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fat ‘n’ hairy: ways i’m failing the patriarchy

a banner announcing the fat 'n' hairy display

From April 16th- April 23rd, Chellis House-Women’s Resource Center will be hosting an interactive display in the Davis Family Library atrium called “fat ‘n’ hairy: ways i’m failing the patriarchy.” The display includes a variety of library materials and first-hand accounts from community members listing the ways they are failing the patriarchy. For more, read below.

a social gathering of many people

A gathering at Chellis House was organized on April 11, 2018 to collect responses to the prompt, “How are you failing the patriarchy?” The responses form part of the atrium’s display. Responses were also collected online.

Respondents

  • Katrina Spencer (KS) is from Los Angeles, California. She is the Literatures & Cultures Librarian and has been at Middlebury for just over a year.
  • Karin Hanta (KH) is from Vienna, Austria. She is the Director of Chellis House-Women’s Resource Center and a Visiting Lecturer in Linguistics/Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. She has worked for Middlebury for 15 years.
  • Mikayla Hyman (MH) is from Port Washington, New York. She is the founder and president of the Middlebury Refugee Outreach Club (MiddROC), president of the Youthful Alliance of Merrymaking (YAM), Ecology and Evolution Teaching Assistant (TA), Cell Biology and Genetics TA, Academic Chair of Hillel, a Chellis House Monitor and a sophomore.
  • Grace Vedock (GV) is from Shawnee, Kansas. She is the president of College Democrats, a member of the Academic Judicial Board, a Chellis House Monitor and a sophomore.
  • Taite Shomo (TS) is from Denver, Colorado. She is the Communications Director of College Democrats, a Chellis House Monitor, an It Happens Here Organizer and a sophomore Feb.
  • Itzel Diaz (ID) is from Queretaro, Mexico and Austin, Texas. She is a Chellis House Monitor, Riddim World Dance Troupe Member, newly appointed Alianza Event Coordinator (whoop whoop!) and a sophomore Feb.

More Participants

    • Treasure Brooks is a first-year student, co-president of the Black Student Union and a Chellis House Monitor.
    • Alice Butler is from Helena, Montana. She is a Campus Tour Guide, member of the Log Rolling Club, Manager of Sunday Night Environmental Group, a WRMC Radio DJ, a Midd View Leader and a junior.
    • Cara Eisenstein is from Baltimore, Maryland and is the president of Feminist Action at Middlebury, a Chellis House Monitor and a senior.
    • Vishawn Greene is a first-year student and Chellis House Monitor.
    • Cat La Roche is from Asbury Park, New Jersey. She is a WRMC deejay, Chellis House Monitor and a first-year student.

What is “fat ‘n’ hairy: ways i’m failing the patriarchy”?

cover art for a book

The Fat Studies Reader, edited by Esther Rothblum

KS: “fat ‘n’ hairy” started when I began to identify and acknowledge this constant feeling of friction I held internally. No matter how much success I achieved in various parts of my life, whether it be earning As in college, securing a stable job or maintaining a group of friends who demonstrated reciprocal love for me, I continually felt like a failure if my body hair wasn’t removed, if my stomach wasn’t flat and if my cleavage and rouged lips weren’t effectively calling to a man. When I stopped to think about where I’d developed these very damaging expectations of myself, I realized I was imposing values on myself that uplifted the patriarchy. These ideas are often channeled through the media but are also passed down generationally within families. I knew I wasn’t alone in wrestling with these nagging voices that were constantly telling me I wasn’t doing enough and I wanted an outlet to manifest a collective discontent. ‘fat ‘n’ hairy” does just that.

KH: A brainchild of Katrina Spencer, who always finds imaginative and provocative ways to engage library visitors in the atrium. With the help of the library staff, Chellis House workers took this idea to the next level, browsing through their favorite patriarchy-defying books and essays and reaching out to fellow students to engage with the topic as well. Our brainstorming and cardmaking gathering with crafts last Wednesday (April 11th) at Chellis House was a great success, connecting patriarchy failures and (hopefully) giving an impetus for the beginning of new friendships between fellow activists.

a wooden book cart full of books

The display cart includes many books whose themes resist the patriarchy.

