Tag Archives: Moby-Dick

Moby-Dick and Modern America: A Summer Reading Course

One of the best things about a good book is that it can be read at any time of year, at any time of day, and it will draw you in. Sure, a book like White Fang may have even greater impact if you read it on cold winter nights. You may feel the dusty Alabama setting of To Kill A Mockingbird even more if you read it during a hot, dry summer. Yet, these are compelling stories no matter when you read them. The same can be said for Moby-Dick.

Many of you know that we choose to hold our Moby-Dick Marathon in January because it was January of 1841 when Herman Melville sailed out of New Bedford harbor on the whaleship Acushnet. However, there are Moby-Dick reading marathons in other cities that happen throughout the year. It’s a great book, to many, the greatest novel ever. The season in which you read it isn’t particularly important.

In that vein, former NBWM curatorial intern Evander Price, now a doctoral student in Harvard’s American Studies program, is looking to connect high school students to Moby-Dick after their school year is over.  This summer, he is teaching a high school course on Moby-Dick through MIT’s intensive summer program, Junction, which aims to provide intense, college-level academic courses for high school students.  He invites any brave green whalers who might be interested aboard his literary ship.  Applications are due April 10th, though late applications will be accepted up until May (precise date TBD).  See course description below, and on Junction’s website.

MOBYDICK14

Title: Moby-Dick and Modern America

Description:

“I have written a wicked book, and feel as spotless as a lamb.”

–Melville in a Letter to Hawthorne, July 1851

This class is an introduction to Herman Melville’s famous epic, Moby-Dick; we will read the book in its entirety.  This course explores a wide range of subjects, such as: philosophy, metaphysics, ontology, World/American/Scientific/Maritime history, art, mythology (Greek and otherwise), cetology, geography, popular art/ culture, justice, poetry, environmentalism, etymology, civilization, savagery, Shakespeare, heroism, war, nothingness, evil, darkness, hell, the abyss, god, death, race, religion, monstrousness, genius, madness, wisdom, ethics, eschatology and some slice of the complexity of existence within the human condition.

We will embark on this literary ship of the past as it winds its way from the world’s beginning to the present day, beginning at page one with Ishmael, a young man who, contemplating suicide, instead decides to commit himself to sea.  You can expect to finish this class with no answers, but rather, a firm grasp of the magnitude of the questions.  You can expect to improve enormously as a reader, to be mind-blown, blubber-brained, and equipped with a whole new set of philosophical and analytical tools to approach any daunting work of great literature you may read in the future.  Have no fear: we will work together as a crew to harpoon this evil epic.  Join me on a whaling voyage around the world!

Moby-Dick the Reptile

Our Moby-Dick Marathon may be done for 2013, but the influence of the story and its eternally metaphorical whale continue.  A recently discovered species of unpigmented skink, in the island country of Madagascar, is being nicknamed the Moby Dick mermaid skink. However, nicknames / common names, often change from language to language. For example, what we call cod, the Portuguese call bacalhau, the French call morue and the Norwegians call torsk. What doesn’t change is the scientific name. For the cod, that would be Gadus morhua. This new skink will forever have the white whale’s moniker attached to it no matter what language is used. It has been given the scientific name Sirenoscincus mobydick.  I’d like to thank Brandon Walecka for sending this story from Cosmos magazine to us.

This may be the first scientific name to include Moby-Dick. But, it’s not the first to include something from Herman Melville. There is a recently discovered species of fossil (and fearsome) sperm whale that in 2010 was given the name Livyatan melvillei. If you sound out the genus name, you’ll understand why the name was chosen…and that taxonomists have a sense of humor. Case in point, the scientific name for the blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus. This can translate into muscular winged whale. It can also translate into winged whale mouse.

Moby-Dick Marathon reader call-in, Nov. 12

The 17th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon is scheduled for January 5-6, 2013 and all those interested in reading are invited to contact the museum, starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, November 12. Call (508) 717-6851 or email: mdmarathon@whalingmuseum.org to request a 7-10 minute reading slot. Be sure to provide your full name and preferred reading time as well as two alternate times.

Every January, the world’s largest whaling museum marks the anniversary of Herman Melville’s 1841 whaling voyage from New Bedford with a 25-hour nonstop reading of America’s greatest novel – Moby-Dick. The weekend includes three days of activities, January 4-5-6, 2013, including a ticketed buffet dinner and lecture on Friday evening.

