ABCs of Special Collections

ABCThe second floor of Wilson Library is now home to a new display in what will be an ongoing series showcasing the diversity and variety of Wilson collections. ABCs of Special Collections borrows its title and concept from John Carter’s celebrated reference text ABC for Book Collectors, first published in 1952 and currently available in its eighth edition from Oak Knoll press or freely downloadable as a pdf from the ILAB website.

Carter’s ABC has long been the go-to guide for everyone from aspiring bibliophiles to seasoned librarians who wish to understand the features of books and other cultural artifacts that make their way into Special Collections libraries. In matter of fact, and sometimes tongue in cheek, fashion, Carter’s definitions enliven the vocabulary of rare books, from the physical features (in the printed edition helpfully augmented by the occasional manicule) to the key concepts (for those who have ever wondered just what makes a copy “ideal”).

The small display will be located in the corridor leading to the reading room for the North Carolina Collection and Rare Book Collection, on the second floor of Wilson Library. Library patrons are invited to stop by often, as the display will be updated periodically with new words, new definitions, and, most exciting of all, new books. You can also track the display online by following the Wilson Library Tumblr page. ABCs of Special Collections begins on August 16, and will continue throughout the semester.

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Salt: The Spice of Life

In 1985 Elizabeth Ward made a generous donation to the Rare Book Collection on behalf of her father, Walter Lucius Badger, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. This donation consists of 112 books, newspaper clippings, pictures, and engravings concerning the mining, purification, and general production of salt throughout history. The books were published in either Europe or the U.S. and have publishing dates ranging from 1553 to 1952. This is an exclusively unique assortment of books all pertaining to salt production. The collection contains many volumes that are both exceedingly rare and very interesting. A select few are presented, in brief, here.

Olaus Borrichius’s Hermetis, Aegyptiorum, et chemicorum sapientia ab Hermanni Conringii animadversionibus vindicata (1674) is an important source on the early history of alchemy. This first edition copy is one of few that possess a folding leaf of plates. The plate shown is a copy from a manuscript by Zosimus, one of the most famous alchemists of his time (ca 300 A.D.).1 It depicts one of the earliest known illustrations of a distilling apparatus. Distillation is used to purify a liquid by first volatilizing it to remove impurities, then cooling the vapor, and collecting the resulting liquid.

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Ole Borch, Hermetis, Aegyptiorum, et chemicorum sapientia ab Hermanni Conringii animadversionibus vindicata (Hafniae: Sumptibus Petri Hauboldi, 1674) | QD25 .B73

Another book on alchemy is the RBC’s copy of Limojon de Saint Didier’s and Alexandre Toussaint’s, Le Triomphe hermetique; ou, La pierre philosophale victorieuse (1689). It contains an engraving showing the preparation of the “La pierre philosophale” (the philosopher’s stone), via alchemical processes. The philosopher’s stone is a legendary alchemical substance that was believed to turn abundant and inexpensive metals such as mercury or lead into precious metals like gold or silver. It was also known as the elixir of life for its foretold ability to extend one’s life, rejuvenate, and ultimately provide immortality. The philosopher’s stone was considered the alchemist’s ultimate goal and is often presented as a central symbol of alchemy.

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Extraction of the Philosopher’s Stone. Le triomphe hermetique (Amsterdam: Chez Henry Wetstein, 1689) | QD25 .T75 1689

Finally, the collection includes two books by the mysterious and popular 15th century alchemist Basilius Valentinus: Fratris Basilii Valentini Benedicter Ordens Tractat von dem grossen Stein der Uhralten, daran so viel tausendt Meister Anfangs der Welt hero gemacht haben… (1612) and Basilii Valentini Tractatus chymico-philosophicus De rebus naturalibus & supernaturalibus metallorum & mineralium (1676). These books deal with metals, minerals, and other elements of the natural world as well as the supernatural. In particular, the first outlines the “Twelve Keys” required to open the doors of knowledge of the most ancient stone (philosopher’s stone), thereby unlocking the secret of the fountain of health. In addition to the twelve keys, Valentinus demonstrated considerable chemical knowledge and is well-known for mastering the acquisition of ammonia from ammonium chloride (a salt). Some believe he may have belonged to the Benedictine Priory of Saint Peter in Erfurt, Germany; however, the name “Basilius Valentinus” does not appear on any records until 1600 and is not present on any rolls in Rome or Germany. Modern scholars believe salt manufacturer Johann Thölde may have been a contributing author publishing under the Valentinus alias, but why he chose to do so is unknown.2

