Tag Archives: Library Kiosk Feature

‘Souvenirs’ exhibition closes Oct. 5

Professor’s collection recalls University’s strong relationship with growing city

At gift shops and events around the country, Americans are inundated with souvenirs. Postcards, playbills and ticket stubs are so ubiquitous that many toss them without a second glance.

Souvennir parasol from the 1933 Chicago World Fair

Parasol from the 1933 Century of Progress. Hyde Park Historical Society Collection. Special Collections Research Center. The University of Chicago Library.

What if we could learn from these small pieces of memorabilia? What if old-time souvenirs collected around a particular theme could give us a close-up glimpse into an historical time and place?

That’s just what the Special Collections Research Center’s newest exhibition, Souvenirs! Get Your Souvenirs! Chicago Mementos and Memorabilia, delivers. The collection is themed around the World’s Fairs of 1893 and 1933 and the contemporaneous University of Chicago, and it includes everything from souvenir pillows to a Columbian Exposition spittoon.

The inspiration for the exhibition came from a gift from Janel Mueller, Professor Emerita of English Language & Literature. But the person responsible for the impressively detailed collection of souvenirs is her late husband, Ian Mueller, who for decades taught in the department of philosophy. He had a passion for collecting ephemera related to the University and the World’s Fairs.

“It was a lot of fun when this collection came in,” said Eileen A. Ielmini, one of the exhibition’s curators. “Professor Mueller collected from the sheer joy of it.” The enjoyable pieces, she said, showed “an unexpected side” of Ian Mueller, who is better known for his academic research on Plato and Aristotle. In addition to the Mueller souvenirs, the archivists featured other Chicago memorabilia, including pieces from the Hyde Park Historical Society Collection.

Three souvenir plates

Chicago souvenir plates. Ian Mueller Collection of Chicago Memorabilia. Special Collections Research Center. The University of Chicago Library.

The exhibition is part of a program called “Discovering Hidden Archives Treasures,” which features little-known gems from the Special Collections Research Center. Co-curator Kathleen Feeney said, “With this series, we hope to bring out items in the collections that visitors wouldn’t necessarily expect to find.” The exhibition is especially timely as 2013 is the 120th anniversary of the 1893 World’s Fair and the 80th anniversary of the 1933 fair. Feeney noted that this exhibition highlights the long and vibrant relationship between the University and the city.

The exhibition makes judicious use of modern technology to showcase its vintage treasures, including a slideshow projection of Mueller’s collection of various postcards. One especially interesting item is the famed woodcut artist Charles Turzak’s wordless book, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography in Woodcuts. Turzak created the book’s artwork in the midst of curious visitors to the 1933 fair. Though the exhibition has the original book on display behind glass, its illustrations are accessible for easy viewing on an iPad screen.

Spittoon from 1893 World's Fair

Spittoon from the 1893 World’s Fair Exposition. Ian Mueller Collection of Chicago Memorabilia. Special Collections Research Center. The University of Chicago Library.

The University’s connection to the 1893 fair is highlighted in a designated display case as well as throughout the exhibition. One notable item in the case is a small notebook filled with former UChicago professor Frederick Starr’s handwritten field notes of his observations at the 1893 World’s Fair. Starr, one of the University’s first anthropologists and a preeminent scholar of his day, had traveled the world observing cultures in South America, Asia and Africa before turning his ethnographic attention to his own city for the largest gathering it had ever seen.

The educational focus of many souvenirs—pamphlets with names like “The Story of the Rolled Oat”—reveal the hopefulness and sense of progress embodied by the World’s Fairs, which celebrated advancements in technology, food production and medicine. The collection also shows visitors how little has changed since 1893 and 1933. “These souvenirs, bits of ephemera, are still being produced in very similar forms today,” Ielmini said.

The curators noted that the historical content and focus on the University’s relationship with the greater city of Chicago should appeal to a large audience of Chicagoans, including Hyde Park residents and campus visitors, as the next academic year gets under way. 

In addition to Ielmini and Feeney, other contributors are co-curators Ashley Locke, Laura Alagna, Brittan Nannenga, and Judith Dartt, and exhibition designer Joe Scott.

A University of Chicago news release

Chicago enters borrowing agreement with Ivies

UChicago community will share in rapid access to more than
50 million volumes with the Ivy League

University of Chicago faculty, students and staff will soon be able to borrow circulating materials from the libraries of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Yale, and the Center for Research Libraries as the University of Chicago Library joins the Borrow Direct partnership. 

Borrow Direct 150pxThe circulating collections of the Borrow Direct libraries include more than 50 million volumes, and more than 1.5 million items have been shared across the Borrow Direct partnership since it was initiated in 1999.  When implemented at UChicago in the fall, Borrow Direct will enable users to do a single search of the combined catalogs and to request prompt delivery of circulating items. Materials requested by UChicago borrowers will typically be delivered to their selected campus library within four calendar days.   

“The Borrow Direct partnership is delighted to welcome the University of Chicago as a full participant in the program,” said Jeffrey Horrell, Dean of Libraries at Dartmouth and co-convener of the partnership’s directors group. “The depth of Chicago’s collections will greatly enhance the ­overall resources available in Borrow Direct and will support our collective users in their discovery and scholarship.”

“The Borrow Direct partnership will provide rapid and increased access to rich collections held by our peer institutions, thus helping to connect our students and scholars with the composite wealth of these collections,” said Judith Nadler, Director and University Librarian at the University of Chicago.  “At the same time, the project will provide a venue to explore future models for shared collection building that include both print and digital forms.”

The launch of Borrow Direct at the University of Chicago is made possible by a generous gift from the Rhoades Foundation with the cooperation of Julius Lewis, AB’50, AM’54.              

UChicago’s new agreement with Ivy League universities and MIT expands upon the local success of UBorrow, another consortial borrowing partnership that gives UChicago users access to more than 90 million volumes at regional research libraries participating in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. 

More information about using Borrow Direct will be available as the University of Chicago Library implements the service this fall. 

Faculty, Library collaborate on Collegium projects

Library contributes expertise, collections, technology, and spaces to support Neubauer Collegium global, humanistic research

How can the methods of “big science” contribute to the humanistic understanding of music, speech, and other audio expressions? How will an online, interactive environment allow scholars to explore a complex corpus of texts?  What does it mean to be a scholar at war?

In a major milestone, the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago has selected an inaugural cohort of 18 ambitious faculty research projects that tackle these and other complex questions through cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Through its research initiatives and robust program of visiting Collegium Faculty Fellows, the Neubauer Collegium will unite scholars in the common pursuit of ideas of grand scale and broad scope, making the University of Chicago a global destination for top scholars engaged in humanistic research while also pioneering efforts to share that research with the public.

Seethaphone label

Vairla (kamachu) maralukonnadira. [Bangalore, India]: Seethaphone, [n.d.] In Kannada language. Seethaphone Company made gramophone records popular and accessible to the middle classes through their very low prices. The company was in business from 1924-1957.

The Neubauer Collegium was founded in June 2012 and is named in honor of Joseph Neubauer, MBA’65, and Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer. Their $26.5 million gift to the University is among the largest in support of the humanities and social sciences in the institution’s history.