A midwinter tradition, the marathon attracts hundreds of readers and listeners from around the world. The reading begins at noon on Saturday, January 5 and finishes at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 6. Snow and cold will not stop this literary happening. Come at any time; leave at any time, or stay 25 hours and win a prize!

For more information, contact: Robert C. Rocha, Jr. Science Director: (508) 997-0046, ext. 149,  rrocha@whalingmuseum.org

3 exhibit openings in November share maritime themes

“White Island Lighthouse,” Harry Neyland, 1906, is one of several works by famous local artists in “Celebrating Generosity: Gifts from the Eliot S. Knowles Collection.”

Three new exhibitions premiere simultaneously in November at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

The exhibits, titled Celebrating Generosity: the Eliot S. Knowles Collection, Among the Waves and Amid the Vortex; Paintings by Jason Hancock, and Signifying the Whale; a crowd-sourced exhibit from the digital realm, opens to the public Nov. 2.

Peggy Rodgers, Judith N. Lund, Ph.D., and Mary Jean Blasdale, Chair of the Collections Committee, are guest-curators of Celebrating Generosity.

Eliot Stetson Knowles (1916-2002), became the thirteenth president of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in 1973 after serving six years as its treasurer. His leadership and generosity is celebrated in a new exhibition of works, which he and his wife, artist Betty Kirkendall collected over decades. Theirs grew to be the largest private collection of art of the New Bedford region, including such well-known artists as William Bradford, William Allen Wall, Clement Nye Swift, Charles H. Gifford, and Harry Neyland.

Opening concurrently, an exhibition by contemporary artist, Jason Hancock, titled Among the Waves and Amid the Vortex, takes visual elements from Moby-Dick to create a series of new paintings that express the turbulent nature of the whaling seas. Capped by sunrise and sunset upon the ocean, Hancock’s work examines the parameters of opposites and excess.

Harold Davis dubbed his photo of a wet cyclamen “Moby Dick” because the flower looked to him like the white whale. Davis’ work and many others are part of a crowd-sourced digital exhibition titled “Signifying the Whale.” (© Harold Davis)

Curated by Michael A. Lapides, Director of Digital Initiatives, the third exhibit, titled Signifying the Whale evolved from the Museum’s 2003 Whaling History Symposium presentation by Zubeda Jalalzai and Jason Fiering entitled Wayside Whaling. In it, they investigated the connections between popular icons in contemporary New Bedford, its once dominant but now defunct whaling industry and the enduring language of Moby-Dick; or, The Whale The new exhibit, which follows in the path of two former museum exhibitions, Imagining Moby and Visualizing Melville, is an invitation to discover the leviathan, through imagery and words… wherever it can be found.

A photo group within the website Flickr expands into this exhibit and the public is invited to participate by posting images of “signified” (symbolic), or artistically rendered whales to the image pool. Actual whale photos will be excluded.

This crowd-sourced exhibition will continually expand with images in the Flickr pool, ultimately joining the exhibit, which will be administered by museum curators and updated weekly.

“Vortex (Dusk) Number One” by Jason Hancock

Anyone may submit an image. Email to web@whalingmuseum.org . The Museum will post contributed images to its Flickr photo group with credit and copyright pointing back to creators.

The Futurity of the Whale, “Moby-Dick Big Read”

Thanks to Dr Philip Hoare for providing this blog post about Moby-Dick Big Read. He is artist-in-residence at the Marine Institute, Plymouth University, UK and author of The Whale (Ecco), winner of the 2009 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. Posted today, Chapter 30, The Pipe, as read by David Cameron. Download all the chapters or listen online.

This project is a great kick-start for our own Moby Dick Marathon. Mark November 12 on your calendar, it is “Reader Call-In Day”. Send an email to mdmarathon (at) whalingmuseum.org or call (508) 717-6851 to request a reading slot.

Moby-Dick, published in 1851, is acknowledged as the greatest American novel.   A century and a half later, art and science still has to catch up with it.  Herman Melville prophesied an age in which man’s abuse of nature would lead to problems for both human and cetaceans.  That intense sense of contemporary relevance – the delayed-effect impact of the book – prompted Angela Cockayne and I, as curators of the Moby-Dick Big Read for Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University, UK, to create an online rendition of the book.  Above all, we were inspired by the world famous New Bedford Whaling Museum’s marathon reading of the book.

