Author Archives: Anne K. Knafl, Bibliography for Religion and Philosophy

From Gnostics to U-Boats: The Work of Robert McQueen Grant (1917-2014)

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor.

Exhibit Dates: October 20, 2014 – December 13, 2014

Grant in his retirement

Grant in his retirement

Grant as a young man

Grant as a young man in his office in Swift Hall.

 

Robert McQueen Grant was the most prolific and influential American historian of ancient Christianity of his generation. His research helped establish New Testament Studies as an historical endeavor that must take into account the full context of the Hellenistic world. His research interests were broad. He published multiple books on Gnosticism, an introduction to the New Testament that was later translated into French and an encyclopedia of the use of animals in early Christian literature. At the same time, he was an international authority on U-Boats in World War I. Robert McQueen Gant began teaching at the Divinity School in 1953. He passed away at his home in Hyde Park on June 10, 2014 at the age of 96. This exhibit displays paradigmatic works from his career, showcasing Grant’s breadth and depth as a scholar.

August 1914: The Eastern Front

Exhibition Location: Regenstein Library, Second Floor Reading Room
Dates: August 1 – December 31, 2014

Map of Europe in 1914In August 1914, most of the countries that we now think of as Eastern Europe (or Central Europe or Southeastern Europe or East Central Europe (nothing about this area of the world is less than complex and multi-faceted!) were either part of one or another of the region’s multinational, multilingual, and multi-religious empires—the Russian Empire, the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Ottoman Empire—or had just recently struggled free from decades or centuries of imperial rule. On this centennial of the beginning of The Great War, this two-case exhibit attempts to place these countries “on the map” as they were in August 1914. It is an almost impossible task, as the complexity of the borders, alliances, relationships and aspirations of these crumbling empires and emerging nations were to clash mightily and disastrously as they positioned themselves on the Eastern Front.

Super Metroid: A 20th Anniversary exhibit extended to March 22

Original Japanese Super Metroid Box

Original Japanese Super Metroid Box

Exhibit Title: Super Metroid: A 20th Anniversary
Dates: January 28 – March 22, 2014
Location: Regenstein Library, Third Floor and  http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/supermetroid/

One of the greatest games of all time, Super Metroid was released on March 19, 1994. It is praised for visual style and graphics, atmospheric sound design and music, and detailed environments, as well as refined controls and gameplay.

Recognizing the 20th anniversary of the game’s release, this exhibit celebrates the art of the videogame as seen in one of its early classics.  Additionally, the exhibit explores the creative activity that lies beyond the game itself, from concept art and promotional materials to the fan art the game still inspires twenty years later. The great diversity of these ancillary pieces, the variety of styles and media used to promote and interpret the game, its characters and world, remains one of the most fascinating parts of its history. The one-case exhibit on the third floor complements the online portion of the exhibit (and vice versa).

 Update, 2/27/14: The closing date of the exhibit has been extended to March 22.

O Homer, Where Art Thou? Adaptations of the Iliad and Odyssey: Ancient and Modern

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: January 5 – February 28, 2014

DVD box of the film O Brother, Where Art ThouWhat do The Penelopiad of Margaret Atwood, the Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou, and James Joyce’s Ulysses have in common? They were all inspired by the Odyssey of Homer.

The Iliad and the Odyssey have fascinated us for nearly 3,000 years, inspiring authors of all ages to produce a variety of creative and distinctive adaptations. Some writers have simply retold the stories in abridged form, maybe for a younger audience or simply to emphasize the most dramatic segments.  Others have retold the tales, but set them in a different time period, sometimes far into the future or in a different setting miles from the Mediterranean.  Retelling the events of the Iliad and Odyssey from another’s point of view has been a favorite vehicle for adaptation.  These narratives, either viewed through the eyes of one of the main characters or through completely made up figures, often purport to correct the Homeric account.  Sometimes an elaborate hoax serves as a narrative frame.  And, of course, parodies are an amusing nod to Homer and always delight.