MH: “fat ‘n’ hairy: ways i’m failing the patriarchy” is a project that allows people to embrace features of their bodies, attitudes, and perception of the world that have traditionally been looked down upon due to misogynistic and patriarchal social structures. Karin gave an excellent summary of the event and its development. Through the multimedia display, people can find comfort and support in the shared experiences of fellow “failures”. Located in the Davis Family Library, the display is a physical representation of the often problematic and patriarchal reification of knowledge and knowledge producing structures. Here, people who are failing the patriarchy can assert their agency, affecting the ways knowledge is produced and what it means to be worthy.

What about this project resonated with you?

GV: I enjoy the variety of material we have on display and I hope that there is something that resonates with everyone. As a lesbian, I wanted to make sure that there is queer visibility in our materials, because resisting the patriarchy is not a task made solely for straight women. As is seen in the notecards (the participatory aspect of the project), there are so many ways in which someone can resist the patriarchy, be it by engaging with our material, participating in movements, or even just taking the time to be thoughtful and intentional with your words and actions. I love the honesty of people’s responses.

KS: Women are subject to an inordinate amount of scrutiny based on sex and gender expression alone. Are they too loud? Are they loud enough? Can they cook? Are they nurturing? Can they support themselves? Are they gold diggers? Do they need to color their roots? Should they be wearing that? I noticed that a lot of the critique the world exposes women to and a lot of the critiques we make of ourselves are based on a body of standards that our external to us. We don’t make the rules– nor are we consulted on them– but we are expected to abide by them.

cover art for a book, Janet Mock's Redefining Realness

The cover art for Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness

TS: This project really resonated with me because there are so many ways that we fail the patriarchy every single day without even realizing it, and this gave me and other people in the community the opportunity to reflect on patriarchy and empowerment.  In some ways, existing at all in a world that constantly seeks to oppress us is a way that women, People of Color, LGBT+ people, and other marginalized groups are failing the patriarchy and systems of oppression generally.

ID: This project is incredibly stimulating to a variety of different senses, which is something that I really love about it. There’s something visual, something musical, and something uniquely beautiful about the power that is derived from every aspect that makes up this project. Furthermore, I really enjoyed how much this project started and has continued to grow. It started out as a feeling that is shared by many womyn, and now, it is a beacon that serves as a reminder of unity and empowerment. I hope this project catches someone’s eye and allows them to pause and reflect on how they’re contributing to, failing, or attempting to fail the patriarchy.

KH: This project brought up a lot of memories: of my 10-year-old self, when my mother chopped off all my hair because it was too “unruly;” of my middle school self when my hair grew back all in curls because of puberty and my Latin teacher again chided me for having “unruly” hair; of an ex-boyfriend who, after we broke up, said he would miss my hair (as if my hair was my only distinctive feature); the time I organized a lecture and discussion about hair at Middlebury in 2010 with the late and great Carol Rifelj. It’s all entangled!

Had you done any work like this before?

a screenshot depicting a metallic clitoris

A screenshot from Sophia Wallace’s “Cliteracy” website depicting a metallic re-make of the internal and external structures of a clitoris.

KS: Two answers: yes and no. Crowd-sourced, collaborative displays? Yes, alla time. Group projects with a strong, public, feminist current driving them? No, but Sophia Wallace’s Cliteracy, the natural hair movement within the Black community and the wave of women allowing their underarm hair to grow and dyeing it, too, surely had a significant impact on me. Women are authoring new relationships with their bodies and, as “we” say in contemporary slang, “I’m here for it.”

GV: No – fat ‘n’ hairy is remarkably unique. I feel like I am constantly telling people “Oh, you have to read this article” or someone sends me book recommendations that I never get around to reading, so I really enjoy that we’ve created an entire cache of recommendations. There are so many incredible books, movies, podcasts, etc. out there, and I love how we can share these recommendations amongst each other.