Our readers include Tilda Swinton, Sir David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, Simon Callow, John Waters, Benedict Cumberbatch, Nathaniel Philbrick, Chad Hardbach, Caleb Crain, Andrew Delbanco and Mary Oliver.  But as well as these celebrated names, we invited readings from the general public in the democratic spirit of the project – from schoolchildren to fishermen.  And rather than have a blank web page whilst listening to these chapters, we expanded the project to include images from international contemporary artists such as Anish Kapoor, Mark Wallinger, George Shaw, Dexter Dallwood, Gavin Turk, Zaha Hadid, Susan Hiller, Dorothy Cross and Antony Gormley, many of whom have created new works specifically for the project.

I like to think Herman Melville would have approved of this British exposition of his extraordinary work.  After all, the novel was partly conceived during Melville’s visit to London in 1849.  He stayed in rooms on Craven St, next to  Charing Crossstation – the house is now marked by a blue plaque.  And for reasons of copyright (which did not then exist in the US), his book, entitled The Whale, was also first published in Britain by Richard Bentley, in a deluxe, three-volume edition for the carriage trade.

Craven Street, London

Famously, the book did not fare well on its transition across the Atlantic.  The American first edition never sold out and Melville died in 1891, his genius unacknowledged.  Here too we British may lay claim to reviving Moby-Dick’s reputation.  In the 1920s, writers such as D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, W.H.Auden and E.M.Forster acclaimed Moby-Dick as a modernist work before modernism was invented.

How amazed Melville would be to find out far his work has lodged in our modern culture, both high and low.  Moby-Dick remains firmly in the zeitgeist.  Kraken-tattooed and buff science-fiction writer, China Mieville’s latest book, Railsea, riffs on the subject, while director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) is working on a movie version of Moby-Dick set in outer space.  And every high street has reminder of Melville’s masterpiece named after Captain Ahab’s first mate – Starbuck.  There, sipping your latte, you may check another, aural reference: pop star Moby, real name Richard Melville Hall, is named after the book written by his great-great uncle, Herman.  Word is that Moby-Dick is Barack Obama’s favourite book; also Morgan Freeman’s; and Woody Allen confesses to being a recent convert.

And the reverberations of Melville’s text continue, not least in the way it raised questions of imperialism, fundamentalism, morality and faith.  When it was published, shortly before the American Civil War, it was a coded comment on the internecine conflict over slavery (most especially via the indirect inspiration of Frederick Douglass, whom Melville may, or may not, have met in New Bedford’s streets).  More recently, it was cited by Edward Said in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when the writer compared the ‘war on terror’ as an impossible pursuit, like the captain’s demonic hunt for the White Whale.  Nor could you ignore its relevance today.  Witness this quote from Chapter One, ‘Loomings’:

Grand contested Election for the Presidency of the United States

WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL

BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN.

I’m delighted to join the New Bedford Whaling Museum – global home of the back-story to Melville’s extraordinary work – in bringing Moby-Dick into the digital age.  After all, Melville’s book, with its unedited, digressive and allusive prose, resembles nothing so much as a modern blog.  The famous ‘Extracts’ that precede his main text have the air of a Victorian search engine.  And if he were writing his book today, I don’t think Herman would have ever finished it: he’d be forever googling ‘Whale’.

Whaling Museum to Participate in 15th Anniversary of New Bedford National Whaling Historical Park

The corner of William St and Johnny Cake Hill. The two buildings in the foreground occupy what is now the Whaling Museum plaza. Join us here on Saturday afternoon as we celebrate the National Park’s 15th birthday.  Photo from NBWM archives.

This is a family-friendly event coordinated by the Whaling History Alliance to honor Congressman Barney Frank and the late Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy.

In conjunction with the National Park’s 15th Anniversary celebration of our downtown park, the New Bedford Whaling Museum will host free activities between the hours of 2:30 and 5 p.m.

On the Museum plaza:

Harpoon challenge. Practice to become a harpooner. Guests are invited to try their hand at throwing a kid-safe harpoon through a target.

Scrimshaw. It may not be legal to carve on sperm whale teeth in 2012, but you can use soap, shoe polish and a carving stick to create your own masterpiece to take home.

Pequod. Make a floating model of the famous whale ship from ‘Moby-Dick’.

Jacobs Family Gallery

Voyage Around the World.  Join Museum docents for experiential activities to highlight the common thread of history that connects New Bedford with Alaska and Hawai’i.

