Event | Li Wang: Trends in Chinese Literature Today and the Pamphlets for Allied Information Services in WWII


On Monday, May 4 at 11 a.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Li Wang will give a talk entitled, “Trends in Chinese Literature Today and the Pamphlets for Allied Information Services in WWII.” A lunch will follow the talk.

Attendees must RSVP to attend the talk.
Please respond to Cherrie_Guerzon@brown.edu by April 30.

Li Wang, Curator of the East Asian Collection, recently discovered some remarkable bibliographic information on over a dozen rare English pamphlets for allied information services in China during kangzhan/WWII. The pamphlets were part of a series of “China and Things Chinese” published by the War Area Service Corps (1937-1946), National Military Council. Among these pamphlets, there are five pertaining to “academic interest,” including topics on history, philosophy, media, taxation, and literature of China, all written by renowned scholars. The Brown Library has acquired two important titles: China’s Philosophy and Philosophers and Trends in Chinese Literature Today.

In his investigation Li Wang was pleasantly surprised to find that Trends in Chinese Literature Today was written by his late father, Professor Wang Zuoliang (Wang Tso-Liang, 王佐良).  A graduate scholar from Tsinghua and Oxford University, Professor Wang was former Vice-President of the Beijing Foreign Studies University.  As a leading scholar in English and American literature and comparative literature in China, Professor Wang contributed nearly forty books to these fields (Brown Library holds twelve titles). Moreover, Li Wang has also found an article on a Chinese poet and three translated poems written by Professor Wang in 1947 in Life and Letters and the London Mercury, which is housed in the Special Collections in the John Hay Library.

Wang Zuoliang, 1949. He received a master's in literature degree from Merton College, University of Oxford. His thesis, The Literary Reputation of John Webster to 1830, was later published by Salzburg University. Brown University Library holds a copy of the book.

Wang Zuoliang, 1949. He received a Master of Letters degree from Merton College, University of Oxford. His thesis, The Literary Reputation of John Webster to 1830, was later published by Salzburg University. Brown University Library holds a copy of the book.

Li Wang has been working on a project involving a compilation of the English text of Trends in Chinese Literature Today, a Chinese translation of the pamphlet, a research paper about the background, content, and significance of this literature, and other projected publications and presentations. This project will result in the Trends, along with over forty of his other early works recently found, being added to Wang Zuoliang’s collected edition. Li Wang is glad to share his finding with interested faculty, staff, and scholars in the Brown community.

Trends summarizes twenty five years of the development of Chinese literature since the May 4th Movement in 1919, which is a valuable contribution to the field with distinctive ideas, approach, and style at that time. As an American sinologist professor remarks, “This is so impressive, what a compelling writing style! This essay puts early 20th century Chinese literature in political and aesthetic perspective, he really could summarize a complex field of literary efforts. It is fascinating….”

This lecture is co-sponsored by the East Asian Colloquium and Brown University Library.

Date: Monday, May 4, 2015
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

S. J. Perelman | Newest Release from the Brown Ziggurat Press


S. J. Perelman is the title and subject of the latest book from the Brown Ziggurat Press, part of the Brooke Hunt Mitchell Distinguished Author Series. The book consists of an essay by Daniel Asa Rose ’71, P ’17 and a surprise pop-up on the last page that depicts Perelman’s famous portrait by his friend Al Hirschfeld. Made of a letterpress printed paper cover and digital text, the volume contains 20 pages. It was commissioned and edited by John Hay Professor Emeritus of Bibliography and Professor Emeritus of Visual Art Walter Feldman ADE ’55 hon., designed and executed by Elias Roustom of EM Letterpress, and bound by Caitlyn Thompson ’09.

Both an informative and entertaining piece of literature and a handmade work of art, S. J. Perelman will be available in a limited, numbered run through Vamp & Tramp Booksellers online for $135.


Event | Guided Relaxation Study Break


The Library invites students to a guided relaxation session in the Zero Decibel area of the Friedman Center in the SciLi on Thursday, April 30 from 4 – 5 p.m.

Work/Life Program Specialist Jen McKay from Brown’s Office of Human Resources will lead the session, which will include diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and then either guided imagery or loving kindness meditation.

To effectively combat stress, we need to activate our body’s natural relaxation response. The relaxation techniques Jen will lead the group through will help to create calm and boost your energy and mood.

We at the Library hope students will find this session a calming and helpful break from the stresses of reading period.

Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Time: 4 – 5 p.m.
Location: Zero Decibel Area, Friedman Study Center, Level A, Sciences Library

Event | G. Thomas Couser ’77 to Deliver Annual Yoken Lecture

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 Monday, April 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room at the John Hay Library. 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.

Date: Monday, April 27, 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Winner of the 2015 Undergraduate Prize for Excellence in Library Research: Beatrice Senocak ’15

SenocakThe Brown University Library is pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Undergraduate Prize for Excellence in Library Research. Beatrice Selen Senocak ’15 was selected for her paper entitled “A Providence Affair.” Undertaken for Senior Lecturer in English Elizabeth Taylor’s class, Narrating History, Senocak’s paper employs creative non-fiction to tell the story of the delicate courtship of Sarah Helen Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe.

In her research, Senocak drew heavily on primary source documents including the papers of Sarah Helen Whitman in the John Hay Library and the online archives of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, which provided transcripts of the Whitman-Poe correspondence. She also scoured local libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies to discover details of the fashion, music, dancing, public transportation, etiquette, and architecture of the period in Providence to set the stage for her story. In addition, Senocak made use of Brown’s own online collections to discover digital images of original daguerreotype portraits of both Whitman and Poe.

As one of the judges observed, “This is an elegantly written essay about the relationship between Poe and Whitman that is based on a rich array of print and archival sources….She has transformed the sources in creative ways and drawn out a compelling story full of contextual details drawn from the meticulous research.”

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.

Event | The Art of American Book Covers 1875 – 1930 with Richard Minsky

Richard Minsky--  photo by Richard Grosbard-4x4

On April 22, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, Richard Minsky will give a talk, “The Art of American Book Covers 1875 – 1930: One Hundred Great Covers from the Brown University Library.” Minsky will look at selections of books from the Library’s holdings that exemplify book cover styles and their changes during this time period. A Q&A, book sale and signing, and reception will follow the talk. This event is free and open to the public.

A complementary exhibit of the same name will be available for viewing in the Lownes Room cases from April 15 – May 14, 2015 by appointment only. To make an appointment to view the exhibit, please contact the John Hay Library at hay@brown.edu.

In his presentation, Minsky will discuss how Modernism entered the American home on book covers. Proto-Constructivism and Futurism came in 1880, Art Nouveau in 1881. Surrealism and Abstraction in 1904. This period  saw the transition from covers designed by die-engravers to those created by visual artists, many of whom were women. The presentation will include stunning examples from Eastlake style, Arts and Crafts, Aesthetic movement, Poster style and Social Realism.

Richard Minsky is an internationally known book artist, author, historian, curator, and bibliographer. Minsky is the author of American Decorated Publishers’ Bindings 1872-1929, The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930, The Art of the American Book, The Golden Age of American Book Design, The Book Cover Art of Thomas Watson Ball, and American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes, 1875-1933. In 1974 he founded the Center for Book Arts in New York City, the first organization of its kind.


The hardcover edition of The Art of American Book Covers 1875-1930 sold out two printings and won the Worldwide Books Award for Publications from the Art Libraries Society of North America in 2011.

Date: Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Updates from around the Library | April 2015

April Blog Updates

Image from the Brown Digital Repository’s Herbarium Collection.

Spring has finally arrived at the Library.

New Eresource: Early American Imprints, Series I and Series II: Supplements From the American Antiquarian Society 1652-1819.

The initial release of a major new enrichment to the Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker collections has just occurred. Rare items from the American Antiquarian Society, available for the first time in Readex digital editions of Early American Imprints, are highlighted below.

The Gosport Tragedy (1776)

From Early American Imprints, Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society.

The Gosport Tragedy, or The Perjured Ship Carpenter, is a murder ballad set to the tune of Peggy’s Gone Over Sea. The folk song tells of a young woman lured by her lover into the forest where she is killed and buried in a shallow grave. In this version of the story the woman, Molly, is murdered by a ship’s carpenter, William, who had promised to marry her after she became pregnant. When William returns to sea, he is haunted by Molly’s ghost and confesses to the murder before going mad.

The life of a virgin, sweet William, I prize,
For marriage brings sorrow and troubles likewise;
I am loath to venture, and therefore forbear,
For I will not wed with a ship-carpenter,
For in the time of war to the sea you must go,
And leave wife and children in sorrow and woe.
The seas they are perilous, therefore forbear,
For I will not wed with a ship-carpenter.
But yet all in vain she his suit did deny,
Though he still did press her maker her comply,
At length with his cunning he did her betray,
And to lewd desire he led her away.

In other versions the woman is named Polly and the song is titled Pretty Polly. Some have suggested the ballad is the musical basis for Ballad of Hollis Brown by Bob Dylan who, in his early career, played the song under the title Pretty Polly. Woody Guthrie also used the tune for Pastures of Plenty.

The Solar System Displayed (1789)
By Bartholomew Burges
From Early American Imprints, Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society

Bartholomew Burges dedicated this intricate and surprisingly accurate map of the known solar system to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in the State of Massachusetts and to the Philosophical Society of Pennsylvania. Although this map was created 48 years prior to the discovery of Neptune and only eight years after the official discovery of Uranus, labeled here after its discoverer William Herschel, it includes Saturn’s rings and five of its moons as well as four of Jupiter’s moons. Even more amazing is the accuracy of the table showing the various planets’ distances from the sun.

Sciences Library Renovation

The top of the Sciences Library

In preparation for renovation of several floors for new tenants and services, the Sciences Library is undergoing some significant changes.  Workers are moving and shifting materials around, materials are being transferred off-site, and there will be a lot of changes—some temporary, some permanent—in what is housed in the building and where.  A fuller description of the project, including its rationale, timeline, and impact, is available here: Sciences Library Renovation

Celebrate National Library Week


Celebrate National Library Week, April 12 – 18, with the theme “Unlimited possibilities @ your library®.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

Best-selling author David Baldacci will serve as Honorary Chair of National Library Week 2015. Baldacci’s novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and have been adapted for film and television. Over 110 million copies of his books are in print worldwide. In addition, Baldacci is involved with several philanthropic organizations, including his family’s Wish You Well Foundation®, which fosters and promotes the development and expansion of literacy and educational programs.

Click here for more information about National Library Week from the American Library Association.