The Gregory Corso Papers – the unpublished poetry of a Beat poet

Gregory Corso in a hotel room, circa 1983

Gregory Corso in a hotel room, circa 1983

The Gregory Corso papers, a collection of unpublished poetry, writings, photographs and original oil paintings, are now available for research at the John Hay Library.  They provide an intimate look into the complicated life and work of one of the most influential Beat poets of his generation.

Corso was born in 1930 in New York City.  His mother left the family when he was a year old and he spent his childhood enduring various orphanages, foster homes, reform schools, and on the streets.  At sixteen, he landed in jail for robbery and was sentenced to three years at the Clinton State Prison. During his stay there, he compensated for his lack of a traditional education by frequenting the prison library where he discovered the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Arthur Rimbaud, among others, and began writing his own poetry.

He met Allen Ginsberg at a bar in Greenwich Village in 1950, a chance encounter that precipitated what was to become a lasting personal and creative relationship. Ginsberg recognized Corso’s talent and the originality of his poetic voice. Through Ginsberg, Corso met and became friends with other writers in Ginsberg’s circle, including Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Neal Cassady, many of whom become not only influential in Corso’s artistic development, but leading figures in the Beat movement of that era.

A page in Notebook No.8 in the Corso papers.  The text reads: "2 very profound beings. Thinker. Poet."

A drawing by Corso in Notebook No.8. The text reads: “2 very profound beings. Thinker. Poet.”

The manuscripts and working notebooks that make up the bulk of the Gregory Corso papers include drafts for an unpublished book of poetry he titled “The Golden Dot.” His notebooks are full of reminiscences, musings about life, drafts for poems, and drawings. The manuscripts are supplemented by correspondence, paintings, photographs, and a small but interesting assortment of other materials, including phonograph records, VHS cassettes, books and ephemeral materials. The bulk of the collection dates from 1980 to 1983 when he was living in New York City and became friends with a poet named Laura Boss.

A letter in the collection from Laura Boss to Allen Ginsberg in January 1984  summed up her experience of Corso: “Gregory is the most charming and least charming man I have ever known. He can come closer to the truth than anyone…and the most outrageous liar I have ever met…”  Researchers are encouraged to visit the John Hay Library to utilize these previously unknown resources that document the life of an influential poet and writer.

Event | Tara Nummedal and Donna Bilak: “Tear the Books Apart: Atalanta fugiens in a Digital Age”

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On Thursday, April 21, 2016, at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, scholars Tara Nummedal and Donna Bilak will speak about their digital publication, Project Atalanta. This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the talk.

Recently chosen as one of two pilot projects for Brown’s Mellon-funded digital publishing initiative, Nummedal and Bilak’s publication will bring a multimedia seventeenth century text to life in digital form. The digital publication will produce a dynamic, enhanced digital edition of Michael Maier’s extraordinary text, Atalanta fugiens (1617/18). An alchemical emblem book, Maier’s Atalanta fugiens re-casts the myth of Atalanta—the fleet-footed virgin—as a series of fifty emblems that outline the creation of the philosopher’s stone. With its combination of text, image, and music, the Atalanta fugiens represents an early multimedia work. In Project Atalanta, this historic text will be represented in dynamic digital form and be accompanied by newly written scholarship that will help elucidate the Atalanta fugiens’ many layers. 

In this lunchtime talk, Nummedal and Bilak will discuss their work-in-progress, share insight into the world of seventeenth century emblem culture, and help build a foundation for an open dialogue about the processes, opportunities, and challenges of producing digitally rich scholarly products. 

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Tara Nummedal

Tara Nummedal is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department. She is the author of Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire and is currently completing her second book, “The Lion’s Blood: Alchemy, Gender, and Apocalypse in Reformation Germany.” Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and, most recently, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She is Past President of the New England Renaissance Conference and a member of the editorial board of the journal Ambix. She teaches courses in early modern European history and the history of science.

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Donna Bilak

Donna Bilak is a lecturer at Columbia University in New York. Her research interests encompass early modern European history of science and alchemy, early modern emblem culture, as well as 19th-century jewelry history and technology. Dr. Bilak’s doctoral research reconstructed the life and times of a 17th-century Puritan alchemist who operated in England and America, and she was the 2013-14 Edelstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia where her research focused on analysis of the Atalanta fugiens(1618), an alchemical emblem book that encodes laboratory technologies using music and images. Dr. Bilak has lectured extensively on the topics of early modern alchemy as well as jewelry history throughout North America and Europe​.

Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Annual Yoken Lecture: Timothy Mooney’s Molière Than Thou

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Timothy Mooney as Tartuffe

Actor and author Timothy Mooney will deliver the Annual Mel and Cindy Yoken Cultural Series Lecture on Monday, April 11 at 4 p.m. in Carmichael Auditorium at 85 Waterman Street (BERT Building). For the lecture, Mooney will reprise his one-man play, Molière Than Thou, in which he explores some of Molière’s most humorous speeches.

Molière Than Thou finds Molière left without a cast when all of his fellow performers happen to consume “the same sort of shellfish” at one of the local public inns. Rather than refund the box office income, Molière offers to perform a “greatest hits” of sorts, and leads the audience, which occasionally participates, through a hilarious succession of favorite speeches that trace his illustrious career. Plays represented include Tartuffe, Don Juan, The Doctor In Spite of Himself, The Precious Young Maidens, The Misanthrope, and The School for Wives. Throughout, “Molière” will explain his working process.

mooneytimh1Timothy Mooney is the author of The Big Book of Molière Monologues and the textbook Acting at the Speed of Life. He has adapted Shakespeare in Breakneck Hamlet and Shakespeare’s Histories: Ten Epic Plays at a Breakneck Pace! During the past fifteen years, Tim has performed Molière Than Thou over 500 times. He is the former founder and editor of The Script Review and the former Artistic Director of Chicago’s Stage Two Theatre, where he produced nearly fifty plays in five years, including seventeen iambic pentameter variations of Molière’s plays, which have been produced over 150 times around the world. His Doctor in Spite of Himself took third place in the Scottish Community Drama Association National Festival.

Date: Monday, April 11, 2016
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Carmichael Auditorium, 85 Waterman Street, Providence

Parking information:

Metered street parking is available on Waterman Street and surrounding streets. Off-street parking is available to visitors in Lot 68 Upper, Power Street Parking Garage, 111 Power Street.  View Map (Entrance located at the intersection of Power and Thayer Streets.) Lot 68 is a significant walking distance from 85 Waterman Street. We recommend arriving early to find close on-street parking.

Event | On the Material Trail: Embedded Librarianship in the Heart of Tuscany

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4th International Creative Competition for New Designer Makers, Milan, Italy, February 2016

In 2015, Mark Pompelia, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Visual + Material Resource Librarian, accompanied a double-major RISD student (Apparel Design-Industrial Design) on an international exhibition program called Craft the Leather. Based in the Tuscan Leather District of San Miniato, Italy, the program hosted ten schools for a weeklong immersion into the industry of vegetable-tanned leather making, which is both centuries old and full of modern innovation.

On Monday, April 18, 2016 at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Mark will explain how the week served to launch each student on an artistic journey to craft a line of works based on the sites visited, lessons learned, and the inherent qualities of the supplied leathers. Produced over summer 2015 in direct consultation with the Material Librarian, the works were collected in a curated exhibition launched at a February 2016 international exposition in Milan.

Mark Pompelia

Mark Pompelia, Visual + Material Resource Librarian, Fleet Library, RISD

Mark Pompelia has been Visual + Material Resource Librarian in the Fleet Library at RISD since 2010. He oversees its non-text collections to include still and moving images in analog and digital formats, including film and video, slides and photographs, half a million picture clippings, 21-million digital images via subscription, and more, in addition to one of the largest material samples collection in the country. He is the administrator for Artstor Shared Shelf and the newly launched Digital Commons @ RISD institutional repository.

Date: Monday, April 18, 2016
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Library Workshops in April 2016

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The Library is offering a number of workshops in April. Here’s a look at the upcoming Library workshops this month:

Also, check out the upcoming workshops in May.

Event | Bill Rankin on “The Map, the Grid, and the Politics of Space, 1915 – 2015”

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On Friday, April 8, 2016 at noon in the Population Studies and Training Center in Mencoff Hall, Bill Rankin, Assistant Professor of the History of Science at Yale University, will give a talk, “The Map, the Grid, and the Politics of Space, 1915 – 2015.”