Together, the 18 projects engage teams of faculty from 17 departments in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the Chicago Booth School of Business, the Divinity School, the Law School, the Pritzker School of Medicine, and the Oriental Institute—teams of faculty who had fewer opportunities for serious, sustained collaboration before the establishment of the Neubauer Collegium. The University of Chicago Library is collaborating with faculty on three of these inaugural projects by providing staff expertise, access to current collections and resources, services as a repository, and technical support.

“The Library is proud to be collaborating with UChicago faculty and their international colleagues to support groundbreaking research and teaching efforts with worldwide impact,” says Judith Nadler, Director and University Librarian. “We’re very pleased to be working with faculty to develop cutting-edge technical approaches to advancing humanistic research.”

Further, the Library is supporting collaboration with the Neubauer Collegium by providing Regenstein Library’s Room 203 as temporary office space for the Neubauer Collegium, as well as five faculty studies for use by associated visiting scholars.

The three Neubauer Collegium projects that the Library is participating in directly include Audio Cultures of India: New Approaches to the Performance Archive; A Worldwide Literature: Jāmī (1414-1492) in the Dar al-Islam and Beyond; and Iraq’s Intelligentsia Under Siege: 1980-2012.

 

Audio Cultures of India: New Approaches to the Performance Archive

Principal Investigators

Philip V. Bohlman, Mary Werkman Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Music
Kaley Mason, Assistant Professor, Department  of Music
James Nye, Bibliographer for Southern Asia
Laura Ring, Cataloger and Assistant Southern Asia Librarian

Gramophone Co poster

A poster by the Gramophone Company from a private collection. Circa 1910s. Printed Calcutta?

Project Summary

An exploration of how the methods of “big science” might elucidate and facilitate the humanistic understanding of music, speech, and other audio expressions, the one-year Audio Cultures of India project will deploy data mining and computational pattern analysis techniques more common to the physical and biological sciences to produce a sound history of modern India. Drawing on vast digital corpora already hosted at the University of Chicago Library, this project will bring together faculty, students, and staff from music, anthropology, the Computational Institute, Argonne National Laboratory, and the Library to identify and experiment with new methods for using scientific technologies to process large digital humanities databases. The dense performative culture that characterizes India will receive special attention in an attempt to develop a comparative framework for understanding historical interrelations in the aural world—a sound history of modern India.

Library Involvement

Over the past few years the Library’s Southern Asia Department has developed a special collecting focus on early audio materials from the South Asian subcontinent. Previous initiatives have resulted in presentation of extremely rare audio recordings from the Linguistic Survey of India via the Digital South Asia Library as resources open for scholarly use at dsal.uchicago.edu/lsi/; presentation of The Record News at dsal.uchicago.edu/books/trn/; creation of a collection of early gramophone records at the Roja Muthiah Research Library in Chennai, India; and assistance in development of the Archive of Indian Music in Bangalore, India. In addition to collecting, preserving and providing access to its vast and growing collection of audio resources from India, the Library will maintain a website that will disseminate the results of two workshops associated with the project.

A Worldwide Literature: Jāmī (1414-1492) in the Dar al-Islam and Beyond

Primary Investigator

Thibaut d’Hubert, Assistant Professor, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations

Project Collaborator

Alexandre Papas, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) / Centre d’Études Turques, Ottomanes, Balkaniques et Centrasiatiques (CETOBAC), Paris

Jāmī, Tuḥfat al-aḥrār

Courtesy of the BnF – Jāmī, Tuḥfat al-aḥrār, Bnf supp. persan 547, fol. 17.

Project Summary

This one-year seed project aims to develop and articulate a long-term research agenda that would fill a massive lacuna in modern scholarship on transformative intellectual trends in the post-classical Muslim intellectual tradition by studying the reception of the works of polymath ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī (1414-1492), one of the most widely read authors in the Eurasian continent between his lifetime and the early modern period. Ambitious in its theoretical aims and grounded in creative philological approaches, this project endeavors to provide answers to crucial questions largely neglected by Islamic historiography. Seed funding will afford the principal organizers the opportunity to develop a coherent plan that would bring visiting scholars to campus to catalyze a cross-disciplinary conference and prepare a digital collection and searchable corpus of Unicode texts comprising Jāmī’s works along with the Indian commentaries published by Naval Kishore in the nineteenth century.

Library Collaboration

The Library’s James Nye and Laura Ring are collaborating with  Professor d’Hubert on the development of the online interactive corpus of Jāmī’s South Asian commentaries to support the teaching and research activities of the project. The corpus will include rare lithographed editions. Scans of the original books and searchable Unicode versions of the texts will be linked to assist scholars in studying the paleographic and codicological features of the originals, as well as other philological features highlighted by computer-generated analytical tools. Introductory notes on the value and nature of each text written by project participants will also be included.

Such an online, interactive environment will allow scholars to creatively explore a complex corpus of texts, the conventions of which remain to be systematically analyzed. It will also give project participants the opportunity to use their knowledge and skills to introduce the larger public to a highly codified, immensely rich, and barely known commentarial tradition.

The Library’s leadership of the Digital South Asia Library has provided a rich base of practical experience for collaborating in preparation of the Jāmī corpus. The Southern Asia Department’s close linkages with the British Library, National Library of India, and other international libraries holding early editions of Jāmī’s works will enable the collection of copies of all required texts.

Iraq’s Intelligentsia Under Siege: 1980-2012

Primary Investigator

Tom Ginsburg, Professor, Law School

Principal Research Assistant

Matthew Schweitzer, undergraduate, The University of Chicago

Project Collaborators

Iza Hussin, Professor, Political Science
McGuire Gibson, Professor, Oriental Institute and Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Saad Jawad, Senior Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics
Catherine Lutz, Director of the Costs of War Project, Brown University
Daniel Meyer, Director, Special Collections Research Center
Dahr Jamail, Producer, Human Rights Department, Al Jazeera

Project Summary

Three decades of war and external pressure in Iraq have led to the decimation of its university system and its intellectuals. What does it mean to be a scholar at war? Is humanistic inquiry during wartime possible? How has this downfall of Iraq’s domestic university-level intellectual class—professors and university researchers—affected the country’s social, military, and political spheres? These questions form the core of a yearlong analysis of Iraq’s intellectual landscape since the start of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, carrying the narrative through the sanctions period and 2003 invasion to the present day. The destruction of Iraq’s academic class has been an underreported yet grave phenomenon that holds serious implications for the country’s—and the region’s—future. This project represents an effort to capture this history through first-hand accounts, by interviewing Iraqi university professors and research in Iraq and in diaspora, to establish an audio archive of these stories at the University of Chicago Library’s Special Collections Research Center, and to publish an analysis on the demise of Iraq’s intellectual class.

Library Contribution

Research undertaken by this project will create a broad-ranging body of historically important documentation. These unique materials will have continuing significance as a record of the experience of Iraqi intellectuals and as an invaluable resource for future scholarship and policy analysis. In order to preserve and extend access to the project’s original content, the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library will house the printed transcripts of more than 100 oral histories collected from Iraqis and western policymakers. Special Collections will also accession and preserve in the Library’s digital repository the digitally recorded interviews and other electronic materials collected by the project.

