24
Apr

King John in the Library

   Posted by: rring   in Events, Shakespeare, students

Goff0001On Wednesday (the eve of Shakespeare’s birthday) the Watkinson (producer) paired up with volunteers from Dan Lloyd’s “Shakespeare as Philosopher” class (cast) and area teaching artist Christin Goff (Director) to perform a staged reading of King John.

KJcastThe players performed to a small but dedicated audience–augmented by a few floaters after intermission, who doubtless came to see what all the fuss was about. The production was augmented by inter-scene and intermission music, live bongo drums (for dramatic affect), and projected slides which provided a visual gloss, of sorts, to the action, which at times can be unclear (this is not one of the more well-known plays). However, the text was edited by Ms. Goff for the performance, which helped the flow and pacing of the play, and the name-cards displayed when a character was speaking also helped.

KJ directorKJ bastard speaksThis was the first in what we plan will be a series of productions of Shakespeare sponsored by the Watkinson, to draw attention to the recently acquired and restored “2nd Folio” (the second edition of the first publication of the complete plays of Shakespeare, printed in 1632).

We thank professor Lloyd & his class for their hard work!

PowerPoint Presentation

22
Apr

Second Annual Writing Residency

   Posted by: rring   in Events, Prizes and Awards, students

David FieldI am pleased to announce that David Field ’15 is this year’s awardee of the South Beach Writing Residency, offered by the family of Hyam Plutzik ’32.

David is an English major originally from Franklin, MA, with a focus on creative writing, rhetoric, and media arts. He has written two novels, and was a recipient of a Watkinson Creative Fellowship in the Spring of 2014. He plans to attend an MFA program after Trinity and to teach creative writing at the college level.

The Family of Hyam Plutzik (Trinity ’32) offers an annual residency (for five years, beginning in Spring 2014) in South Beach in the Betsy Writers Room to a graduating senior with outstanding talent in the literary arts.  The award is given in May, as part of the graduation program (Honors Day).  This residency comes with a $500 travel stipend, six days lodging, and a per diem of $50. During the residency, which can happen anytime during the award year (June-April), the recipient will be invited to participate in an Arts Salon to share his/her work with the community; planning will be done in close partnership with the visiting artist.  The residency will be awarded annually by the Head Curator and Librarian of the Watkinson, in consultation with College advisers, for a residency to be scheduled directly with the Betsy Writers Room.

.Betsy south beach

PaulLast night the English Department sponsored an event in the Watkinson to help us celebrate the gift of two archives (now processed and ready for researchers) by retired professor Paul Lauter.

The larger of the two archives are 25 boxes of files and papers related to the formation and production of the Heath Anthology of American Literature, now in its eighth edition. The Heath Anthology  began in 1984 as a project of The Feminist Press called Reconstructing American Literature (RAL).  The literary “canon,” according to Lauter and his collaborators, had long overlooked the writings of most women and people of color.  Beginning at the 1968 meeting of the Modern Language Association, activist conference participants argued for a more inclusive and diverse understanding of American literature.  Lauter was a leader in this groundbreaking endeavor, from which the RAL project and ultimately an entirely new anthology emerged.

stuffAmong the categories in the Lauter collection are African American, Asian American, Latino/a, and Native American writings, organizations like MELUS (Multiethnic Literature of the United States), traditionally significant authors like Melville, Multiculturalism, Secondary School projects (for changes in high school curricula) and Teaching. The Teaching folders feature syllabi developed for the Heath Anthology  along with articles by Paul Lauter and other members of the Heath editorial board on such topics as using the anthology and teaching lesser-known writers and multicultural literature.  Also included are copies of a biannual newsletter produced by the publisher, DC Heath, to promote the anthology and to help faculty teach its breadth of literary texts.  54 folders labelled “Miscellaneous” offer access to varied works by authors considered for the anthology, searchable by last names.  The Heath Anthology  is, in fact, part of a revolution in the study and teaching of American literature.