ID: No, I have not. Which sucks! This is such an amazing and fun project to collaborate on and add to. I definitely hope to continue to do more projects like this.

a woman posing in front of a blackboard

A photo of Mikayla Hyman, president of Middlebury College’s Refugee Outreach Club, posing with a painting by Rachel Nelson ’18 at the Feminist Science Art Show.

MH: This past J-Term I worked with Mika Morton ‘19 to organise and curate a Feminist Science Art Show. We reached out to students to facilitate the creation of art inspired by both intersectional feminist ides and the natural sciences. fat ‘n’ hairy reminds me of a painting created by Rachel Nelson ‘18. In resplendent, fantastical, non-realistic colors, Nelson used oil paint to depict a woman’s point of view while looking down at her own body. The hairy nipples and distended stomach were as empowering as they were beautiful. Nelson “works to remind people of beauty and of the sacredness of ourselves and the world”, and she certainly accomplished that goal with this piece. Also, it was hilarious to see multiple men stare at the painting and think it was mountains, and consequently get to tell them of a different interpretation. There is a picture of me with the painting at left. I am honored to be a part of another wonderful project!

What messages is this interactive display trying to forward?

KS: Women exist for purposes beyond tailoring our bodies for men’s consumption. Moreover, the body is a vessel and a vehicle. The person people want to access exists inside of it.

TS: Women and other marginalized groups have so many expectations and restrictions placed on their bodies, actions, and thoughts.  I’m hoping that, by engaging with this display, viewers can both feel empowered in their bodies and selves and reminded of the harmful effects patriarchy has on ALL of us.

ID: Womyn are incredibly powerful, but we’re constantly being told to move a certain way, to sit in a certain way, to live in a certain way, and to exist in a certain way. I hope that by engaging in this display, womyn understand the way the patriarchy has affected them. This awareness is what will hopefully continue to drive this revolution of womyn empowerment and solidarity.

KH: We need to fail the patriarchy even more and find new imaginative ways to do so!

Who is the primary audience? Secondary?

KS: For me, I want other women to feel empowered and to feel even greater agency over their bodies. I want men to be reminded of women’s agency over our own bodies.

The cover art for Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women

GV: The primary audience is supposed to be women. But really, the collection of resources we have can and should resonate with everybody. Anyone can fail the patriarchy. The patriarchy imposes expectations on women, but women are by no means the only people who should be actively resisting patriarchal norms. Masculinity was something we’ve talked about at length. The patriarchy also imposes gender norms and binaries – it’s important to remember that though women are the intended audience, genderqueer and gender non-binary people are actively oppressed by the patriarchy.

ID: Everyone should be a part of this audience who engages with this material. It should not be exclusive because we are all affected by the patriarchy.

KH: I hope that this exhibition activates the brain cells of everybody who cares to examine the display.

How did you interact with library collections to develop this project?

students sit on the floor around crafting materials

Students gather around crafting materials at Chellis House in preparation for the fat ‘n’ hairy display.

MH: A big chunk of the recommended books, artists, and musicians were all gathered during a Chellis House meeting. One night, Karin Hanta and all of the Chellis House Monitors sat in a circle and uploaded the titles/names of a variety of books, music, and artists to a Google Excel sheet. It was a wonderful to share such awesome resources and empower one another!

KS: A list of relevant materials/thematic content was crowdsourced.

KH: Thank you to Katrina, Rachel Manning and Kat Cyr!

ID: Katrina is such an amazing humyn being! Karin– thank you so much for collaborating with Katrina and for involving all of the Chellis House monitors.

How does the discussion of gender continue after the display is taken down?

An image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

An image of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who will be featured in a biopic at the Marquis Theater

ID: The conversation of gender should always continue! I’m hoping to see the biopic on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg [RBG]. Additionally, I continue to engage in this conversation with men (in particular with my amazing boyfriend Ronnie Tapiwa Shereni), and we both discuss how the patriarchy has influenced the both of us and how to combat it!

