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Woody Guthrie: Examining Portraiture

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This teacher's guide provides portraits and analysis questions to enrich students' examination of Woody Guthrie, one of the most important folk composers in American history. Includes the video "Defining Portraiture: How are portraits both fact and fiction?" and the National Portrait Gallery's "Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators, both of which provide suggestions and questions for analyzing portraiture. Also includes multiple music recordings, a Smithsonian Magazine article about his legacy, and a podcast episode about his music and relationship with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Consider:

  • What do these portraits have in common? How are they different?
  • How are these portraits both fact and fiction?
  • How do these portraits reflect how he wanted to be seen, or how others wanted him to be seen? Consider for what purpose these portraits were created.
  • Having listened to his music, does the portrait capture your image of Woody Guthrie? Why, or why not?
  • If you were creating your own portrait of Guthrie, what characteristics would you emphasize, and why?

Keywords: singer, musician, songwriter, oklahoma, protest, #SmithsonianMusic

Woody Guthrie

National Portrait Gallery

Woody Guthrie

National Portrait Gallery

32c Woody Guthrie single

National Postal Museum

Woody Guthrie - "Red River Valley"

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Woody Guthrie - "Train 45"

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Woody Guthrie - "I Ride an Old Paint"

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Woody Guthrie's Music Lives On

Smithsonian Magazine

Woody Guthrie

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage