Exhibit | A History of the Brown University Orchestra

OrchestraPicA History of the Brown University Orchestra is now on display in the Orwig Music Library.

The exhibit chronicles the development of orchestral involvement on Brown’s campus from 1919 onward.  Highlights include programs from performances with Leonard Bernstein, Itzhak Perlman, and Steve Reich, as well as the merger of the Brown Orchestra and Pembroke Orchestra, which happened over 30 years before the two colleges formally joined together.

Dates: April 22 – October 1, 2016
TimeLibrary Hours
Location: Orwig Music Library, 1 Young Orchard Avenue, Providence

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Winners of the 2016 Undergraduate Prize for Excellence in Library Research

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The Brown University Library is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Undergraduate Prize for Excellence in Library Research. The Committee decided this year to award two prizes, both for projects that coincidentally were done for the same course, Michael Vorenberg’s first-year seminar, “Abraham Lincoln: Historical and Cultural Perspectives” (HIST 0551A).

Rachel Gold ‘19 wrote a paper on “The Education of John Hay,” for which she used a wide variety of contemporary sources, including John Hay’s own letters and papers, archival records, and other students’ diaries to describe John Hay’s experience at Brown and in Providence. She worked her way into these sources by first reading, chronologically, a series of biographies of Hay from 1905 through 2014. The result is an evocative portrait of the Midwesterner who found himself at Brown University in 1855.

Halley McArn ‘19 created a website that explores the issue of presidential pardons, with special reference to pardons issued by Lincoln during the Civil War, as well as a discussion of the issue in the Obama presidency. The website begins with the origins of the presidential pardon, then proceeds to Lincoln’s pardons and the special issues he had to consider, especially in the midst of a war that had torn the country apart. It ends with an overview of the presidential pardon up to and including Obama, with special reference to the context of the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, issues raised by this year’s First Readings choice: Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

The committee judging the awards this year consisted of:

  • Karen Bouchard (Library)
  • Harold J. Cook (History)
  • William S. Monroe (Library)
  • Joseph M. Pucci (Classics)
  • Besenia Rodriguez (Associate Dean of the College)

In partnership with the Office of the Dean of the College, the Brown University Library sponsors the annual Undergraduate Research Prize, awarded each April. The purpose of the prize is to recognize excellence in undergraduate research projects that make creative and extensive use of the Brown University Library’s collections including, but not limited to, print resources, databases, primary resources, and materials in all media. The project may take the form of a traditional paper, a database, a website, or other digital project. Please click here to visit the Prize’s webpage for more information.

Updates from Around the Library | April 2016

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With spring break behind us and finals on the way, here are a few updates from the Library:

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.

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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