Commencement Forum | Continuity Amidst Transformation in the Humanities with Professor Jim Egan


Professor James Egan and two of his students

Professor James Egan and two of his students, Samantha (Sami) Isman ’15 and Miranda Olson ’17

The Brown University Library will host James F. Egan, Brown Professor of English, as he delivers a Commencement Forum titled “Continuity Amidst Transformation in the Humanities” on Saturday, May 24 at 11 a.m. in the Rockefeller Library Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab.

The study of the humanities is undergoing transformation with the increased use of digital technologies and methodologies. Professor Egan will discuss the enduring value of the humanities to society even in this changing environment. Professor Egan’s presentation will reveal important synergies between research and teaching, with a focus on new approaches to analyzing canonical works and authors of American literature.

Refreshments will be served. Seating is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Date: Saturday, May 24, 2014
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect St.


Zumba Class


The Brown University Library and Brown University Athletics & Recreation are hosting a complimentary Zumba class, open to all who will be on campus during Commencement Weekend. This session is appropriate for all levels of exercisers. No special equipment or clothing is required. Attendees must sign-in at the OMAC Welcome Center before class.

Please join us for what is sure to be an enjoyable and invigorating class!

Olney-Margolies Athletic Center (OMAC) Dance Studio, 229 Hope Street
Saturday, May 24 from 10 – 11 a.m.

Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon at the Brown Library in Tribute of Digital Humanities Scholar

Adrianne Wadewitz

The Brown University Library invites local Wikipedians to an Edit-a-Thon in memory of Adrianne Wadewitz on Thursday, May 22 from 1:30 – 6 p.m. in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, 10 Prospect Street.

Co-organized by the Brown University Library, Northeastern University, and others, this multi-day Wadewitz Tribute Edit-a-Thon is part of a worldwide Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon in remembrance of Adrianne Wadewitz, a HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) fellow and the Mellon Digital Scholarship Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Digital Learning + Research at Occidental College. The Edit-a-Thon at Northeastern is taking place on May 21 from 4 – 9 p.m.

Wadewitz died tragically this past April in a rock climbing accident. She was an energetic and inspiring teacher who focused on Wikipedia, feminism, and teaching pedagogy. Click here to read a message in remembrance of Wadewitz by Cathy Davidson, co-founder of HASTAC, including a link to Wadewitz’s blog.

People interested in participating in the Edit-a-Thon should bring their laptops to the Digital Scholarship Lab on the 22nd. All are welcome.

Click here to learn more and sign up on Wikipedia.

The Brown University Library is seeking additional organizers and helpers to be on staff during the event on May 22. If you would like to help out, contact Elli Mylonas, Senior Digital Humanities Librarian, at, or Fiona Barnett, Adjunct Lecturer in Modern Culture and Media, at

Library Pizza Nights


Pizza Night is finally here. Every year the Library hosts two nights of pizza. The first (Tuesday) night will be in the Sciences Library. The next night there will be pizza in the Rock. Students that enjoy studying in a library as well as eating pizza are encouraged to attend.

Pizza Night Schedule
Tuesday, May 6  |  9 p.m.  | Pizza Night at the Friedman Center (SciLi)
Wednesday, May 7  |  9 p.m.  |  Pizza Night at the Rockefeller Library Lobby

P.S. As always, please eat responsibly. There will always be more pizza next year.

Book and Photography Talk — Brown University: An Architectural Tour (The Campus Guide)

The Campus Guide: Brown University, An Architectural Tour

The Campus Guide: Brown University, An Architectural Tour

The Brown University Library and its Library Advisory Council invite the Brown community and members of the public to a book talk about the recently published Brown University: An Architectural Tour (The Campus Guide). Friday, May 2 at 4 p.m. in the first floor presentation space of Rhode Island Hall, author Raymond P. Rhinehart ’62 and photographer Walter Smalling, Jr. will discuss the new Guide, describing the process of creating and collecting these illustrious images and chronicling the depth and breadth of architectural styles at home on the Brown campus. A Q&A session and book signing will follow the lecture. Copies of the book will be available for purchase on site.

Organized by nine campus walks that bring readers along diverse, lively tours of the notable structures, the Guide offers practical information about the buildings on campus as well as insights into architectural styles by era with a healthy dose of Brown University and Ivy League history. Readers and attendees of the lecture will enjoy Rhinehart’s poetic style and Smalling’s stunning photographs. David Brussat, the architectural reporter for the Providence Journal, calls the book “An elegant guide to Brown’s campus.” Both the book and the talk will enrich and deepen one’s knowledge and estimation of College Hill and will appeal to architectural buffs, East Side residents, and members of the Brown community alike.

Raymond P. Rhinehart

Ray Rhinehart studied English literature at Brown and graduated magna cum laude in 1962. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1969. After teaching at the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University, he pursued post-doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While in North Carolina, Rhinehart performed curating work for the Virginia Museum, served as fine arts editor for the Richmond Mercury, reported on fine arts for NPR, published poems and essays in the Christian Science Monitor, and wrote a play on American history that was performed at the Virginia Museum.

