Talking About “Style” and the UC Alum Behind It

By:  Kevin Grace

Strunk Cover     If you took a composition course in America, chances are you were faced with the seminal book in writing well, William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style.  And if you were fortunate, you had a high school teacher or college professor whose teaching could match the plain elegance and helpful guideposts of this little book.  The Elements of Style is arguably the most referenced guide to writing in American education.

But how many of us know the story behind this famous text?  Chances are we’re all familiar with E.B. White, the decades-long columnist for the New Yorker and the author of modern classics like Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, One Man’s Meat, The Second Tree From the Corner and a host of other books.  Curmudgeonly almost to a fault and a writer with uncommon regard for the simple declarative sentence, White was one of the great literary stylists of the 20th century.  And William Strunk?  He happened to be an English professor at Cornell University during White’s undergraduate days, White graduating from Cornell in 1921.  Strunk developed a little handbook for writing that he used in his classes and decades later White wrote an essay for The New Yorker about Strunk’s lessons for usage and style.  At the urging of a publisher, White revised Strunk’s work, added an introduction and The Elements of Style was born.

William Strunk

William Strunk, Jr.

Now to the University of Cincinnati connection: William Strunk, Jr., the author of this famous guide, grew up in Cincinnati and was an 1890 graduate of UC.  For the Archives & Rare Books Library’s “50 Minutes” lunchtime series of talks, Greg Hand returns to campus on Thursday, February 22, to relate in his well-informed fashion the story of Mr. William Strunk, and an interesting one it is.  As always, Mr. Hand tells his tales with great aplomb and guaranteed satisfaction for all, earning the favor of everyone in attendance.  He will speak of facts and fictions, of parodies and paradoxes, and if he were to offer an elegant phrase or two of his own, we would not mind in the least.  The talk begins at 12:00 noon in Room 814 of Blegen Library and will last until everyone is ushered out around 1 pm.  Bring your lunch, a friend, and acceptable manners (note the Oxford comma).  There will also be a random drawing of select and relevant books.

Final ARB "50 Minute" Talk of the Academic Year is Set

By:  Kevin Grace

Music Hall LadiesOur 2014-2015 “50 Minutes” series wraps up this month with a fascinating look at Cincinnati’s “Frail Sisterhood”: Nineteenth-Century Prostitutes of the Queen City

Throughout Cincinnati’s first 100 years, prostitution was common and leading prostitutes and madams were well known. Although labeled the “Frail Sisterhood,” these “Women of the Town” were anything but frail, carving out a transgressive community run by women, providing resources and services unavailable in the male-dominated society of the time.

Ladies of the TownAt noon on Thursday, April 16, Greg Hand will provide an overview of Cincinnati’s Victorian demimonde, highlighting some of the city’s most notorious brothels and introducing some of the colorful and infamous characters.  Hand retired in 2014 as associate vice president for public relations at the University of Cincinnati. He was a reporter and editor for several weekly newspapers in Cincinnati and has co-authored three books on UC history. He currently operates the “Cincinnati Curiosities” blog at

Please join us for what promises to be a wonderfully unusual Cincinnati experience.  Bring your lunch, bring your friends!


Next Up for the "50 Minutes" Talk – Rod Serling

By:  Kevin Grace

This 50 Minute Talk has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for Fall 2015.

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call … The Twilight Zone.

Burgess Meredith in The Twilight ZoneIt is one of the most famous television intros in history, Rod Serling’s doorway into fantasy and science fiction that opened each episode of his iconic series.  Born in Syracuse, New York, educated at Antioch College, and beginning his writing career in Cincinnati first at WLW and then at WKRC, Serling’s sober demeanor and bizarre imagination later gave rise to a generation of twisting tales and thought-provoking storylines in The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.

Please join us on Wednesday, March 11, at noon in 814 Blegen as we look at Serling’s Cincinnati years and his close connection to the College of Music (pre-merger with the Conservatory of Music and later addition to the University of Cincinnati as CCM).  We will also view one of Serling’s classic episodes, Time Enough at Last, featuring Burgess Meredith as a book-loving man who finally realizes his dream of being able to read as much as and whenever he wants, only to fall victim to a tragic twist of fate.