GV: When isn’t a good time to discuss gender? I hope that the display inspires people to learn more about gender issues and engage in positive dialogue and action. Gender inequality and patriarchal standards inform so much of our lives and society, so I hope that people become cognizant of ways that they can subvert these norms.

KH: Chellis House lives and breathes feminism. I am going to check into whether we can have a private screening of [the] RBG [biopic].

Celebrating Multiracial Heritage

a multicolor banner

In honor of Multiracial Heritage Month, student group Mixed Kids of Middlebury (MKM) has organized a multimedia display of works created by and featuring multiracial individuals, interracial couples and interracial families. Come to the Davis Family Library atrium from Monday, April 2nd through Monday, April 9th to see it. Three students of multiracial heritage respond to questions about representation and identity below.

Participants:

  • senior Rachel Nelson (RN)
  • sophomore Coralie Tyler (CT)
  • sophomore Reg Eva Bod (EB)

In terms of multiracial identity, how do you identify?

photo of a woman

A photo of Middlebury student Rachel Nelson

RN: I’ve started identifying as “Not Black, Not White” or maybe just “Not”. Most of my life I identified as black and white.

CT:  I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Raised between the U.S., South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia. Ethnically, I’m Irish, Scottish and German through my dad, and I’m Afro-French, Portuguese, and Japanese through my mom. I always identified as being mixed race/multiracial.

EB: Mixed. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Raised in Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

Did you have any exposure to any books/shows/movies featuring and/or reflecting multiracial individuals and their families growing up? How did you feel about them?

RN:  Hm. I feel like I had access to ‘African’/’African American’ things and white people things. I don’t think I was exposed to anything involving a mixed couple/mixed people… unless it was like a novel I read on slavery and about how lighter slaves worked in the house and could occasionally read, escape easier… but yeah. Not like that was a role model for me. And I read a ton growing up.

I don’t think not having a role model affected me negatively much growing up. My dad’s biracial, and I’m the kid who literally looks half him and half my white mother.

My parents did a really good job at letting us know we were different, they were talking awhile ago about our drawings of our family and we always chose the yellow crayon for white people and tried mixing the yellow with the brown for us kids. I’m the youngest of three kids. Sometime in later middle school the fact that I was completely white passing made itself clear to me. When the ‘only white’ kids could get tanner than me, or kept their tans longer— I was really jealous actually. When I was in like, elementary school, I regularly would pick a freckle/birthmark out on my skin and wish I was that color, imagine myself like that, so I could be like my aunts.

I wish I had more exposure to multiracial identities growing up. I think it would’ve helped me understand what being white-passing means and given me more strength in dealing with that and who I am.

picture of woman

Founder and president of Mixed Kids of Middlebury Coralie Tyler

CT: I don’t actively recall recognizing prominent characters like me (whether it’s similar to my background or not) in TV shows and films although I would now be able to pinpoint several examples from my childhood. I am definitely more aware of mixed race families and individuals whenever I partake in media these days.

My parents always pointed out actors, athletes, musicians and other famous figures that are mixed race.  Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Kimora Lee Simmons are ones that I recall being in awe of as they were like me. As a family, we still like to causally point out mixed people in the media to each other.  My brother does it a lot with athletes and musicians while I tend to do it more with movies, TV shows and fashion since that’s my niche.

My parents also made it a point to expose us to multiracial kids and their families (regardless of the mixture), introduce us to their multiracial adult friends and surround us with people with who saw us as mixed race.

That definitely played a huge part in being confident and proud of our heritages and uniqueness for my brother and me.

picture of woman

Middlebury College sophomore Eva Bod

 EB: When I was little, I had a cloth doll named Babette. My hair was blonde like her yarn hair, but my nose was round and I wanted it to be like hers. I waited until I was 11 to see a black Disney princess. My lips were full like Tiana’s (from The Princess and the Frog), but my color didn’t match her beautiful skin. It wasn’t until I found Jidenna, a rapper/singer/songwriter, that I learned about mixed excellence. He found power in fashion, and I found power in his voice. For those unfamiliar with him: Jidenna grew up in Wisconsin and Massachusetts (like me) and spends his time curating his signature style, marrying European and West African aesthetics. Our parents taught us “how to make a silver spoon out of plastic” in an environment that uses binaries against us. In his words, “well done’s better than well said” (a lyric from Jidenna’s “Long Live the Chief“).

