The Sleep Cycle Comes to an End

By Lauren Fink, ARB Intern, 2011-2012

As the school year comes to a close today so does my internship at the Archives & Rare Books Library.  Throughout my internship I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and have truly come to appreciate the role the Archives & Rare Books Library plays in documenting Cincinnati’s history.  Not originally from this town, through processing the Nelson and Florence Hoffman Cincinnati Post Card Collection and The Gaylord Oscar Shepherd Collection of Strobridge Lithography Company Calendar Cards, I was able learn about Cincinnati’s rich past and all of the events and people that gave rise to the present culture of the city.

Strobridge Calendar Card August 1896Postcard showing Cincinnati Art MuseumPostcard Showing Cincinnati's Coney IslandStrobridge Calendar Card for July 1902

My current project, on sleep and dreams in ARB, has just wrapped up and is available for viewing here:  I must admit that though this project was directly in line with my interests and was of my own devising, I was overwhelmed with where to start and what to include in the exhibit.  My main inspiration came from a book that I came across while browsing ARB’s extensive Native American Collection entitled The Dream Seekers by Lee Irwin.  In it, Irwin discusses the role of dreams and visions in A Stack of Books about DreamsNative American society and religion.  He explains how, for the Native Americans, dreaming and waking life were not two separate entities; experience was enfolded within itself and all experiences were revered equally.  Inspired by this book, I wanted to explore how dreams had shaped other cultures and genres of writing.  I quickly found, however, that most of ARB’s books related to sleep and dreams were from the perspective of Western science.  Treatises from the 1800s, through Freud’s papers, to UC’s faculty publications abound, but finding books related to dreams in other cultures was quite difficult.  I didn’t want to expand too far into the realm of fiction because then the mass amount of relevant books would be endless – Dante’s Inferno, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and so on.  In the end I chose to focus on more scientific writings and to refer to other ARB collections as they related to the special topics I had chosen.  I hope that my web exhibit will provide viewers with a glimpse of all that ARB has to offer and how ARB’s holding can be tailored to suit anyone’s specific interests.

My experience this year at ARB has not only influenced my summer plans, but also the projects I have completed for various classes. For instance, part of my final project for my percussion literature class was to compose a piece inspired by the 20th Century graphic notation we had studied in class. I chose to use a passage from Irwin’s text for this project and, because I have learned how to use Microsoft Publisher during my internship, was easily able to transform Irwin’s text into a format readable from any direction (in the style of Earl Brown).  Because Irwin’s text refers to the enfolded nature of lived and dreamed experience I chose to represent sound with colors and shapes that would hopefully mirror this multi-dimensionality.

Though I will be taking the summer off to work on the John Cage/Van Meter project and to do Parkinson’s research in a neuroscience lab on medical campus, I will be back at ARB in the fall and am looking forward to all that I will discover here next year.