Slaughterhouse-Five on display in Dresden

The Lilly Library is very pleased to have been asked to participate in the special exhibition, “Slaughterhouse 5 – Dresden Destruction in Literary Evidence,” currently on display from February 6th to May 12th 2015 at The Military Historical Museum of the Bundeswehr in Dresden, Germany: http://www.mhmbw.de/

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers between the 13th and 15th of February 1945, the focus of the exhibition is Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five. As a prisoner of war, Vonnegut experienced and survived the bombing while being held captive in an annex of the new slaughterhouse. His literary work recording that experience created an enduring image of Dresden in the English-speaking world. The Lilly Library holds the Vonnegut archive including the original manuscript drafts of Slaughterhouse-Five on display.

The exhibition also includes writings, art and personal items from, among others, Erich Kästner, Walter Kempowski, Martin Walser, Gerhard Richter, Gerhart Hauptmann, Durs Grünbein, Roman Halter, Marcel Beyer and Rudolf Mauersberger. The exhibition provides documentation of a diversity of perspectives on the bombing with many items being shown publicly for the first time. The exhibition also focuses on Dresden’s destruction in the propaganda battles of the war and post-war period, and in myths and legends.

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Democracy Men: Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln

Case1This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and the 160th anniversary of the publication of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855). This exhibition was designed in remembrance of these anniversaries and also, as a means of exploring the relationship between Lincoln and Whitman, two iconic figures in American history whose influence on American culture continues today.

Though they never met, Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman were each working toward a goal they unknowingly shared: national unity. Lincoln’s goal as President of the United States was to preserve the Union, and Whitman similarly promoted unity among humanity in his poetry. Specific examples of each man’s promotion of unity can be seen in their writings: for Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, and for Whitman, in his book of poetry, Leaves of Grass (1855), which was a cry for unity and equality among men.

With his delivery of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln called for unity in the Nation, especially amongst the people, as he declared, “all men are created equal.” Whitman made a similar declaration in his poem “Song of Myself:” “For every atom belonging to me as good as belongs to you.” These two texts continue to occupy an important space in education and culture today. Whitman’s poetry has inspired musicians, artists, other poets, and is even referenced in movies and TV shows, and references to Lincoln occur frequently in the media. Both of these men remain monumental figures in popular culture today.

This exhibition was curated by Erika L. Jenns. Jenns is a second-year dual Master’s degree student in English and Library Science. Her studies in English focus on 19th-century American literature, and her MLS will be accompanied by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship specialization. At the Lilly Library, Jenns is the Assistant to the Head of Public Services, and she also works in the Conservation Department.

MourningRibbons

The Speculative Worlds of Margaret Atwood

atwood_group2To celebrate the campus visit of Canadian novelist, poet, and literary critic Margaret Atwood, the Lilly Library presents an exhibition celebrating her life and work. Some of Atwood’s most memorable works include The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), a novel of a dystopian future in which a comprehensive system of patriarchal oppression relegates the women to roles of laborer, domestic, or concubine.  Her recently-completed MaddAddam trilogy (Oryx and Crake, 2003; The Year of the Flood, 2009; and MaddAddam, 2013) explores human relationships in a post-apocalyptic world of environmental catastrophes, pandemics, and genetic manipulation.

The exhibition situates Atwood’s work in the larger context of speculative fiction, showcasing treasures from the Lilly’s extensive collections.  Highlights include rare first editions of Atwood’s work; high points from the history of utopian and dystopian literature which inspired or were inspired by Atwood’s writing; and an array of early 20th-century science fiction pulp magazines of the kind described by Atwood in her novel The Blind Assassin (2000) and in her recent volume of essays on speculative fiction, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011).

The exhibition will be on display in the Lilly Library’s Lincoln Room through February 20th.

For additional information on Atwood’s campus visit, see: http://www.indiana.edu/~cahi/events/margaret-atwood-public-reading/

 

Orson Welles exhibition buzz

welles_01291Excitement is building for the Orson Welles exhibition at the Lilly Library! The exhibition, “100 Years of Orson Welles: Master of Stage, Sound, and Screen” opens this week, and later in the semester film screenings and an academic symposium will provide continued opportunities to explore the work of this master of many media on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The Indianapolis publication NUVO just published a piece on the exhibition: 100 Years of Orson Welles. The IU Bloomington Newsroom press release has information on the film schedule and links to symposium information.