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“Synthesis of Alchemy” or the “Hermetic Seal.” Basilius Valentinus, Fratris Basilii Valentini Benedicter Ordens Tractat… ([Leipzig]: Verlegung Jacob Apels Buchhändl, 1612) | QD25 .B37 1612

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“Der Vierste Schlüssel,” meaning “the fourth key”, details the necessity of human flesh, which came from the earth, to be returned to it. From the flesh, the earthly salt will produce a new generation via “celestial resuscitation.”

 

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Basilius Valentinus, Tractatus chymico-philosophicus… (Francofurti ad Moenum: Sumptibus Jacobi Gothofredi Seyler, 1676) | QD25 .B38 1676

1. Source: H. S. El Khadem, “A Translation of Zosimos’ Text in an Arabic Alchemy Book,” Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 84 (1996): 168–178.

2. Source: John Maxson Stillman, “Basil Valentine: A Seventeenth-Century Hoax,” Popular Science, December, 1912. See also: Lawrence M. Principe, The Secrets of Alchemy (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2013).

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Mansfield Park: Texts and Contexts

IMG_1877June 16–19, 2016, marked the fourth annual Jane Austen Summer Program (JASP) at UNC, a yearly event that brings students, scholars, and fans of Austen from across the country for a weekend-long immersion in one of Austen’s novels. JASP’s sophomore rare book exhibition, along with new events at the Ackland Art Museum and the Chapel of the Cross, drew guests to the University of North Carolina’s main campus. The program’s opening thus became an exciting opportunity for patrons to experience many of UNC’s impressive historical repositories.

Mansfield Park: Texts and Contexts,” a one-day exhibition of rare materials drawn from Wilson Library’s Rare Book Collection, was curated by graduate students Rachael Isom and Taras Mikhailiuk, both of the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and featured a special guest label contributed by UNC undergraduate Jacqueline Leibman. With the generous help of Wilson Library staff, we collected 22 items that not only featured selected editions of Austen’s Mansfield Park but also drew on the literary, political, and aesthetic contexts in which Austen composed one of her most culturally conscious, if not always universally admired, novels.

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Visitors view the display the Grand Reading Room of Wilson Library

The more capacious nature of Mansfield Park inspired a decided shift in the structure of this year’s exhibition. Whereas our first exhibition, Emma at 200,” relied on direct textual allusions to recreate the insular world of Emma Woodhouse’s Highbury, “Mansfield Park: Texts and Contexts” sought to present just what its title denotes: a view of Austen’s third novel that remains conscious of, indeed expressive of, the cultural contexts that inform her novel. By dividing the exhibition into five thematic groupings, we were able to touch on several of the cultural conversations of which Austen partakes in Mansfield Park.

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Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1866) | Ticknor PR4034 .M3 1866

In keeping with JASP’s focus on Mansfield Park and its afterlives, the first section presented the novel itself, from Austen’s inspiration for Fanny Price in the poetry of George Crabbe to a first edition of the text and through 150 years of Mansfield Park publications. One of my favorite items appeared in this grouping: the owner of an 1866 Ticknor and Fields edition of Mansfield Park used Austen’s text to refute one of her critics. A well-positioned newspaper clipping proves that Austen does not, as the critic suggests, lack descriptions of natural scenery in her novels. Finding objects like this, where we can see readers’ continued engagement with Austen’s work, made curating this group of texts a fascinating and rewarding experience.

The exhibition’s second section drew literary allusions from Mansfield Park to reconstruct Fanny Price’s reading habits and the formation of her mind. Fanny, like Austen, adores Cowper’s Task and admires Wordsworth’s verses on Tintern Abbey. Patrons were excited to see writings beloved of both the novelist and her heroine.

Another significant literary allusion, though one decidedly not admired by Fanny, is Elizabeth Inchbald’s translation of Lover’s Vows, a text that launched our third section on Regency-era drama and theatrical production. From the Anhalt-Amelia exchange famously rehearsed by Edmund Bertram and Mary Crawford to a copy of Henry VIII that could have been read aloud by Henry Crawford in the Mansfield Park drawing room, this group displayed printed dramatic texts alongside contemporaneous advertisements to demonstrate the importance of performance during this period and within Austen’s text.