Cook Memorial Theater

Experience a staged reading of ‘Moby-Dick’ with the Boston Experimental Theatre Company. Join the imaginary voyage aboard the Pequod with Captain Ahab, Ishmael, Queequeg and the rest of the crew as they pursue an infamous white whale across the treacherous waters of the globe.  Meet the characters, share their perils and immerse yourself in the beauty and harshness of Melville’s finely drawn portrait of a doomed whaling expedition.

This new script is an adaptation from Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick.  After the reading, there will be a talk back session with BETC. Feedback, questions and impressions are welcome.  (This staged reading precedes a full production to be performed in Boston in January by the members of BETC.)

In addition to the free activities listed above, the Whaling Museum will offer (BOGO) buy one, get one free admission for the day.

Whaling Museum & Zeiterion launch “Moby!” partnership

Whaling Museum & Zeiterion  launch “Moby!” partnership

The Zeiterion Performing Arts Center and the New Bedford Whaling Museum have announced a coordinated partnership designed to heighten New Bedford’s profile as a cultural and historical destination utilizing “Moby-Dick” as a universal identifier for the city in a four-month program titled “Moby!”.

The partnership between two of New Bedford’s leading cultural institutions will focus on author Herman Melville’s 1851 novel, “Moby-Dick,” considered the greatest work in American literature. During four months of related programs and activities, “Moby!” will encompass the many facets of Melville’s creation, spanning whaling history, literature, theater, and popular culture.

“Moby!” Schedule:

Wednesday, October 19
Moby! Preview: “Why Read Moby-Dick?”
Lecture and book signing with Nathaniel Philbrick. Free. Sponsored by Baker Books.

Thursday, November 3
Welcome Reception for the Mayor of Youghal, County Cork, Ireland.
Zeiterion Performance Center, 6:00 p.m.

Film Screening: “Moby Dick” (1956) Starring Gregory Peck, Directed by John Huston.
Zeiterion Performance Center, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, November 4
Exhibit opening of “Imagining Moby!”
New Bedford Whaling Museum, 5:00 p.m.
An exhibit including original works by Leonard Baskin, Richard Ellis & Rockwell Kent demonstrating the ways artists have explored aspects of this great American novel.

Stage Performance “Moby Dick” by Gare St. Lazare Players of Ireland.
Zeiterion Performance Center, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 5
Moby! Cartoon Festival
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Cook Memorial Theater, New Bedford Whaling Museum
A children’s film festival of animated films inspired by Moby-Dick, including an animated puppet version, a Spanish version, and others.  Free.

Stage Performance “Moby Dick” by the Gare St. Lazare Players of Ireland.
3:00 p.m. Matinee, Zeiterion Performance Center

Moby! Memorabilia Exhibitions
5:00 p.m., Cook Memorial Theater, New Bedford Whaling Museum

The Mayor of Youghal will present a slide show of pictures from the filming of Moby-Dick in Ireland in 1955.  The Whaling Museum and the Zeiterion will present an exhibit on memorabilia from the New Bedford World Premiere of “Moby Dick” on June 26, 1956. Free.

Stage Performance “Moby Dick” by Gare St. Lazare Players of Ireland.
Zeiterion Performance Center, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, November 14
Moby-Dick Marathon Reader Call-in Day
Anyone may call in to request an 8-10 minute reading slot, beginning at 12:01 a.m. Be sure to give us three alternative times when you could read. Call 508-997-0046 x151.

Friday, January 6
Moby-Dick Marathon Preview
5:30 p.m. Pre-Marathon Buffet Dinner & cash bar
7:15 p.m. Museum Theater, Free Pre-Marathon Lecture: “Moby-Dick in American Popular Culture” with Melville scholar, Dr. Timothy  W. Marr. After Nov. 15, call 508-997-0046 ext. 100 to purchase tickets for the buffet dinner. The lecture is free.

Saturday, January 7
“Stump the Scholars!”
10:00 a.m., Cook Memorial Theater
As a prelude to the Moby-Dick, Marathon, the Museum hosts a truly Melville-centric event along the same lines as National Public Radio’s popular program, “Wait, wait, don’t tell me.” You will have the opportunity to quiz Melville Society scholars on all matters Moby-Dick and Melville. No questions are too tough. Free.

