Author Archives: Sandra Levy, Associate Slavic Librarian

World War I – the Eastern Front: on the front and in their own words

The Joseph Regenstein Library, Second Floor
January 19 – May 16, 2016

Deatail of handwritten text from Franz Eberls KriegstagebuchThrough the course of World War I, many,  from diverse points of view, felt the need to comment immediately upon their experiences in war. In this one-case exhibit one can find a few samplings of such text from the University of Chicago Library’s collections.

New online resource: Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library Biblical Texts

Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library Biblical TextsThe researchers at the University of Chicago now have online access to the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library Biblical Texts through Brill. The database includes high resolution images of the biblical texts discovered in the Judean desert along with a side-by-side comparison of Hebrew transcription, English translation and the text of the Leningrad Codex. Until now, this content was only accessible electronically through the CD-ROM version published in 1999. Through the online database, researchers are able to search across the entire content, link between texts and download images of scrolls either on or off-campus. Included at this time is the Revised List of Texts from the Judean Desert (2010) that includes non-biblical texts, though these are currently not available to read online. Since the database is published by Brill, researchers can simultaneously access related databases published by Brill, such as The Context of Scripture online or the Coptic Gnostic Library online. Any questions can be directed to Anne K. Knafl, Bibliographer for Religion and Philosophy.

The display of a fragment from Genesis 19:27-28 from the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library Online.

The display of a fragment from Genesis 19:27-28 from the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library Online.

 

Yiddish in Chicago: A History of Publishing

The Joseph Regenstein Library, Third Floor
January 8 through March 20, 2016

Title page of Yiddish book, Antologye

Figure 1: Title page of Antologye: mitvest-mayrev [Anthology: Midwest-West], eds. Mates Daytsh, Ben Sholem and Shloyme Shvarts (Chicago: Farlag Tseshinski, 1933).

“When I publish a pretty book,” wrote L.M. Shteyn in 1929, “I believe it is with the greatest respect and love for the Yiddish book,” (Sara Abrevaya Stein, Jewish Social Studies 3:3 [1997], 89). Indeed, ever since the Ukrainian-born Shteyn had opened his Chicago publishing house, he had championed a diverse catalog of illustrated volumes. Radical philosophical essays, an anthology of regional poetry (Fig. 1) and dramatic verse plays all emerged under Shteyn’s editorial eye—each accompanied by graphics, drawings or woodcuts that remain visually striking nearly a century after their commission.

Visitors to the third floor of Regenstein Library will have a chance to see a selection of these and other thoughtfully-designed Yiddish books exhibited in three display cases. In addition to Shteyn’s operations, there existed no fewer than thirteen publishing houses in Chicago by 1940. They ranged in size as well as ideological affiliation. In 1923, for example, the Naye Gezelshaft (New Society) sponsored a Yiddish translation of Baruch Spinoza’s 1677 philosophical treatise, Ethics. Over a decade later, the Arbeter Velt (Workers’ World) brought out a collection of children’s poetry by Moyshe Bogdansky, a teacher in the local Yiddish school system run by the Workmen’s Circle.

Title page of Yiddish book, Yizker-bukh

Figure 2: Title page of Yizker-bukh fun der Zshelekhover Yidisher kehile (Chicago: Tsentraler Zshelekhover Landsmanshaft in Chicago, 1953). Today, Żelechów, Poland.

The proliferation of Yiddish texts in Chicago also flourished outside the framework of established publishing houses. After World War II, there was a boom in Yiddish self-publishing. Some of these efforts produced yizker-bikher—memorial books commemorating those Jewish communities that had been destroyed. Survivors and émigrés pooled their resources in order to produce large-format illustrated volumes, such as the one printed in memory of the Jews of Żelechów, Poland (Fig. 2) that is currently on display.

From yizker-bikher to Spinoza’s Ethics to modernist poetry, “Yiddish in Chicago: A History of Publishing” offers visitors a glimpse into the multilingual history of the Windy City and the breadth of Yiddish cultural activity that once helped energize Chicago’s intellectual life.

A Philosophy of Education: An Exhibit in Memory of Philip W. Jackson (1928-2015)

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: November 12 – December 31, 2015

Jackson in his office, circa 1965

Philip W. Jackson
circa 1965. (University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center, apf1-05214)

Philip W. Jackson spent a lifetime in education; as a researcher, a philosopher and an educator. According to his former student, Catharine Bell (PhD ’07), he “believed children have the capacity to see the wonderful in the ordinary.” An exhibit containing exemplars of his work is currently on display in a single exhibit case in the Joseph Regenstein Library.