The exhibition’s fourth section also displayed several literary texts, but it addressed a more serious subject underlying Austen’s novel and its extant scholarship. Poetry by Hannah More, illustrations by William Blake, essays by William Wilberforce, and the Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano represent multiple genres employed to fight the British slave trade.

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Thomas Hunt, Half a dozen hints on picturesque domestic architecture… (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825) | NA8302 .H9 1825

The final section, primarily comprised of illustrated texts, demonstrated the rage for picturesque touring and architecture during the Regency era. Humphry Repton’s Fragments (1816), an impressive folio with folding hand-colored landscape images, headlined this section, and our undergraduate contributor, Jacqueline Leibman, wrote an outstanding label description for Thomas Hunt’s Designs (1825), placing it in conversation with Repton and other more famous architects. This section also held an item much noted by guests: William Gilpin’s Observations on the Coasts of Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent (1804), a text that describes Fanny Price’s Portsmouth. Unexpected items like these, along with the first editions and famous titles, provided for our guests a well–rounded introduction to the texts and contexts of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.

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Student Jacqueline Leibman (center) and Professor Jeanne Moskal (right) discuss the display

As we reflect on this year’s exhibition, we look forward to again welcoming program participants and members of the UNC-Chapel Hill community to our third annual Wilson Library event next year. The rare book exhibition will join a full weekend of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of Austen’s Persuasion. The fifth annual Jane Austen Summer Program, “Persuasion at 200,” will take place on June 15–18, 2017. For more information, please visit www.janeaustensummer.org.

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The curators offer special thanks to Elizabeth Ott, Anna Morton, and Claudia Funke for their tireless assistance in the development and display of this exhibition, and to Inger Brodey and James Thompson for their support of this year’s Jane Austen Summer Program event.


Rachael Isom is a Ph.D. student at UNC working in 19th-century British literature. Her research examines intersections of spirituality and poetics in women’s texts of the Romantic and Victorian periods. She also serves as assistant editor of the Keats-Shelley Journal and works as a project assistant for the William Blake Archive.

Taras V. Mikhailiuk is a Ph.D. student and Teaching Fellow in English at UNC. His research focuses on the negative poetics of Percy Bysshe Shelley and his fellow Romantic poets. He also serves as the editorial intern for the Keats-Shelley Journal. Taras, his wife, and their four young children live in Durham, NC.

Jacqueline Leibman is an undergraduate student in anthropology and pre-medicine at UNC. She is from Fayetteville, NC, where she graduated first in her class at Reid Ross Classical High School. She also has a strong passion for British literature and history.

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The Return of 2012

On Thursday, the UNC Yucatec Maya Summer Institute visited the Rare Book Collection, as it does every summer, to view relevant holdings, including artists’ books made in Chiapas by Taller Leñateros and historical volumes on the Maya from the George E. and Melinda Y. Stuart Collection. The Institute offers beginning, intermediate, and advanced instruction in modern Yucatec Maya, and the annual visit takes place at the end of Chapel Hill coursework, before students relocate to Yucatan for immersive instruction there.

Teresa Chapa, Latin American, Iberian, and Latina/o Studies Librarian, lectures to students about contemporary Maya artists's books in the Rare Book Collection.

Teresa Chapa, Latin American, Iberian, and Latina/o Studies Librarian, lectures to students about contemporary Maya artists’s books in the Rare Book Collection.

The historical books on display were ones featured in the 2012 Wilson exhibition Ancient and Living Maya in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Archaeological Discovery, Literary Voice, and Political Struggle, an element of the “13 Bak’tun” symposium at UNC. We are pleased to write here that an enhanced online version of the exhibition—which tells the story of the Maya struggle for autonomy and self-expression alongside that of European peoples’ decipherment of Mayan hieroglyphic writing—is now available on the UNC Libraries website: https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/maya/intro

Screen Shot Maya Online

 

 

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Zine Machine Fest

Two Saturdays ago, I had a chance to visit the second annual Zine Machine Fest at the Durham Armory in Durham, NC. I spent the afternoon perusing several aisles of booths arranged with a variety of printed matter including zines, comics, original illustrations, screen prints, buttons, stickers, and more. The Triangle was well-represented by many local artists and artist collectives. Several out-of-state guests attended as well.