Saturday, January 7
16th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon
Noon, New Bedford Whaling Museum
The Moby-Dick Marathon kicks off the non-stop reading of the great American classic. Come at any time; leave at any time. All are welcome to this 25-hour event commemorating the anniversary of 21-year old Herman Melville’s voyage from New Bedford harbor aboard the whale ship Acushnet in 1841. Free.

February 22-25
“Moby-Dick” the Opera
Whaling Museum Members’ Trip to the West Coast to see the critically acclaimed new opera by Jake Heggie, “Moby Dick,” at the San Diego Opera House. Join the Whaling Museum for three days of activities, VIP receptions, and a visit to the San Diego opera to see their premier of Moby Dick! Contact Alison Smart for more details: (508) 997-0046 ext. 115 or asmart@whalingmuseum.org

For more information, contact:

Arthur Motta
Director, Marketing & Communications
New Bedford Whaling Museum
(508) 997-0046, ext. 153
amotta@whalingmuseum.org

Rosemary Gill
Assistant Director
Zeiterion Performing Arts Center
(508) 997-5664
rgill@zeiterion.org

Twitter hash-tag #MobyNB

Cherish the Quiet Spaces

Savoring the Moby-Dick Marathon

We are now just 51 weeks from the The 16th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon.  To the more than 1,000 participants who joined us in New Bedford for the 15th, and the hundreds more who  joined us through our  live stream programing, thank-you for making this year’s Marathon a resounding success.

For an insightful account of the 25 hour long journey go to the blog Killing the Buddha to read “The Lingering Loveliness of Long Things” by Meera Subramanian .  It begins…

Last Friday night, a man late in his years and a recent recipient of news about his body that no man wants to hear, leaned in close to me and asked me a question. The air was heavy with mortality, and its twin emotion, love. What his question was is irrelevant, but the answer, I realize as I sit down to write about a marathon public reading of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick last weekend, is not. My answer was about how I cherish the quiet spaces in life. Time without interruption. Time for deep conversations or a sensuous focus on a single subject. Time to get into the grit of life, and let it unfold. I am decidedly of the mind that that’s where all the good stuff happens. I also feel like these moments, in our hyper-communicative lives, are becoming extremely rare. We share more, with more people, but we stay on the surface of an unfathomable ocean.

Reading together aboard the Lagoda (photo by S. Russell/ Medium Studio)

2011 Moby Dick Marathon Reading Timetable

2011 Moby Dick Marathon Reading Timetable

Approximate Time and Chapter in book for each Watch

Watch Time Chapter
Start   1 12:00PM 1
1:00 4(-4pages)
2:00 9
3:00 14
4:00 17(+2pages)
Start 2 4:00 17(+2pages)
5:00 23
6:00 30
7:00 35
8:00 40
Start 3 8:00 40
9:00 43(-2pages)
10:00 48(+2pages)
11:00 53(+3pages)
12:00AM 57
Start 5 12:00AM 57
1:00 64(+5pages)
2:00 72
3:00 78
4:00 83
Start 5 4:00 83
5:00 87(+10pages)
6:00 92
7:00 99(+2pages)
8:00 104
Start 6 8:00 104
9:00 110(+4pages)
10:00 119(+4pages)
11:00 128
12:00 134(-2pages)
1:00 Finis

Tweet the Marathon with #mdm15

Discovering Whales, Petroglyphs, and Moby-Dick on the Olympic Peninsula in June 2008

HERMAN MELVILLE PUBLIC LECTURE, JULY 30

(NEW BEDFORD, MA) – Robert K. Wallace will present “Discovering Whales, Petroglyphs, and Moby-Dick on the Olympic Peninsula in June 2008” on Friday, July 30 at 5:00 p.m. in the museum theater.

Free and open to the public, this illustrated talk will highlight some of the discoveries Robert Wallace made on the Makah Indian Reservation of the Olympic Peninsula during a two-week trip with landscape painter Kevin Muente.  Wallace will emphasize his encounters with gray whales, a humpback whale, and ancient Ozette petroglyphs in a sequence of events that brought Melville’s Moby-Dick to life before his very eyes.

Robert K. Wallace is a founder of the Melville Society Cultural Project at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  He is author of Melville and Turner, Frank Stella’s Moby-Dick, and Douglass and Melville. He has taught Literature and the Arts at Northern Kentucky University since 1972.

For more information, contact:

Arthur Motta
Director, Marketing & Communications
(508) 997-0046, ext. 153
amotta@whalingmuseum.org