Each year, in partnership with the Office of the Dean of the College, the Brown University Library recognizes one or two undergraduate students for outstanding research projects that make creative and extensive use of the 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. The prize winners receive $750 each, funded through an endowment established by Douglas Squires ’73.
2020 Prize Recipients
Abby Wells ’21
Abby Wells’ paper, “दे वि!मा#हा#त्म्य, Δούργα Μεταφρασθεῖσα ἐκ τοῦ Βραχμάνικου, and Devimahatmyam, Markandeyi Purani Sectio Edidit Latinam Interpretationem: A Comparative Analysis of Greek and Latin Translations of the Devīmāhātmya,” compares translations of the Devīmāhātmya, a Hindu religious text, to offer a unique analysis of grammar, content, and interpretation across three languages, including Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit.
Wells made creative and extensive use of the Library’s collection by locating the Greek and Latin translations of the Devīmāhātmya in the John Hay Library and Google Books, respectively. The award committee was especially impressed by the project’s use of materials made available through the John Hay Library, Google Books, and the Hathi Trust. This project truly spans the full use of library holdings and digital collections available within and beyond Brown University.
Sicheng Luo ’20
Sicheng Luo was selected for her fascinating project, “The Symbol of the Pineapple Used for Clocks,” which explores the symbolism of pineapples in art and artifacts based on a mutual misunderstanding between China and the West. The project leaned heavily on a variety of Library resources and in-depth research consultations with Brown librarians.
Luo’s project, which was initially inspired by a popular television show in China called “National Treasures,” offers the reader an intensive explanation of the history of the pineapple symbol found on a clock made in the Qing Dynasty in China, which is currently on reserve in the Imperial Museum in Beijing.
Luo credits the availability of artist books, scanners, and in-person research consultations at the Library as the foundation of this incredible art history project.
Dear Department Chairs, Directors of Graduate Studies, and Graduate Students,
At the Brown University Library, we are well aware that the COVID-19 public health crisis is having an impact on graduate students’ ability to study for qualifying exams and carry out thesis and dissertation research. At Brown, as is the case at universities across the country, we know that suspending all onsite activity at the Library is contributing to these challenges.
I am writing to let you know about the work we have been doing to strengthen how the Library supports graduate students under these circumstances, and to ensure that you are aware of the resources that are available to help you move forward with your scholarship.
Individual Research Help
You can connect directly with a Library expert in your area who can support your research, answer questions, provide you with digital content, and offer reliable scholarly guidance during this time of stress and uncertainty.
Increased Digital Access
Significantly expanded access to digital content is being made available during the COVID-19 pandemic. More digital scholarly content continues to be made freely accessible, and we are regularly updating our list as this happens.
The Library offers several ways to access digital content:
Through our existing systems
Search Josiah, the online catalog, for books, articles, and other materials that Brown owns or subscribes to in electronic formats.
Request items through Interlibrary Loan. Requests are continuing to be filled for articles available electronically.
Many items from our physical collection are now available electronically via HathiTrust. We have added a link to the HathiTrust version to the records in Josiah. You will need to login with your Brown University web credentials to access the content.
Library experts can help you locate materials available at Brown and elsewhere.
If you are looking for a book that exists in electronic format to which Brown does not currently have access, we will purchase that item if it is possible to do so.
Special collections librarians will seek to identify primary source material in digital format through other libraries and archives that can contribute to students’ research. They can also offer individualized consultations regarding research methods and organizing your digital research files. Special collections is working on other creative solutions to provide digital access to its collections and to connect students with digital content at other institutions. The more we know about student research needs, the better we can deploy to find solutions.
Access to Physical Materials
We recognize that electronically available materials, however abundant, cannot address all scholarly needs and that digital content can also pose accessibility challenges. At this time, most university libraries have discontinued physical circulation and loans. For the health and safety of our staff, we are unable to provide physical access to Library materials until the University authorizes onsite activities to resume.
As the University announced recently, President Paxson has charged a Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force with charting a path to the safe reopening of the campus. As the principles, process, and timeline for reopening emerge, the Library will be able to provide more information on how and when we can resume physical access to general and special collections materials. Like you, we are looking forward to that day.
As researchers and scholarly experts ourselves, and as dedicated partners for you and your academic programs, we keenly appreciate the challenges you are facing in moving forward with your graduate studies. The Brown University Library is committed to doing whatever is possible under the circumstances to help you. To that end, we will continue to explore new ways to provide more of the content you need. In the meantime, keep telling us what you need and we’ll do our very best!