After moving to Washington, DC and spending four years as an adjunct lecturer at American and George Washington Universities, Rhinehart was appointed as Director of Media Relations for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1980. In 1987 he was named Vice President of the American Architectural Foundation, then in 1999 he returned to the AIA as Senior Director of Special Projects. He was made an Honorary Member of the AIA in 1994. He is the author of Princeton University: An Architectural Tour (The Campus Guide) as well as Brown University: An Architectural Tour (The Campus Guide). Music is Rhinehart’s deepest passion, and he sings with the Cathedral Choral Society in Washington, DC, where he lives with his partner of 34 years, photographer Walter Smalling, Jr. They also share a home in Penobscot, Maine.

Walter Smalling, Jr.

After receiving a Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida in art history and design in 1973, Walter Smalling, Jr. received a two-year grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to preserve and create an exhibition of a historic photo collection. While working on this project, he was asked by a local preservation group to take photos of an endangered building. It was then that he discovered “old buildings” and his passion for architectural photography was born. He became a freelance photographer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Register of Historic Places. That was followed by a staff photographer position for the National Park Service’s historic preservation branch, during which time he traveled the world and wrote three books for the Service, including the first book ever written specifically on Shaker architecture.

Currently, Smalling works as a freelance photographer for major architectural firms, magazines, government agencies, book publishers, museums, and corporations worldwide. He has provided the photographs for fifteen books published by Rizzoli, Hearst, Crown Publishers, Princeton Architectural Press (including five college architectural guides), West Virginia University Press, and the New York Times. He is currently working on four books: one on the Shakers, a book on “Gentleman Farms of Virginia,” a book on the White House complex, and another on stone houses of the Shenandoah Valley. In addition to photography, Smalling also paints and owns an art studio in Penobscot, Maine.

Date: May 2, 2014
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Rhode Island Hall, on the College Green, 60 George Street

Preservation Week Lecture by Elisabetta Polidori: Miracles of Mary

Elisabetta Polidori

Elisabetta Polidori

In honor of Preservation Week, Elisabetta Polidori, the Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Paper Conservation at the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), will give a talk about the technical examination and conservation treatment of an Ethiopic illuminated manuscript located at the Brown University Library, Ta’amera Maryam (Miracles of Mary), one of the most popular of Ethiopian texts. The talk will take place Wednesday, April 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), located on the first floor of the Rockefeller Library. This event is free and open to the public.

The Miracles of Mary is a collection of miraculous tales, some composed in Ethiopia, some composed by Christians in Egypt, some composed in Europe, but all translated into Geez, the language of the Ethiopian Church around A.D. 1400. In the mid-fifteenth century the reading of three of these tales was required during each Sunday liturgy as well as on feast days dedicated to Our Lady Mary.

Polidori received her M.A. in Conservation of Paper and Parchment from the Opificio delle Pietre Dure of Florence in 2006, and in the same year she obtained a B.A. in Art History from the University of Florence. She gained extensive experience in the conservation and treatment of paper-based artifacts, working in private practice and public museums around the world. After graduation she started a long collaboration with the Pitti Palace Museum of Florence, Italy, for the conservation of its collection of Chinese paintings. From 2008 until 2011 she worked in the paper conservation department of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Subsequently, she served as Postgraduate Conservation Fellow at the Freer & Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, and the Claire W. and Richard P. Morse Fellow for Advanced Training in Paper Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston. She is currently the Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Paper Conservation at the Northeast Document Conservation Center. The NEDCC is the first independent conservation laboratory in the United States to specialize exclusively in the conservation and preservation of paper-based collections. Polidori is specialized in the treatment of Western artworks on paper and has a strong interest in the conservation of Asian and Islamic art. She is a member of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

Date: April 30, 2014
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect St.

Brown University Library’s Daniel Johnson Recognized by CLIR


Daniel Johnson, Project Archivist for Special Collections at the Brown University Library, was recognized by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for his work on the Library’s Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printing Propaganda. 

In an April 22, 2014 blog post titled “Un-Hidden Collections: CLIR’s seven-year experiment in exposing scholarly resources and the question of digitization,” author Christa Williford describes the character of the proposals received through The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded project, Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives. She writes:

[W]e’ve observed several trends affecting the cultural heritage institutions that have participated in Hidden Collections: the adoption of “more product/less process” attitudes about maximizing efficiency; the engagement of students, scholars or other non-professionals in the production and assessment of collection descriptions; an explosion in the creative use of social media; an increase in the sharing of tools, standards, and practices across institutions; and many other novel approaches to creating access.

She goes on to site four exemplary projects, including Dan’s work on data visualization for the Hall-Hoag Collection. The Library commends Dan on his innovative work and congratulates him for receiving this well deserved recognition.