IMG_3119“In putting together the Heath,” Paul Lauter wrote, “we wished to represent what we perceived to be the rich diversity of American cultures, [especially] the significance of gender, race, and class to the shaping and reception of literary texts.”crowd

The second collection is the Paul Lauter ‘Sixties Archive, comprising fourteen boxes which contain correspondence, pamphlets, newspapers, books, and flyers from organizations like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), New University Conference (NUC), American Friends Service Committee, U.S. Servicemen’s Fund, and the Feminist Press.  Lauter, who was active in all of those organizations, also collected materials on the anti-Vietnam-war movement, including draft resistance and GI peace activity, the feminist, civil rights, and LGBT movements of the time, and student activism more generally.

Hager & Gacring1

3
Apr

To Keep or Not to Keep?

   Posted by: rring   in book history, Classes, students

IMG_3039As an exercise in analyzing the artifact, Jonathan Elukin’s Honors Seminar on the History of the Book (FYSM 256) recently examined two works from our collections which occur in, shall we say, multiple “instances.” Four copies of two editions of the so-called Nuremberg Chronicle, (German and Latin), published in 1493 . . . and five editions of Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia, all printed in Basel, 1550 ; 1558; 1559; 1568; and 1574.

IMG_3037The question we put to the students: Why do we need multiple copies of an edition of a work, or even multiple editions of the same work? What (if anything) can each copy of each edition “teach” us?

The students did an excellent job of examining the various aspects of the books, which included marginalia, binding, rubrication, hand-colored illustrations, observations about linguistic changes over time, and other factors crucial to the study of what kinds of information was available to Europeans about the world in the Renaissance, and the modes of the production and distribution of that information.

Not only did we decide to keep all of the copies, they convinced me that I should try to acquire (by gift or purchase) more editions of the Cosmographia! Since complete copies of 16thC editions run into five figures these days, this may take a while…

IMG_3040The most gratifying part of all this, of course, is to be able to provide such a fully equipped “laboratory of the humanities” for Trinity students. The rare book collections in the Watkinson are equal to, and most often exceed, those of our “peer” schools, and is a true point of pride for Trinity.

 

3
Apr

Staged reading of King John

   Posted by: rring   in Events, Shakespeare, students

rr0001This evening is the first meeting of players from prof. Dan Lloyd’s “Shakespeare as Philosopher” (PHIL 254) class who have agreed to participate in a staged reading of The Life and Death of King John, a play not often performed in modern times.

IMG_3042We are sponsoring this performance for two reasons: to herald the acquisition (in spring 2012) and restoration (in spring 2015) of the so-called “2nd Folio” of Shakespeare; and also to herald our fall exhibition honoring the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which King John put his royal seal to in 1215, and to which Connecticut can honorably trace its constitutionalism.

The PERFORMANCE will be on April 22, at 7:00pm in the Joslin Family 1823 Room.

IMG_3031We are fortunate indeed to own a fabulous resource for the study of native Mexican culture, which came to my attention (as many things do) when a professor “discovered” we had it and asked to bring in a class to see it. Professor Chris Couch brought his American Studies (870) class on artistic and linguistic traditions of Native Americans (primarily North- and Central America) to look at this and other sources in the Watkinson.

Antiquities of Mexico (London, 1831-1848, 9 volumes), compiled by Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough (1795-1837). Its publisher was Robert Havell (of Audubon fame).

img135This copy was donated to the Watkinson Library in the spring of 1910 by the Rev. Dr. Melancthon Williams Jacobus (1855-1937), and his wife, Clara May, whom he married in Hartford in 1896. Jacobus was a Pennsylvania-born graduate of Princeton (class of 1877), who studied at the Princeton Theological Seminary (1878-81) and abroad at Gottingen and Berlin. In 1884 he became pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Oxford, PA until 1891, when he  came to the Hartford Theological Seminary to take the position of Hosmer Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Criticism, retiring to emeritus in 1928. He was a Trustee of the Watkinson for 31 years, from 1906-37, was a generous donor of books and supplies, and served as Board President from 1924-35. In 1916 he was instrumental in founding the Kingswood academy (now Kingswood Oxford School) in West Hartford, donating 18 acres of land for the campus.

