Making Material Histories: A Close Look at 19th Century Hawaiian Language Texts in the Williams Archives

In his talk, Jeffrey Kapali Lyon, Associate Professor of Religion, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, explores the connections between 19th century Hawaiian language and literature and the coming of Christian missionaries, many of them affiliated with Williams College. His talk will look at the translation of the bible into Hawaiian, and also look closely at two examples of text from the collection of the Williams College archives. These include the Mele (a chant or poem) of Kaʻahumanu (1795–1819), who was queen consort of King Kamehemeha I, and regent of the Kingdom of Hawai'i from 1819- 1832, and a sermon delivered by Richard Armstrong (April 13, 1805 – September 23, 1860), a Presbyterian missionary from Pennsylvania who arrived in Hawaii in 1832. Lyon will look at the latter in the context of the split between the Hawaiian government and the mission.

This program series, presented in conjunction with “The Field is the World: Williams, Hawaiʻi, and Material Histories in the Making,” explores how methods of collecting and displaying material artifacts impact past and present narratives.

Kapali Lyon is Associate Professor of Religion at University of Hawaiʻi (Mānoa). He teaches biblical literature (Old Testament, New Testament, Life of Jesus, apocalyptic literature) and Hawaiian religion and literature. His scholarship focuses primarily on 19th century Hawaiian language and literature, particularly in connection to the coming of Christianity to Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. His work in this literature focuses on the translation of the Bible from the biblical languages into Hawaiian) and Native writers who grew up under the traditional, pre-Christian culture (prior to 1820), and then, having received a western education, wrote extensively about the life of kānaka both before and after the adoption of Christianity.

November 15, 2018
7 PM

Jeffrey Kapali Lyon, Associate Professor of Religion, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

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