Author Archives: Sarah G. Wenzel, Bibliographer for Literatures of Europe & the Americas

Celebrate National Poetry Month at the Library

National Poetry Month Poster

April is National Poetry Month and the Library is the perfect place to celebrate it. Our National Poetry Month Research Guide gives links to poetry in books, online (including readings of & podcasts about poetry) and places to go to hear poetry live in Chicago. Extending National Poetry Month by a few days, on 4 May Rosa Alcalá will be reading at the Regenstein Library in room 122, at 6pm. Join us to hear this important voice in contemporary American poetry as we continue our celebration.

New Voter Services Guide available just in time for the March 20 Primary

Graphic "Be Ready to Vote"Confused about where to go on Election Day or how to get good information about candidates?  Try the new Voter Services Guide.

Find out where the early voting locations are near the University or locate your precinct polling place. You can also learn what you need to register to vote on Election Day. There are also many new programs such as BallotReady or VoteSmart, which allow you to enter your address and pull up an exact copy of your ballot.  Most have information on candidates readily available and some allow you to send yourself your selections for Election Day voting.

 

The Printing Press Comes to Eastern Europe in the Slavic Tongues

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Second Floor
Exhibit Dates: February 13 – June 1, 2018

Graving with Francysk Skorina 1517

Woodcut of Francysk Skorina 1517

 

2017 marked the quincentennial of the printing of the first translation of the Bible into the Belarusian language. Francysk Skaryna (1490-1552) is credited with publishing this translation.

From the start, the work reflects the international scope of the world of the printing press. Skorina’s Bible was translated into Belarusian and printed in Prague. From there it was shipped into Belarus to be distributed. The first Bulgarian book was printed in Germany and again shipped and distributed in Bulgaria. Printing presses started, closed and moved to new locations. Presses started throughout the area. Since then scholars have studied the changes brought by these books to language, culture, and other aspects of life. The exhibit reviews the history and study of the printing press in Eastern Europe through various vernacular tongues.

James Baldwin Among the Philosophers

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: September 25 – December 31, 2017

James Baldwin at Civil Rights March on Washington

James Baldwin at Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., 08/28/1963 via Wikipedia Commons

“Take no one’s word for anything, including mine—but trust your experience. Know whence you came. If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.” James Baldwin wrote these words for his nephew, and namesake, as the open letter “My Dungeon Shook,” originally published in The Progressive and later as an introduction to his book The Fire Next Time (Dial Press, 1963). The book was one of the best sellers of 1963 and earned him the cover of Time Magazine.

James Arthur Baldwin was born in Harlem on August 2, 1924. He became a minister at Fireside Pentecostal Assembly at age 14. During his teenage years, Baldwin started writing seriously. By the end of high school, he had started to question the role of the church in the African-American community, while growing more appreciative of the arts and aware of his queerness. He stopped preaching in 1941 at 17 and by 1944 was living in the artist community of Greenwich Village, with his roommate and lifelong friend Marlon Brando. Baldwin rose to prominence after the publication of his first novel in 1953, Go Tell It on the Mountain, a semi-autobiographical account of his childhood. By the 1960s, Baldwin had become the most recognizable African-American writer in the U.S. and the de facto spokesperson for the Civil Right Movement, a title he opposed. In 1971, Baldwin moved to France. He continued to write and visited the U.S. to teach at Bowling Green University and the University of California, Berkeley. By the time of his death on December 1, 1987, James Baldwin had published over 25 works, including novels, plays, poems and essay collections.

Baldwin’s house in Saint Paul de Vence, France in 2009

The house where James Baldwin lived and died in Saint Paul de Vence, France (image taken July 2009) via Wikipedia Commons

James Baldwin’s work is widely recognized for its religious overtones and influences as well as for its critiques of racism and heterosexual norms. His work is equally important as a contribution to American philosophy. Cornel West dubbed Baldwin a “Black American Socrates” since he “infect[ed] others with the same perplexity he himself felt and grappled with: the perplexity of trying to be a decent human being and thinking person in the face of the pervasive mendacity and hypocrisy of the American empire.” (Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight against Imperialism [New York: Penguin, 2004] 80) This two-case exhibit displays books and essays by James Baldwin, alongside philosophical works that engage his work.

1917: The Russian Revolution: In History… In Memory… In Literature

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Second Floor
Exhibit Dates: September 25 – December 31, 2017

The year 1917 imposed next to a flag of the Hammer & Sickle, the emblem of the new Soviet State“The Russian Revolution was, at least in terms of its effects, one of the biggest events in the history of the world. Within a generation of the establishment of Soviet power, one-third of humanity was living under regimes modeled upon it. The revolution of 1917 has defined the shape of the contemporary world.” This statement by Orlando Figes in the introduction to his book A People’s Tragedy: the Russian Revolution, 1891-1924 (New York: Viking, 1996) succinctly states the reasons why the centenary of this event is being commemorated far beyond the borders of Russia, not only by those whose lives and families have been changed by it, for good or ill, but also by those who have studied its meaning and consequences.

It was an almost impossible task to select from among the thousands of books written in dozens of languages on any given aspect of the Russian Revolution. Instead, this two-case exhibit highlights the complexity of the era in three ways: through works of history written in the years immediately after the revolution and civil war, as well those written after the end of the Soviet era (1989) when Soviet archives were at last opened to scholars; through the personal memoirs, diaries and oral histories of those who lived through these events; and through a selection of the literature which the revolution inspired.

New online resource: Black Freedom Struggle in the Twentieth Century

Mississippi Subversion of the Right to Vote

Cover of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) pamphlet published in Atlanta, 1965

Researchers at the University of Chicago now have access to Black Freedom Struggle in the Twentieth Century, a collection of digital primary sources consisting of government documents, organizational records, and personal papers. The resource, which consists of four modules, includes major collections of civil rights records from the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H. W. Bush presidencies; the Martin Luther King FBI file and FBI files on locations of major civil rights demonstrations; and the records of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA); Records of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Also included in the collection are the personal papers of Mary McLeod Bethune and Charles A. Barnett.

A Brief History of Protest at the University of Chicago: 1915-1992

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: May 26 – June 30, 2017

Students march to protest the Draft in 1969

“Students march from Hyde Park into Woodlawn during a draft moratorium rally in Chicago, part of a nationwide day of protest against the Vietnam War.” 10.15.1969.
University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf7-03566], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

“Dear Sir: Your readers will be very interested to know the outcome of the conference between the teachers of the Wendell Phillips High School and the citizens’ committee appointed at a meeting of the Negro Fellowship League, January 17th. It will be remembered that on that day both Miss Fannie Smith, dean of girls at the Wendell Phillips School, and Mr. Perrine, assistant principal, addressed the League in explanation and defense of the segregation of White and Colored children in the social room.” So wrote Ida B. Wells, journalist and founding member of the NAACP, in a letter to the editors at the Broad Axe, published by the newspaper on February 27, 1915. The affair became public after Marion Talbot, Dean of Women at the University of Chicago, publicly protested the decision to separate white and black students of Wendell Phillips at social events.

Activists protesting on 10th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster.

“Ronald Schupp (left, in mask), a Chicago civil rights leader and minister, and Bill Steyert (right) participate in a vigil commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The event, sponsored by Greenpeace and Rockefeller Chapel, featured two speakers who survived the disaster. It was held at the Henry Moore sculpture ‘Nuclear Energy’ on the University of Chicago campus.” 04.26.1996.
University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf7-06042-002], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

There exists a long and varied history of social activism among the students, faculty, and staff at the University of Chicago. This exhibit displays documentation of protests that have occurred at the University of Chicago. The material was drawn primarily from the digitized archives of the University, especially the University of Chicago Photographic Archive and the University of Chicago Campus Publications. The scope of the materials, ranging from 1915 to 1992, match the coverage in these two collections.

(Co)-Humanitarian

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fifth Floor
Exhibit Dates: May 1 – August 1, 2017

Cover image of 조선 유적유물도감 / Joseon Dynasty Ruins & Relics Illustrated Book

조선 유적유물도감
Joseon Dynasty Ruins & Relics Illustrated Book

(Co)-Humanitarian uses print and visual resources to illustrate the ideological and geographic divisions between South and North Korea.  The exhibit also conveys North Korea’s human rights issues. In 1948 Korea separated into South and North Korea; it has remained a divided country ever since. The exhibit exposes our generation’s role in acknowledging and understanding the differences between South and North Korea with a view to fostering peaceful communication between the separated nations. The younger generation of the Chicago Korean community conceived this exhibition as a way to connect with North Koreans living in Empower House, which is a U.S. North Korean defector shelter located in Hyde Park, through academic education, art activities, and discussions.

보물을 찾는 소년들 / Boys Searching for Treasure

보물을 찾는 소년들
Boys Searching for Treasure

(Co)-Humanitarian is a collaboration between the University of Chicago Library and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Each institution has curated display cases  on the same topic, but with two different approaches. Emphasizing visual imagery, (Co)-Humanitarian was presented at the SAIC Flaxman Library in January and February 2017 making use of the Joan Flasch Artist Book collections.  The exhibit at the University of Chicago Library displays print publications from South Korea, North Korea, and other countries, focusing on 3 different subjects: North Korean politics, culture, and human rights.

