Announcement | #LibraryLove Poetry at the Rock

This Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, 2020, look for 10 posters of poems hanging around the Rock. Written by poets who identify as LGBTQ+ and/or as members of historically underrepresented groups, the poetry offers readers an opportunity to engage with love from different perspectives.

Readers can also vote for you favorite poem of the ten selected, tell us your all time favorite poem and item in the Library, and provide feedback, if you like, for what the Library can do or do better to make all feel welcome and supported.

Vote here

The winner: “Separation” by W. S. Merwin.

Thanks for voting!

The poems on display:

  1. Harjo, Joy. For Keeps by Joy Harjo – Poems | Academy of American Poets. https://poets.org/poem/keeps. Accessed 13 Feb. 2020.
  2. Vuong, Ocean. “In Defense of Dancing.” Guernica, 1 Apr. 2012, https://www.guernicamag.com/in-defense-of-dancing/.
  3. Asghar, Fatimah. “My Love for Nature by Fatimah Asghar.” Poetry Magazine, 13 Feb. 2020, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/90290/my-love-for-nature.
  4. Oberman, Miller. “On Trans by Miller Oberman.” Poetry Magazine, 13 Feb. 2020, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/57983/on-trans.
  5. Jordan, June. “Poem for My Love by June Jordan.” Poetry Foundation, 13 Feb. 2020, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/49218/poem-for-my-love.
  6. Lorde, Audre. “Recreation by Audre Lorde.” Poetry Foundation, 13 Feb. 2020, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42579/recreation.
  7. Merwin, Poetry. “Separation by W. S. Merwin.” Poetry Magazine, 13 Feb. 2020, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/28891/separation-56d21285b2140.
  8. Cassarino, Stacie. “Snowshoe to Otter Creek.” Zero at the Bone, 1st ed., New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2009, p. 91.
  9. Larkin, Poetry. “Want by Joan Larkin.” Poetry Foundation, 13 Feb. 2020, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/54384/want.
  10. Limón, Ada. “What I Didn’t Know Before.” The Carrying, Milkweed Editions, 2018, p. 120.

It is the Library’s sincere hope that all members of the Brown community feel welcome and supported in our physical and virtual spaces. We have the privilege and responsibility to steward and highlight works by writers and researchers of all backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Representation is important.

Love comes in many forms. On Valentine’s Day, we appreciate you joining us in a love for poetry and for all the ways in which we can love and support each other, today and every day.

This is YOUR Brown University Library. You belong here.

Announcement | Hortense J. Spillers Papers Open for Research

The Pembroke Center’s Feminist Theory Archive and the John Hay Library are proud to announce that the Hortense J. Spillers papers are open for research.

Spillers is an American literary critic, Black feminist scholar, and the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in English at Vanderbilt University. Her research addresses literary criticism, race and gender; linguistics; the African diaspora; Black culture; and sexuality. She is best known for her 1987 article, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” one of the most cited essays in African-American literary studies today.

The Hortense J. Spillers papers include handwritten diaries and journals on topics ranging from critical race theory and Moby Dick to the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Spillers’ first trip abroad in 1968. The collection also includes personal and professional correspondence with scholars such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Gayatri Spivak; and drafts of her talks, articles, and books, including “Isom,” “Conjuring,” and “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe.” Materials in this collection date from 1966 to 1995.

Spillers contributed her papers to the Feminist Theory Archive in the name of the Black Feminist Theory Project, established by the Pembroke Center in 2016.

For information on how to access these collections, please contact the Pembroke Center Archivist at pembroke_archives@brown.edu.

Announcement | Digitization of Historic Campus Speeches with CLIR Grant

Speeches by Civil Rights leaders and other renowned public intellectuals will be preserved and made available for scholarship.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has awarded the Brown University Library $23,215 from its Recordings at Risk program. One of 13 projects selected out of 34 to receive grants from the program, the Library’s proposal, “Brown University Archives Audio-Visual Collection: Global Perspectives from Campus Speeches,” will allow us to digitize and make available to the public a large selection of audio and video recordings of speeches by leading public figures invited to Brown between 1950 and 1995. 

Brown University students on the College Green, 1969

103 cassette tapes, 198 film reels, and 44 VHS tapes–345 items total–will be digitized through use of the funding. This substantial set of materials document changing intellectual and social currents across the United States and the world on topics including social justice, politics, education, and the media–all of which still resonate today. There is a particularly fascinating set of recordings from Civil Rights leaders, notably Ralph Abernathy, Shirley Chisholm, Martin Luther King, Jr., and A. Philip Randolph. 

Over the next nine months, outside vendor George Blood LP will convert the media into digital files. A team of Special Collections staff and students will review the digitized files and create accurate and complete descriptive information. The final content will be uploaded into the Brown Digital Repository, where it will be available for research in October 2020.

Announcement | Daniel G. Siegel ’57 Gift and Fellowship

Daniel G. Siegel ’57

The Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of books and manuscripts from the personal library of Daniel G. Siegel ’57, a member of the Library Advisory Council, a board member on the Friends of the Library, and a long and dedicated supporter of special collections at Brown. Mr. Siegel has twice received the Library’s highest honor, the William Williams Award–once as an individual for his generous gifts to special collections and once as a 2012 member of the Library Advisory Council for its support of the renovation of the John Hay Library.

Comprising over 3,000 books and 100 manuscripts, the items included in this recent gift focus mainly on American literature, American history, and the history of science, but also encompass a broad range of other subjects. The gift is particularly strong in association copies, which document the various ways in which intellectuals and activists interacted with ideas and with one another. 

Outstanding Highlights of the Gift

First edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass inscribed by Whitman and Oscar Wilde

Highlights of the gift include:

  • A first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass inscribed by Whitman and Oscar Wilde
  • Lydia Maria Child’s Letters from New York inscribed to Margaret Fuller
  • King George III’s copy of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy of the report on the Dred Scott case
  • Typescript of Philip Roth’s early short story “The Conversion of the Jews”
  • A letter from Albert Einstein discussing the Rosenbergs’ trial and Stalinist purges
  • A draft of the constitution of the Confederate States of America with annotations and corrections by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens
  • First editions of 19th century Russian novels
  • A complete set of pamphlets by visionary rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
  • Liberia Herald, vol. 1, no. 1, Monrovia, Liberia, March 6, 1830
Liberia Herald, vol. 1, no. 1, Monrovia, Liberia, March 6, 1830

Areas of Distinction

The gift expands on the existing holdings in Special Collections in nearly every direction, adding works of significant interest to alcohol and addiction studies, the development of the American West, the history of technology and its uses, natural history and materia medica, the Civil War era, women’s rights, religion, and social reforms of all kinds.

Access to the Materials

The collection is currently in-process. Available titles can be browsed here.

A Lifetime of Collecting and Giving

The materials in this gift reflect Mr. Siegel’s expansive vision of collecting and are an invaluable addition to the John Hay Library’s resources for research and teaching. The items in this gift join those from previous gifts from Mr. Siegel, which include the only surviving manuscript of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and foundational works in the history of science.

Manuscript of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four

Daniel G. Siegel ’57 Fellowship

To honor Mr. Siegel’s breathtaking generosity and the impact of his giving on special collections at Brown, the Library has established the Daniel G. Siegel ’57 Fellowship, a specialized component of the John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellowship Program.

The fellowship review committee will select one John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellow to be the Siegel Fellow, whose research focuses specifically on the collections of American literature and/or history at the Hay. Like the other fellows in the cohort, the Siegel Fellow will spend ten weeks in the summer building research skills using primary sources to develop an original project. Projects can take the form of a traditional research paper or may be creative or digital in format. Projects do not have to be completed by the end of the summer; the fellowship can serve as a start for a senior thesis, be a further exploration of work begun during a course, or allow a student a non-evaluative framework within which to explore a new topic. Fellows will work primarily in the Hay’s Gildor Family Special Collections Reading Room and will participate in a wide range of relevant workshops, with topics such as the history of the book and letterpress printing. All fellows will present their projects at a showcase in the fall.

Event | Authors in the Archives with Lauren Russell and Megan Milks

Join the Brown University Library for an unforgettable night of poetry, fiction, and discussion of how library and archival research is essential to creative and literary endeavors. Lauren Russell and Megan Milks will both read from their works, followed by a discussion led by librarians and archivists about how they are using primary sources. A Q&A period will conclude the presentation.

The first event in the Authors in the Archives series, this talk will take place on Monday, October 28, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. in the Willis Reading Room of the John Hay Library.

Free and open to the public. A light reception will follow the talk.

Lauren Russell

Lauren Russell headshot
Lauren Russell

Lauren Russell is the author of What’s Hanging on the Hush (Ahsahta Press, 2017) and Descent, a winner of the 2019 Tarpaulin Sky Book Awards and a finalist for the National Poetry Series, forthcoming from Tarpaulin Sky Press in 2020. A 2017 NEA Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry, she has also received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, The Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, VIDA/The Home School, the Rose O’Neill Literary House, the Millay Colony, and City of Asylum/Passa Porta. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazineboundary 2, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day,  and Bettering American Poetry 2015, among others. She is assistant director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh.

Megan Milks

Megan Milks reading from a book at a microphone
Megan Milks

Megan Milks is the recipient of the 2019 Lotos Foundation Prize in Fiction Writing. Their first book, Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, won the 2015 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Fiction and was named a Lambda Literary Award finalist. They have also published four chapbooks, most recently Kicking the Baby and The Feels, an exploration of fan fiction and affect. Their critical writing, for which they won a 2014 Critical Hit Award from Electric Lit, has been published in 4ColumnsLos Angeles Book Review, and The New Inquiry, among other venues. Their work as editor includes The &NOW Awards 3: The Best Innovative Writing, 2011-2013 (Northwestern UP, 2015) and Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives (Routledge, 2014); currently, they edit the Fiction section of The Account.

Authors in the Archives

The Authors in the Archives series features notable writers whose work is brought to fruition through their creative and sagacious use of primary source materials.

Accessibility

To request special services, accommodations, or assistance for this event, please contact Jennifer Braga at Jennifer_Braga@brown.edu or (401) 863-6913 as far in advance of the event as possible. Thank you.

Date: Monday, October 28, 2019
Time: 6:30 p.m.
LocationWillis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Exploring the Digital China 2019 with Li Wang, PhD

Li Wang, Ph.D.

On Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Li Wang, Curator of the East Asian Collection, will give a talk, “Exploring the Digital China 2019.” This event is free and open to the public. Coffee and cookies will be served.

This new visual report will focus on Dr. Wang’s professional trip this summer in China, where he attended several conferences, Beijing International Book Fair, and other events. During this period, he delivered two presentations at the International Conference on Digital Publishing and Digital Libraries and the Sino-American Academic Library Forum on Collaboration and Development. The first presentation, entitled “Digital Scholarship at Brown (Continuance): Knowledge Innovation and Research Engagement in North American University Libraries,” is a follow-up chapter of his award-winning paper on “Digital Scholarship at Brown” from 2014. The second is on American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and the Chinese collection at Brown University, which won the first prize for papers at the Sino-American Library Forum.

2019 CDPDL in Changchun, China

In his talk, Dr. Wang will scan recent trends in digital publishing, knowledge innovation and library services developed in China and other places in the world. He will also share pictures, stories and thoughts on this fruitful journey, including cultural tours of the Russian style Gogol Bookstore, the wonderful Heaven Lake on the China-North Korea border, and the Inner Mongolian prairie in north China, and much more.

The Heaven Lake (elevation of 7,812 ft.) in Changbai Mountain, China

Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Time: 12 – 1 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Announcement | Two New Projects Selected for Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative

The University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, together with the Digital Publications Advisory Board, are pleased to announce the selection of the next two long-form scholarly works to be developed as part of Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative.

At a Standstill, Moving: Gesture, Temporality and the Interval in Performance

Rebecca Schneider

At a Standstill, Moving: Gesture, Temporality and the Interval in Performance by Rebecca Schneider, Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, situates the importance of gesture within a wide range of performances. From the vibrancy of opera to the seeming standstill of stone, Schneider’s project offers a non-linear reading experience while focusing on the significance of the interval in order to explore multiple and intersecting temporalities.

The Past and Future of Chika Sagawa, Japanese Modernist Poet

Sawako Nakayasu. Photo by Mitsuo Okamoto

The Past and Future of Chika Sagawa, Japanese Modernist Poet by Sawako Nakayasu, Assistant Professor of Literary Arts, draws attention to an influential but largely overlooked female poet from early-twentieth-century Japan. Nakayasu’s project proposes an innovative use of interwoven media to illuminate the complex poetry of Chika Sagawa as well as to broaden the scope of literary translation.

With continued support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative seeks to advance humanities scholarship by providing a university-based approach to the development, evaluation, and publication of born-digital scholarly monographs. With oversight from Brown’s Digital Scholarship Editor, projects that are selected by the Initiative’s Digital Publications Advisory Board are developed as digital works that draw upon the capabilities of the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship. These scholarly works are then submitted to leading university presses that have corresponding academic interests and the infrastructure for peer review and digital publication.

In addition to Nakayasu and Schneider’s projects, digital works currently under development include: Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary, co-edited by Tara Nummedal, Professor of History, and Independent Scholar Donna Bilak (forthcoming with University of Virginia Press); Italian Shadows: A Curious History of Virtual Reality by Massimo Riva, Professor and Chair of Italian Studies; The Sensory Monastery: Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, co-authored by Sheila Bonde, Professor of History of Art and Architecture and Professor of Archaeology, and Clark Maines, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Wesleyan University; Islamic Pasts and Futures: Gazing at Horizons of Time by Shahzad Bashir, Director of Middle East Studies, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities, and Professor of Religious Studies; and Nicholas Brown and The Roman Revolution of 1848–1849 by David Kertzer, Paul R. Dupee, Jr. University Professor of Social Science, Professor of Anthropology, and Professor of Italian Studies.

To learn more about Brown’s digital scholarly publication program, contact Digital Scholarship Editor Allison Levy (allison_levy@brown.edu).

Announcement | Mellon Grant Continues Support of Digital Publications Initiative at Brown

With $775,000 from The Mellon Foundation, the Brown University Library, together with the Dean of the Faculty, extends its work with born-digital scholarly monographs.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] Brown University has received a $775,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a second phase of its Digital Publications Initiative, launched in 2015 with an initial grant of $1.3 million. The Initiative, a collaboration between the University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, has established a novel, university-based approach to the development, evaluation, and publication of born-digital scholarly monographs.   

Following a successful initial phase, a second grant allows the University to consolidate its Initiative while continuing to advance the role of digital scholarship in the academy. From employing interactive simulations to nonlinear reading opportunities, these publications demonstrate how the digital environment is necessary for articulating and advancing scholarly argument beyond the capabilities of print. With oversight from Allison Levy, Brown’s Digital Scholarship Editor, projects that are selected by the Initiative’s faculty advisory board are developed as digital works that draw upon the capabilities of the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship. These digital scholarly works are then submitted to leading university presses that have corresponding academic interests and the infrastructure for peer review and digital publication.

“When Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin, former University Librarian Harriette Hemmasi, and I were developing the initial proposal for Mellon, we were sailing into uncharted waters,” said Joukowsky Family University Librarian Joseph S. Meisel, co-principal investigator for the Initiative. “But the Initiative has succeeded even beyond what we hoped for at the time. Mellon’s commitment to continued funding to help us consolidate these early successes and make the Initiative sustainable is a significant recognition of what we have managed to achieve. Our guiding principles have been to focus on scholarly excellence and to put the faculty’s vision for their work first.”

To date, five faculty publication projects in a range of humanities fields have been selected and are under development for the Initiative’s first phase, with a sixth project yet to be chosen from the most recent round of proposals. The first two projects are nearing publication. Over the next six years, with support from the new Mellon grant, the Initiative plans to add 4-5 new projects.

Furnace and Fugue screenshot

The first of the Initiative’s two pilot projects, Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary, will be published by the University of Virginia Press. Co-authored by Tara Nummedal, Professor of History, and independent scholar Donna Bilak, Furnace and Fugue revolves around a seventeenth-century German alchemical book. The second pilot project, Italian Shadows: A Journey into the New World and Other Tales of Imaginary and Forgotten Media by Massimo Riva, Professor and Chair of Italian Studies, takes as its focus the genealogy of virtual reality in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Italy.

A part of the Initiative from the earliest stages, Riva expresses the significance of working on Italian Shadows in the digital realm: “My project involves a rich and diverse set of visual and multimedia sources, as well as interactive models and simulations of historical artifacts, and could only have been conceived and implemented in a digital environment. Working with this exceptionally talented team of designers, editors, and librarians has opened new horizons to my scholarship and inspired me to explore new ways to share it with my peers, my students, and the public at large.”

The third project, The Sensory Monastery: Saint-Jean-des-Vignes by Sheila Bonde, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, and Clark Maines, Professor of Art History Emeritus at Wesleyan, explores the sensory experience of monasticism in medieval and early modern France. The fourth, Islamic Pasts and Futures: Gazing at Horizons of Time by Shahzad Bashir, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities and Director of Brown’s Middle East Studies program, rethinks the conjunction between Islam and temporality, spanning the centuries and regions where Islam has been a significant presence. The fifth, Nicholas Brown and the Roman Revolution of 1848–1849, by David Kertzer, Paul R. Dupee, Jr. University Professor of Social Science, Professor of Anthropology, and Professor of Italian Studies, re-examines the politics of nineteenth-century Italy via a trove of recently rediscovered correspondence.

Having arrived at a model of developing long-form digital scholarship, seeing growing interest in this effort on campus, and finding that leading academic publishers are receptive to the Initiative’s projects and approach, Brown is on a path to facilitating the creation and validation of new scholarly forms and helping to broker their dissemination through the most suitable venues for digital publication.

“With this renewed support from The Mellon Foundation, Brown will be able to continue to produce innovative digital publications that open new possibilities for the presentation and dissemination of scholarship by our faculty that is of the highest quality,” said Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin, co-principal investigator for the Initiative. “Each one of these digital publications creates new conditions for the production and circulation of humanist scholarship.”

Workshop | Coming Out of the Archives

Coming Out of the Archives poster

Celebrate National Coming Out Day at a hands-on workshop where you can explore pulp fiction, photographs, activist ephemera, meeting records, and more from the Library’s special collections. Plus, use a button maker and copies of queer documents to make your own buttons!

Three workshops will take place in the Bopp Seminar Room at the John Hay Library on Friday, October 11. Registration is requested. Each workshop is capped at 14 participants. Please register for only one workshop time. All three sessions will cover the same material.

Click on the links below or scan the QR code to register for the workshop at your chosen time:

Date: Friday, October 11, 2019
Time: 12 p.m., 1:15 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.
Location: Bopp Seminar Room, 3rd Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Announcement | Network of Women Writers and Readers Crux of John Hay Library’s Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy


The John Hay Library is now home to renowned recording artist, writer, and activist Janis Ian’s collection of personally inscribed works of science fiction and fantasy, many by women and LGBTQ authors. 

Janis Ian holding guitar
Janis Ian

Providence, R.I. [Brown University Library] The John Hay Library at Brown University is delighted to announce the acquisition of Janis Ian’s personal library, including collections of books of contemporary science fiction and fantasy authors inscribed to her. Among these authors are Anne McCaffrey, George R. R. Martin, Mercedes Lackey, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Harlan Ellison, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee, Diane Duane, and many others. In all, the Library received approximately 200 volumes from Ms. Ian’s collection.

The John Hay Library is the Brown University Library’s repository for rare books, manuscripts, archives, and other special collections. Its holdings of U.S. and Canadian poetry, plays, and vocal music dating from 1609 to the present day are considered to be among the largest and most comprehensive of their kind in any research library, including significant clusters in women’s writings, LGBTQ literature, science fiction and fantasy, and modern first editions.

cover of The Dragonriders of Pern
Cover of “The Dragonriders of Pern” by Anne McCaffrey, part of the Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at the John Hay Library

The Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy will take its place alongside unique items like the only surviving manuscript of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the preeminent collection of H. P. Lovecraft’s papers, and a robust array of writings by more recent masters of speculative fiction such as Caitlín Kiernan and Samuel Delany.

Heather Cole, Curator for Literature and Popular Culture at the Hay Library observed, “The Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy substantially increases our holdings of women science fiction and fantasy authors. In addition, the fact that the books were owned by Ms. Ian—most with inscriptions—provides a wonderful record of a network of women writers and readers, something that is not always easily captured in library collections. Already a broad area of strength at the Hay, our materials in the science fiction and fantasy genres are significantly enhanced by this exciting acquisition. Brown students and researchers are certain to make great use of these materials, furthering scholarship in the many important areas of inquiry that are supported by this collection.”

Title page of “The Dragonriders of Pern,” inscribed by author Anne McCaffrey to Janis Ian

A Grammy Award-winning singer and musician, Janis Ian has been writing and recording music for five decades with a total of ten Grammy nominations in eight different categories. She has been at the forefront of numerous social movements, using music as a force of change, and has impacted the lives and works of artists from Nina Simone to Johnny Cash to Joan Baez. Artists including Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Trevor Sewell have recorded duets with her.

Janis and her wife Pat are currently downsizing while Janis continues to make music and write children’s books, the first of which is the recently published The Tiny Mouse.

Ms. Ian’s library was cataloged by Mary Jo Duffy of Temporary Culture (Upper Montclair, New Jersey), who acted as Ms. Ian’s representative in the sale. Proceeds will benefit the Pearl Foundation, which endows scholarships for returning students.

Items in the Janis Ian Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at the John Hay Library

The collection is currently in the process of being cataloged. Over 160 titles can now be found in the Library’s online catalog, with more titles being added each month.