Cover of Odyssey comic book published inHeavy Metal

Navarro, Francisco and José Sauri, The Odyssey (Rockville Centre, NY: Heavy Metal, 2007).

Stories from the Iliad and Odyssey have also been favorites with illustrators, both ancient and modern.  In the exhibit comic books and graphic novels are displayed alongside photographs of ancient marble panels with captioned scenes of the Homeric epics carved in low relief and a series of Roman wall paintings depicting the colorful events  of Odysseus’s voyage.

While the epics may have begun with the voice of a singing bard, they have found their way into a wide array of new media: on a stage as a play, musical, or opera, over the air waves in radio programs and television shows, and onto the silver screen from silent film to Hollywood blockbuster.

This two-case exhibit was designed as a companion exhibit to “Homer in Print: The Transmission and Reception of Homer’s Works,” running from January 13 – March 15, 2014 in the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery in the Joseph Regenstein Library, First Floor.

The Stalin Digital Archive (SDA)

StalinDigitalArchiveThe Library patrons now have access to the Stalin Digital Archive (SDA), a collaborative effort between the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI) and Yale University Press (YUP) to create an electronic database of finding aids, to digitize documents and images, and to publish in different forms and media materials from the recently declassified Stalin archive in the holdings of RGASPI.

J. Arch Getty at UCLA in his introduction to the database writes:

Joseph Stalin’s life (1878–1953) coincided with the most momentous events of the twentieth century: two world wars, several revolutions in Russia and China, the Cold War, and the dawn of the nuclear age. Stalin was influential in the Chinese revolutions and communist victory, the Korean conflict, and the occupation of Eastern Europe. In terms of modern Russian history he played key roles in the revolutionary movement, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Soviet industrialization, the terror of the 1930s, World War II, and the Cold War.

It is therefore difficult to imagine a more important primary source for these events than Stalin’s personal archive, major portions of which are now declassified and available for study. Although specialists have known and used these documents for some time in the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI) in Moscow, the Stalin Digital Archive (SDA) will now make them available electronically, eliminating the need to travel to Moscow and rendering the documents searchable and printable, actions that are difficult even in the Moscow archive.

Moreover, the SDA will for the first time make these documents accessible to students and specialists in other fields for both research and teaching. The SDA will provide translations of hundreds of selected key documents from Russian into English. These translated documents will be accompanied by scholarly annotations.

The importance of Stalin’s archive might be seen in two ways, external and internal.Stalin Externally, Stalin’s papers provide us with unparalleled information on the development of key historical events from the point of view of a participant. Obviously, because he was a dictator, everything of importance came across his desk. For example, these materials fully document Soviet industrialization and agricultural collectivization from the late 1920s. There is practically a full series of economic reports to and orders from Stalin over many years. Foreign relations, both with Germans and potential allies in the 1930s and with Cold War opponents in the 1940s, received his close attention. It will be possible to rewrite and restudy the histories of such important events of a violent century.

One of the differences between the Nazi and Soviet regimes is the level of sensitive documentation. Although the Nazis were meticulous in keeping some kinds of records, at the top we have practically nothing in writing about many kinds of decisions. We have almost no “smoking gun” documents about the decision to exterminate Jews and others, and not much about the inner politics of Hitler’s court and the bureaucratic empires of his courtiers. In short, Hitler did not write much down, nor was he interested in documenting his decisions.

The Stalinists, on the other hand, were not ashamed of or worried about recording their most sensitive (and evil) decisions. During the Stalinist terror of the 1930s, we have Stalin’s correspondence with his secret police chiefs N. I. Ezhov and L. P. Beria in which he ordered the arrest, torture, and execution of various people. When in 1940 Stalin and the Politburo decided to shoot more than 20,000 captured Polish officers at Katyn, they recorded their decisions in memos and resolutions, complete with justifications. Compared with that of the Nazis, the documentation on Soviet repression is full and rich, and some of the most important elements of it came from Stalin’s desk and trademark blue pencil.