 

[The following is quoted in full from a London bookseller's excellent description of a copy currently on the market]IMG_3032

The greatest illustrated work on Mexican antiquities. Supported by Sir Thomas Phillipps – many of whose manuscripts are described in the Antiquities – Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough (1795 – 1837), who first became fascinated by Mexican artifacts whilst studying at Oxford, employed the Italian painter Augustine Aglio to scour Europe’s greatest libraries and private collections for Mexican manuscripts. Aglio sketched and later lithographed these manuscripts for publication here in Kingsborough’s magnum opus. Although Kingsborough’s intention was to prove that the indigenous people of the Americas were a lost tribe of Israel, he inadvertently produced one of the most important books on the architecture and extant codices of Central America and Mexico ever produced. The cost of producing the work was enormous and Kingsborough reportedly spent more than £32,000, driving him into bankruptcy and debtor’s prison as well as litigation with Phillips. Kingsborough died of typhoid contracted while in prison for a debt to a paper manufacturer mere months before he inherited the estate, with an annual income of £40,000, of his father, the Duke of Kingston. This set is from the Havell issue: Aglio began publication of the first five volumes in 1830 but later, in 1831, transferred publication to Havell and Colnaghi who printed newer title pages. Besides Aglio’s reproductions of manuscripts in the Bodleian, the Vatican Library, the Imperial Library of Vienna, the Library of the Institute at Bologna, and the royal libraries of Berlin, Dresden, and Budapest, the work includes Dupaix’s ‘Monuments of New Spain’ (‘the first drawings of Maya architecture to be published’, Wauchope), taken from Castaneda’s original drawings, and descriptions of sculptures and artifacts from several private collections. The text, with sections in Spanish, English, French, and Italian, includes Sahagun’s ‘Historia General de la Nueva Espana’ and the chronicles of Tezozomoc and Ixtlilxochitl.

I’d like to notice two editions of John Gerard’s (1545-1612) famous herbal in the Watkinson:

Gerard0005The Herball; or, Generall Historie of Plantes (London, 1597), and The Herball, or General Historie of Plantes . . . very much enlarged and amended (London, 1636).

[The following description is quoted directly from the antiquarian firm Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts, which was describing another copy for sale]

The story is famous: John Norton, Queen’s printer, wished to bring out an English language version of Dodoen’s Pemptades of 1583 and hired a certain “Dr. Priest” to do so, but the translator died with the work only partially done. A copy of the manuscript translation made its way into John Gerard’s hands and he seized the opportunity, reorganizing the contents, obscuring the previous translator’s contribution, incorporating aspects of Rembert and Cruydenboeck’s works, and commandeering the result as his own.

Gerard abandoned Dodoen’s classification, opting for l’Obel’s instead, and, in a stroke of ambition and brilliance, illustrated the work with more than 2,500 woodcuts of plants. Many of these are large and all are attractive but more than a few were of plants he himself did not know, thus leading to considerable confusion between illustration and text in the earliest editions, this being third overall and the second with Thomas Johnson’s additions and amendments.

Gerard0004For both Johnson editions a large number of the woodcuts were obtained from the famous Leyden printing and publishing firm of Moretus, successors to the highly famous firm of Plantin. As Johnston notes: “Most of the cuts were those used in the botanicals published by Plantin, although a number of new woodcuts were added after drawings by Johnson and Goodyer” (Cleveland Herbal . . . Collections, #185). The large thick volume begins with a handsome engraved title-page by John Payne incorporating a bust of the author, urns with flowers and herbs, and full-length seated images of Dioscorides and Theophrastus and of Ceres and Pomona. Replacing the missing initial blank is a later leaf on which is mounted a large engraving of Gerard. The text is printed in italic, roman, and gothic type.

