An Interview with Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts

williams-cherryPloughshares Literary Magazine‘s blog recently featured an interview with the Lilly Library’s Curator of Manuscripts, Cherry Williams. Read about Cherry’s perspective on the book today and in the future, as part of the blog series “People of the Book”.

From the Ploughshares blog:
People of the Book is an interview series gathering those engaged with books, broadly defined. As participants answer the same set of questions, their varied responses chart an informal ethnography of the book, highlighting its rich history as a mutable medium and anticipating its potential future. This week brings the conversation to Cherry Williams, Manuscripts Curator at the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

Read the entire article at:
http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/people-of-the-book-cherry-williams/

Dennis Walder on South African Drama, October 3, Wertheim Lecture in Comparative Drama

The Department of Comparative Literature, Indiana University, invites you to the Wertheim Lecture in Comparative Drama:

October 3, 2013, 4:30 p.m. at the Lilly Library
“The Play’s the Thing: A Journey through the Drama of South Africa”
by Professor Dennis Walder

Dennis Walder is Emeritus Professor of Literature at the UK’s Open University. He is the former director of the Open University’s Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, as well as the founding director of the Post-Colonial Literatures Research Group. A graduate of the University of Cape Town, Professor Walder completed his doctoral degree as Aytoun Research Fellow in English at the University of Edinburgh. Professor Walder’s research interests range from 19th-century fiction to 20th-century literature. His thesis was published as Dickens and Religion (1981; reissued 2007). He published the first book on South Africa’s best-known playwright, Athol Fugard, in 1984, and he has since edited three volumes of Fugard’s plays for Oxford University Press. In 2003, he produced a new study of the playwright, Athol Fugard, in the series “Writers and Their Work.” He regularly writes program notes and gives theatre talks for performances of Fugard.

Professor Walder has contextualized his research on South African drama in Post-Colonial Literatures: History, Language, Theory (1998). His 2000 essay “The Necessity of Error: Memory and Representation in the New Literatures” began a series of papers and journal articles on topics linking memory, identity and narrative in post-colonial contexts, leading up to his most recent book Postcolonial Nostalgias: Writing, Memory and Representation (2010).

The Wertheim Lecture in Comparative Drama commemorates Albert Wertheim’s contributions to the field of Comparative Drama. Wertheim, who passed away in April 2003, was Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Theatre and Drama.

Race, Filmmaking, and the Silent Screen

Rebecca Stanwick is an MLS Candidate in the Department of Information and Library Science in the IU School of Informatics and Computing. Her major focus is on Children and Youth Librarianship, but she also works part-time at the Lilly Library. She recently organized an exhibition about the R. E. Norman papers for the Lilly Library’s foyer. Here she talks about the experience:

Richard E. Norman Studios: Race, Filmmaking, and the Silent Screen: Exhibit at the Lilly Library

flyingace

Before beginning work on this exhibition, I had never heard of R. E. Norman or his project. Coming from a background in literature and working with my love of narrative, I was looking for a good story I could tell. I was also unaware of the scholarly recovery of Norman that is currently taking place and of newfound recognition that Norman’s movies are receiving. In November, Barbara Tepa Lupack will be publishing Richard E. Norman and Race Filmmaking, the first full-length critical study of Norman and his film company’s place in cinematic history. Here at Indiana University, the Norman revival is in full swing. In November, Norman’s project will play a part in a conference taking place at the Black Film Center/Archive where Norman’s only surviving full-length film, The Flying Ace, which was preserved by the Library of Congress in 2010, will be screened with live accompaniment at IU Cinema. The newfound critical attention is deserved, and it is exciting to see what scholars have to say about this long dormant, yet exceedingly interesting, character of black film history.

As I said, however, I knew none of this. I ultimately came to choose the R. E. Norman collection because I was intrigued by how the Norman Studios Silent Film Museum/Norman Studios website characterized Norman. It describes him as “disheartened about the state of race relations at the time, both in real life and in the movies…” This characterization of a progressive man in a time when African Americans were still firmly seen as second class citizens made me want to learn more about Norman’s motives for creating all-black films. Was Norman as racially progressive as the statement suggests?

mazelleperry

What I discovered in Norman’s papers, especially letters to his brother Bruce, is that he was first and foremost a businessman. It is well documented that Norman and other race filmmakers saw an untapped market in all-black films. Often excluded from white films and cinemas and dismayed by the stereotypically racist portrayal of blacks by white filmmakers, black audiences were excluded from cinematic entertainment. Black audiences were hungry for stories and cinematic portrayals that spoke to them and reflected their experiences. These are the films that Norman offered.