In addition to enhancing our ability to study major events of the twentieth century with new materials, Stalin’s archive also has a fascinating internal, personal component. It shows us the nature and evolution of Stalin’s own thought, opinions, and decision-making process.

Consider, for example, the more than 300 books in his personal library. Stalin once told his lieutenants that if they weren’t reading several hundred pages a week, they were illiterate. The record shows that Stalin was a voracious reader of a wide variety of subjects who made detailed notations in the margins of what he read. His opinions about political, literary, and philosophical works are fascinating and revealing about how he thought.

Similarly, the archive contains hundreds of manuscripts sent to Stalin by others for his corrections and comments. He often answered them in written letters, but just as often he made detailed marginalia that show his reactions. Both types of reactions are preserved in his archives. Similarly, although most of his articles and speeches have been published, the drafts and rewrites of them are in his archive and show the evolution of his thinking as well as his consideration of word choice and discursive strategy.

The archive contains a wealth of Stalin’s correspondence with his lieutenants on important and secret subjects. These letters and telegrams show Stalin’s opinions of Lenin, other Bolshevik leaders, and world figures as well as his reflections on policy choices. When writing to his closest Politburo assistants, he was informal and often quite unguarded.

We have nothing like this level of documentation for Hitler or other twentieth-century dictators, and the scope of SDA documents is comparable with the archival source bases we have for world leaders in more-open societies. It is probably not an exaggeration to say that study of these documents will enrich, if not revolutionize, our understanding of the Soviet Union.

 

Benjamin Britten’s Literary Connections

A photo of Benjamin Britten and his friend W.H. Auden

Benjamin Britten and W.H. Auden

The 3rd Floor of Regenstein Library is playing host to a single case exhibit on Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) as part of a larger campus celebration of the centennial of Britten’s birth.  This exhibit focuses on Britten’s literary connections, highlighting the links between music and literature seen in his work.  Over his career Britten set many poetic works to music including work by Edith Sitwell, T.S. Eliot, Wilfred Owen and Britten’s personal friend W.H. Auden.  This exhibit displays excerpts from many of Britten’s work alongside the original texts from which they are adapted.  Also included are several works adapted from folk poems and short stories, including work by Guy de Maupassant.  The exhibit runs from November 1 through December 18, 2013. 

Online access to The Times of India

Times of India masthead.The University of Chicago Library now provides online access to the historical backfile of The Times of India, one of the Subcontinent’s most important English-language newspapers.  Library users can browse single issues and search all content (articles, editorials, and advertisements) published 1838-2003.

 A link to the resource is available at here.  Coverage includes: Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce (1838-1859), The Bombay Times and Standard (1860-1861), and The Times of India (1861-2003).

This new resource will be of interest across all disciplines.  Social scientists and humanists will value the coverage of events from the late stages of the East India Company through colonial and into post-colonial India.  It is a valuable resource for the study of law, business, economics, the arts, popular culture, international relations, social services, and public policy, as well as the biological and physical sciences.

 Our one-year trial subscription will allow us to assess levels of usage and make the case for a permanent subscription.

 Please contact James Nye, Bibliographer for Southern Asia, or Laura Ring, Assistant Southern Asia Librarian, if you have comments on The Times of India or if you would like assistance.

Library purchases access to Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online

Hebrew text and name of productThe Library has purchased access to the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, edited by Geoffrey Khan and published by Brill. Access to the online version begins immediately. Best described by the publisher, “The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics offers a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of the Hebrew language from its earliest attested form to the present day. The encyclopedia contains overview articles that provide a readable synopsis of current knowledge of the major periods and varieties of the Hebrew language as well as thematically-organized entries which provide further information on individual topics. With over 950 entries and approximately 400 contributing scholars, the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics is the authoritative reference work for students and researchers in the fields of Hebrew linguistics, general linguistics, Biblical studies, Hebrew and Jewish literature, and related fields.” The online version allows for electronic access, full text searching and navigation between entries by hyperlinks.

The Emancipation of Serf and Slave in Russia and America

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this mini exhibit highlights a very few of the vast number of narratives and studies focused on the history and analysis of serfdom in Russia and slavery in America, and the abolition of both. There were fundamental similarities between Russian serfdom and American slavery, and significant and complex differences. The 1861 Emancipation Manifesto of Tsar Alexander II and the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln are the two seminal documents which underscore any discussion of the great social and political upheavals and reforms that took place in mid-19th century Russia and America.

Liberation of the Peasants by B. Kustodiev

Liberation of the Peasants by B. Kustodiev

The ceremonial preamble, Alexander II’s Emancipation Manifesto of 1861 (drafted by Metropolitan Filaret of Moscow), preceded hundreds of pages of statutes spelling out the terms of the abolition of serfdom (worked on since 1858 by dozens of gentry committees and governmental commissions). Through it, more than 23 million serfs were freed, allowed to own property, to buy land assigned to them from their previous owner’s estates, to marry without consent, to trade freely and own businesses, to sue in courts, and to vote in local elections.

Russia provides ample confirmation of Tocqueville’s classic observation that “the most perilous moment for a bad government is one when it seeks to mend its ways”. As Terence Emmons writes, “The emancipation was probably the greatest single piece of state-directed social engineering in modern European history before the twentieth century. Its ultimate aim was to fortify social and political stability; in fact it produced serious stresses and strains, of both a short-and a long-term character, in the social and political fabric… Totally unaccustomed to taking directives from without, the government assumed the initiative in preparing the emancipation and a series of related reforms, with no intention of allowing public interference in its deliberations… The epoch of the great reforms was a decisive moment in the history of the Russian landed gentry… Probably the single most important political result of the struggle between the government and the gentry over emancipation was the disintegration of faith in enlightened despotism and the turn by many to the belief that the desired reforms could come only through popular participation in government.” (Terence Emmons. “The Emancipation and the Nobility.” In: Reinterpreting Russian History: Readings 860-1860s. NY: Oxford University, 1994: 441-45.)

Reading the Emancipation Proclamation by J. W. Watts

Reading the Emancipation Proclamation by J. W. Watts

In contrast, the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order of the Commander in Chief, was issued as a war measure, and limited to freeing more than 3 million slaves in the ten states that were still in rebellion. It was only with the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that slavery and involuntary servitude were abolished (1865), followed by the 14th Amendment (citizenship rights and equal protection under the law, 1868) and the 15th amendment (prohibition of the denial of the right to vote based on race, color or previous condition of servitude, 1870).

The exhibit, located on the Second Floor Reading Room of the Joseph Regenstein Library, runs from September 20 through December 31, 2013.

Exhibit in Memory of Jean Bethke Elshtain (1941-2013)

Elshtain in her office at the Divinity School, taken by Jason Smith

Elshtain in her office at the Divinity School, taken by Jason Smith

An exhibit, in one case, celebrating the life and work of Jean Bethke Elshtain, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, who passed away on Aug 11, 2013 at the age of 72. Dr. Elshtain was a prolific writer, whose work spanned religion, feminism, ethics, political philosophy and Augustine. She joined the faculty of University of Chicago in 1995 with joint appointments in the Divinity School, Department of Political Science and Committee on International Relations. Already a prominent public intellectual at that time, after the attacks of 9/11, Elshtain was increasingly associated with the neoconservative movement due to her publications in support of the Iraq war and stance as a just-war theorist. In February 2010, the Divinity School inaugurated the Engaged Mind conference series. Each of the four conferences focuses on a particular period in Elshtain’s career and their most central debates. This exhibit is arranged around those four themes and features posters and pamphlets from the conferences. The final conference, “Just War Against Terror” meets October 17-18, 2013. The materials on display include publications by Elshtain and images of her, both recent and as a young girl. The exhibit is displayed on the 4th floor of the Regenstein Library and runs from September 9 through December 31, 2013.