There is, to us, a surprising and very interesting section on grapes and wines. The first part of our caption delights partly in discovery that maize, the “corn” of the U.S., is here called “turkey wheat” — with further note that you can make bread of it, but that the result is pleasing only to “barbarous” tastes! The entry as a whole shows Gerard at his characteristic best, at once scientifically systematic and engagingly discursive.

 

img128About 15 years ago we acquired this “carte-de-visite” photograph, taken in the early 1860s, of the “View from Trinity College of the City of Hartford.” This is from the site of the old campus, now inhabited by the State Capitol, looking down across Bushnell Park towards Main Street.

Prescott & Gage (the photographers) were in business from 1861-1865, and Trinity moved its campus from the site in the 1870s.

img130

17
Feb

Help us restore the Bard!

   Posted by: rring   in Preservation & Conservation, Shakespeare

2nf Folio bindingAs many of our readers know we acquired a “2nd Folio” of Shakespeare in 2012–the second edition (1632) of the first complete collection of the Bard’s plays ever printed (the first was in 1623). This copy resided in the possession of one family for generations–back to the mid-19th century, in fact–and although they took care of it, nothing in the way of conservation has been done to the book in over 150 years.

The 19thC binding is falling apart, the sewing is coming undone, there are water stains, inactive mold, paint and ink marks, food remains, and just a general level of grime present all through the book. Every page must be cleaned with brushes and dry-cleaning erasers, tears in the pages mended with Japanese paper, older (and clumsier) repairs must be fixed or undone and re-done, and fragile edges reinforced so that the binder can put it all back together (including facsimiles of the seven missing leaves).

We have selected Marie Oedel as our conservator–who serves in that capacity to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Library (please see her website for her many credentials). Our binder is Sam Ellenport, a master of his craft who ran the Harcourt Bindery in Boston for 40 years.

Our goal is to raise $5,000 for this project–please e-mail richard.ring@trincoll.edu if you would like to help!

Here are some pics of water damage, mold, and tears present in the book:

IMG_8647IMG_8593IMG_8585

17
Feb

19thC American almanacs

   Posted by: rring   in Americana, book history, New acquisition

IMG_3022Our major acquisition effort this year has been to amass a research collection of  American almanacs, primarily from the nineteenth-century. This array of over 1,100 almanacs came from three sources (two dealers, and one private collection); they were printed in thirteen (13) different states, and range in date from 1782-1924, but the bulk of them (90%) date from 1801-1885.

Prior to this acquisition, the Watkinson held about 85 American almanacs dating from 1675-1875, and of course, through the College Library’s subscription to Early American Imprints, Series I & II, we have online access to some 4,800 American almanacs printed prior to 1819. Our 19th-century holdings, however, were rather anemic. Some 10,000 titles in millions of copies were published throughout the 19thC, so now we can at least say that we have a significant sample for research purposes.

As towns grew along the coasts and rivers and highways of young America, each larger settlement had its printer, who produced local almanacs every fall, from which his profits covered many of his expenses. Not only do they contain calenders, astronomical calculations and astrological information, they also include moral and religious advice, scientific observations, historical and political information, medicine, cookery, weather predictions, geography, poetry, anecdotes, and information related to government, schools, transportation, and business. following is a breakdown of the collection, in terms of state of origin, number of titles, and inclusive dates of publication (i.e., “Massachusetts (287) 1755-1860″ means that we have 287 almanacs with various titles printed in Massachusetts published between 1755 and 1860)

Massachusetts (287) 1755-1860; Connecticut (245) 1796-1873; New York (227) 1793-1885; Pennsylvania (148) 1794-1861; New Hampshire (124) 1804-1871; Maine (32) 1826-1924; Maryland (17) 1811-1860; Rhode Island (17) 1782-1849; New Jersey (12) 1828-1881; Vermont (8) 1808-1858; Virginia (6) 1841-1856); Delaware (3) 1823-1824; Ohio (3) 1843-1856.