Jackson, the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Education, Psychology and the College, received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Columbia in 1955 and joined the University of Chicago faculty the following year. His first book, co-authored by Jacob Getzels, Creativity and Intelligence: Explorations with Gifted Students (1962), challenged views of intelligence by showing a link between creativity and academic intelligence. While his theories were considered groundbreaking, Jackson’s early work employed traditional qualitative research methods, a technique he was later famous among colleagues and students for referring to as “poking them with sticks.” In 1968, after adopting an anthropological approach, Jackson published his best known and most influential work, Life in Classrooms (1968), which sold more than 60,000 copies and was translated into 10 languages. In it he describes the “hidden curriculum” of classrooms; the routines and expectations that shape behavior and attitudes for better and worse.

 

Philip Jackson at home in retirement

Philip Jackson at home in retirement
(family photo, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-philip-jackson-obituary-met-20150724-story.html)

In addition, Jackson was an internationally known expert on John Dewey. He credited Dewey with inspiring his initial interest in education and he authored and edited multiple books about Dewey. In the first chapter of his final book, What is Education? (2012), Jackson quotes a passage from John Dewey’s Experience and Education. Jackson admits to stumbling over this passage when he first encountered it in the late 1940s, “Why would [Dewey]…end his book by asking his readers to devote themselves ‘to finding out just what education is.’?…Surely, even neophytes already knew the answer to that question. I certainly did!…Indeed, the more I pondered Dewey’s advice, the stranger it seemed.” Jackson served as the principal of nursery school at Dewey’s Laboratory School from 1967-70 and director of the Laboratory Schools from 1970-75. He served as Chairman of the Department of Education and Dean of the School of Education at University of Chicago until 1975 and faculty in the Department of Education, until 1998.

Journeys to the West: An Exhibit in memory of Anthony C. Yu, 1934-2015

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: August 14 – September 30, 2015

Anthony C. Yu at the Divinity School

Anthony C. Yu at the Divinity School (University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf7-01650], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library, date unknown)

As a small child, Anthony Yu first learned from his grandfather the story of a wise monk who travels from China to India with his companions, Monkey and Pig. The stories came from the classical Chinese epic The Journey to the West. Yu was fascinated with the epic from then on. As an adult, he embarked on a scholarly journey in the field of comparative religions and literatures, bridging the Eastern and Western literary religious traditions. This one-case, memorial exhibit is centered on Professor Anthony C. Yu’s magnum opus, his four volume translation of The Journey to the West into English.

Anthony C. Yu (1938-2015) was the Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Margaret M. Mitchell, former dean of the Divinity School, eulogized Professor Yu as “an outstanding scholar, whose work was marked by uncommon erudition, range of reference and interpretive sophistication.” Yet he was also “a person of inimitable elegance, dignity, passion and the highest standards for everything he did.”

Book cover of The Journey to the West

Book cover of the 2012 revised edition of The Journey to the West, volume 2.

Professor’s Yu own life journey (1938-2015) resonates in many ways with the Chinese epic that he translated. Journeying to the West to pursue his vocation, Professor Yu spent 16 years of his life, just like the traveling monk from the story, working on the 1800+ pages of the English translation. David Lattimore (Brown University), writing in The New York Times Book Review, noted that Professor Yu’s translation “does full justice to the adventure, lyricism and buffoonery of The Journey to the West,” while remaining “completely sensitive to the spiritual content of the text, as well.” Not only was The Journey to the West the first unabridged translation into English, but it withstood the test of time and is now considered the definitive translation.

The exhibit itself is set up to invite search and discovery. You will encounter prior translations of the classical Chinese epic, together with Yu’s own definitive translation, an abridged edition and even some surprises related to the afterlife of Yu’s translation. Please stop by Regenstein Library’s 4th floor and discover for yourself the fascinating journey to the West, facilitated by our eminent scholar, beloved professor, and magnificent translator. Your journey will be worth it!