What do you wish people understood more about multiracial identities?

photo of man

A photo of musical artist Jidenna

EB:  I wish people understood non-binary racial identity. I am not a chameleon, becoming “white” or “black” depending on my surroundings. I am European, Island Carib, Asian, and African.  Just because my father is not African American, doesn’t mean he’s ignorant to the black experience in America. He is black and he has been discriminated against, too. Blackness is not always binary.

Some white people will see me as white, and some POCs (people of color) will see me as black. I am neither, I am both.

RN: I’m invisible. In all settings.

I heard a girl at the Loving Day* celebration (a court case that has twice enabled me to exist legally) standing right behind me complaining about all the white people there, and I was there with my white-passing friend and his white girlfriend and I just turned around and was like, “Hi, we’re not white, we’re just white-passing,” and my friend waved. I didn’t want to deal with it beyond that, so I turned around. And I understand this skin tone gives me so much privilege, but like everyone, I didn’t ask for it, and I didn’t want it.

I don’t usually remember specific instances of white people being racist. Probably because I avoid those people and haven’t worked in really conservative and rural areas. Or maybe because I swallow it down.

I feel like whenever we talk about race, I have to ‘come-out’ about it. That gives me a lot of anxiety because I don’t feel like I have a claim to say that I am either of these two races. It’s probably why I’m identifying as ‘Not’ now.

two people smile at a camera

Middlebury junior Pele Voncujovi and Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer contribute to the In Your Own Words oral histories project. Pele is of multiracial heritage, having one parent who Ghanaian and another who is Japanese. Listen in to hear his thoughts.

CT: That being multiracial is being intersectional 24/7. Being mixed race means that you have multiple backgrounds, cultures, belief systems and histories within you. You find yourself looking at things in multiple ways that helps you find a perspective that people may not necessarily discover. I am unable to look at things from one “side” without having to reconcile it with the others. By the time you combine that with your gender, sexuality, upbringing, nationality, etc., you realize that the way you see things is entirely different and that not everyone would get that. I think it’s the most beautiful part of being mixed.

Are there any sources (books, magazines, movies, shows, music) you would recommend to learn more about multiracial heritage and multiracial families/ the historical and cultural contributions of multiracial individuals?

covert art from the Loving DVD

Loving is a biopic that follows the lives of an interracial couple who chose to be together when the law would not allow it. It can be borrowed from the Davis Family Library.

CT: Loving, which is a film based off of the Loving v. Virginia case back in 1967. Although the case isn’t very well known, it was responsible for the legalization of interracial marriage and paved the way for same-sex marriage rights later on.

Once in a while, I read and re-read this article  Meghan Markle wrote for Elle Magazine back when she was still an actress titled, “I’m More Than An Other.” She talks about her sense of identity and how her upbringing as a mixed race child impacted her sense of self, career and so on. As she has been recently catapulted into the world’s public sphere as the newest member of the British Royal Family, it’s amazing to see such a person unapologetically self-identify as multiracial, which plays a huge role in representation and awareness for mixed race individuals around the world in this era.

a photo of a woman

Meghan Markle is an American actress who is currently engaged to Prince Harry of Wales. She is biracial, having one parent who is African American and another who is Caucasian American.

EB: If you’d like a statement for allies asking to be taught about race, read: “When You Walk Into the Valley” by John Metta, a writer on Medium.

*Loving Day (June 12) is the date that commemorates the Loving v. Virginia case that lifted the ban on interracial marriages throughout the United States back in 1967. Today, it is celebrated by multiracial families and individuals around the world.

To see an exhaustive list of the materials included in the Davis Family Library’s atrium display, visit this spreadsheet.