This event is part of the Spatial Humanities Lecture Series and is sponsored by Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4), the Brown University Library, and the M. B. Mandeville Lectureship Fund. It is free and open to the public.

In the last hundred years, the authority of the representational map has been challenged from multiple directions. On the level of everyday spatial management, the god’s-eye view of the map has been supplemented and displaced by new kinds of coordinate systems that stitch together the urban and the territorial. On the level of spatial imagination, the one-size-fits-all topographic map has been upstaged by new forms of argumentative and activist cartography. This talk addresses both of these turns–the first historically, during World War I and the decades afterward; the second through Rankin’s own urban mapping work.

picture-20-1443225396Bill Rankin‘s research focuses on the relationship between science and space, from the territorial scale of states and globalization down to the scale of individual buildings. He is particularly interested in mapping, the environmental sciences and technology, architecture and urbanism, and methodological problems of digital scholarship, spatial history, and geographic analysis (including GIS). His forthcoming book, After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century, is a history of the mapping sciences in the twentieth century. His work in cartography can be found at www.radicalcartography.net.

Date: Friday, April 8, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Population Studies and Training Center, Mencoff Hall, 68 Waterman Street, Providence

Exhibit | Tripping the Light Fantastic: Experimental Optics in the Victorian Era

Opt1cIn 1704, Isaac Newton published the first scientific work on light. Working carefully but not very cautiously, Newton began compiling the results of hundreds of experiments he performed in the quiet space of his own rooms at Cambridge over the course of four decades, from the 1660s forward. Many of these experiments involved Newton using his own eyes as the experimental apparatus, through such risky maneuvers as staring directly at the sun and slipping a small knife around the side of the eyeball to see how the additional pressure he exerted would affect his sight. Despite having to spend months in the dark to allow his eyes to recover from the stress of these activities, he gained enormous insight from these and other, more standard, experiments. The resulting book, entitled Opticks, broke new ground in science and led to the establishment of a new field for study of the physical properties of light.

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The devices on display at the John Hay Library date from the second half of the 19th century and were purchased for use by faculty and students in the Brown Physics Department. They were eventually transferred to the Library once technological advances had rendered them obsolete for instructional purposes in the field. Still, their mechanical precision was important at the time of their creation and would have been the envy of Newton and his 17th century colleagues at the Royal Society. After all, if only Newton had had the automatic spectroscope, he would not have had to stick that knife into his own eye!

Dates: March 29 – May 15, 2016
TimeLibrary Hours
Location: Lobby Cases, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Special Collections | Hubert Jennings Papers on Fernando Pessoa

Hubert Jennings at enlistment for World War I

Hubert Jennings at enlistment for World War I

In October 2015, Christopher Jennings and Bridget Winstanley, son and daughter of British and South African scholar Hubert Dudley Jennings, donated their father’s personal papers to Brown University Library.

In January of this year, Folha de S.Paulo, one of Brazil’s leading daily newspapers, featured an article about the discovery of the Hubert Jennings archive in a garage in Johannesburg and its subsequent donation to the Brown University Library. Professor Onésimo Almeida published a response to this article in Malomil.

Born in London in 1896, Hubert Jennings served in World War I and moved to South Africa after graduating from the University of Wales. In his newly adopted land, Jennings became Assistant Headmaster at Durban High School, where he remained employed for the next twelve years (1923-1935). Jennings was one of the first biographers of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa and one of the first scholars to be interested in Pessoa’s English poetry. Jennings left an invaluable contribution to Pessoan studies with his biographical works on the poet’s stay in South Africa – Fernando Pessoa in Durban (1986) and Os Dois Exílios: Fernando Pessoa na África do Sul (1984).

Through this gift, soon accessible online and in physical form at the John Hay Library, scholars will get a unique glimpse at Pessoa’s life in South Africa following his father’s death. Aside from his published works, Hubert Jennings also left a complete and unpublished book about Fernando Pessoa; plans and notes for other books on the noted writer; an inventory of Pessoa’s estate; numerous transcriptions and translations of Pessoa’s poetry and prose; original short stories taking place in Portugal; a considerable correspondence with writers and scholars from around the world interested in Pessoa’s work; and photos and copies of documents regarding Pessoa’s life, which complement the collection of artifacts housed at the National Library of Portugal and the Casa Pessoa.