Library purchases access to Met Opera on Demand

Photograph from Les Contes d'Hoffmann

Les Contes d’Hoffmann
Abel; Morley, Gerzmava, Rice, Grigolo, Hampson

     The Metropolitan Opera was founded in 1883, with its first opera house built on Broadway and 39th Street.  One-hundred-twenty-three years after its formation, the Metropolitan entered the digital world with its 2006 release of The Met: Live in HD.  This digital transmission product now reaches 70 countries with live high definition performances.  Later, in 2008, the Metropolitan released Met Opera on Demand.  This online source, to which the Library now subscribes, includes 550 opera performances, some being varying productions of the same work.  Library users can follow the link for Met Opera on Demand to access the resource.  For the website to function properly, users must be certain their personal computers have the most recent version of Adobe Flash Player installed.

Jewish Liturgy through the Ages: Nusaḥ Ashkenaz 1795-2015

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor.
Exhibit Dates: July 7 – September 30, 2015

Who knows what you can find in the stacks of the Regenstein Library? David Frankel, Ph.D student in History of Judaism at the Divinity School, went looking and discovered a fascinating assortment of Jewish prayer books (siddurim, singular: siddur). The siddur, perhaps even more than the Talmud or the Bible, has been the practical guide for Jewish people since the inception of printed Hebrew in the 16th century. The availability of books contributed to the all-encompassing nature of the liturgical texts included in siddurim.

A handwritten prayer added to a siddur

A handwritten prayer added to a siddur, published in Prague in 1839, on display in this exhibit.

While the siddur is first and foremost a book for the laity, it also offers scholars of Jewish Studies a glimpse into the history of Jewish ritual practice. The subfield of Jewish Liturgy within Jewish Studies provides the discipline at large with a broad understanding of not only the religious developments of Jews but also historically significant evidence. Prayer books can be used to track the movements of populations of Jews through time and space. Even when intellectual activities were scant, prayer books were commonly produced and provide scholars today with a way to peer into the world of Jewish societies that would otherwise have been lost to the ages.

A handwritten recipe for “tar beer” added to a siddur

A handwritten recipe for “tar beer” added to a siddur, published in Prague in 1839, on display in this exhibit.

Displayed in the exhibit are siddurim published between 1795 and 2015. Not displayed in the exhibit, but pictured here, are two “texts” added to final pages of one of the siddurim of the exhibit, Siddur kol tefillot u-teḥinnah (Prague, M. Landau, 1839). The first is a beautifully, handwritten additional prayer and the second is a recipe for “tar beer,” a mixture of tar and beer used medicinally in Jewish communities in the 19th century.

The Spirit of the Nation or the War between the Jews and Sanballat: A Gift to the Jewish Studies Collection

Book cover of The Spirit of the Nation in Hebrew

Book cover of The Spirit of the Nation by Kless

Few voices like that of Menachem Mendel ben Hayim Kless have emerged to shed light on the emotional sentiments of the first Eastern European Jews who left their homes and lives behind to venture to Ottoman Palestine in the 1880s during the First Aliyah, a period that saw the emigration of tens of thousands of Jews. His book Ruah ha-Le’om (Kishinev: Tipografīi︠a︡. A.S. Stepanovoĭ, 1890) is one such voice. Thanks to the generosity of Linda Stern, a descendent of Kless, the University of Chicago Library is now one of only four libraries worldwide that holds a copy. The copy donated by Ms. Stern is in excellent condition and an excellent complement to the Ludwig Rosenberger Collection of Judaica. It is available for viewing through the Special Collections Research Center as well as accessible in digitized form through HathiTrust (title page pictured here).

As a participant in the Hibbat Tsiyon (Love of Zion) movement, Kless composed the work as a plea to its readers imploring them to follow their coreligionists out of a continent that had turned against them upon the ascension of Alexander III of Russia. Throughout this short book, Kless employs the metaphor of the opposition of Sanballat the Horonite to the construction of the Second Temple in Nehemiah’s time (see especially Nehemiah 4). Written entirely as an address to the reader and containing within it references to the Bible and rabbinic literature, the Ruah ha-Le’om reads like a well-crafted sermon – a pietistic rallying cry.

: Receipt for money wired from Bella Greenspan in Israel to her brother Leizar Kless

Receipt for money wired from Bella Greenspan (née Kless) in Israel to her brother Leizar Kless, ca. 1900 (image taken by Linda Stern).