Craig Simpson, Manuscript Archivist at the Lilly Library and curator of the the exhibition, will give a talk on February 12 at 5:30 pm in the Lilly Library Lincoln Room.

Victorian Holiday Cards Exhibition through December 23

Cards from the Lilly Library’s collection of Victorian holiday cards will be exhibited in the Lilly’s Lincoln Room through December 23rd.nc1866-c5-39_00001

The tradition of the Christmas card dates to 1843, when Sir Henry Cole asked John Calcott Horsely, R.A., to design a card that he could send to friends at the holiday season. One thousand copies of the lithographed, hand-colored card were produced, priced at one shilling each. The card’s central frame depicts a family feast, flanked by two images of charity to the poor.

The influence of the Valentine card, which predated the Christmas card, is clearly visible in the earlier cards with either flowers and lace-paper.  As time went on, the cards became ever more elaborate and decorative and it became fashionable to collect as many cards as possible. Victorians filled their scrapbooks with pasted-down paper images bursting with sentiments of holiday merriment and cheer.  New printing techniques, such as chromolithography, helped to spread the practice of producing, sending, and collecting these colorful cards in both Britain and America.

The cards displayed here represent the wide—and sometimes bizarre to modern tastes—range of imagery available on Victorian holiday cards.  Some of the cards contain familiar figures such as Santa Claus, popularized by the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) by Clement Clarke Moore and illustrations by the American cartoonist Thomas Nast.

Other images, however, are more puzzling to the modern eye: colorful fruits and flowers, beach scenes, and summer days are featured as often as snow and cozy fires.  Popular humorous scenes often seem downright mean-spirited to modern sensibilities; on cards displayed here you’ll find brawling children, an elderly couple dumping a jug of water onto a group of jolly carolers, a bevy of smartly-dressed ladies pelting a hapless man with snowballs, and an old gentleman mired up to his waist in the snow.

Animals were always a favorite subject, as seen in the wide range of the Lilly Library’s eclectic collection: a caroling cat, robins marching with matchstick torches like an angry mob, and a frog waltzing with a beetle on the sandy beach are just a few of the whimsical, charming, and odd animal-themed cards on display.  Perhaps the most puzzling images are those of small dead birds, especially popular in Britain in the 1880s.  The symbolic meaning of these sad little lifeless feathered friends has been lost to history, but they are pasted in many Victorian scrapbooks alongside flowers, Santa, and sentimental greetings for happy holidays and a fruitful new year.

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August 28 Lecture and Reception: The Unseen World

maguscropOurs is a haunted world. Belief in and fear of ghosts, demons, and unseen forces is an undeniable part of human experience. The Lilly Library’s summer exhibition, “Spiritualists, Sorcerers, and Stage Magicians” explores this fascination in items from the Lilly’s collections from the occult grimoires of Agrippa to stories of modern day ghost hunters stalking their spectral prey in the gaudy pages of 20th-century pulp magazines and comic books.
 
Please join us for a lecture and reception on August 28 at 5:00 to celebrate the closing of our summer exhibition.  Exhibition curators Rebecca Baumann and L. Anne Delgado will highlight some of the mesmerizing narratives that emerge from the pages of the items on display.  Rebecca Baumann, a Reference Associate at the Lilly Library and PhD candidate in the Department of English, will discuss the relationship between magic and the print culture as well as the history of the Lilly Library’s acquisitions in this collecting area.  L. Anne Delgado, a Lecturer in the Department of English who completed her PhD at IU and has written extensively on esoteric topics, will focus on spiritualism, science, and the curious emergence of ectoplasm in the 19th century.  She will introduce a cavalcade of historical figures both exalted and forgotten: lauded stage magicians jealously guarding their craft, scheming mediums who used the public’s hunger for ghosts to develop their own unique forms of performance, and psychical researchers who tried to reconcile science with spirits.