 

 

 

Exterior Davis Family Library doors will be card access only after 9 pm

Starting on Monday night, April 9th, the exterior doors of the library will be locked starting at 9 pm. A valid Middlebury student, staff, or faculty ID card will be required to enter the library after that time. This is being done to help ensure that Middlebury students have a secure and quiet place to work and study in the late hours of the evening.

Blind Date With A Book 2018

two student pose on either side of a book cart

Senior Feb Austin Kahn (2017.5) and senior Prasanna Vankina (2018) pose at the Blind Date With A Book Display in the Davis Family Library atrium.

Name: Katrina Spencer

Hometown: Los Angeles

Role at Middlebury: Literatures & Cultures Librarian

Time at Middlebury: 1 year, 10 days

Katrina, are you prepping a display… again?

Yes, I have a problem.

What’s it about?

My problem or the display?

Both.

I have an obsessive streak that is manifesting itself in this way. The display is a small celebration of Valentine’s Day. It’s called “Blind Date With A Book.” My former supervisor, Jessica Newman, at Steenbock Library at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, hipped me to it.

Doesn’t that kind of crowd the atrium?

Yes, we have a lot of great collections we want to highlight. Currently we have at least three temporary displays there: the Black History Month Display, the New England Review’s display, and Blind Date With A Book. (On the Upper Level, a display called “Hair Me Out” is being prepped, too. See if you can find it.)

a picture of textual instructions for the display

The instructions for engaging with Blind Date With A Book read as follows: 1. Choose an item and unwrap it. 2. Take a selfie for Facebook, tagging
Middlebury College Libraries.” 3. Check out your selection at the Circulation Desk.

What’s special about Blind Date With A Book?

Well, with this one, it’s only there for a limited time: February 11th- 19th. Many of the items are wrapped up so you can’t see what the title is and by unwrapping it, you make a small commitment of getting to know the work without knowing much about its content, hence the concept of a blind date. ;)

Take a selfie with the book you unwrap so we can show the match made in heaven on Facebook. Tag “Middlebury College Libraries.”

Also, don’t miss out on Special Collections’ (SC) awesome event, “DIY Valentine Event,” Tuesday February 13th. SC always has cool stuff.

Cover art for the film Chico & Rita

The cover art for the film Chico & Rita, a Cuban love story..

As an aside, I noticed we didn’t have many love stories featuring people of color so that will launch some new acquisitions: Love and BasketballLove Jones and Poetic Justice. The form at go.middlebury.edu/requests will allow you to make requests, too. For now, minimally, we have Chico & Rita. ;)

Who helped you to shape this?

You want me to name my accomplices?

Yes.

Leanne Galletly did the wrapping. Marlena Evans supplied numerous items, the book cart and the heart-shaped decorations. Kat Cyr also added titles that would be thematically appropriate for the project. I. . . I am an endless source of ideas.

Is that why they hired you?

Maybe. That and the degree (MSLIS). And the willingness.

a book cart with books and DVDs

The Blind Date With A Book display in the Davis Family Library atrium

Can you give us a hint as to what lies beneath the wrapping?

  • There may or may not be a classic work by a world famous South American writer there.
  • There may or may not be a work dedicated to telling Muslim women’s stories of love.
  • There may or may not be the story of two men falling in love and having to hide their intimacy from the world.
  • Maybe.

So who’s your Valentine?

TBD.

Celebrating Black History Month 2018

The Davis Family Library is celebrating Black History Month in February 2018 with a display of books, audio CDs, DVDs, podcast recommendations, multimedia-based interviews and programming. Come to the atrium to see what we have in store and get a sneak peek at go/bhmdigital/. Read below to find out about the variety of ways to engage.

Katrina (Literatures & Cultures Librarian), what are the libraries doing to celebrate Black History Month?

Let me highlight three projects in detail:

a collage of 55 artistic book covers from the Black History Month Display

User Experience & Digital Scholarship Librarian Leanne Galletly has prepared a digital space that allows users to preview the books appearing in the Davis Family Library’s Black History Month display. This collage includes The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, Les Blancs by Lorraine Hansberry, and The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis, among many others. Click on the image above to access podcast recommendations, too!

