TITLE: Making a Way Out of No Way: Martin Luther King's Use of Proverbs for Civil Rights
SPEAKER: Wolfgang Mieder
EVENT DATE: 02/10/2011
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 70 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
For more than ten years Wolfgang Mieder has made the study of proverbs in political discourse one of his major research areas, particularly the role of proverbs at critical moments in American history. In this lecture he discusses his research for his most recent book, "Making a Way Out of No Way: Martin Luther King's Sermonic Proverbial Rhetoric" (2010). In barely 40 years of life, King (1929-1968) distinguished himself as one of the greatest social reformers of modern times. A vast array of biographies and studies have celebrated him as a civil rights leader, a defender of nonviolence in the struggle for desegregation, a champion of the poor, an antiwar proponent, and a broad-minded visionary. As King struggled proverbially to make a way out of no way for African Americans and others, proverbial communication became part of his nonviolent strategy to bring about social, economic, and political change. As he fought with words and deeds for a better world, he relied to an impressive extent on proverbs to add expressiveness to his powerful messages.
Speaker Biography: Wolfgang Miederis has special expertise in the areas of German and international folklore, the history of the German language, the Middle Ages, and especially the study of proverbs. Since 1984 he has been the editor of "Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship," an annual book that is published by the University of Vermont with subscriptions from around the world. Proverbium celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2008 with volume 25. Mieder is also the editor of the Supplement Series to Proverbium. While Mieder has written several books on German literary matters as well as fairy tales and folk songs, he is an internationally recognized scholar of over one hundred books on proverbs, among them "Sprichwort-Wahrwort" (1992), "Proverbs Are Never Out of Season: Popular Wisdom in the Modern Age" (1993), "Proverbs: A Handbook" (2004), and "Proverbs Speak Louder than Words: Folk Wisdom in Art, Culture, Folklore, History, Literature, and Mass Media" (2008). In addition, Mieder is the author of more than 300 articles on proverbs. He served as chair of the Department of German and Russian at the University of Vermont from 1977 to 2008. He has also been guest professor at the University of Freiburg in Germany and at the University of California at Berkeley.
SERIES: Benjamin Botkin Lecture Series