August 18: Egyptology and the Occult: The Enigmatic Friendship of Aleister Crowley and Battiscombe Gunn

Photograph of Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley

The late Victorian period was the time in which the modern world as we know it took shape. The industrial revolution was in full swing, scientific and technical discoveries were coming at dizzying pace, and the many scholarly disciplines that deal with the human cultures became recognizable in their modern forms: anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and of course Egyptology, among others. But at the same period, particularly in Britain, there was also an explosion of interest in the occult, the paranormal, and the esoteric – interests that developed directly into what is now often described as “New Age” philosophy.

Ancient Egypt was one area in which modern scholarship and esotericism overlapped, and even converged. It is not often remembered today that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a number of mainstream scholars of antiquity were interested in esoteric or occult subjects. One very interesting case is that of Battiscombe Gunn (1883-1950), still remembered as one of the most insightful Egyptologists of his generation. What is less well known is that Gunn was associated, apparently in more than a casual way, with Aleister Crowley. Crowley, of course, was and remains the most notorious British occultist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — an individual who was known to his detractors as the “wickedest man in the world,” and who proudly proclaimed himself to be the “Beast 666.” We will first lay out the evidence for the “friendship” – if that is what it was – between Gunn and Crowley. We will go on to discuss how and why Gunn, and a number of his scholarly contemporaries, were interested in the esoteric and the occult. And we will discuss the reasons why esotericism and mainstream Egyptology eventually went their separate ways.

Steve Vinson
“Egyptology and the Occult: The Enigmatic Friendship of Aleister Crowley and Battiscombe Gunn”
August 18, 3:30 PM
Lilly Library Slocum Room

Steve Vinson is an associate professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University in Bloomington, who earned his doctorate in Egyptology at the Johns Hopkins University in 1995. He is currently working on a book on historical and critical approaches to ancient Egyptian literature.

Cats Invade the Foyer at the Lilly Library

Starting in August, cats of many stripes will make an appearance at the Lilly Library, contained within the pages of children’s books. The foyer exhibition cases will feature feline characters in books spanning from the 18th through 21st centuries.

With few exceptions, until the seventeenth century the relationship between cats and humans was a purely practical one. In exchange for shelter, cats kept the mouse population at bay. However, by the eighteenth century, cats had charmed their way into humans’ hearts and became household companions. Likewise, the roles played by cats in children’s literature have expanded over time. Cats began as characters in fables and moral tales and later moved on to portray everything from tricksters to mystical creatures to heroes. Visit the Lilly Library this summer to view every breed of literary cat from pop-up to miniature, comedic to poetic.

 

Stalking a mouse
Dame Tabby teaches her kitten the art of mousing in Pussy’s Road to Ruin, or, Do as You Are Bid by Clara de Chatelain, ca. 1840.

 

Colleen Barrett, Reference Assistant

Isabel Planton, Reference Associate

The Lilly Library engages in some paranormal activity

Excitement mounts for Saturday’s opening reception for Spiritualists, Sorcerers, and Stage Magicians: Magic and the Supernatural at the Lilly Library. We’ll have food and drink plus a magic show and remarks by the exhibition curators! IU Communications multimedia intern Milana Katic posted a short video on the Art at IU blog today featuring interviews with exhibition curators Rebecca Baumann and L. Anne Delgado and a sneak preview of magician Steve Bryant.

For the full post see: The Lilly Library engages in some paranormal activity. And please join us at 6:00 pm at the Lilly Library this Saturday, June 21, for a festive evening.

A New Exhibition at the Lilly Library: Spiritualists, Sorcerers, and Stage Magicians

Banner_Sun_v7-editedJoin us this week as the Lilly Library’s summer exhibition, “Spiritualists, Sorcerers, and Stage Magicians: Magic and the Supernatural at the Lilly Library,” makes its debut. The exhibition will run from June 2 to August 30, with a special reception on Saturday, June 21 from 6:00-8:00 PM.

The exhibition showcases the Library’s wide-ranging and eclectic holdings on magic and the supernatural, from 17th-century treatises on witchcraft to modern-day comic books.

Stay tuned to the Lilly Library’s blog and website for details about upcoming special events and blog posts throughout the summer highlighting items in Lilly’s collection such as discussion of spiritualism in the correspondence of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the Lilly’s recently-acquired issues of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, and annotated editions of books by the self-styled black magician Aleister Crowley.