Jennings at his desk

Jennings at his desk

Exhibit | Cardboard Revolution: Cartoneras, Literacy, and Sustainable Publishing in Brazil

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On March 31, 2016, the Brown University Library will host the reception for the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA) annual conference. As part of the conference, the Library is mounting an exhibit featuring two independent publishers from Brazil: Dulcinéia Catadora and Mariposa Cartonera, entitled “Cardboard Revolution: Cartoneras, Literacy, and Sustainable Publishing in Brazil.” The exhibit will be installed in the Finn Room cases at the Rockefeller Library.

Drawn from the diverse materials of Brown University Library’s Brasiliana Collection, the chapbooks in this exhibition showcase the vibrant productions of two independent Brazilian publishing collectives, DULCINÉIA CATADORA and MARIPOSA CARTONERA. The collectives are representative of the widespread Latin American practice of cartonera—an alternative publishing and art venture committed to social activism, economic justice, cooperative creativity, and literacy. The books of poetry and prose feature prominent and undiscovered writers and are bound in distinctive covers crafted in workshops by the collectives, community members and artists.

Date: March 30 – May 2, 2016
Time: Library Hours
Location: Finn Room Exhibit Cases, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Tom Elliott on “The Pleiades Gazetteer Data Model: Going Off-Road in the Spatial and Digital Humanities

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On Friday, March 25, 2016 at noon in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Tom Elliott, Associate Director for Digital Programs and Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, will discuss the Pleiades Gazetteer of the Ancient World, a community-built gazetteer and graph of ancient places.

Tom will unpack the Pleiades data model and the content curation process that supports it, highlighting the major decision points and criteria in its development history. A key theme of the talk will be conceptual flexibility and reinvention in a digital humanities project.

This event is part of the Spatial Humanities Lecture Series and is sponsored by Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4), the Brown University Library, and the M. B. Mandeville Lectureship Fund. It is free and open to the public.

Pleiades publishes authoritative information about ancient places and spaces, providing unique services for finding, displaying, and reusing that information under open license. It publishes not just for individual human users, but also for search engines and for the widening array of computational research and visualization tools that support humanities teaching and research. It embraces the new paradigm of citizen humanities, encouraging contributions from any knowledgeable person and doing so in a context of pervasive peer review.

The project arose out of work on the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. It now provides open access to the most comprehensive geospatial dataset for antiquity available today; it serves as a key component of at least 40 other important digital humanities projects; and it constitutes a core resource for classroom activities focused on ancient geography.

Since its inception, Pleiades has been repeatedly been re-conceptualized in response to technical challenges and opportunities. The resulting digital publication can be hard to characterize by genre or function. Is it historical? Is it archaeological? Is it a GIS or a digital gazetteer? Is it an “Un-GIS”? A reference work? A controlled vocabulary? A Linked Data graph?

Tom Elliott

miniTom Elliott graduated from Duke University in 1989 with B.S. in Computer Science and a second major in Classical Studies. Following service as a Communications and Computer Systems Officer in the United States Air Force, he worked as a software developer and program manager for AEgis Research Corporation (now AEgis Technologies) on a number of visual and engineering simulation projects. He received his Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2004, for research focused on the intersection of Roman documentary, administrative and geographic studies. His doctoral dissertation was entitled: Epigraphic Evidence for Boundary Disputes in the Early Roman Empire.

Tom has spent nearly two decades advancing the practice of digital humanities in ancient studies. In the late 1990s, he wrote database software that was used to prepare the alphabetical gazetteer and Map-by-Map Directory that accompanies the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (Princeton, 2000). During that period he also started the EpiDoc Community, which creates standards-based tools and guidelines for the digital encoding of epigraphic and papyrological texts like those published in the Inscriptions of Aphrodisias 2007or by the Integrating Digital Papyrology project. In August 2000, he was appointed as Founding Director of the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In February 2006, Tom stepped down from this position to assume full-time leadership of the Pleiades Project, which is developing an online workspace for ancient geography. In 2008, he brought this role with him to the Institute, where he is also responsible for developing and overseeing a spectrum of innovative digital projects and services.

Date: March 25, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence