War, Struggle, and Visual Politics: Art on the Frontlines

April 21 - April 22, 2014

April 21 – April 22, 2014

The Archives and Special Collections in collaboration with the Dodd Center and Booklyn Artists Alliance, are hosting two days of events on War, Struggle and Visual Politics: Art on the Frontlines.  Events will be held in the Dodd Research Center on April 21st and 22nd in conjunction with the Week In Humanities.  Artists Seth Tobocman, Stephen Dupont, Marshall Weber, Chantelle Bateman and Aaron Hughes will be holding talks, workshops and presenting artwork around the focus of politics and activism in art and war.  Students, community members, veterans and artists are encouraged to attend these events to provide a dynamic facilitation of how we utilize art, activism and memory to cope with war.

Art work will be on display in galleries as follows:Aaron Hughes : Institute for the Humanities : College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Seth Tobocman : Contemporary Art Gallery : School of Fine Art

Stephen Dupont : Coop Bookstore : Downtown Stores

For a full list of events, please follow this link for the Week in Humanities.

Hypocrite Lecteur: Deborah Sampson Gannett

I cannot desire you to adopt the example of our Heroine, should the like occasion offer ; yet, we must do her justice. (Mann 116)

Thus speaks Herman Mann, the author of The Female Review: or, Memoirs of an American Young Lady (1797), whose opinions in addition to his doubly-masculine name indicate his deep disapproval of his subject, Deborah Sampson Gannett, GannettTitle an unusual woman “whose life and character are peculiarly distinguished—Being a continental soldier for nearly three years in the late American war” (Mann 1).

That’s right, folks—here, after looking at the indomitable Henry Tufts, we have yet another unlikely veteran of the American Revolution, this time a woman, who, finding herself too constrained by society, “determined to burst the bands, which, it must be confessed, have too often held her sex in awe” (Mann 110), and “join[ed] the American Army in the character of a voluntary soldier” (114), “enrolled by the name of ROBERT SHURTLIEFF” (Mann 129).

Sound fascinating? Certainly. Brave? Undoubtedly. Improper? Ask Mann. Mann must ask the question of what to do with this woman war hero, as it is his self-appointed task to tell of Gannett’s actions, but his disapproval is apparent everywhere, beginning with a disclaimer that he writes “not with intentions to encourage the like paradigm of FEMALE ENTERPRISE—but because such a thing, in the course of nature, has occurred” (Mann iii). Get the picture? Don’t anybody get any ideas. You’re only hearing this story because it’s true. It happened, and Gannett did fine, and served her country with honor, but Mann doesn’t want to risk indicating approval.

Mann does, however, intend to influence the conduct of American women, with his text becoming by intention one of instruction. He begins by saying “there are but two degrees in the characters of mankind, that seem to arrest the attention of the public. The first is that of him, which is the most distinguished in laudable and virtuous achievements. . . The second, that of him, who has arrived to the greatest pitch of vice and wickedness” (Mann v), and that “whilst the former ever demands our love and imitation, the other should serve to fortify our minds against its own attacks.” Stories of virtue and stories of vice can all lead you to virtue. Mann doesn’t say which he thinks this story is, though, and when we consider that Henry Tufts speaks in the same way of his criminal autobiography, “that [the life] of the vicious, affords, also, instruction, by showing effects of vice and immorality” (Tufts vii), regard doesn’t seem too high for Gannett in The Female Review. Continue reading

Remembering a Professor of Revolutionary Imagination

It is with much sadness that we learn of the passing of Fred Ho, a composer, musician, writer, activist and self-described “professor of revolutionary imagination.”  The Fred Ho Papers are held in Archives & Special Collections, a relationship built by Dr. Roger Buckley, professor of history and founding Director of the Asian American Studies Institute. The finding aid to the papers, prepared by the Asian American Studies Institute, describes Mr. Ho:

Fred Ho, the Asian American musician, composer, writer, and activist combines music and politics to fight discrimination and redefine American identity. He has developed a “new American multicultural music” which recognizes the diverse cultural contributions to twentieth century American music. His revolutionary compositions challenge the status quo by providing an artistically provocative vision for the future. Ho’s intent in composing music is not only to recognize different forms, but to convey anti-oppression messages that provide an alternate framework upon which American identity is defined.

A commitment to multiculturalism and diversity has not always been an integral part of Ho’s character. His coming of age as an Asian American was marked by feelings of denial, anger, and confusion about his Chinese identity. As a result, Ho has dealt with racial discrimination in different ways throughout his life, first by assimilating, then by confronting it through activism and music. Now a prominent musician, Ho works to raise social consciousness by transforming his experience into positive action.

Filmmaker Steven de Castro shares his view of the endless creativity of Fred Ho.

Mr. Ho’s obituary appears in the New York Times, April 12, 2014.  Rest in peace.

Teale Lecture Tonight: “Climate, Weather, Oceans, and Biodiversity: Science in Policy and Politics”

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Former Administrator of NOAA and Valley Professor of Marine Biology, Oregon State University, will give a talk entitled “Climate, Weather, Oceans, and Biodiversity: Science in Policy and Politics” for the University of Connecticut’s Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series on Nature and the Environment. The talk will take place on Thursday, April 10, 4 pm at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Konover Auditorium, at UConn. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco’s research interests include community ecology, conservation biology, biodiversity, global change, and sustainability. She was the first woman to be appointed Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), serving in the position from 2009 to 2013. As NOAA Administrator, Dr. Lubchenco made restoring fisheries to sustainability and profitability, healthy oceans and coasts, ensuring continuity of the nation’s weather and other environmental satellites, developing a “Weather-Ready Nation,” promoting climate science, and strengthening science at NOAA top priorities.

The Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series brings leading scholars and scientists to the University of Connecticut to present public lectures on nature and the environment. The lectures are open to the public and do not require registration. For additional information please call 860.486.4460 or visit http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/events/teale/teale.htm.

Exhibition Highlights from “For Young Naturalists: Ocean Ecology in Children’s Literature”

exhibitpic1The idea to create “For Young Naturalists” was a product of two major influences: my desire to curate an exhibition (which I’ve always wanted to do) and my desire to explore the NCLC Collections. I’ve always been aware that Archives and Special Collections is home to over 40,000 children’s books and serials, but until this semester I had never viewed any of them.

Though I originally intended to focus on ocean ecology in children’s literature as a way to complement themes covered in the final two Edwin Way Teale Lectures of the semester, my exhibit quickly took on a new interpretive life. Children’s books are powerful tools for teaching children and young adults age-appropriate information about a variety of topics.  As I browsed the books, I tried to determine how each book conveyed information, simply entertained, or communicated a broader message to their readers.  I then considered artistic choices made by the authors and illustrators, and how relationships between humans and the ocean, and amongst ocean creatures, were depicted.

I discovered that the ethic of each book reflects the beliefs and attitudes of the time period in which they were produced. The earliest examples from the nineteenth century, including The Ocean and its Inhabitants: With their Uses to Man (1844), describe the process of extracting oil from whale blubber, and the common usage of this oil. This provided a stark contrast to later examples, such as Whales Way (1972), which anthropomorphizes humpbacks and vilifies the humans who hunt them.

I also discovered that time affects content in another way: as our knowledge of ecological relationships becomes more complex, so do our stories. In My Grandpa and the Sea (1990) the main character’s grandfather begins to farm sea moss as his traditional fishing methods can no longer compete with more efficient technology. Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Sea (2012) describes, in simplified terms, why phytoplankton are crucial to all ocean life.

“For Young Naturalists,” on display through this Thursday, includes children’s books exhibit02and associated artwork from the late 19th century through the present, though the majority of the materials included date from the late 1960s – to the early 1990s.  Three of my favorite items in the exhibit are outlined below.

Along the Seashore, Written & Illustrated by Margaret Waring Buck (1964)

Margaret Waring Buck dedicated Along the Seashore (1964) to “beginner naturalists;” I chose to use a modified version of this descriptor as the title for this exhibition. Along the Seashore is only one of several examples of Margaret Waring Buck’s work in Archives & Special Collections. As an author and illustrator who lived along the Connecticut shoreline, Buck focused primarily on illustrating books about nature for children. Her papers, which include original artwork for her other nature-themed books also include sketchbooks filled with nature drawings based on observation. Along the Seashore is a unique encyclopedia for seashore discovery. Covering plants to water birds, it provides children with the common names and basic facts about species they might find along the seashore, complimented by realistic sketches. I love the neatness of Buck’s artwork and the dignity she confers on her juvenile readers by entrusting them with complex knowledge about ocean creatures.

The Year of the Seal by Victor B Scheffer, Illustrated by Leonard Everett Fischer (1970)

This book, intended for young adult and adult readers, but appropriate for younger audiences, follows the development of a baby Alaskan fur seal during the first year of its life. The book is similar to another written by Victor B. Scheffer, a biologist, and illustrated by Fischer, titled The Year of the Whale, which follows the development of a baby sperm whale calf during the first year of its life. Though Year of the Seal is informational, it is also poetic. Commenting on man’s attempts to describe the ocean writes, Scheffer writes in an aside, “The ocean rolls on, untouched by words. It rolls to the turning of the earth, and the heat and pull of the sun, and the drag of the moon, and the influences of all the solid and gaseous matter of the universe.” Original illustrations for both The Year of the Seal and The Year of the Whale, as well as a third book included in the exhibit (The Journey of the Gray Whales by Gladys Conklin, 1974) are housed in Fischer’s papers at Archives & Special Collections.

An Ocean World, Written & Illustrated by Peter Sis (1992)

Sparse in text, Peter Sis’s beautiful watercolor illustrations follow the journey of a whale, recently released into the ocean, in his attempt to find a friend. Though the book is less realistic, it is highly imaginative, depicting the young whale in a variety of petersiswhalewebsituations – coming face to face with a submarine, finding love with another whale – that are comical, jarring, relatable, and insightful. The image on the left, featured on the poster for the exhibit, depicts the moment when the whale is first released into the ocean. Though it depicts humans performing a “helping” act, the dark colors in the background and the inherent ambiguity of the image when viewed out of context (Is the whale being removed from the water? Or put back into it?) accurately suggest a complex relationship between man and whale.

Rebecca D’Angelo is a senior undergraduate student in History and Anthropology. She is student curator of the exhibition Archives and Special Collections at the Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut.

Railroad photographs now online

New Haven Railroad parlor car 2153, ca. 1900

We’ve blogged previously about our efforts to develop the Connecticut Digital Archive; you’ll recall that many of the Nuremberg Trial documents in the Thomas J. Dodd Papers are now online.  We’re putting more content online now and one of our latest set of photographs is the New Haven Railroad Glass Negatives Collection.

To see the photographs when you visit the Connecticut Digital Archive, click on “Browse Digital Collections” and then on “New Haven Railroad Glass Negatives Collection.”  There are 148 photographs of New Haven Railroad cars — baggage, parlor, dining, sleeping and coaches — from the early 1900s.  Many of the exterior views of the cars are accompanied by an interior view, like the photograph above of parlor car 2153.

Another way to view this particular set of photographs is from the finding aid to the collection.  Go to the finding aid and scroll down to the descriptions of the individual photographs.  You’ll find a link to the image in the digital archive.  You really can’t get any cooler than that.

This is just the beginning of our delivering our resources to you online.  Stay tuned for more!

Hypocrite Lecteur: The Soldier’s Return

Mrs. Belcour.  Come, come, cheer up; endeavour to forget that Manly ever lived.

Belinda.  Never, madam ! The only consolation I can afford myself is, that he fell fighting those battles which must for ever remain imprinted on my heart.

Mrs. Belcour.  Yes: he with your gallant father fell by their noble general’s side on Egypt’s shores ; with him they conquered, and with him they fell. (Hook 7)

SoldiersReturnTitleWhen you are reading a British comedy from 1805—and the comedy is titled The Soldier’s Return, and you have just learned that poor Belinda our protagonist is about to be “married to-night” (4), to a certain Lord Broomville, and believes that now “all my ideas of future happiness are crushed—destroyed” (7)—and then read the above exchange, learning that Belinda’s intended is believed to be dead, you can immediately conclude that the man’s resurrection is imminent.

I mean, come on. A dead lover and an unhappy arranged marriage to an older man? In the world of comedy, the dead man can’t resurrect fast enough in such a situation. You just need to pay attention, and wait and watch for his return. And sure enough: in Theodore Hook’s The Soldier’s Return, the soldier returns after only about three scenes, and, of course, to his own distress, “I have found Belinda, the object of my hopes and anxiety, on the eve of marriage with a lord Broomville” (11).

