Harvard and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature he was well suited for a career exploring oral tradition. He specialized in recording Serbian heroic poems, but also studied Homeric epics, Beowulf and Gilgamesh. Lord accumulated a large and unique library while professor at Harvard College. Additionally, he chaired and helped found the Department of Mythology and Folklore at Harvard from its inception through 1983, when he retired.
Mary Louise Lord, an academic herself, was a professor of Classics for many years at Connecticut College. She also contributed to her husband’s work through editing and helping him reflect on his work. Her part of the library represents her professional interests, contributing many classic works. Specifically of significance is part of Heinemann Publishing’s classic literature texts. They are pictured to the right and provide either Latin/English or Greek/English texts. She helped publish The Singer Resumes the Tale, one of Albert Lord’s books published posthumously.
One of the books is a signed copy of, Heinrich Schliemann’s, “Ithaka Der Peloponnes und Troja.” On the left is the title page with an inscription, which could be translated as: “To the lover of the arts Mr. Erik Barren (or Henry Warren?) as a memorial. 1874. Schliemann.” Schliemann, an archeologist of the 19th century, is credited with the archeological dig that unearthed ancient Troy. He submitted this work, written in Greek, to the University of Rostock in hopes of attaining a doctoral degree. He was
granted a Ph.D. based on this work, in 1869. Additional interesting items from the donation include an Albanian shepherd’s costume that is from the 20th century, two Sviralas, Croatian reed-type instruments, and Lord’s typewriter. This collection is currently being cataloged and processed. After, these important steps the items will be housed in MU Libraries. You can find a listing of all the books through the MERLIN catalog through: Lord Collection University Of Missouri Columbia Libraries