With best wishes for your safety and wellbeing,
Joseph S. Meisel Joukowsky Family University Librarian
This Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, 2020, look for 10 posters of poems hanging around the Rock. Written by poets who identify as LGBTQ+ and/or as members of historically underrepresented groups, the poetry offers readers an opportunity to engage with love from different perspectives.
Readers can also vote for you favorite poem of the ten selected, tell us your all time favorite poem and item in the Library, and provide feedback, if you like, for what the Library can do or do better to make all feel welcome and supported.
Limón, Ada. “What I Didn’t Know Before.” The Carrying, Milkweed Editions, 2018, p. 120.
It is the Library’s sincere hope that all members of the Brown community feel welcome and supported in our physical and virtual spaces. We have the privilege and responsibility to steward and highlight works by writers and researchers of all backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Representation is important.
Love comes in many forms. On Valentine’s Day, we appreciate you joining us in a love for poetry and for all the ways in which we can love and support each other, today and every day.
This is YOUR Brown University Library. You belong here.
Spillers is an American literary critic, Black feminist scholar, and the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in English at Vanderbilt University. Her research addresses literary criticism, race and gender; linguistics; the African diaspora; Black culture; and sexuality. She is best known for her 1987 article, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” one of the most cited essays in African-American literary studies today.
The Hortense J. Spillers papers include handwritten diaries and journals on topics ranging from critical race theory and Moby Dick to the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Spillers’ first trip abroad in 1968. The collection also includes personal and professional correspondence with scholars such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Gayatri Spivak; and drafts of her talks, articles, and books, including “Isom,” “Conjuring,” and “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe.” Materials in this collection date from 1966 to 1995.
Spillers contributed her papers to the Feminist Theory Archive in the name of the Black Feminist Theory Project, established by the Pembroke Center in 2016.
Speeches by Civil Rights leaders and other renowned public intellectuals will be preserved and made available for scholarship.
Providence, R.I. [Brown University] The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has awarded the Brown University Library $23,215 from its Recordings at Risk program. One of 13 projects selected out of 34 to receive grants from the program, the Library’s proposal, “Brown University Archives Audio-Visual Collection: Global Perspectives from Campus Speeches,” will allow us to digitize and make available to the public a large selection of audio and video recordings of speeches by leading public figures invited to Brown between 1950 and 1995.
103 cassette tapes, 198 film reels, and 44 VHS tapes–345 items total–will be digitized through use of the funding. This substantial set of materials document changing intellectual and social currents across the United States and the world on topics including social justice, politics, education, and the media–all of which still resonate today. There is a particularly fascinating set of recordings from Civil Rights leaders, notably Ralph Abernathy, Shirley Chisholm, Martin Luther King, Jr., and A. Philip Randolph.
Over the next nine months, outside vendor George Blood LP will convert the media into digital files. A team of Special Collections staff and students will review the digitized files and create accurate and complete descriptive information. The final content will be uploaded into the Brown Digital Repository, where it will be available for research in October 2020.
The Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of books and manuscripts from the personal library of Daniel G. Siegel ’57, a member of the Library Advisory Council, a board member on the Friends of the Library, and a long and dedicated supporter of special collections at Brown. Mr. Siegel has twice received the Library’s highest honor, the William Williams Award–once as an individual for his generous gifts to special collections and once as a 2012 member of the Library Advisory Council for its support of the renovation of the John Hay Library.
Comprising over 3,000 books and 100 manuscripts, the items included in this recent gift focus mainly on American literature, American history, and the history of science, but also encompass a broad range of other subjects. The gift is particularly strong in association copies, which document the various ways in which intellectuals and activists interacted with ideas and with one another.
Outstanding Highlights of the Gift
Highlights of the gift include:
A first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass inscribed by Whitman and Oscar Wilde
Lydia Maria Child’s Letters from New York inscribed to Margaret Fuller
King George III’s copy of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy of the report on the Dred Scott case
Typescript of Philip Roth’s early short story “The Conversion of the Jews”
A letter from Albert Einstein discussing the Rosenbergs’ trial and Stalinist purges
A draft of the constitution of the Confederate States of America with annotations and corrections by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens
First editions of 19th century Russian novels
A complete set of pamphlets by visionary rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
The gift expands on the existing holdings in Special Collections in nearly every direction, adding works of significant interest to alcohol and addiction studies, the development of the American West, the history of technology and its uses, natural history and materia medica, the Civil War era, women’s rights, religion, and social reforms of all kinds.