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Triangle Printed Matter Club’s booth at Zine Machine Fest

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Zines and stickers by Barefoot Press, Tristan Miller, Brianna Gribben,
and Thomas Sara

Zines are typically small, printed pamphlets centered around a particular topic. (The word “zine” is short for “magazine”—just as zines are shorter versions of magazines.) Zines can trace their beginnings to science fiction “fanzines” of the 1930s. Fanzines were a type of printed media that could be cheaply and quickly produced by amateurs, particularly in subcultural scenes. Zines gained popularity in the mid-twentieth century, coinciding with the Beat Generation and, later, DIY and punk culture. In the 1990s, the Riot Grrrl movement popularized zines as a method of spreading political messages, ideas, and stories, while circumventing mainstream media outlets.

Beatitude

“Beatitude,” one of the first major poetry magazines produced by Beat poets, included poetry by Allen Ginsberg (“Ellen Ginsboig”), Jack Kerouac (“St. Jacques Kanook”), Lawrence Ferlinghetti (“L. Foolingheppi”), and many others whose work mainstream publishers considered too provocative.
Beats PS536 .B37

Today we can find zines on almost any topic imaginable, and in many different formats. At Zine Machine Fest, I encountered poetry, art, and photography zines, as well as those that told personal stories. Many comic artists attended the fair, bringing with them mini comics, which overlap with zines in the DIY publishing realm.

A zine printed by Barefoot Press (Raleigh, NC) using fluorescent ink, viewed here under a blacklight

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“Jetty,” a mini comic by Rio Aubry Taylor (image source)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are several examples of zines and mini comics from the RBC’s collection of Latino comic books. These items show how it can be difficult to draw a line between different types of printed media, be it a personal zine, comic book, or even coloring book, but the media chosen by these artists allow for playful and open discussions of sensitive topics.

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“A Caxcan Guerrilla Takes Over the Awkward Girl,” by Liz Mayorga-Amaya (Spunky Cat Comix, 2011)
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Malchio

“Un chorrito: libro para colorear,” by Malchico (Bogotá: Muestra Rellena, 2009)
PN6790.C7 M373 2009

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Traces of Vitruvius in Game of Thrones

For many avid readers and pop culture enthusiasts, Sunday evening marked an important date this spring: the premier of the long-awaited, much-anticipated Game of Thrones, season 6. Based on George R. R. Martin’s popular novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, the series follows the complex lives and trials of characters who struggle to survive in the dangerous “game of thrones,” where the only options are victory or death. This fantasy world is plagued by war, civil unrest, religious uprising, corrupt politics, dark magic, and more war. These conflicts create a desperate need for weapons, fortresses, and machines of war.

Game of Thrones Season 4 Trailer (via Youtube)

Most, if not all, of these weapons and war machines are inspired by ancient prototypes from our own world history. Vitruvius’s De architectura is an important record and source of modern day knowledge of Roman architecture, design, and military machines. Vitruvius (c. 90–c. 20 BCE) was a Roman military engineer and architect who designed and built structures for the Roman Empire. He served as the military’s head engineer and architect under Julius Caesar from 58 to 51 BCE.

Vitruvius Pollio, De architectura (Venice: Franciscum Franciscium Senensem, & Ioan. Crugher Germanum, 1567) | PA6968 .A2 1567

Written sometime between 30 and 20 BCE, De architectura is the culmination of Vitruvius’s time as a Roman military engineer and his travels throughout Greece, Asia, North Africa, and Gaul. It is a treatise combining the history of ancient architecture and engineering along with his personal experience and advice. The work is comprised of ten books that range from the ideal education of an architect (book one) to the optimal layout of a private home (book six) to machines and gadgets (book ten). Book ten includes detailed instructions for building and using catapults, ballistae, siege engines, and other military machinery.

The scansoria, a device for scaling enemy walls

The oldest surviving copy of De architectura dates to the 8th century, and the first printed copies were produced in Rome in 1486. This particular edition (1567) is the first of its kind, a Latin edition annotated by Daniele Barbaro (1514-1570). It includes illustrations by architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), which were originally produced for Barbaro’s 1566 Italian translation.

Examples of Palladio’s illustrations for some of Vitruvius’s hydraulic machines.

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Remembering Easter 1916

One hundred years ago on Easter Monday (April 24, 1916), members of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army occupied the General Post Office in Dublin. Upwards of 2,000 Irish men and women participated in the Rising.