Thus we have all of the things you need for a standard comedy, with the true lovers separated by forces outside of their control, who ultimately, of course, reunite through a series of implausible events. It’s predictable, yes, but ultimately it’s really all about how we get there to this end, and this play does so in the most amusing and unpredictable methods possible. Theodore Hook, our playwright, has a sharp wit, and the play excels at the mockery of the British upper crust, with aristocrats saddled with ridiculous names like Lord Broomville; with young foppish men dressed so absurdly in “the present slang fashion” (10) that the lower class can “take a fellow of the royal society for a groom” (10); and with supposedly cultured people who “positively abominate” (20) the opera, yet “every body goes, and ’tis the every body that makes it delightful” (2).

The American edition of the text includes a list of both British and American casts

The American edition of the text includes a list of both British and American casts

Unfortunately, though the play was performed in London in 1805 at Drury Lane, Hook himself seems to have received little press for this play, possibly because of his age. “[The Soldier's Return was] his first effort” (Barham 14), and “placed the author in the proud position of a successful dramatist—ætat 16” (14), but I could find no contemporary reviews, merely affectionate but nonspecific references to Hook himself, as “that lively young author” (“The Arbitrator” 183). The play received apparently little notice, and his own biographer too gives only backhanded praise, saying “inartificial as was the plot, and extravagant the incidents. . .  the whimsicalities of an Irishman, played by Jack Johnstone, the abundance of puns, good, bad, and indifferent, borrowed and original, the real fun and bustle, carried it along triumphantly” (Barham 14).

In America, it was “performed at the New Theatre, Philadelphia” (1) in 1807, but here too, no one took notice of The Soldier’s Return, though its top-billed actor, a Mr. Rutherford—who played Lord Broomville—seems to have attracted some attention in other roles. One William Wizard calls him “Little RUTHERFORD, the Roscius of the Philadelphia theatre” (Wizard 117), which makes little sense until one sees a different article, which says “this gentleman’s person is much in the way of his theatrical success ; and, indeed, when, one after the other, so many individuals present SoldiersReturnSongthemselves on the boards, all below hero-measure, we cannot but lament it deeply that no expedient can be thought of, for adding to their inches” (“The Theatre” 1). It seems Rutherford was a short man, and, since William Wizard also writes satirically that a great critic “finds fault with every thing—this being what I understand by modern criticism” (Wizard 117), this was a problem.

Young Hook’s play in America was thus presented in an environment of animadversion towards his lead actor, and, actually, towards drama in particular. Theater itself was SeriousInquiryTitlenot well regarded, as an American book here in the archives, A Serious Inquiry into the Nature and Effects of the Stage, by the Rev. John Witherspoon (1812) reveals even in its opening pages. The opening recommends that “Dear Christian Brethren. . . in the name of the Great God our Saviour, whose Disciples you are. . . WITHHOLD ALL SUPPORT FROM THE PLAY-HOUSE” (Miller et al. 5), as “in its origin and history it has been a public nuisance in society, in its present constitution it is criminal, under every form it is useless, and it must necessarily tend to demoralize any people who give it their support” (5).

Nuisance, criminal, and useless? I think not, but still understand better perhaps why this play or any play may not have met great success in America at the time. Our play was merely in an environment not ready to receive it, and that needn’t hurt the play itself now. The play is really a witty romp through the aristocracy and comedy itself, coming to a completely surprising conclusion which lampoons conventional comedic formula: Manly has no choice but to challenge Lord Broomville to a duel over his intended marriage to Belinda (typical), but meeting him in person, finds that “O gracious heaven!—it is, it is——my father—!” (33).

Thus, at the end of this play we are left with a surprise which we were not expecting. The father has been in the way of the marriage all along, but we didn’t even know it, and neither did he! Hook has employed the trope of the parent preventing the marriage, and subverted it, while simultaneously subverting the trope of the duel! For such things, along with the witty exchanges, should it be remembered.

Consider this finally: A fashionable young man, Racket, asks his beloved, Miss Dashaway, “why, am I not the very top of fashion?” (23), to which she responds mockingly “yes true ; because ’tis with men as with liquors, the lightest will always be uppermost” (23). Funny, right? So, yes, perhaps this play itself may have seemed too light, but even being short, written by a sixteen-year-old, and largely forgotten, The Soldier’s Return is a gem that continually and humorously tests our comedic expectations.

Let’s not let it languish all the way at the “very top” of drama.

Daniel Allie is a senior undergraduate student in English. For his blog series Hypocrite Lecteur he will spend the Spring 2014 Semester exploring nineteenth-century literature in a variety of genres from the Rare Books Collection housed in Archives and Special Collections at the Dodd Research Center.

Works Cited

“The Arbitrator.” Beau Monde, or, Literary and fashionable magazine 2.14 (Nov. 1897): 181-185. Web. British Periodicals. 15 March 2014.

Barham, Rev. R.H. Dalton. The Life and Remains of Theodore Edward Hook. London: Richard Bentley, 1849. Web. Google Books. 15 March 2014.

Hook, Theodore Edward. The Soldier’s Return, or, What Can Beauty Do? A comic opera, in two acts. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, 1807. Print. [Dodd Center call number: A208]

Miller, Samuel, et al. “An Address.” A Serious Inquiry into the Nature and Effects of the Stage, Rev. John Witherspoon. New York: Whiting and Watson, 1812. Print. [Dodd Center call number: A1019]

“The Theatre.” The Town 2 (January 3, 1807): 1. Web. American Periodicals. 15 March 2014.

Wizard, William. “Theatrics.” Salmagundi; or, the Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq., and Others 6 (March 20, 1807): 117. Web. American Periodicals. 15 March 2014.

New Exhibition: “For Young Naturalists: Ocean Ecology in Children’s Literature”

Explore the diverse ways authors and illustrators use word and image to explain to children the complex relationships between man and the ocean in a new student-curated exhibition “For Young Naturalists: Ocean Ecology in Children’s Literature,” on display from March 27 to April 11 in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center’s John P. McDonald Reading Room. Featuring artwork and books drawn from the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection in Archives and Special Collections, student curator Rebecca D’Angelo presents children’s books from 1844 to 2012 that illuminate how subjects such as ocean biodiversity, food security, and conservation have been depicted and narrated through time.

An Ocean World by Peter Sis (New York : Greenwillow, 1992). Pg. 8.

An Ocean World by Peter Sis (New York : Greenwillow, 1992). Pg. 8.

This exhibition is on view to coincide with the Edwin Way Teale Lectures “What role will the oceans play in meeting the global demand for food?” by Steven D. Gaines, Thursday, March 27, and “Climate, Weather, Oceans and Biodiversity: Science in Policy and Politics” by Jane Lubchenco, Thursday, April 10, 4:00pm in the Dodd Center’s Konover Auditorium.

Location:  The John P. McDonald Reading Room, Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Dates: March 27-April 11, 2014

Exhibition hours: 10:00am to 4:00pm, Monday through Friday

For more information contact:
Melissa Watterworth Batt, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research
Center, UConn Libraries, melissa.watterworth@uconn.edu

Out of the Frame: Alternative Arts of the 1980s

Out of the Frame: Alternative Arts of the 1980s

Out of the Frame: Alternative Arts of the 1980s

A co-curated gallery exhibition of alternative arts of the 1980s is currently on display at the Dodd Center.  This exhibit features selections of dial-a-poems, artists’ books, offset lithography, punk rock, zines, buttons, show flyers, cyberpunk literature, comic books and related ephemera from the Archives & Special Collections.  By focusing on underground visual and aural arts of fringe countercultures, our goal is to demonstrate the range of expression found within these distinct cultural enclaves.  The show offers materials from three distinct curatorial areas, however the threads that tie these materials together become interwoven through their reactions to the dominant modes of production of the era.

March 3-May 11, 2014

Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Gallery Hours: 8:30-4:30, Monday – Friday

For more information on the libraries ongoing exhibits, please visit the exhibitions page.

An exciting Spring…62 years ago

Early Spring in northeastern Connecticut can be a time of the unexpected.  Ice, snow, fog, rain, warm breezes and sunshine mark the changing weather patterns; students are preparing for midterm examinations and anticipating spring break, and sixty-two years ago a new organization began.   On March 25, 1952, the Archons were established as the Senior Honorary Society for Men on the UConn campus.  The creation of the organization is described in the 1952 Nutmeg as “hasty and sensational due to the excitement which witnessed the exile of the Druids as a campus organization”.  The members were active leaders on campus until 1970 when the organization dissolved.  More about the Archons and their predecessors can be found in Mark Roy’s 2005 Piece of UConn History article.

The Archons, 1952

The Archons, 1952

Pictured above are the inaugural members of the Archons.

First row: Robert McLeod, Peter Brodigan, Don Ruck (President).

Second row: Robert Miller, Joseph Tooher and Paul Veillette (Secretary)