As progressive as the films seem now, to characterize Norman as a proponent of better race relations is problematic. In his correspondence with his black talent, Norman was often dismissive and harsh. In his letters to his brother Bruce, he often uses racist language in reference to different actors and talent as well as to theater owners with whom Norman was conducting business. The letters suggest that his project was more about good business and making money than it was the betterment of the black community.

In addition to Norman’s letters, the exhibition features other items that document the actors and actresses with whom Norman came into contact. The actors include Anita Bush and Bill Pickett as well as vaudeville performers like Mazelle M. Perry. I have also included letters and pictures of lesser known African American talent who, vying for a chance to be in a Norman production, sent inquiries to Norman about parts great and small. This small exhibition only scratches the surface of the richness of the R. E. Norman collection. I hope many more scholars will come to investigate the R. E. Norman papers at the Lilly Library and at the Black Film Center/Archive where a large portion of the collection is also housed.

Rebecca Stanwick

IU Cinema – The Flying Ace, November 15 – Friday 7:00 PM, http://www.indiana.edu/~bfca/events/#regener8

Roger and Pauline

Ebert

Roger Ebert (1942-2013), who passed away on April 4, 2013 at the age of 70, leaves behind an enduring legacy as a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for The Chicago Sun-Times (where he worked for 46 years) as well as a pioneer in both television (with Gene Siskel) and online criticism. Ebert’s impact on his profession, and on the countless number of individuals whose paths crossed with his, was enormous. To name one example relevant to Bloomington: In his 2011 memoir, Life Itself (New York: Grand Central Pub.), Ebert writes in glowing terms about the Vickers Theatre, an independent art-house cinema located in Three Oaks, Michigan, originally co-owned and operated by Jon Vickers, now Director of the Indiana University Cinema.

Early in his career, Roger Ebert was a protégé of Pauline Kael (often referred to as “Paulettes”), the influential film critic for The New Yorker. Two of his letters are in the Kael mss., a voluminous collection of her personal papers and correspondence. All his life invested in politics and social issues, Ebert tells her about the 1974 Conference on World Affairs he attended at the University of Colorado, and names a few notable panelists whom he speculates were invited “to add variety to the academics, politicians and fanatics.”

The Kael mss. is one of several collections featuring professional criticism in the arts available at the Lilly Library.

Performing Arts Ephemera

This year’s Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) preconference, http://www.preconference.rbms.info/, is focusing on performing arts and the use of these materials in an academic and research library setting. At the Lilly Library, there are many pieces of performing arts history that reveal to us connections between our culture and art. This post provides a glimpse of such collections in the Library’s holdings.

theatre log

A truly extraordinary item in the collection is a Theatre Log circa 1934-1946. This log was printed with the intention that the owner would fill in the pre-printed sheets with information about the plays and/or movies they attended. The blanks are to be filled with not only things like the name of the performance and the theatre that it was performed in, but also who accompanied them to see the show, with plenty of room to express your opinion of the show.

The example in the Lilly’s collection was compiled by an unknown author. Even without the identity of the author, their detailed evaluations bring to life this author’s criticism and appreciation of theatre.

One entry of interest reflects on a performance at the Mercury Theatre in New York in 1938. The author saw Orson Welles portray Brutus onstage in “Julius Caesar.” “The only thing that annoyed me was the manner in which Welles kept poking his chin out and skyward in the Mussolini manner – a little too exaggerated at times to be pleasant,” she expresses quite bluntly. She adds: “This was an ingenius (sic) production in the true Orson Welles manner.”

We are fortunate to have the Orson Welles manuscript collection here at the Library, filled with correspondence, photos, and much more relating to Welles’ radio, theatre, and film productions. For “Julius Caesar”, he was not only the star, but also the director, editor, and producer. The play was produced in modern dress on a barren stage. While it was assumed by audiences that he was reflecting on European dictatorship of the time, Welles was insistent that this was not his intention. “I’m trying to let Shakespeare’s lines do the job of making the play applicable to the tensions of our time,” Welles states in the Mercury Theatre weekly bulletin written by Henry Senber. Many more of Welles’ productions have materials here that are waiting to be explored.

The Lilly Library’s holdings also include many theatre playbills; fascinating sources that shed light on our culture. We see performances placed in a specific place and time in history, and advertisements that provide a window into the culture of the time. A wide variety of products were advertised, from automobiles to fur coats. The most common advertisements promoted cigarettes. Endorsed by many different celebrities, cigarettes were certainly a symbol of sophistication.

Much more can be discovered amongst the Lilly Library’s collections of performing arts ephemera. Please contact us if you’d like to come and take a look at some of our fascinating historical items.

Courtney Brombosz
MLS Candidate
Rare Books and Manuscripts Specialization Indiana University – School of Library and Information Science Bloomington, IN

Verbi-Voco-Visual Explorations: Language in Art and Text

“Verbi-Voco-Visual Explorations: Language in Art and Text”
Oct 15-November 3, Lilly Library Foyer

In this exhibition, artists, designers and publishers explore the connections between text and form. These selections from the Lilly Library demonstrate the cutting-edge yet playful experimentation of Fluxus art and visual poetry, which pushed the boundaries of textual conventions and investigated the production of meaning in language and art. Many of the works featured in “Verbi-Voco-Visual Explorations” come from the personal collection of Mary Ellen Solt, 1920-2007, a concrete poet and former professor of creative writing at Indiana University. The title “Verbi-Voco-Visual Explorations” is borrowed from artist Marshall McLuhan, who in turn borrowed it from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake–an example of not only the multidimensional iterations of meaning conveyed in the exhibition, but also how influences can be sampled creatively into new works.

The exhibition includes big names like John Cage, whose centennial is celebrated this year, and also lesser known but still influential writers and artists. Cage’s M: Writings ’67-’72, in which he explores words, names and concepts through textual visualization techniques such as mesostics, a form of poetry in which words are spelled horizontally using letters from the middle of lines. Another iteration of the complicated nature of textuality and reading is Bruno Munari’s thought-provoking Libro illeggibile or “Illegible Book.” The work’s absence of text and red string threaded through the pages makes the book more of a sculptural object than a learning tool; while the codex format engenders understanding through familiarity. Johanna Drucker, a highly influential scholar of artist’s books, visual poetry, digital humanities, also demonstrates her artistic ability through her artist’s book The Word Made Flesh, which celebrates the embodiment of text through rich all-over page design and consummate deployment of fonts and colors to enrich meaning. Lilly’s edition of Jorge Luis Borges’ Ficciones illustrated by Sol LeWitt presents an intriguing melding of two highly-regarded figures. A number of the works included were published by the German imprint Hansjörg Mayer, a major publisher of artist’s books and an early innovator of the use of computers in graphic design.

The exhibition was crafted to highlight the upcoming show “Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf,” opening October 19th at the Grunwald Gallery. “Off the Shelf” features both Spector’s large, sculptural installations of books and his Polaroid works. The installations, including “The Library of Babel” inspired by Borges’ short story of the same name, and a piece featuring books by Indiana University authors, are all borrowed from Indiana University’s libraries. These installations invite commentary on the logic and poetry of the arrangement of books, and ask the audience to consider the function of the book object. Spector’s oversized Polaroid prints further investigate the themes of meaning and form, authorship and ownership, and the physical experience of reading.

Spector is an eminent figure in the artists’ book and book arts communities and an internationally known artist and writer. He has published numerous artists’ books as well as editing the critical volume The Book Maker’s Desire: Writings on the Art of the Book.

Additionally, The Fine Arts Library is hosting a complementary exhibition “On the Page: Artists’ Take on the Book and Library” October 6-November 8 in the Fine Arts Library lobby, which gathers examples of thoughtful, artistic engagement with the materiality and symbolic functions of the book object, stacks of books, and entire libraries. For more information, visit the Fine Arts Library blog: https://blogs.libraries.iub.edu/FAL/

Opening reception this Friday for War of 1812 exhibition

Battle of New OrleansThe Friends of the Lilly Library will host an opening reception on Friday, September 28, 2012, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., for the exhibition, The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library.

The War of 1812 is one of the least known wars in American memory, despite the fact that it was fought on United States territory. Yet the War of 1812 deserves closer attention. A generation of political leaders was forged in the war. It brought us the song that became the national anthem and delivered a death blow to Native American resistance to American expansion.

The exhibition provides an overview of these significant developments, as well as a glimpse of moments of high drama. Pro-war Baltimoreans tar-and-feather an anti-war newspaper publisher. Generals surrender and face court martial. Battles are fought on land and sea and lake. Washington burns!

