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.”

Announcement | WBUR Features Library’s Gay Pulp Fiction Archive

Books from The Leatherman’s Handbook series (Photo by Miranda Suarez for WBUR)

WBUR.org has posted an article about the Gay Pulp Fiction collection at the John Hay Library.

Brown University Is Archiving Gay Pulp Fiction To Preserve A Moment Of LGBTQ History” by Miranda Suarez also features Heather Cole, Curator for Literary & Popular Culture Collections, and Finch Collins, a John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellow.

90.9 WBUR-FM is Boston’s NPR news station and the home of nationally syndicated programs, including On Point, Here & Now, Only A Game and Car Talk, which reach millions of listeners each week on NPR stations across the country and online. More info.

The WBUR article is mentioned on Literary Hub!

Announcement | 50 Year Anniversary of the Black Student Walkout: A Collaboration between Brown University Archives and WGBH

Produced by WGBH and reporter Gabrielle Emanuel, the video, “Fifty Years Ago, Black Students At Brown Walked Out For Change” is available on WGBH online.

Click here to read the WGBH story and see the video.

In addition to the video, the story will be told today during the “All Things Considered” afternoon broadcast, available at 89.3 and 89.7 FM in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Ms. Emanuel worked in collaboration with Jennifer Betts, Brown University Archivist and Interim Director of the John Hay Library and Special Collections, on this remarkable video that documents the Black Student Walkout at Brown on December 5, 1968. Today marks the 50th anniversary of this call to action by 65 Brown students of color, who demanded an increase in recruitment and admission of black students to Brown.

1968 Black Student Walkout

Part of a national movement by black college students, the 1968 walkout at Brown stands out for its longevity–students camped out at the Congdon Street Baptist Church for three days–and its success. As a result of this coordinated action and the serious negotiations between Brown administration and the student representatives that took place during the three-day protest, the University agreed to significantly enhance efforts around black student admission practices, with $12 million over three years earmarked for recruitment. According to a letter from President Christina Paxson to the Brown community:

The walkout ended on Dec. 9, when the students secured the University’s agreement to launch an effort to significantly increase the number of black students in each new class. Those students established a foundation for future generations of historically underrepresented students, including other black students, in advocating together for a better Brown.

Protest & Perspectives: Students at Brown 1960s-90s

This fall, the Library presented the exhibit Protest & Perspectives: Students at Brown 1960s–90s, which included the 1968 Black Student Walkout. Installed on the wall outside of the Patric Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, the exhibit was created by the Brown University Archives Fellows during the summer. They are:

  • Amyre S. Brandom, Xavier University of Louisiana, Leadership Alliance
  • Kayla Smith, Spelman College, Leadership Alliance
  • Rachel Souza, Brown University ‘21, Presidential Scholar

Click here to see the online exhibit about the Walkout.

Days of Absence: The 1968 Black Student Walkout at Brown

In addition, the Library hosted the exhibit Days of Absence: The 1968 Black Student Walkout at Brown in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library in September. The exhibition, curated by Bernicestine and Harold Bailey, was created in conjunction with the Black Alumni Reunion.

Social Justice & Special Collections at the Brown University Library

The Library’s collections contain a vast source of material related to social justice on campus and throughout the world. Open to the public and easily accessible to all Brown students and faculty, the John Hay Library and its knowledgeable staff are available to all researchers interested in working with the unique, fascinating, revelatory, and, in many cases, priceless items waiting to be explored.

Collections of interest in this area of study include (but are not limited to):