The materials in this gift reflect Mr. Siegel’s expansive vision of collecting and are an invaluable addition to the John Hay Library’s resources for research and teaching. The items in this gift join those from previous gifts from Mr. Siegel, which include the only surviving manuscript of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and foundational works in the history of science.
Daniel G. Siegel ’57 Fellowship
To honor Mr. Siegel’s breathtaking generosity and the impact of his giving on special collections at Brown, the Library has established the Daniel G. Siegel ’57 Fellowship, a specialized component of the John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellowship Program.
The fellowship review committee will select one John Hay Library Undergraduate Fellow to be the Siegel Fellow, whose research focuses specifically on the collections of American literature and/or history at the Hay. Like the other fellows in the cohort, the Siegel Fellow will spend ten weeks in the summer building research skills using primary sources to develop an original project. Projects can take the form of a traditional research paper or may be creative or digital in format. Projects do not have to be completed by the end of the summer; the fellowship can serve as a start for a senior thesis, be a further exploration of work begun during a course, or allow a student a non-evaluative framework within which to explore a new topic. Fellows will work primarily in the Hay’s Gildor Family Special Collections Reading Room and will participate in a wide range of relevant workshops, with topics such as the history of the book and letterpress printing. All fellows will present their projects at a showcase in the fall.
Join the Brown University Library for an unforgettable night of poetry, fiction, and discussion of how library and archival research is essential to creative and literary endeavors. Lauren Russell and Megan Milks will both read from their works, followed by a discussion led by librarians and archivists about how they are using primary sources. A Q&A period will conclude the presentation.
The first event in the Authors in the Archives series, this talk will take place on Monday, October 28, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. in the Willis Reading Room of the John Hay Library.
Free and open to the public. A light reception will follow the talk.
Lauren Russell is the author of What’s Hanging on the Hush (Ahsahta Press, 2017) and Descent, a winner of the 2019 Tarpaulin Sky Book Awards and a finalist for the National Poetry Series, forthcoming from Tarpaulin Sky Press in 2020. A 2017 NEA Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry, she has also received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, The Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, VIDA/The Home School, the Rose O’Neill Literary House, the Millay Colony, and City of Asylum/Passa Porta. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, boundary 2, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, and Bettering American Poetry 2015, among others. She is assistant director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh.
Megan Milksis the recipient of the 2019 Lotos Foundation Prize in Fiction Writing. Their first book, Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, won the 2015 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Fiction and was named a Lambda Literary Award finalist. They have also published four chapbooks, most recently Kicking the Baby and The Feels, an exploration of fan fiction and affect. Their critical writing, for which they won a 2014 Critical Hit Award from Electric Lit, has been published in 4Columns, Los Angeles Book Review, and The New Inquiry, among other venues. Their work as editor includes The &NOW Awards 3: The Best Innovative Writing, 2011-2013 (Northwestern UP, 2015) and Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives (Routledge, 2014); currently, they edit the Fiction section of The Account.
Authors in the Archives
The Authors in the Archives series features notable writers whose work is brought to fruition through their creative and sagacious use of primary source materials.
To request special services, accommodations, or assistance for this event, please contact Jennifer Braga at Jennifer_Braga@brown.edu or (401) 863-6913 as far in advance of the event as possible. Thank you.
On Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Li Wang, Curator of the East Asian Collection, will give a talk, “Exploring the Digital China 2019.” This event is free and open to the public. Coffee and cookies will be served.
This new visual report will focus on Dr. Wang’s professional trip this summer in China, where he attended several conferences, Beijing International Book Fair, and other events. During this period, he delivered two presentations at the International Conference on Digital Publishing and Digital Libraries and the Sino-American Academic Library Forum on Collaboration and Development. The first presentation, entitled “Digital Scholarship at Brown (Continuance): Knowledge Innovation and Research Engagement in North American University Libraries,” is a follow-up chapter of his award-winning paper on “Digital Scholarship at Brown” from 2014. The second is on American Sinologist Charles S. Gardner and the Chinese collection at Brown University, which won the first prize for papers at the Sino-American Library Forum.
In his talk, Dr. Wang will scan
recent trends in digital publishing, knowledge innovation and library services developed
in China and other places in the world. He will also share pictures, stories
and thoughts on this fruitful journey, including
cultural tours of the Russian style Gogol Bookstore, the wonderful Heaven Lake on the China-North Korea border, and the
Inner Mongolian prairie in north China, and much more.
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
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
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
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.
learn more about Brown’s digital scholarly publication program, contact Digital
Scholarship Editor Allison Levy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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
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
“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.”