Wendy Schiller Book Talk on April 24 – Electing the Senate: Indirect Democracy before the 17th Amendment

Wendy Schiller, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University

Wendy Schiller, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University

Wendy Schiller, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University, will give a talk about the forthcoming book she co-authored with Charles Stewart III of MIT: Electing the Senate: Indirect Democracy before the 17th Amendment on Thursday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab located on the first floor of the Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street. This event is free and open to the public.

Schiller will discuss the process and politics surrounding the election of U.S. Senators in state legislatures before the adoption of direct elections in 1913. Conventional wisdom suggests that this process was so dominated by political party machine bosses and bribery that the outcomes were determined long before the actual balloting began. In their book, Schiller and Stewart debunk these myths and show how the process actually worked across all states between 1871-1913. They found that elite competition and party factionalism dominated the election of U.S. Senators under the old system and that the role of partisanship and money was quite similar to the modern Senate today. Though the U.S. changed the Constitution to enhance Senate representation, Schiller and Stewart argue that it remains an unfulfilled promise.

The talk will include a focus on the data collection of historical materials and how the authors went about digitizing them, inputting them, and working with the Brown Library on the online collection. The project includes more than 577,000 observations in Excel data format for roll call votes and 106,000 observations of the names of the legislators who served in state legislatures during the time of the study. It is a unique and original dataset.

Wendy Schiller is Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University (on Twitter @profwschiller). She completed her undergraduate work in political science at the University of Chicago, served on the staffs of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Governor Mario Cuomo, and then obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. After Fellowships at the Brookings Institution and Princeton University, she came to Brown in 1994. She teaches popular courses titled The American PresidencyIntroduction to the American Political Process, and Congress and Public Policy at Brown. Among books she has authored or co-authored are Gateways to Democracy: An Introduction to American Government (Cengage), The Contemporary Congress (Thomson-Wadsworth), and Partners and Rivals: Representation in U.S. Senate Delegations (Princeton University Press). Her latest book and the subject of this lecture, Electing the Senate: Indirect Democracy before the 17th Amendment, is forthcoming at Princeton University Press. The project grew out of a National Science Foundation grant.

She has also published in academic journals including the American Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Studies in American Political Development, and the Journal of Politics. She is a frequent contributor to major national news outlets such as MSNBC, NPR,, and Bloomberg News, she provides local political commentary to the Providence Journal, WPRO radio, RIPBS A Lively Experiment, and she is the political analyst for WJAR10, the local NBC affiliate in Providence. Professor Schiller regularly gives speeches on current and historical American politics to local and national organizations.

Date: April 24, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street

John Hay Library to Reopen September 2014 — Limited Summer Services

JohnHayLibraryBeginning in June 2014, staff and many collections will be returning to the John Hay Library. Over the summer months, staff will be preparing the newly renovated building for reopening in early September 2014. Due to the enormous amount of work involved in re-shelving materials and reorienting staff and services in the new space, requests for assistance during the summer (June-August) will be reserved for research related to Brown University’s 250th anniversary. There will be no other Library services available this summer. The temporary Hay reading rooms in the Rock and in the Collections Annex will also be closed during this time. When the John Hay Library reopens in September, the Special Collections Reading Room will be available and reference services will resume. Please contact the Library at with any questions.

If you will be teaching a course during Fall 2014 that will utilize Special Collections materials, please contact the Library at by May 3, 2014. Special Collections materials will be unavailable for courses during the summer.

For more information about using Special Collections and University Archives, please visit

For more information on the John Hay Renovation Project, please go to:


G. Thomas Couser ’77 to Deliver Annual Yoken Lecture – April 22

G. Thomas Couser '77

G. Thomas Couser ’77

G. Thomas Couser ‘77, Professor Emeritus of English at Hofstra University, will deliver the annual Mel and Cindy Yoken Cultural Series Lecture on Tuesday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching (BERT), located at 85 Waterman Street. In his talk, “A Life in Letters – Letters as Life,” Couser will discuss the process of writing his father’s memoir and how that process led him to appreciate the many values of correspondence. A reception will follow the lecture. This event is free and open to the public.

Couser based the memoir on letters he found in a closet when his father died. The writing process led him to appreciate correspondence as historical and biographical evidence, as a medium of self-expression, and as the very stuff of relational life.

Couser received his Ph.D. from Brown in 1977 and is the author of several books on disability studies and American literature, including Memoir: An Introduction, a survey of the memoir genre.

Friends of the Library is an association interested in fostering the growth and usefulness of the Brown University Library and in encouraging gifts of books, desirable collections, other scholarly materials and funds.

The Brown University Library is home to more than 6.8 million print items, plus a multitude of electronic resources and expanding digital archives serving the teaching, research, and learning needs of Brown students and faculty, as well as scholars from around the country and the world.

Date: April 22, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Building for Environmental Research and Teaching (BERT), 85 Waterman Street