Supplemental print and digital files documenting the development of the project will be added to this archive as the research and writing proceeds. Once the project’s programs and research are completed and the published book has been issued, the archive of the Iraqi intellectuals project will remain as a permanent historical resource. The personal narratives gathered from Iraqi professors and western officials will support investigations by future researchers, teachers, and students. In addition, these unique records will enhance the University’s Middle East collections, one of the premier collections in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies in the world, and facilitate collecting of additional materials on modern Iraq and the Iraq War.

Global Impact

“The Library is so many things for us at the Neubauer Collegium,” says David Nirenberg, Director of the Neubauer Collegium. “It is a beacon that attracts our fellows and collaborators from all over the world.  Its collections rank among our most important research instruments. And it is also a key partner in making the results of those researches available globally. How fitting that, throughout these first years of the Neubauer Collegium’s existence, we call the Library home.”

“The University of Chicago Library has long served as a meeting ground for international scholars,” says Nadler, “and participation in the Collegium allows us to continue this tradition of providing resources and spaces while collaborating in the development of new approaches to cross-disciplinary scholarship.”

‘Swiss Treasures’ exhibition closes Dec. 14

Liber Psalmorum

Liber Psalmorum, Medieval Bible in Latin and German, ca. 1200. Courtesy of Martin Bodmer Foundation in Cologny (Geneva)

Situated in the heart of Europe, Switzerland has long been a center for Biblical studies and transformative contributions to Judeo-Christian culture. The exhibition Swiss Treasures: From Biblical Papyrus and Parchment to Erasmus, Zwingli, Calvin, and Barth explores the importance of Swiss religious influences across a range of traditions and historical personalities. Papyri, parchments, first editions, early printings, and modern manuscripts represent treasures in Swiss institutions that link these and other religious thinkers to the philosophical, theological, and political movements that have shaped the modern world.

The rare historical treasures on display from September 21 to December 14 in the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery have been gathered from seven distinguished Swiss archives and libraries: Basel University Library (Basel), State and University Library (Fribourg), Abbey Library of St. Gall (St. Gall), Central Library (Zurich), the Martin Bodmer Foundation (Cologny), Karl Barth Archive (Basel), and Library of Geneva (Geneva). The exhibition also displays a rare volume from the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library.   

Among the manuscripts shown in the exhibition are texts of the Psalms from the Epistle of Jude (fourth century); fragments of the world’s oldest Vulgate version of the Gospels (fifth century); and leaves from one of the few remaining examples of a Samaritan Pentateuch (ca. 1495-96).

Novum Instrumentum

Novum Instrumentum Omne, first printed Greek New Testament edited by Erasmus, 1516. Courtesy of Basel University Library – Öffentliche Bibliothek der Universität Basel

Among the printed texts on display are an early printed edition of the Talmud (1578); the first New Testament to be printed in Greek (1516); and the first printings of Bibles in German and French, which were based on the original Hebrew and Greek and overseen by the reformers Zwingli (1530) and Calvin (1535). Some of the rare books on exhibit feature illustrations that are among the finest examples of Swiss printing in the sixteenth century.

The exhibit also displays archival treasures from the twentieth century, including a handwritten draft of the Barmen Theological Declaration (1934), a testimony to the anti-Nazi struggle within Protestantism from the hand of one of its leaders, Karl Barth.

This unique display of rare historical treasures from Swiss institutions was brought together to mark the joint annual meetings in Chicago of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion, held in November 2012.

Preserving endangered Urdu periodicals

British Library awards UChicago £52,247 grant to preserve endangered Urdu periodicals

The University of Chicago has been awarded a £52,247 grant from the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme, funded by Arcadia, for the digitization and preservation of 60 rare and endangered Urdu language periodicals. With the grant, digital images of magazines and journals will be produced at the Mushfiq Khwaja Library and Research Centre in Karachi, Pakistan, and made available through the University of Chicago Library and the British Library, giving scholars access to a significant archive of the most important Urdu periodicals from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Ṣalā’e ām cover image

Ṣalā’e ām, a highly influential periodical, was published from 1908 through 1929 from Delhi. It is held in the Mushfiq Khwaja Library and
Research Centre.

“Without a doubt, Urdu periodicals published between the 1870s and 1940s are of critical importance for anyone doing research in the humanities or social sciences concerning the Urdu-phone populations of India and Pakistan,” says Professor Emeritus C.M. Naim, who taught Urdu in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

Urdu was the lingua franca in much of the subcontinent during the 19th century and Urdu periodicals provide a broad spectrum of writings on a range of important issues in South Asia through the 19th and 20th centuries, making their preservation invaluable for scholars of the language and the region.

“Thanks to the easy technology and low cost of litho printing, the only accepted form for Urdu script texts across South Asia, Urdu weeklies and monthlies began to appear in the 1870s,” Naim explains. “It was in the periodicals that all major modern writers and political and social figures made their debuts and gained popularity. And it is only in the periodicals that we can discover the full extent of many literary and political
controversies that are only now beginning to gain the attention of scholars.”

A panel of internationally recognized Urdu scholars, including Naim, will select the periodicals to be archived. The selected titles will be preserved by creating high-resolution digital page images.

Humāyūn cover image

Humāyūn was a prominent monthly literary magazine produced in Lahore from 1922 and continuing into the 1950s.

The Mushfiq Khwaja Library and Research Centre, which is owned and managed by the University of Chicago Library on behalf of a consortium of U.S. research libraries, houses one of the finest collections of Urdu periodicals in the world, making it an ideal location for the project. James Nye, University of Chicago Library Bibliographer for Southern Asia and Principal Investigator for the project, acquired the collection for the consortium. He noted that “this project is a testament to what is possible through the University’s collaboration with our colleagues in Pakistan and India. The teamwork will benefit scholars around the world through free access to invaluable primary research resources.”

Nasir Javaid, the Mushfiq Khwaja Library and Research Centre Executive Director, will lead digitization activities in Pakistan. As a byproduct of the project, best practices for conservation and digitization will be disseminated to collaborating institutions across Pakistan and India.

Digital images will be archived by the British Library and the University of Chicago Library, and disseminated via the Digital South Asia Library and the HathiTrust Digital Library. Digital and paper copies of the periodicals will be cataloged and made visible via OCLC’s WorldCat and the South Asia Union Catalogue.

For more information about the Endangered Archives Programme, visit http://eap.bl.uk/.

UChicago, NU launch UNCAP archives website

UNCAP archives website launched by University of Chicago Library and Northwestern University Library

The University of Chicago Library and Northwestern University Library are pleased to announce the launch of an innovative collaboration to support research in primary archival sources.

Uncovering New Chicago Archives Project (UNCAP), http://UNCAP.lib.uchicago.edu/, is a freely available web site that delivers hundreds of finding aids representing strengths of the archival collections of the University of Chicago Library and Northwestern University Library.

Ida B. Wells portrait (photograph)

Ida B. Wells-Barnett wearing “Martyred Negro Soldiers” button, ca. 1917-1919. Ida B. Wells Papers, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library

Through the new UNCAP web site, researchers can search across collections and institutions for information on a broad range of topics: African American history and culture, theater, jazz, urban sociology, journalism, Native Americans, modern poetry, anthropology, African studies, literature, criminology and legal studies, art and photography, medical history, and the Manhattan Project.

UNCAP extends and expands the success of Mapping the Stacks, an initiative launched in 2005 by Jacqueline Goldsby, a scholar of African American studies. In January 2007, Mapping the Stacks became part of UNCAP, which was funded through September 2010 by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation. The UNCAP site provides archival finding aids created during the Mellon grant for collections at a group of Chicago institutions: the University of Chicago, the Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature at the Chicago Public Library, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the South Side Community Art Center, and the Chicago Defender.

UNCAP is now being substantially expanded through the joint efforts of Northwestern University Library and the University of Chicago Library. UNCAP finding aids represent the extraordinarily rich array of archival collections at Northwestern and the University of Chicago. Among the highlights now accessible through the UNCAP web site are:

Northwestern University Library — UNCAP Highlights

The Melville J. Herskovits (1895–1963) Papers document the life and research of a seminal American anthropologist. Herskovits was the founder of Northwestern’s famous Library of African Studies, which now bears his name. Numerous other important archives in UNCAP, e.g. the papers of Lorenzo Dow Turner and Dennis Brutus, are central resources for students of Africa and the African diaspora.

John Henry Wigmore (1863–1943) was on the law faculty at Northwestern from 1893 until 1929. His “Treatise on Evidence” (1904–05) was probably the most heavily cited law text of its day. The Wigmore Papers are one of several important archives in the field of law and criminology, among which is Northwestern’s extensive Leopold and Loeb Collection, which includes hundreds of pages of original transcripts from the confessions, the psychiatric evaluations, and both original ransom notes from this famous 1924 murder case.

Several finding aids open to students and scholars the history and activities of the Northwestern University Settlement Association, founded in 1891 to provide social services, educational programs, referrals, and emergency relief to a poor immigrant neighborhood on Chicago’s near northwest side.

Finally, Northwestern’s strengths in theatre and the performing arts are represented by finding aids to the papers of the great Chicago director Frank Galati, winner of nine Jeff Awards, and Winifred Ward (1884–1975), founder of The Children’s Theater of Evanston, one of the pioneer theaters for children in America, which she led for 25 years before retiring in 1950. The guide to the Papers of Viola Spolin, the godmother of Chicago improv, will be added to UNCAP later this year.

University of Chicago Library — UNCAP Highlights

After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, World War II Manhattan Project scientists organized a campaign to control nuclear weapons and assure civilian control of nuclear energy. Archival collections from this scientists’ movement include records of the Association of Los Alamos Scientists, Association of Oak Ridge Scientists and Engineers, Association of Pasadena Scientists, Association of Cambridge Scientists, Atomic Scientists of Chicago, and Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists. Archival files of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists document emerging views of scientists on the technological and social impact of nuclear policy.

Sun Ra and His Arkestra, Jazz in Silhouette

Sun Ra and His Arkestra, Jazz in Silhouette, Saturn LP 5786, 1959. Alton Abraham Collection of Sun Ra Papers, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library

Chicago jazz and poetry are also represented. The John Steiner Collection includes letters, publications, photographs, and other material about Chicago jazz musicians, groups, clubs, and recording companies. The Alton Abraham Collection of Sun Ra Papers documents the career of Sun Ra and his Arkestra with manuscripts, business records, printed ephemera, artifacts, photographs, album art. Poet, critic, and teacher Ralph J. Mills, Jr. (1931-2007) is represented by a collection that includes letters, manuscripts of his writings, and poetry publications. The papers of Michael Anania (born 1939) document his career as a professor, poet, novelist, and editor. The records of the Poetry Center of Chicago (founded 1973) preserve the history of an influential non-profit arts organization dedicated to providing broader access to poetry through poetry readings, public events, and educational programs.

The papers of Ida B. Wells, (1862-1931), the notable American civil rights leader and anti-lynching activist, include diaries, photographs, clippings about her many political and social achievements, and the manuscript of her autobiography, Crusade for Justice. The papers of Julius Rosenwald, progressive philanthropist and businessman, trace his influential role in supporting rural schools for African American, higher education at the Tuskegee Institute and Howard University, urban social welfare reform, and World War I civilian relief efforts.

A select group of UNCAP collections have been digitized, allowing researchers to click on links in finding aids and view digital scans of the original content. Among these, the Dr. Harry and Dr. Ruth Morris Bakwin Soviet Posters Collection presents vivid images of political posters, many promoting Stalin’s First Five Year Plan (1928-1932) to develop heavy industry in the Soviet Union. The Middle Eastern Posters Collection provides graphic depictions of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iran-Iraq War, and mine safety programs for civilians in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

List of indentured servants on board the Vigor, January 30, 1785. Slavery and Indentured Servitude Collection, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library

Marking the launch of UNCAP, Judith Nadler, Director and University Librarian at the University of Chicago says, “UNCAP offers an effective new tool for students, teachers, and researchers to explore a rich range of historical collections located in Chicago. Finding aids of the University of Chicago and Northwestern University are now jointly accessible through searches in the same database, accompanied by guides to unique historical materials from the Harsh Collection, DuSable Museum, South Side Community Art Center, and Chicago Defender. We look forward to working with Northwestern in continuing to expand this valuable collaborative resource.”

Sarah Pritchard, Dean of Libraries and Charles Deering McCormick University Librarian at Northwestern University, says of UNCAP, “UNCAP represents an important new vehicle for scholars at each of these major universities to discover the archival riches of the other—as well as at their own institutions and several neighboring institutions. Collections of original archives, even in this digital age, are largely unique, physical, complex, and place-bound resources for making new discoveries. UNCAP ‘UNCAPs’ them for a whole generation of students and scholars.”

For additional information on the content of UNCAP archival collections, please contact:

Jeffrey Garrett
Associate University Librarian for Special Libraries & Director, Special Collections and Archives
Northwestern University Library
jgarrett@northwestern.edu

Daniel Meyer
Director, Special Collections Research Center & University Archivist
University of Chicago Library
arch@uchicago.edu

For technical information on the UNCAP database and finding aid encoding, please contact:

Charles Blair
Director, Digital Library Development Center
University of Chicago Library
chas@uchicago.edu

Rare Chinese texts spark collaboration

The United States is home to many important pre-modern Chinese texts, from the only surviving copy of some volumes of a 15th-century Encyclopedia, the Yongledadian, to the Sequel to Yuanxiang qijiu shiji, an unpublished manuscript of a poetry collection from the Qing dynasty held at the University of Chicago Library. The University of Chicago’s collection of Chinese rare books alone comprises some 10,000 volumes.

Detail from “Xing jun ji xiang yi tu,” roughly translated as “Prophecies for Success in Military Campaigns,"

“Xing jun ji xiang yi tu,” roughly translated as “Prophecies for Success in Military Campaigns,” was written and drawn in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). It is held at the University of Chicago Library. (Photo by Sherry Byrne)

Yet not enough is known about how scholars use these collections, the preservation needs of the materials, or what preservation efforts are under way across the country. According to Yuan Zhou, curator of the Library’s East Asian Collection, scholars from China and the West need more ways to share expertise and to learn from each other.

So this May, Zhou and Prof. Edward Shaughnessy organized a conference at the University of Chicago’s Mansueto Library to provide a forum for scholars, collection curators, and preservation specialists from China and the West to collaborate and share their knowledge of pre-modern Chinese materials. “Texting China—Composition, Transmission, Preservation of Pre-modern Chinese Textual Materials” also provided a rare opportunity for scholars of Chinese texts to present alongside library curators and preservation specialists from leading institutions in China, Taiwan, the United States, Canada, and Europe.

The Mansueto Library was an especially fitting choice of location for the conference, according to Library Director Judith Nadler. The new library, with its cutting-edge preservation facilities, Nadler said, “is both a symbol and the realization of the commitment to preservation and access to global resources that support scholarship worldwide.”

The event was held in honor of Tsuen-Hsien (T.H.) Tsien, Professor Emeritus in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, who made what Nadler described as a “remarkable contribution to the study and preservation of China’s literary heritage” during his lengthy career at UChicago. The event was a reunion of sorts for Tsien and several of his students, who now head the East Asia collections at top universities throughout the United States and returned to Chicago to celebrate the work of their former teacher.

“A needed collaboration”

“I went into this conference thinking there were major differences in the things that needed to be done with Chinese books and with Western books,” says Shaughnessy, the Lorraine J. and Herlee G. Creel Distinguished Service Professor in Early Chinese Studies. He was encouraged to discover that the knowledge gap was significantly smaller than he initially thought.

A Dunhuang manuscript scroll that contains three fragments of Buddhist sutras was initially appraised by the UChicago Library and determined to date back to the ninth century. An expert from the National Library of China, who has studied numerous similar pieces at his own institution, examined the manuscript during the conference. He has suggested the piece dates back to the seventh century. (Photo by Michael Kenny)

The fundamentals of preserving and conserving Western and Chinese materials are very similar, although early Chinese materials often use types of paper and ink, and binding methods that are less familiar to conservators trained in the West. “Even though the science is the same, the format is different,” explains Shaughnessy.

Preservation of early texts is vital to the work of scholars like Shaughnessy, who studies the cultural and literary history of the early Zhou period. He is currently at work on a survey of recently excavated examples of the Yi Jing (Book of Changes) an ancient Chinese text used for divination.

During the conference, all participants reaped the benefits of their counterparts’ expertise. For example, the Library holds a Dunhuang manuscript scroll that contains three fragments of Buddhist sutras, thought to date back to the 9th century. An expert from the National Library of China, who has studied numerous similar pieces at his own institution, examined the manuscript and suggested the piece was even older than it was initially appraised by the Library. Judging from the paper and calligraphy, he dated the piece to the seventh century.

In addition, Zhou and a delegation of experts from the National Library of China visited the Field Museum to examine a Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) rubbing of the Lanting Xu, a collection of poetry inscribed by master calligrapher Wang Xishi. Based on his expertise with early royal families and collectors’ seals, Zhang Zhiqing, deputy director of the National Library of China, was able to verify the authenticity of the rubbing, and proposed that it may be the oldest existing copy of the Lanting Xu.

Edward Shaughnessy, the Lorraine J. and Herlee G. Creel Distinguished Service Professor in Early Chinese Studies, speaks at the “Texting China” international symposium at the University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library Special Collections Research Center held in May. (Photo by Jason Smith)

This kind of interchange is exactly what the conference was designed to promote. “Everyone agreed it was a needed collaboration,” Zhou says. In fact, the conference was the first of its kind in the United States that brought together an international assemblage of scholars who use the entire span of pre-modern Chinese written materials in their research with librarians who care for these materials to discuss their making, dissemination, and preservation.

“Texting China” also came in the midst of significant efforts to broaden the study of China at the University of Chicago. In addition to the creation of the University’s Center in Beijing and the Confucius Institute, two leading experts on China, historian Kenneth Pomeranz and comparative literature scholar Haun Saussy, have joined the faculty as University Professors.

“A legendary figure”

The conference provided an opportunity to honor Tsien, whom Zhou described as a “legendary figure” in his field. Tsien, 102, came to the University in 1947 and went on to become the curator of the East Asian collection. He also taught at UChicago’s former library school and in East Asian Languages and Civilizations.

The “Texting China” international symposium celebrated the life’s work of Tsuen-Hsien (T.H.) Tsien, Professor Emeritus in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Library Director Judith Nadler described Tsien’s work as a “remarkable contribution to the study and preservation of China’s literary heritage.” (Photo by Jason Smith)

In addition to his work at Chicago, Tsien is known for his heroic efforts to protect China’s literary heritage in World War II. During the Japanese occupation of China, Tsien risked his life to help smuggle more than 100 wooden crates of rare books from the National Library of China to the United States.

The fruits of Tsien’s effort to protect Chinese rare books were on display at the conference, as scholars from UChicago and elsewhere discussed their work on pre-modern Chinese texts. Donald Harper, the Centennial Professor of Chinese Studies, discussed his study of the provenance of the Chu Silk Manuscript, now held by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. Yuming He, Assistant Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, presented her work on global consciousness in the Ming Period.

Only a beginning

During this two-and-half-day conference, 23 presentations were delivered, followed by two roundtable panel discussions. The scholars and librarians from China and the West exchanged their research findings in studying pre-modern Chinese texts, shared their experience in preserving and conserving these materials, and discussed issues of mutual concern.

Yuan Zhou

Yuan Zhou, curator of the Library’s East Asian Collection, and co-organizer of the “Texting China” symposium. (Photo by Jason Smith)

In an era when many are forecasting the death of the physical book, Shaughnessy found it especially meaningful to have scholars present alongside the librarians who care for the materials they study. “As the significance of the digital age has really dawned on scholars of all stripes, I think it’s impressed itself upon them that we really need to know [about] the media that carries this information,” he says.

Zhou says he was heartened by the collaboration that took place at the event. In this regard, “this conference is only a beginning,” Zhou says. He and Shaughnessy hope to eventually develop an exchange program with the National Library of China that would allow preservation specialists in the East and West to work together. Other conference participants proposed assessing the preservation needs of pre-modern Chinese texts, creating an international digital registry of these materials, undertaking more collaborative digitization projects, assessing educational needs and developing a curriculum to meet them, and fundraising to support preservation efforts.

“These materials need to be preserved,” Zhou says. “The conference brought people a higher awareness of such need, and [it] shows that colleagues from the West and China are very willing to work together and pursue this shared goal.”

A University of Chicago news release

Videogame collection supports scholarly study

After several months of fascinating discussion about emerging interest in the academic study of videogames, I am overjoyed that the University of Chicago Library has acquired its first videogame collection, and that these games will soon be available for borrowing from the Mansueto Library. Why, some might ask, should a university library add videogames to its holdings? Moreover, why is the popular digital game form important? And, finally, what might the University of Chicago community gain from this new collection?

VideogameThere are many ways to approach these questions. I’ll offer just a few responses. Digital games are one of the major entertainment and art forms of the late 20th and early 21st century. Taking into account the combined growth of console, personal computer, portable, and online games, estimates suggest that games are a roughly $60 billion a year industry and some estimates suggest that they’re poised to reach $70 billion a year by 2015. In 2011, there were approximately 183 million active gamers in the United States who played digital games an average of 13 hours a week. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the average American gamer in 2010 was 37 years old, and 42% of all game players were women.

These averages are suggestive but some games inspire even more extreme forms of spending and gameplay. For example, in late 2010, the game Call of Duty: Black Ops earned $650 million in worldwide sales in just five days — a huge yield even by comparison to the top-grossing film in a comparable five-day time span, The Dark Knight, which earned about $200 million. Perhaps the more startling fact, reported by Black Ops creator Activision, was that the over 20 million early adopters of the game logged more than 600 million hours of collective gameplay in the first 45 days after release — a play time that adds up to an astonishing 68,000 years.

That videogames are extremely profitable and a popular form of entertainment that touches millions of people in the early 21st century suggests that they are and will continue to be of interest to social science fields such as psychology, economics, anthropology, and education. However, these reasons alone perhaps do not offer a compelling enough reason for assembling a historical collection of videogames at a top university library.

Art videogameYet the games themselves, I would argue, are equally important and worthy of study as the activity that they inspire. In recent years, the humanities and social sciences have started attending increasingly to the historical, technological, and artistic properties of videogames. There are many ongoing debates among scholars and game designers about which properties of digital games derive from other forms, including novels, films, theater, and sports contests. There are discussions about which components of digital games — interactivity, networked communities, hypermediated interfaces, and so on — make them unique. Cultural studies has also raised critical questions about the ways in which race, gender, class, and sexuality are represented (or often go underrepresented or misrepresented) in popular games, as well as the ways in which players negotiate these categories during play. Increasingly, the overarching question of “Why should we study videogames?” is yielding to more refined questions and significant research projects that are shaping a rich field of study.

There has already been a great deal of excitement surrounding videogames as an area of serious scholarly study at the University of Chicago. In 2010, Professor John Reppy taught an upper-level Game Construction course in the Computer Science department that approached software engineering through computer games. In 2011, along with Melissa Gilliam (Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Pediatrics and Chief of the Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive Research), I started the Game Changer Chicago initiative to oversee projects related to serious games and health education.

In the winter quarter of 2012, I also taught a graduate-level, humanities-oriented course called Critical Videogame Studies that attracted 23 students. These participants came from a wide range of disciplines including English, cinema and media studies, anthropology, economics, history, and law. These students were interested in applying various methodologies and asking different kinds of questions about our shared topic. Over the course of the quarter, our close readings of games attended to their aesthetics, interface designs, narratives, gameplay procedures, player interactions, cultural dimensions, economic implications, and technical attributes. We discussed the historical development of videogames from Steve Russell’s early 1960s game Spacewar! to 21st century massively multiplayer online games such as Minecraft. We explored numerous videogame genres, including first-person shooters, music performance games, serious and educational games, and independent art games. We read texts by game theorists including Ian Bogost, Roger Caillois, Nick Dyer-Witheford, James Paul Gee, Johan Huizinga, Jane McGonigal, Marshall McLuhan, Katie Salen, and Eric Zimmerman.

The intellectual energy surrounding videogames that I observed in this recent course has extended far beyond the classroom at the University of Chicago. Beginning in 2010, we had our first informal gameplay and discussion nights that included undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. Building on these sessions, a dedicated group of participants started a vibrant student group called the Ludic Union for the Investigation of Gaming Interfaces (LUIGI) that encourages the study, design, and development of videogames and transmedia games at the university. Several undergraduate and graduate students in this group are working on scholarly and creative projects about videogames and are planning to teach future courses on different topics in the field.

The videogame collection at the University of Chicago Library is intended to support both teaching and research about videogames. The first version of this collection, which we hope to expand even more in the coming years, already includes a range of games released between 1977 and 2012. There are games for consoles that include the Atari VCS, NES, SNES, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Xbox, Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Certain consoles (including the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360), which have been both donated and purchased, are also available to be checked out at the Department of Visual Arts (DOVA) equipment cage in the recently opened Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. Even as the collection is currently focused on console games, we hope to expand it to other areas, such as computer and mobile games, in future years. The games included in the present collection have been carefully selected to cover a range of genres, historical developments, platforms, and design innovations.

 

Selected Games

As part of an invitation to explore this collection together, I have asked members of the LUIGI student group (who have played an active and vital role in shaping the collection) to offer a brief introduction to some of the games that they find most significant from a historical and artistic standpoint. While many of the videogames we find most compelling had to be left off of this list, this selection of games purchased by the Library offers a taste of what our growing collection has to offer.

Adventure (Atari VCS, 1979, Atari Inc.)
Ian Jones, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

AdventureWith Will Crowther and Don Woods’ 1976 work of interactive fiction of the same title serving as its inspiration, and everything from The Legend of Zelda through Shadow of the Colossus and Red Dead Redemption standing as its spiritual progeny, Adventure for the Atari VCS represents the birth of the console adventure game. One of the few games on the VCS to represent a space that extended beyond the bounds of a single screen, Adventure is a fascinating example of the emergence of new depictive forms in the face of technology poorly optimized for the task, and its “Easter egg” — a well-hidden room sporting the message “created by Warren Robinett” — provides a small window into labor relations in programming at the time.

 

Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo Entertainment System, 1985, Nintendo Creative Department)
Chris Carloy, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Videogame Super Mario Bros.There may not be a more iconic videogame than Super Mario Bros. Its clean, colorful pixelated style and musical score have become shorthand for the videogame as a cultural object — and the subcultures that surround it. To play Super Mario Bros. is to experience a desperate rush to safety at the end of the level — to sprint under enemies, leap over pits, and land precariously on the other side. Though it rewards practice and patient exploration, its most thrilling moments come from being overwhelmed — when there are so many enemies, such unfamiliar terrain, and so little chance for survival that there is no time for thought and one is given over to impulse and leaps of faith. As with similarly iconic works in other media, its familiarity can easily overshadow its difficulty, its depth, and its influence.

Virtua Fighter 2 (Sega Saturn, 1995, Sega-AM2)
Chris Carloy, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Videogame Virtua Fighter 2The Virtua Fighter series played an important role in the evolution of both the fighting genre and videogame graphics in the mid-1990s. The privileging of simple moves over virtuosic button combinations, together with the groundbreaking use of polygon graphics to give weight to characters’ bodies and increase the illusion of onscreen depth, made the Virtua Fighter experience as much about the interaction of two bodies in space as it was about knockouts. Playing a fighting game typically means practicing series of finger movements, developing and performing a personal style, and testing of one’s abilities against another human or a computer. The Virtua Fighter series demonstrated that the distances between characters and the pauses between moves are as palpable a part of this experience as the frenzy of attack.

Earthbound (Super Nintendo Entertainment System, 1995, Ape and HAL Laboratory)
Patrick Jagoda, University of Chicago faculty, English

Released under the alternate title Mother 2 (1994) in Japan, this epic turn-based role-playing game (RPG) invites the player to guide a party of children through an American metropolis, a zombie-infested town, a cultist village, an overpriced resort town, a parallel dimension inspired by Twin Peaks, and many other settings. Complicating the fantasy-oriented RPG, this postmodern production offers a lengthy quest that unfolds in the game’s contemporary 1990s. Although it was not originally a commercial success, Earthbound garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews and developed a cult following. The game operates at once as an innovative RPG and as a parody of the genre. The game calls attention to its gameplay and narrative conventions through self-referential commentary and clever, media-specific violations of the fourth wall. Earthbound was designed by Shigesato Itoi — a popular cultural figure in Japan whose creative work includes essays, copywriting, lyrics, voice acting, short stories co-written with award-winning Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, and a well-known news site (“Almost Daily Itoi News”).

Resident Evil (PlayStation, 1996, Capcom)
Clint Froehlich, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Videogame Resident EvilInspired by horror games Alone in the Dark and Sweet Home, Capcom’s Resident Evil (1996) was singular upon its release. Its popularity led to the categorization of “survival-horror” as a sub-genre. A corny corporate-malfeasance narrative and famously bad dialogue and voice-acting (“Here’s a lockpick. It might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you”) don’t detract from the game’s frequent scares and creepy atmosphere. It remains notable for its stunning pre-rendered backgrounds and its effective emulation of horror-movie tropes through static camera angles (very rare in today’s games), cinematic “cut scenes,” and an agile soundtrack that values ominous silence and disturbing sound effects more than aggressive underscoring.  

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64, 1998, Nintendo EAD)
Nicholas Cassleman, University of Chicago undergraduate, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (Game Design)

Like the other games in the Zelda franchise, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is lauded for its sense of grandeur and adventure. Inspired by childhood explorations of Japan’s countryside, Zelda’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto aimed to create an expansive, adventure-filled world that empowered its players. Puzzle-endowed dungeons, cumulative collection of unique items and powers, and rich 3D graphics for the game’s new 64-bit console helped Ocarina of Time become one of the console’s top-rated games. Many systems in the game, including target-locking and situational controls that were developed to overcome problems interacting with a 3D environment, have become conventional mainstays in today’s videogames.

Shenmue (Sega Dreamcast, 1999, Sega AM2)
Lyndsey Moulds, University of Chicago undergraduate, English

Videogame ShenmueOften described as the first true “open world” adventure game, Shenmue (1999) is notable for its unprecedented focus on creating an immersive world. In a revolutionary attempt at realism, elements of the game are illustrated with equal attention to detail: the game’s numerous characters and interiors are all painstakingly rendered, regardless of their relevance to the main story. Shenmue is notable even when compared to contemporary games for its portrayal of the mundane — perhaps best exemplified by the way the main character carefully removes his shoes each time he enters his home.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (Nintendo GameCube, 2001, HAL Laboratory)
Marley-Vincent Lindsey,
University of Chicago undergraduate, History

Videogame Super Smash Bros. Melee

Building on the original Super Smash Brothers (1999) for the Nintendo 64, Super Smash Brothers Melee (2001) is the best-selling videogame for the Nintendo GameCube. It provides a universe in which major characters and stories from all of Nintendo’s consoles collide. The combat system is different from other fighter games because more damage does not guarantee victory — players must instead force opposing characters offstage to win. Melee provides a challenge, both through game design and exploits (or parts of code that had unintended consequences). For example, “wave dashing” is a technique through which the player can continue moving while being viewed by the game engine as standing still, thereby allowing for attacks to continue. Such exploits were quickly adopted by professional players and implemented in tournaments. The game was picked up by Major League Gaming in 2005, and was also featured in prominent competitive game tournaments from 2003 to 2007. It is one of the rare instances in which competition thrived even after the release of a game’s sequel (Super Smash Brothers Brawl for the Nintendo Wii in 2008).

PsychoNauts (Xbox, 2005, Double Fine Productions)
Ian Jones, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

PsychonautsAfter his critically beloved Grim Fandango flopped and effectively ended LucasArt’s PC adventure game division, renowned game developer Tim Schafer formed Double Fine Productions and turned to console game development.  PsychoNauts transfers Schafer’s talents for deft characterization and madcap dialogue into a somewhat off-kilter hybrid of the adventure and 3D-platformer genres.  Although the core gameplay can be uneven at times (with certain later levels becoming infamous for their wildly out-of-balance difficulty), PsychoNauts nevertheless utterly charms with its whimsical world filled with pyrokinetic mountain lions, shadowy conspiracies involving milkmen and girl scouts, and tiny cities players find themselves wrecking, Japanese monster-movie style.

Shadow of the Colossus (PlayStation 2, 2005, Team ICO)
Chris Carloy, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus, like many adventure games before it, is built on familiar tropes: as the hero, take your sword, and your horse, and go kill giants in order to revive a lifeless damsel. Remarkably, by stripping the game of all but these elements and by pushing the scale of settings and monsters to unimaginable heights, the makers of Shadow of the Colossus created a game that was one part meditation on solitude, the sublime, death, and the moral ambiguity of violence, and one part ecstatic, breathtaking hero’s quest. In Shadow of the Colossus, giants’ bodies are living geographies — and the player scales their heights only to bring them crumbling to the ground.

BioShock (Xbox 360, 2007, 2K Games)
Nicholas Cassleman, University of Chicago undergraduate, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (Game Design)

BioshockBioShock is considered by many to be one of videogame form’s finest examples of art. The game takes place in Rapture, an underwater city inspired by Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy. In this world, a mysterious protagonist fights his way through the dystopian remains of the 1960s era city. In this environment, he encounters Rapture’s twisted inhabitants who have been driven mad and deformed by an addiction to recreational genetic modification. Drawing from the First Person Shooter and survival horror genres, BioShock delivers polished gameplay mechanics while telling a mature, conceptually rich story. It creates a world brimming with spatial narrative and detail matched by few other games.

Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii, 2009, Retro Studios Nintendo)
Ian Jones, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Dubbed the “Citizen Kane of videogames” by critic Michael Thompsen, Metroid Prime introduced 3D gameplay to the Metroid series, inviting players to inhabit the first-person perspective of its protagonist, interstellar bounty hunter Samus Aran. (The game remains, along with Perfect Dark, one of the few first-person games featuring a female protagonist.)  Originally released on Nintendo’s GameCube console in 2002, Prime was lauded for successfully translating the series’ trademark haunting, solitary exploration of alien landscapes into three-dimensional space, and for its presentation of backstory through in-game logs and journal entries accessible to curious and persistent players, rather than through excessive, flow-breaking cinematic cut scenes (a technique built upon later in Bioshock). Metroid Prime Trilogy collects Prime together with its sequels, adding one of the Wii’s strongest motion control-schemes to the mix.

Heavy Rain (PlayStation 3, 2010, Quantic Dream)
Kalisha Cornett, University of Chicago graduate student, Cinema and Media Studies

Heavy RainHeavy Rain embodies the potential of the medium of videogames both figuratively and literally. This “interactive drama” realizes gaming’s mimetic qualities by giving players an unprecedented relationship to the motivations and physicalities of a rotating cast of character avatars. Utilizing a context-sensitive user interface that has proven to be vastly influential across a variety of media, Heavy Rain is an ambitious, risky game that features stunning set pieces of emotional intensity and noir-infused action. Just as the art of origami transforms a flat object into a beautifully complex shape, this game becomes far more than it appears to be.

 

Videogame Showcase
June 1, 3-9 p.m.
At the Logan Center

We also invite you to attend an upcoming showcase of select titles representing the breadth of the University’s holdings on June 1 from 3-9 p.m. at the Logan Center. This showcase has been designed to highlight both what videogames have drawn from other media and what makes them uniquely worthy of study and preservation.  The six-hour event will be broken into half-hour sessions on a number of themes. Come to play or watch, for a single session or the full six hours, and learn about games and their study at the University of Chicago.  For a complete schedule, visit the LUIGI blog.

Get technology training at Regenstein TECHB@R

Library and IT Services collaboration brings technology-related programs to TECHB@R

Staff consult with Library users at TECHB@R

IT Services TECHB@R in Regenstein Library (Photo by Quinn Dombrowski)

The University of Chicago Library and IT Services are partnering to present new, technology-related training programs for the UChicago community at the IT Services TECHB@R in the Regenstein Library. Because IT Services and the Library both provide training and support on information technology resources, it can be challenging for many of our users to identify which unit to turn to for help with specific tools. This collaborative nature of the TECHB@R breaks down such barriers, providing faculty, students, and staff seamless access to the training and assistance they need.

During Spring Quarter, the TECHB@R will host a wide range of programs, which are free and open to the entire University community. Some sample topics include Google Sketch-up, wikis, citation managers (such as Zotero and EndNote), Firefox Add-ons, and the ever popular “Chalk Days,” as well as its other training programs for instructors and students alike.

A new monthly series, entitled “Tech Treats,” offers a more casual learning experience. Individuals can drop by the TECHB@R to enjoy refreshments and learn about new technology tools. Scheduled for Spring Quarter are programs on presentation software (such as PowerPoint, Keynote, Impress and PrezI) and online technology training tools (such as Lynda.com, the IT Services Knowledge Base, and Safari Tech Books online). Last quarter, librarians presented a “Tech Treats” program on the news databases Factiva and LexisNexis Academic and featured a demonstration of different news apps for the iPad.

In addition to presentations and classes, the TECHB@R hosts various “Ask the Expert” office hours. Librarians, training specialists, and Chalk support technologists offer in-depth, individual assistance using a variety of software products and systems including Chalk, Microsoft and Adobe software, citation managers, as well as other tools like WebShare and the campus wiki. The “Ask the Expert” service compliments the drop-in tech support services already offered at the TECHB@R during its regular hours and is available to all faculty, students, and staff.

The TECHB@R training spaces in Room 160 (located behind the TECHB@R counter) are appropriate for a wide variety of programs and teaching styles. These include a configurable conference-style area, a small-group training/consultation space, and small tables for one-on-one assistance. The TECHB@R’s equipment lending program provides presenters and attendees access to laptops and iPads for a hands-on learning experience.

To learn more about the TECHB@R and see a complete schedule of events for Spring Quarter, visit: itservices.uchicago.edu/techbar. We welcome your comments regarding our programs and services.

Rebecca Starkey is Librarian for College Instruction and Outreach.  Jason Edelstein is Senior Support Services Specialist.

Mansueto Library: Where from here?

At 8 a.m. on May 16, 2011, the Mansueto Library Grand Reading Room officially opened its doors to the University of Chicago community and scholars from around the world. A group of early risers were in position, waiting to claim the first seats under Mansueto’s magnificent dome, and more students streamed in throughout the day and late into the night. As they filled the room, I caught a glimpse of Mansueto’s future, but I also knew our work had just begun.

The process of loading materials into Mansueto started soon thereafter and continued throughout the summer so that nearly 1 million volumes could be loaded into Mansueto by the fall.

The formal dedication of Mansueto will be held on Tuesday, October 11. This highlight will mark the completion of the construction phase and the starting point for the next phase of programmatic developments.

The genius of Mansueto is in its beauty and functionality; its power is in its enabling features. Unless we mine these enabling features, we will have wasted its powerful promise.

[portfolio_slideshow]

Mansueto is first and foremost about discoverability. Shelf browsing and serendipitous discovery by roaming open shelves is the surest way to stumble upon unexpected information, and Mansueto enables this type of discoverability by freeing the open stacks of materials that cannot or do not need to be browsed. As our collections continue to grow,  we must sustain the careful and continuous process of collections management guided by the principles of discoverability: move to Mansueto what is not to be browsed, keep in the open stacks what is.

Mansueto enables both disciplinary and interdisciplinary collocation. Collections in all disciplines will be housed in the high density facility. At the same time, our automated discovery tools support virtual browsing by disciplinary classification regardless of where the material is physically located. We must sustain and further develop this capability as our collections grow in number and diversity.

Mansueto enables physical accessibility. It supports delivery within minutes of materials that can only be virtually browsed.

Mansueto enables flexibility. The random location of materials in high-density storage is more conducive to collection rearrangement than the classified arrangement of materials in the open stacks. We must continue to rationalize the location of collections as we monitor their use.

Mansueto enables preservation. It functions as a trusted print repository in a high-density storage vault. And it highlights the importance of conservation to ensure that materials can be safely used over time. We must respond with a preservation program that is  commensurate with the needs of our collections and the expectations of our users.

Mansueto enables virtual access through the dissemination of content in digital form. We must build up our local digitization capacity to complement mass digitization efforts  towards a program that will open our collections to users here and around the world.

Mansueto enables education, teaching, and outreach. We must equip all vacated library spaces with state-of-the-art equipment to support study and teaching with library resources and in library environments. And we must maximize the beauty and programmatic capabilities of the new Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery by extending the breadth of our physical exhibition program and complementing it with a rich virtual exhibition program.

Mansueto enables partnership and collaboration. It frees space throughout the library system for shared, collaborative cross-university initiatives. We must invest in cultivating affinities and collaboration with different units on campus that contribute to the information enterprise.

It is imperative that we take full advantage of Mansueto’s enormous potential to enable scholarship and teaching at the University of Chicago. We are eager to meet this important challenge, but we cannot do it alone.

Our friends and advocates have been with us as we built the case for Mansueto, and as we built its walls. Your foresight, generosity and investment have supported our achievements thus far. Together, we have built a magnificent frame and a powerful infrastructure for the forward-looking programs of a great library. I now invite your continued engagement and support in realizing the full potential of Mansueto as we build Library programs that further fuel research, study, and teaching at this greatest of universities.

From the Fall 2011 issue of Libra