On the first day of the insurrection, Pádraic Pearse read aloud the Proclamation of the Republic, which stated, “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.”

After six days of fighting against the British Army, the leaders of the Rising surrendered. The seven signatories of the Proclamation, along with nine others who participated in leading the rebellion, were executed.

W. B. Yeats began writing “Easter, 1916” during the last of the executions. According to George Mayhew, the final drafts were completed while Yeats stayed in France with his long-time muse, Maud Gonne, and her daughter Iseult. Gonne’s estranged husband, John MacBride, was one of the executed leaders of the Rising. His death prompted Yeats to propose marriage for the second time to Gonne and then to her daughter; both women rejected him.

Easter, 1916 was privately printed by Clement Shorter in a run of 25 copies for distribution among Yeats’s friends, likely in October or November of 1916. The copy above, held at the University of North Carolina, is numbered 19.

In the poem Yeats struggles with the personal and political complexities of the Rising, and the difficulties of grappling with these within a memorial poem. Gonne wrote to Yeats: “No, I don’t like your poem, it isn’t worthy of you & above all isn’t worthy of the subject.” Today it is the most remembered and read poem of the Easter Rising, particularly for Yeats’s refrain, “A terrible beauty is born.”

“Easter 1916” wasn’t distributed widely until it was printed in The New Statesman October 23, 1920, and then in Yeats’s 1921 volume of poetry, Michael Robartes and the Dancer. The 1916 version reveals its differences upon comparison to the 1921 version.

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“Old and New Humanism(s)” at Wilson

Rare book display at Wilson Library

Rare book display at Wilson Library: Conference co-organizers Michael Clark, second from left, and Mary Learner, second from right; UNC’s hand-colored Vesalius in the foreground (HSL Historical Collection).

This past weekend, the UNC-King’s College London collaboration on medieval and early modern studies had its fifth annual meeting with the theme “Old and New Humanism(s).” Dr. David Baker and Dr. Marsha Collins of UNC’s Department of English and Comparative Literature provided faculty guidance for the two-day graduate-student conference, which included keynote speeches by Dr. Whitney Trettien (UNC-Chapel Hill) and Dr. Lucy Munro (King’s College London).

Following the first panels, participants gathered at Wilson Library on Friday afternoon to view an exhibition of materials from the Rare Book Collection and the Health Sciences Library. Mary Learner and Michael Clark, UNC graduate students and co-organizers of the conference, curated a display that complemented the weekend’s theme, which considered medieval and early modern humanism as a movement to recover the classical past and as an exploration of what it means to be human, with reference to humanist inquiry and the role of the humanities today. The selection of texts was designed to showcase the library’s strong holdings of early printing, including the RBC’s Estienne Imprint Collection, as well as to provide exempla of humanism in manuscript and print.

Thirteen items were on view, organized around three essential components of humanism: classical literature, language learning, and scientific inquiry, particularly anatomy. The first focus, classical and literary texts, included books that use scholarly commentary to facilitate readers’ encounters with literature. For instance, a manuscript of Donatus’ commentary on the Aeneid (1465) was near a printed text of the epic from 1492, which included verses surrounded by the commentary of four writers (including Donatus). Guests could compare how a classical literary text and its scholarly apparatus were presented in manuscript and in print, and this promoted discussion about reading literature in the period.

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Wycliffite bible under glass [ca. 1425] | Ms. 529 supervised

The second focus of the exhibition was the significance of translation and the use of both Latin and the vernacular in humanistic discourse. The display included printed grammars, alphabets, and dictionaries, in a variety of languages such as Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and French. A Wycliffite Bible (1425), one of about 235 that survive today, was on display as an example of the manuscript translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into Middle English.

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Alphabetum Graecum bound with Alphabetum Hebraicu[m] (Paris, 1550) | Estienne P213 A.48 supervised

The majority of sixteenth-century language texts in the exhibition were printed by the Estienne family, scholar-printers who edited multilingual texts and dictionaries for specific professions, such as law or medicine.