Collection selected by librarians at the University of Chicago:
Jee-Young Park, Korean Studies Librarian, and Nanju Kwon, Visiting Librarian Intern

Display designed by student artists at the Art Institute of Chicago:
Jae Hwan Lim, Rachel Chung and Eun Pyo Hong

Library exhibition poster

The University of Chicago Library display cases

The University of Chicago Library display cases

 

SAIC Flaxman Library display case

SAIC Flaxman Library display case

Catholics, Freethinkers, and the Printed Word in Czech Chicago

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Second Floor
Exhibit Dates: April 24 – August 1, 2017

Portrait of August Geringer

August Geringer (1842-1930), publisher of Svornost, the first Czech-language daily newspaper in the United States, and numerous books of Freethought literature.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chicago was the largest Czech enclave in the United States and, indeed, constituted the third largest urban concentration of Czechs in the world. Living primarily in the Pilsen and Lawndale neighborhoods on the west side of Chicago, members of the Czech community shared a common language and a strong sense of ethnic identity that manifested itself in a rich and vigorous associational life. There was, however, considerable social tension within this community, based on differing attitudes to religious belief. The primary fault line lay between members of the Catholic Church and those who espoused a form of secular humanism, known as Freethought.

The roots of the division between Catholics and Freethinkers lay in the history and political conditions of the Czech lands, where Catholicism was the state religion and thus strongly associated with Hapsburg rule and its Germanizing cultural policy, while anticlericalism and, more broadly, anti-Catholicism were conjoined with the nationalistic attitudes of those eager to emancipate their land from Austrian political control and cultural hegemony. Because Czech-American Freethought was strongly tinged with anticlericalism, Catholics and Freethinkers came to form two rival camps among Czech Americans, each of which carved out its own distinctive institutional and associational life.

Photograph of Fr. Prokop Neužil

Fr. Prokop Neužil, OSB (1861-1946), founder of the Bohemian Benedictine Press and third abbot of St. Procopius Abbey, Lisle, Illinois.

As ideological rivals, Freethinkers and Catholics sought to make use of the printed word to propagate their views within the Czech-American community. The Czech-language press thus became an important medium in setting the tone for Czech-American culture. The city of Chicago was home to the most important Czech-American Freethought and Catholic publishers in the country—on one side, August Geringer, owner of a small publishing empire based around the daily newspaper Svornost and a committed Freethinker whose press published numerous works of Freethought literature, and, on the other, the Bohemian Benedictine Press run by the Benedictine monks of St. Procopius Abbey, which was the leading publishing venue for Czech-language Catholic literature in the United States. Drawing primarily upon the rich resources of the University of Chicago Library’s ACASA (Archives of Czechs and Slovaks Abroad) collection, this one-case exhibit presents a small selection of the publications of these two presses, illustrating some of the characteristic features of the two poles of Czech-American culture that they represented.

“Seward’s Folly” – “Walrussia” – “The New National Ice House”: In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Russia, 1867-2017

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Second Floor
Exhibit Dates: April 24 – August 1, 2017

Why did Russia sell Alaska? Why did the United States purchase it? And how did the American public and press react to this purchase in 1867, so soon after the end of the Civil War?

Signing of the Treaty on 30 March 1867

Signing of the Treaty on 30 March 1867
Robert S. Chew (Chief Clerk, State Department), William Seward (Secretary of State), William Hunter (Second Assistant Secretary of State), Vladimir Bodisko (Secretary of the Russian Legation), Eduard Stoeckl (Russian Ambassador to the US), Charles Sumner (Senator from Massachusetts), Frederick Seward (Assistant Secretary of State)

WHY SELL? By the end of the 1850s, after its defeat in the Crimean War, Russia’s tsarist government had no further use for the Russian American Company and began searching for a buyer of the colonies in northwest America, preferably not the British, Russia’s greatest rival in the Pacific. By 1863 Russia concluded that the Russian colonies in America were “at a perfect standstill as regards colonization, hunting, trade, and civic development, and that, generally speaking, the Russian American Company has far from justified the expectations which the government had placed in it” (S. B. Okun. The Russian-American Company.
Tr. by Carl Ginzburg. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951: 232-33.)

WHY BUY?  William H. Seward, 24th United States Secretary of State (1861-1868), saw the purchase of Alaska as another step in the expansion of the United States in the west, as did Charles Sumner, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts whose 2 1/2 hour speech to the Committee on Foreign Relations presented all of the facts then known about Russian America (i.e. Alaska). He articulated four advantages pertinent to the future interests of the United States: Advantages to the Pacific Coast, Extension of Dominion, Extension of Republican Institutions, and Anticipation of Great Britain.

Treasury draft no. 9759

Treasury draft no. 9759, the check that paid for the purchase of Alaska.
The check, in the amount of $7,200,000, amounted to two cents per acre, and is dated more than a year after the signing of the Treaty of the Cession of the Russian Possessions in North America

Although the Treaty to purchase Alaska was ratified by a 37-2 margin, at a cost of $7,200,000, it caused a great deal of pro and con exposition in the nation’s papers, with the purchase being labeled as “Seward’s Folly,” “Icebergia,” “Walrussia,” “The Nation’s Ice House.” It was well into the 20th century before Alaska’s purchase was generally acknowledged to be of great strategic and financial importance.