ARB and the Enlightenment

By: Bridget McCormick, ARB Student Assistant

Thomas PaineOne of the strengths of the rare books collection in the Archives & Rare Books Library is 18th c. British literature, encompassing poetry and drama, history, political treatises, social commentary, and homiletics among several genres. And, these works are complemented by materials for the same time period from the Continent, particularly France and Germany. Brought together, these important volumes highlight the Age of Enlightenment, that period of intellectual development and reasoning that took place in Europe between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. To “enlighten” is to provide knowledge or understanding to and indeed, this chapter of European history introduced significant developments in art, philosophy, science, and politics. Continue reading ARB and the Enlightenment

Tales from the Rare Books Room

By:  Sydney Vollmer

GhostWhat’s more chilling than a good book? Perhaps the ghost that guards them. It’s been awhile since my encounter…but I decided that the world needed to know about our much rumored ghost.

Whether it is a he or she, we cannot say. For the sake of time and space, let’s call it a “he.” He resides in our rare books room here in the Archives & Rare Books Library in Blegen—one level above the library space that is open to the public. Some background on the rare books room:  it’s cold (necessary for preservation), it’s dark, (again, necessary), and it’s spooky (necessary for Ghost and Internpreservation?).  When you get up the stairs and open the massively heavy door, all the lights are off. Each individual row of book shelves has its own light. Last year, one didn’t. Continue reading Tales from the Rare Books Room

Jonesing for Some Good Illustrations

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Winter's Tale CoverIt’s always a surprise what you’ll find when you go up to the rare books room. Last week, Kevin (our head here in the Archives & Rare Books Library) asked me to go find half-a-dozen beautiful Shakespeare volumes for a presentation given to the dean’s advisory committee. I went upstairs. There were the Charles Knight editions. They’re nice, but we’ve done so much with those already. I pulled the Rackham, Dulac, and Thompson volumes, because they’re classic illustrations that everyone enjoys seeing. I still needed at least three volumes…

Winter's Traces, Act 1, Scene 2 Continue reading Jonesing for Some Good Illustrations

Hunting the Bard

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Do you like games? Are you good at finding things? (We’re looking at you, Hufflepuffs!) Know any Shakespeare? GREAT! Join us in our Shakespeare Quote Scavenger Hunt!

On Tuesday, March 29th, we hid 5 Shakespeare Quotes around campus. They could be anywhere! Here’s the idea: You follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the most up-to-date clues. You find one of the quotes we hid. You bring it to the Archives and Rare Books Library on the 8th floor of Blegen. You tell us the Shakespearean work the quote is from. We give you a prize! (And these are good prizes. You want it. Yes. YOU.)

Here are the clues we’ve given so far…Each number corresponds to a different quote and location. Continue reading Hunting the Bard

The Art of Aubrey Beardsley

By:  Bridget McCormick, ARB Student Assistant

Aubrey BeardsleyBorn August 21, 1872 in Brighton, England, illustrator and author Aubrey Beardsley served as a prominent, albeit controversial, figure within the London Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements of the late 19th century.

Relocating to London with his family in 1883 when he was eleven years old, an adolescent Beardsley began to study drawing and literary arts while still in primary school. It was not until 1892, however, when he attended formal classes at the Westminster School of Art that Beardsley decided to pick up art as a profession. He most often worked in a plain black and white style, with the detailed application of black ink. His most famous illustrations depict themes of history and mythology. Examples of such works can be seen in Beardsley’s illustrations for his contemporary Oscar Wilde’s play, Salome (1891). Continue reading The Art of Aubrey Beardsley

What IS-A WSC?

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

rackham-title-1ISA, a much friendlier acronym than another “IS” we know, stands for the International Shakespeare Association. Why wouldn’t the world have an ISA? It’s one of those organizations I always assumed exists, but in that unspoken sort of way. As it turns out, I was incorrect, as this organization is very much established.

The idea was conceived during a World Shakespeare Congress (more on that in a bit) held in Vancouver in 1971. Since then, the organization has evolved with the mission of:

Offer[ing] an opportunity for individuals and institutions to join together to further the knowledge of Shakespeare throughout the world… The ISA’s central commitments are to advance the education of the public by furthering the study of Shakespeare’s life and work by such means as the Trustees determine, including by:

  • Organising, holding, and promoting participation in the World Shakespeare Congress and disseminating the learning from that event;
  • Offering advice and assisting in the establishment of national or regional Shakespeare associations. (WSC 2016).

Continue reading What IS-A WSC?

It’s Hard to be a Woman: Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroines

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Cordelia, Desdemona, Juliet, Lavinia, and Ophelia: What do these strange names have in common? For one, they are all women in Shakespeare’s plays, as you might have guessed. More specifically, they are all characters from his tragedies. Based on their individual circumstances, it’s easy to see that Shakespeare was not kind to his women—but to be fair, he wasn’t very kind to the men in these plays either. Even so, I’d like to point out that none of these women died because they did something wrong. Most of these women died as a result of men acting irrationally. Most of them were pawns in games of power Laviniaor revenge. At least the men died because they were the ones that did something stupid, so some of them kind of deserved it. It’s hard to discern the order in which to rank these undeserved tragedies, but I’m going to go ahead and let Lavinia take the crown.

Poor Lavinia, from the devastating tragedy of Titus Andronicus, is the daughter of the play’s namesake. Her father deals in some shady business about who he is going to have her marry, and it ends with her being dragged through the woods by three men. It’s pretty easy to guess what they wanted to do with her in the woods. After they each had their fill, they cut off her hands and slit her tongue out of her mouth so she couldn’t reveal what had happened. Eventually, she was able to write out what had become of her by holding a stick in her mouth and writing in the dirt. Enraged, her father took revenge on the men. Then he realized that since his daughter was no longer innocent and this had happened out of wedlock, she was not fit for life. He then killed his daughter whom he had just worked so hard to avenge. Feel free to argue that another woman on this list had it worse, but I’m pretty sure we’re all in agreement on this one. Continue reading It’s Hard to be a Woman: Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroines

Hamlet Goes To The Movies

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Nine. NINE Hamlet adaptations worldwide listed on iMDb (Internet Movie Database)! The adaptations range from a traditional version filmed in England to a modern-day (well, 2000s), New York City adaptation. I’ve listed the films below in chronological order. Before I get started, let me make it abundantly clear that I have never ever seen any of these movies. The closest I’ve come is The Lion King, and even that was years ago. Even so, I’m going to make comments on these given the little information I have. What I find most interesting is the progression of ratings: Unrated, G, PG, PG-13, R. What?? Did they not show fighting and death in the G-rated version? If not, they royally screwed with the storyline.

1948: UK
2h 35m
Unrated

The first adaptation noted was filmed in the UK in 1948. Hamlet was played by actor Laurence Olivier. The only other particularly notable talent in the movie was Jean Simmons who played Ophelia. Other than that, there’s not much to say about this one. Continue reading Hamlet Goes To The Movies

Was Shakespeare an Inspiration for UC’s Alma Mater?

By:  Kevin Grace

William ShakespeareWho knows for sure? As we celebrate the quadricentennial of the playwright’s death this year by exploring our Shakespeare holdings in the Archives & Rare Books Library, we tend to run across the many phrases and words that he coined or brought into the common lexicon. And, one of those is “Tower of Strength.” Continue reading Was Shakespeare an Inspiration for UC’s Alma Mater?