Finally, the third section included medical texts that emphasized the role of illustration and innovation in the early modern investigation of the human body. Among the anatomy books was a first edition of De humani corporis fabrica libri septem by Andreas Vesalius (1543) that has a number of illustrations colored by hand. These can be viewed online in a new electronic resource: [http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/vesalius/id/147]

The side-by-side comparison of woodcut illustrations in Vesalius’s and Charles Estienne’s anatomies with engravings in Bartolomeo Eustachi’s editions allowed viewers to see variations in details as rendered by different print technologies. Eustachi’s Opuscula anatomica also contrasted in its use of grids around illustrations, to provide coordinates for locating specific anatomical features.

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Second edition of Eustachi’s landmark work with a printed ruler (attached by string), for use in locating anatomical parts identified in text by their grid coordinates. Eustachi Opuscula Anatomica (Leiden, 1707) / Gottschalk WZ240 E91o 1707

Of course, the lines between the three categories are by no means absolute in humanist study, which emerged from conversations about the materials. Classical poetry and grammars were integral to language learning, and print increasingly made medical and literary knowledge available in the vernacular. And both dictionaries and anatomies relied upon classical authorities. The overlap between these categories served as a reminder of the variety within humanist interests and of the multiple interpretations of humanism, and the selection facilitated an energetic discussion about these topics.  The rare books on display are just a few of the many medieval and early modern texts that scholars may consult at UNC to understand better the explorations of being human in the period.

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Entry for “Homme” in Robert Estienne, Dictionaire francoislatin (Paris, 1549) | Estienne Folio PA2365.F71 E8 1549

Mary Learner is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC. Her research focuses on early modern literature, book history, and digital humanities. She also serves as a Project Assistant for the William Blake Archive.

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Hemingway Delivers First Rand Lecture at Wilson Library

Paintings at the British Institution as discussed in Professor's Hemingway's illustrated lecture.

The British Institution (exterior and interior shown)  discussed in Professor Hemingway’s illustrated lecture.

Wilson Library is pleased to be the venue this week for the UNC Art Department’s 2016 Bettie Allison Rand Lectures, “British Landscape Painting in the Age of Revolution.” On Monday evening, Andrew Hemingway, Professor Emeritus, University College London, delivered the first lecture—”Naturalistic Landscape Painting and the Decline of Deference”—to an audience of eighty. Hemingway discussed naturalistic landscape painting in Britain as it contrasted with the concept of the picturesque and as a product that reflected a scientific approach and changes in the larger economy, social relations, and patronage.

Andrew Hemingway and Daniel Sherman

Professor Hemingway and lecture series organizer Professor Daniel Sherman

It was a nuanced beginning to the topic and challenged simplistic ideas of Romantic expression as well as naturalism. Tonight the series continues with the second of the four lectures, “The Artisanal Worldview in the Painting of John Crome.”

Before the lecture, there was an opening reception, and attendees had the opportunity to see the complementary exhibition in the Saltarelli Exhibit Room, Lyric Impressions: Wordsworth in the Long Nineteenth Century. The catalog for the exhibition, just printed, was available for purchase at the event. It is on sale locally at the Bull’s Head Bookshop and will be distributed far and wide by UNC Press.

Lyric Impressions catalog is now available

The catalog for Lyric Impressions is now available

 

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Salute to St. Patrick’s Day

"St. Patrick's Flag Day ..." London: Johnson, Riddle & Co. | Gray A-99

“St. Patrick’s Flag Day…” London: Johnson, Riddle & Co. | Gray A-99

This World War I-era poster by the Irish Women’s Association calls for the recognition of Irish regiments and their prisoners of war during St. Patrick’s Flag Day (an alternate name for the holiday) on March 17th, 1917. An Irish soldier stands in front of a large shamrock emblem, flanked on each side by the names of the four historical provinces of Ireland: Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connaught.

The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, a major uprising against British rule that took place in various locations throughout Ireland. The event heightened tensions between Britain and Ireland, which would only worsen until the Irish War of Independence erupted just three years later, in January 1919. The poster above was created in the period between the uprising and the beginning of the war.

In the early 20th century, Ireland was governed by home rule, meaning that it was self-governed, but still under the ultimate authority of British rule. The arrangement is clearly demonstrated by RBC’s poster, which was presented by the Irish Women’s Association, an organization based at Kensington Palace in London. This poster represents a short-lived transitional period for Ireland, while also commemorating an important Irish holiday and calling to attention the plight of Irish soldiers.

This poster is part of the Rare Book Collection’s Bowman Gray Collection of World War I and II Graphic Materials, of particular interest as we pass through the centenary of World War I (1914-1918).

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