50 Minutes March 2015


"50 Minute Talk" in ARB this Thursday January 8

Fresh back from the holidays, the 50 Minute Talk series in the Archives & Rare Books Library will kick off 2015 with a presentation by Eira Tansey on Lois Lowry’s classic dystopian novel, The Giver on Thursday January 8. Later in the month, UC professor Bob Miller will talk about the World War II years at the University of Cincinnati.  Please join us for these informal noon get-togethers.  Bring your lunch, invite a friend, and enjoy some good conversation and opinions. Continue reading

ARB's "50 Minute Talk" in January

Fresh back from the holidays, the 50 Minute Talk series in the Archives & Rare Books Library will kick off 2015 with a presentation by Eira Tansey on Lois Lowry’s classic dystopian novel, The Giver on Thursday January 8. Later in the month, UC professor Bob Miller will talk about the World War II years at the University of Cincinnati.  Please join us for these informal noon get-togethers.  Bring your lunch, invite a friend, and enjoy some good conversation and opinions.

50 Minutes Talk - January 2015


ARB’s " 50 Minute Talk" in October Features Edgar Allan Poe

By:  Kevin Grace

Last year around Halloween, the Archives & Rare Books Library’s “50 Minutes” program featured Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, looking at the book’s heritage through illustrated editions as well as viewing the novel in terms of the history of science.  It was all part of a rare books tribute to Halloween and iconic fright.

So this year, we’ll continue the tradition of classic scary stuff by discussing Edgar Allan Poe’s dark poem, “The Raven.”  How Poe and his poem have been portrayed in pop culture and American literature will be presented, along with some Poe titles from the Rare Books Collection.  And since it is all in good fun, what would a Poe program be without plenty of Halloween candy and a few door prizes?

Please join us on Friday, October 17, at noon in 814 Blegen Library.  Bring your friends, bring your lunch, bring an appetite for the awful.  Throughout October, we’ll also be posting several blogs on this master of the macabre.

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…”

50 Minutes October 2014

RESCHEDULED – ARB’s "50 Minutes" Lunchtime Series Returns for the 2014-2015 Academic Year

By:  Kevin Grace

This presentation has been rescheduled for TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25.  The series of monthly talks in the Archives & Rare Books Library will return this fall  for its fifth year.  Each month at noon, ARB holds a casual presentation in 814 Blegen Library with a focus on its collections, local heritage, or book history.  In the past, we’ve hosted talks ranging from the Depression-era Cincinnati WPA guide to the smallest book in the world, from Frankenstein to a book bound in human skin, from William Blake to John Milton; and from Don Quixote to the Arabian Nights.  Our presentation originally scheduled for Wednesday, August 27 has been rescheduled for Tuesday November 25.  This presentation will be about rare books and coffee, looking at how coffee production, trade, heritage, and lore have been portrayed by ethnographers, historians, and explorers.

Please join us for this 50 Minutes-One Book talk.  Bring your lunch and your conversation, and of course, coffee will be served!  Other upcoming presentations include the first female graduate of UC back in 1878; Irish poetry during the Great War, the Easter Rising, and the Irish Civil War; UC during World War II; the Hellfire clubs of the 18th century; and fairy tale and fantasy illustrators.  We are also open to any ideas or presenters for these talks.

50 Minutes November


ARB's Final Lunchtime Lecture for 2013-2014

By:  Kevin Grace

McCay Little NemoThe Archives & Rare Books Library will hold its final “50 Minutes-1 Book” presentation of the academic year on Thursday, April 17, at 12 noon in 814 Blegen Library.  Greg Hand, associate vice president for Government Relations and University Communications, will talk about Winsor McCay, a recognized pioneer of American comic strips.   McCay’s genius as an artist, cartoonist and animator has been hailed by Maurice Sendak and celebrated by a “Google Doodle.” His “Little Nemo In Slumberland” is recognized as the pinnacle of comic strip art and his “Gertie The Dinosaur” was unsurpassed until the Golden Age of Walt Disney and Chuck Jones. It is little known that McCay spent 13 years in Cincinnati. Continue reading

50 Minutes-1 Book: Arabian Nights and the Middle East

On January 16 , the Archives and Rare Books Library will host its first 50 Minutes-One Book lunchtime talk of 2014.  Elizabeth Frierson, Associate Professor in UC’s Department of History will present,  “A Thousand Nights and a Night: The Arabian Nights and the Middle East.”  Bring your lunch and join us at Noon in the Schott Seminar Room, 814 Blegen Library.

50 minutes - Arabian