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Living by the Golden Rule: Mentor – Scholar – World Citizen

A Festschrift for Wolfgang Mieder’s 75th Birthday

Edited By Andreas Nolte and Dennis Mahoney

This Festschrift for Wolfgang Mieder, preeminent paremiologist and folklorist, combines personal tributes and scholarly papers by colleagues, friends, and former students – presented in three categories that address his roles as a mentor, scholar, and world citizen over many decades.

The central scholarly section likewise consists of three parts. The papers dealing with proverbs examine them as patterns, stereotypes, rhetorical devices, media for self-enchantment, and means of allusion in works by Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Chukovskaya, and Kempowski. A second group deals with fairy-tale motifs in literary works by Lehmann, Rabinowich, and Hummel. A third section includes topics ranging from James Bond to Stephen King, from runaway slaves to the Holocaust, and literature as cultural ecology.

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Literature as Cultural Ecology


The Example of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick

Abstract: The paper outlines some of the basic premises of cultural ecology, illustrates the agency of literature as an ‘ecological force’ in culture in Whitman’s poetry, and exemplifies the triadic functional model of texts consisting of culture-critical metadiscourse, imaginative counterdiscourse, and reintegrative interdiscourse in Melville’s Moby-Dick.

1. Preliminary Remarks

Wolfgang Mieder is an internationally renowned colleague and friend who has published in many different areas of research, mainly but by no means exclusively in the field of proverbs. Besides his academic interests and his convivial spirit, his life was also always characterized by his deep love of nature. In his youth, he wanted to become a forester in Germany and had learned much about the knowledge and practice of forestry. When this dream didn’t materialize, he turned to another dream and emigrated to the States as an adolescent, where he successfully managed to realize his academic pursuit of happiness in the New World in a combination of diligent work, generous open-mindedness, and cosmopolitan spirit. In Robert Frost’s proverbial words, Wolfgang “took the road less travelled by” and “that has made all the difference.”1 In his long-term home in Vermont, he not only became the leading international paremiologist who spent extensive time in his ever-expanding archives, but also lived in a rural setting close to nature, to forests and mountains in a landscape not completely dissimilar to the mountainous Eifel region in which he had encountered...

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