Items on display range from the official declaration of war to a receipt for the sewing of signal flags, and include such resources as anti-war pamphlets, a letter describing the burning of Washington, D.C., and a satirical print of James Madison boxing King George III. The exhibition will be on view September 18 – December 15, 2012.

The reception will feature an historical miniature war game recreating the Battle of New Orleans, in which American forces led by Andrew Jackson defeated the British army on January 8, 1815.

Visitors can participate in the game again on Saturday, September 29, at 9:30 a.m. in the Lilly Library Slocum Room. The games are organized by the IU Conflict Simulations Club. Both the reception and the games are open to the public.

All the historic materials on display, and more, are also available in the online project of the same name: http://collections.libraries.iub.edu/warof1812/. Hundreds of manuscripts, books, maps, and prints are included online, digitized in full. Viewers of the exhibition can find a interesting book on display, and then have access to the entire volume online.

New Film-Related Manuscripts Collections

 The papers of David Bradley and Carlo Lizzani, respectively, are newly processed additions to the Lilly Library’s film-related manuscripts collections.

The Bradley mss. include correspondence, screenplays, publicity materials, business records, writings, and biographical items pertaining to David Bradley (1920-1997), film director, collector and historian. At an early age Bradley became a pioneer in amateur filmmaking and went on to direct his friend Charlton Heston in Peer Gynt (1941) and Julius Caesar (1950). (The former film was Heston’s film debut; the latter got Heston a successful screen test with MGM.) Bradley also directed Macbeth (1947), Talk About a Stranger (1952), Dragstrip Riot (1958), 12 to the Moon (1960), and The Madmen of Mandoras (1963, and later re-released as They Saved Hitler’s Brain in 1968). The Bradley papers complement the film elements and photographs already in the collection, along with the nearly 4,000 reel-to-reel films he collected during his lifetime.

The Lizzani, Carlo mss. feature the writings, photographs, scripts, audio-visual materials, correspondence, awards, newspaper and periodical articles, and unpublished diary of Italian filmmaker Carlo Lizzani. Born in Rome in 1922, Lizzani began as a film critic and eventually collaborated with prominent directors in the Italian neorealism movement. He served as assistant director on Roberto Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero (1948) and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Story for Giuseppe De Santis’s Bitter Rice (1949). Lizzani’s own films include numerous spaghetti westerns and the internationally acclaimed crime thriller Banditi a Milano (Bandits in Milan), released in the United States as The Violent Four (1968). The Lizzani papers are mainly in Italian and were processed by Austin Alexander, a graduate student in the Department of French and Italian.

New exhibition on Charles Dickens

Portrait of Charles Dickens

“Conducted by Charles Dickens: An Exhibition to Commemorate the Bicentennial of His Birth”
January 23 through May 5, 2012

Charles Dickens is one of the most beloved and well-known authors in the English language. The stories of characters such as Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield have moved beyond the pages of fiction and into the realm of popular myth.

The Lilly Library will display an exhibition from January 23 to May 5, 2012 commemorating the bicentennial of Charles Dickens’s birth. The title of the exhibition refers to the way in which Dickens denoted his editorship of his periodicals Household Words and All the Year Round: “Conducted by Charles Dickens.” Like the conductor of a train or an orchestra, Dickens masterfully channeled the cultural currents of his age into works of literature that still resonate with readers today.

The exhibition showcases the Lilly Library’s eclectic holdings relating to Charles Dickens’s life, literature, and the Victorian world from which he drew inspiration. Highlights include first editions of Dickens classics such as The Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and Great Expectations as well as examples of Dickens novels issued in serial monthly parts. The exhibition also explores Dickens’s love of theatre, the novels and stories that inspired him as a child, the numerous illustrators with whom he worked, and practices of Victorian readership and publishing. One section is devoted to the colorful and chaotic world of Victorian London, featuring London “low life” and the social reform movements which were such an integral part of Dickens’s fiction.

Upgrading WordPress

Tomorrow, Tuesday September 20th, we will be upgrading the WordPress software used to manage this blog. This upgrade will not affect the appearance or layout of News & Notes, but will allow us to add new features. For example, a new subscription page will offer readers the option of receiving new posts by email.

Bookmarks to our site will be safe, as the upgrade will not affect the primary web address. However, the upgrade may affect any permanent links you have to archived posts, and will change the address of the RSS feed. If you have added News & Notes to a feed reader (like Google Reader) or subscribed to receive posts through a third party program, you will need to update the link to reflect the new format. Check back tomorrow evening for the specific URL.