Author Archives: June Pachuta Farris, Bibliographer for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies

On the 100th Anniversary of Kafka’s Metamorphosis

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Second Floor
Exhibit Dates: April 27 – June 30, 2016

Artist James Legros's image of the transformation of Gregor Samsa.

James Legros’s depiction of the transformation of Gregor Samsa.

“When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from disturbing dreams, he found himself transformed…”

Into what sort of thing was Gregor transformed? Why? How did his family and the world react to this transformation? Some very few responses are presented from the enormous body of scholarship and artistic vizualizations that in the past 100 years, have made this story a gem of world literature.

Benjamin Elijah Mays and the University of Chicago

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: April 19 – July 31, 2016

Benjamin Elijah Mays

Benjamin Elijah Mays in his office at Morehouse College

“We should not boast or glorify in our wisdom because we cannot choose our parents and we cannot choose the places of birth. And whether we were born rich or poor, wise or foolish, it is largely by accident, and we had little choice in the matter.” Thus spoke Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays to an audience of 150 at Rockefeller Chapel on Sunday, December 5, 1971. In this sermon, “In What Shall We Glory?,” Mays offers his reading of Jeremiah 9:23-24 as an admonishment to turn away from glorifying in hierarchical divisions and, instead, commit oneself to kindness, justice and righteousness; not only in one’s daily existence, but played out in “our political, economic, national and international lives.”

Dr. Mays (1894-1984) was the most prominent and influential black intellectual of his time, who sought to produce Christian ministers and community leaders committed to public service, social justice, racial equality and intellectual excellence. He is best known as the mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mays and King met in 1944 at the start of Mays’s 27-year service as President of Morehouse College and while King was still a teenager.

Benjamin Elijah Mays was born near Rambo (now Epworth), South Carolina in 1894 to

Hezekiah Mays and Louvenia Carter, tenant farmers who had been enslaved. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Bates College in 1920. That same year, he was ordained a Baptist minister. Interested in pursuing graduate work in religion, Mays applied to Newton Theological Seminary but was denied admittance based on his race. In turn, he applied and was admitted to the University of Chicago, Divinity School. Mays earned his A.M (1925) and Ph.D. (1935) through the Divinity School. In his autobiography, Lord, The People Have Driven Me On, he describes his intellectual flourishing under the direction of “some of the world’s greatest scholars,” but also pervasive prejudice against blacks both at the University and in the city of Chicago.

Mays’s autobiography dedicated to Hanna Gray

A copy of Mays’s autobiography, Lord, The People Have Driven Me On, which he has dedicated to Hanna Gray, president of the University of Chicago, 1978-1993

This two-case exhibit displays materials from the University of Chicago Library’s collection by and about Benjamin Elijah Mays, with special attention to his relationship to the University. Items on display include facsimile reproductions of correspondence between Mays and members of the University administration from the archives of the Special Collections Research Center. A portrait of Dr. Mays, to honor his relationship to the Divinity School, will be unveiled on April 21, 2016, to be permanently displayed in the Common Room of Swift Hall. This exhibit is on display April 19 through July 31, 2016, in the 4th floor Reading Room of the Regenstein Library.

20 Years and After: Korean Collections Consortium of North America (KCCNA)

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fifth Floor
Exhibit Dates: March 1 – April 1, 2016

Poster "20 Years and After"Are you interested in finding books on Korean textiles and costumes in the 19th century or Korean performing arts? Our library users are able to access materials on more than 100 subject areas in Korean Studies. In parallel with the robust growth experienced by Korean Studies programs in North America over the past two decades, Korean Studies libraries contributed by building comprehensive collections beyond core subjects, such as literature and history. Korean Studies librarians in North America developed the concept of a cooperative collection development program, whereby participating members divide collection responsibilities to compile a larger inter-institutional collection. As a result, University of Chicago Library users are able to conveniently access materials at any of our partner institutions via Interlibrary Loan.

The Korean Collections Consortium of North America (KCCNA) was founded in 1994 with 6 member institutions, with the University of Chicago quickly joining as the 7th member in 1995. Currently, the number of participating institutions has expanded to 14, covering a total of 109 subjects in Korean Studies. The Korea Foundation, affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has financially supported the consortium for the past 20 years to optimize resources for students and scholars of Korean Studies. Students and scholars now enjoy access to broader and more extensive resources than any one institution could provide by itself. The University of Chicago Library collects nine subject areas as assigned- 1) Welfare Studies; 2) Environmental Studies; 3) Political Parties; 4) Pre-modern Philosophy; 5) Industry; 6) International Relations;  7) Traditional Fiction; 8) Publications on Korea and Koreans published in China and Taiwan; and 9) Publications on Korea and Koreans published in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Cover of 한국노동사자료총서 (The History of Korean Labor Movements Series)

(The History of Korean Labor Movements Series)

Visitors to the fifth floor of Regenstein Library will have a chance to view a selection of the University of Chicago’s KCCNA-assigned subject books. One of the books on display is from  한국노동사자료총서 (The History of Korean Labor Movements Series / Han’guk nodongsa charyo ch’ongsŏ ), a 630-volume set of primary sources on key cases on South Korea’s union movement history related to political activities from 1970.

‘An Acquisition of Inestimable Value’: The Men Who Funded the Berlin Collection

Exhibit Location: The Joseph Regenstein Library, Fourth Floor
Exhibit Dates: February 11 – April 15, 2016

Berlin Collection Bookplate

Have you ever wandered through the stacks browsing in books for significant dedications, humorous doodling, or interesting bookplates?  If you have, you undoubtedly came across one bookplate more than any other.  Tens of thousands of titles bear the Berlin Collection bookplate, proudly listing its nine donors.  Who are these nine men and how did they come to fund this “acquisition of inestimable value”?  It was accomplished through the diligent work of the University’s first President, William Rainey Harper, and the generous donations from four key members of the original Board of Trustees and five prominent Chicago businessmen.

While vacationing in Berlin with his family some fifteen months before the new University of Chicago was scheduled to open in 1892, William Rainey Harper came across a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  G. Heinrich Simon of S. Calvary and Company, a world renowned bookselling firm that was going to close its doors, wanted to sell off his massive stock en bloc. After some negotiating, the two men agreed upon a final price of $45,000 (or 180,000 marks), an enormous amount of money for the time, but in reality nothing in comparison to its actual value. Indeed, this collection was so vast that it would immediately catapult the University of Chicago into the top tier of research universities in the United States and the entire world. Only one obstacle remained, raising the money for the purchase.

When his first attempts to find funding fell flat, Harper placed the matter before the Board of Trustees, which recommended that the Board itself purchase the Berlin Collection.  According to Thomas W. Goodspeed, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, “Rust began the subscription with $12,000. Kohlsaat followed with $6,000, and Ryerson and Hutchinson assured the rest.”  Along with Harper, Martin A. Ryerson, H. H. Kohlsaat, C. L. Hutchinson, Byron L. Smith, A. A. Sprague, C. H. McCormick, C. R. Crane, H. A. Rust, and C. J. Singer subscribed the entirety of the $45,000 needed to complete the purchase. All the donors with the exception of Harper are commemorated on the bookplate for the Berlin Collection.

This two-case exhibit features biographies of the 9 donors along with highlights from the history of the purchase of the collection.

For a detailed account of the acquisition of the Berlin Collection see Robert Rosenthal’s “The Berlin Collection: A Historyin The Berlin Collection: being a history and exhibition of the books and manuscripts purchased in Berlin in 1891 for the University of Chicago … ([Chicago]: University of Chicago Library, c1979).



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,

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.