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New Bedford Whaling Museum Hosts 35th Annual Whaling History Sympoisium

The New Bedford Whaling Museum will host the 35th Annual Whaling History Sympoisium on Sat, Oct 16 to Sun, Oct 17, 2010 @ All Museum.

Founded in 1975, The Whaling History Symposium is the world’s only annual international forum for the presentation and discussion of new ideas, pioneering research, and fresh insights into the history, fine arts, humanities, and sciences of whales and whaling.

Sessions run all day Saturday and on Sunday morning. A buffet lunch is included on Saturday afternoon and an informal dinner on Saturday evening will be followed by an entertaining program.

Much of what passes for whaling history nowadays consists of timeworn opinions and threadbare ideas recycled from secondary sources. By contrast, this year’s Symposium program is distinguished by pioneering research and new, original views harvested from primary sources — whalemen’s shipboard journals, the account books and business ledgers of managing agents and merchant entrepreneurs (mostly from the Museum’s own manuscript collection), and insightful field research.

Four sessions will present refreshing new perspectives on American whaling. In recent years, risk and risk management have emerged as incisive tools for the analysis of investment strategies and the study of business enterprises, but have not hitherto been satisfactorily applied to evaluating the whaling industry.

Suzanne Finney, the President of a maritime archaeology foundation in Hawaii whose Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Hawaii was largely researched at the Whaling Museum, will present her original views in “An Anthropologist’s View of Risk in American Whaling.”

Jamie L. Jones, a literary and cultural historian at Harvard and recent Fellow of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown, tackles the subject from another revolutionary point of view in “The Wake of History: American Whaling in Commerce, Culture, and Memory.”

New inroads in the demographics and diverse ethnology of the whaling trade will be revealed in “Overlooked But Not Forgotten: African-Americans in the Sag Harbor Whaling Trade,” presented by Thomas Hardy, a recent Curatorial Intern at the Whaling Museum

Professor Frank Sousa, director of Portuguese Studies at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, will introduce their publications about Portuguese and Portuguese-American Studies, including the new book, So Ends This Day: The Portuguese in American Whaling 1765-1927, by Donald Warrin of the University of California, The whalemen’s own firsthand testimony about songs, yarns, and after-hours pastimes at sea and in foreign ports-of-call provide intimate access to the mores, mindset, and shipboard culture of the whalemen themselves.

J. Revell Carr, Jr., who teaches folklore at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has an abiding interest in American whaling history, will speak about the exchange of musical and theatrical entertainments among native Polynesians and American mariners in the Pacific in the 19th century, and how the two cultures influenced one another.
April Grant of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst will present “Terrible Polly: The Battle of the Sexes in Songs and Poems of the Whaling Era,” including the performance of a few samples.

And our own Stuart Frank, Senior Curator at the Whaling Museum, whose Ph.D. dissertation at Brown years ago was Ballads and Songs of the Whale-Hunters, will present “Jolly Sailors Bold: Demographics of Ballads and Songs Excavated from Whaling Journals the Kendall Collection at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.”

The Saturday afternoon sessions will be followed by book signings, showcasing three landmark new publications: Jolly Sailors Bold: Ballads and Songs of the American Sailor by Stuart Frank, an anthology of more than 200 ballads and songs harvested from whalemen’s shipboard journals; So Ends This Day: The Portuguese in American Whaling 1765-1927 by Donald Warrin; and American Offshore Whaling Voyages, 1667-1927, co-authored by Judith N. Lund, former Curator of the Whaling Museum, which updates and supersedes Whaling Masters and the classic shelf of whaling references by Alexander Starbuck, Reginald Hegarty, and Lund herself.

Symposium registrants are also welcome to visit any and all of the Museum’s exhibitions and public areas, including a splendid array of American paintings in the new Wattles Gallery, “Azores Whaling” and “Harpoons” in the newly reopened Lagoda Gallery in the Bourne Building, and a last chance to see “Classic Whaling Prints,” a once-in-a-lifetime array of the world’s most significant whaling prints.

For registration and fees, contact Pam Lowe:
[email protected]

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