Reading Ruah ha-Le’om serves to compliment the reading of more well-known works by the Hovevei Tsiyon (Lovers of Zion), most notably Leon Pinsker’s famous German language pamphlet Auto-Emancipation (1882) as well as the many works by the famed Hebrew essayist Ahad Ha’am. Reading Kless’s work in light of these two thinkers is of particular interest to those interested in the history of the revival of Hebrew as the official language of Jewish settlements in Palestine and eventually as the national language of Israel. When considering the debate between the rival Hebrew and German factions, we ought to consider a work like Ruah ha-Le’om as an influential factor.

Menachem Mendel Kless (1846-1916) was born and lived much of his life in Poland. He wrote Ruah ha-Le’om while he was still in Europe. After arriving to Palestine in 1902, Kless along with many of the Hovevei Tsiyon took up residence in Rishon le-Tsiyon, one of the first pre-state Jewish settlements, where he was a Hebrew teacher. Menachem’s devotion to Palestine was not uniformly shared by his children. According to family letters held by the donor, Linda Stern, we learn that only two children, Bella and Haim, remained in Palestine. Two children, Keila and Fabi, left for Egypt, though Fabi later returned at the end of his life. Keila’s daughter married a British citizen and moved to England after the Second World War. Menachem’s youngest daughter, Nehama, immigrated first to Berlin and then Riga and likely did not survive World War II. Leizar, later Louis, left Palestine early in his life and eventually settled in New York. He is the great grandfather of the donor, Linda Stern.

One Man’s Trash . . . Discovering New Ancient Greek Texts

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: February 19 – June 15, 2015

Greek Vase Painting, Muse reading scroll

Muse reading a scroll.
Attic red-figure lekythos, ca. 435-425 BCE

Imagine trying to sort out and assemble thousands of scattered pieces of jigsaw puzzles; imagine that they are as fragile and misshapen as cornflakes and that many pieces are missing. The task is only beginning to resemble the monumental efforts of today’s papyrologists, who continue to work on the Greek papyrus fragments uncovered in the late 19th century from the sands of ancient trash heaps located outside of the city of Oxyrhynchus (modern el-Bahnasa), Egypt.  It has been said that over 70 percent of surviving literary papyri come from Oxyrhynchus, among which are a new poem by Simonides, extensive remains of the Hypsipyle of Euripides, and a large part of the Ichneutae of Sophocles.

This one-case exhibit explores the various ways new works have come to light since the Renaissance, when so many manuscripts were rediscovered in monastic libraries.   Two new poems by Sappho, for example, were discovered  just this year in an Egyptian cartonnage.  In the Ptolemaic period ancients used recycled papyrus (much as we use recycled newspapers in papier-mâché) to construct cartonnages i.e. mummy masks and panels.  Modern science has opened the door for more discoveries.  Multispectral lighting helps us read palimpsests, which are manuscripts on which the original writing has been washed and/or scraped off in order that the parchment be reused for another text.  In France a team of scientists has used a particle accelerator to bombard an unopened, charred papyrus scroll from the Villa of Papyri in Herculaneum with X-rays.  The X-rays were so sensitive that they could detect changes in thickness where carbon-based ink had been used to write letters. The team could make out the Greek letters inside the tightly wound scroll.

Charred Papyrus Scroll

Charred Papyrus Scroll from the Villa of Papyri

The Archimedes Palimpsest under multispectral lighting

The Archimedes Palimpsest under multispectral lighting

Bestiaries: Representations of animals in 20th century Romance languages and literatures

The Joseph Regenstein Library, Third Floor
April 10 – June 13, 2015

A.	A.	Woodcut image of a dolphin originally accompanying a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire in his work ““Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée” (1911).

Woodcut by Raoul Dufy from Guillaume Apollinaire’s “Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée” (1911)

Books representing animals metamorphose and mutate; they might creep, crawl, or leap onto your shelf, surprise you, pique your interest, and make you reconsider your conception of ‘animal’ and human altogether.  This exhibition dives into the 3rd floor stacks to seek out the most interesting textual and visual representations of contemporary bestiaries written in the Romance languages.  The final selection of books found in this exhibition illustrates the expanding definition of the bestiary and its portrayal of all things beastly in the 20th century.

B. Woodcut image of an ox originally accompanying a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire in his work “Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée” (1911).

Woodcut by Raoul Dufy from Guillaume Apollinaire’s “Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée” (1911)