The Black History Month Display in the Davis Family Library atrium, February 1st- 28th, will include books, CDs, DVDs and podcast recommendations created by and about black writers, entertainers and artists. The scope is broad with works from the late sociologist W.E.B. DuBois (1868- 1963) and living, contemporary screenwriter Issa Rae (1985- ); jazz pioneer Miles Davis (1926- 1991) and Grammy award winning rapper Kendrick Lamar (1987- ); the cinematic classic The Color Purple (set in the 1930s and made in 1985) and  filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s Selma (set in 1965 and made in 2014). We’ve also got Senegalese author Mariama Bâ’s French-language classic Une si longue lettre; Cuban singer Celia Cruz’s Azúcar Negra in Spanish; and Pelé: Birth of A Legend, a documentary on the Brazilian futbolista extraordinaire. Blackness, after all, is not contained to any one, geographic region. You can get a sneak peek at the books by visiting go.middlebury.edu/bhmdigital.

eight images of participants who participated in recorded interviews

The In Your Own Words oral history project can be found in the Internet Archive, go.middlebury.edu/ia.

Second, In Your Own Words, an oral histories project, features interviews with students, staff and faculty from the Middlebury community responding to a variety of questions, among them:

  • Racially and ethnically, how do you identify?
  • How do notions of race and ethnicity change based on where you are and who you’re with?
  • What do you wish others knew about race and ethnicity?

These audio recordings cover identities linked to the Southside of Chicago, the Afro-Caribbean and East Africa and can be found on StoryCorps and in the Archives along with pdf transcripts. They will also be aired on Wednesdays February 21st and February 28th from 2:00- 3:00 p.m. on the Middlebury College campus’ radio station, WRMC 91.1. If interested in delving more deeply into personal stories addressing African identities, seek out Life Stories, found in Special Collections, in which three alums,  Barbara Ofosu-Soumah (Ghana), Mukui Mbindyo (Kenya) and Cheswayo Mphanza (Zambia), tell of their their experiences at Middlebury.

an advertisement depicting

On Friday, February 16, 2018, the Davis Family Library will host a Jeopardy-inspired trivia event dedicated to black history and culture. A raffle will be held for tickets to the opening night of the superhero film Black Panther.

Third, a competitive trivia game event inspired by Jeopardy will be held this month. Participants will compete for coveted prizes including board games, coloring books and poetry collections. Audience members can participate in a raffle for tickets to the opening night of Black Panther at The Marquis. Twelve categories have been prepared for the game that cover themes like geography, popular culture, literature and more. Sponsors include the Middlebury College Libraries, Vice President for Human Resources and Risk Karen Miller and the Program in American Studies.

Who makes all this possible?

a cartoon of an African American woman at left on a banner announcing the Black History Month Display

Middlebury College alumna Coumba Winfield designed one of the two banners (pictured above) for the Davis Family Library’s atrium display. She is also the founder of PopGig, a 21st century app that allows users to set prices for the services they seek. Download the app here and hear more about it at the Jeopardy-inspired trivia event!

With fear of leaving someone out, let me describe some of the roles people take on:

  • Kat Cyr, Rachel Manning and their student workers in Interlibrary Loan help to prepare bibliographies and pull featured items from the shelves.
  • Digital Media Tutors like Pedro, Dan, Caleb, Alfredo, Fayza, Rachel and Emma, Cataloging Specialist Marlena Evans, Librarians Amy Frazier and Leanne Galletly and Alumna Coumba Winfield help with developing print banners and advertisements.
  • Kim Gurney and Dan Frostman help to reserve props and digitally mark items as “on display.”
  • Lisa McLaughlin, Michael Warner and Marlena help with much of the invisible magic of ordering items and cataloging print and multimedia purchases.
  • Carrie Macfarlane helps me to problem solve and to manage my own creative ambitions. ;)
  • Every person interviewed shared their personal testimonies, which is no small feat: Jade Moses, Shenisis Kirkland, Clark Lewis, Kemi Fuentes-George, Kizzy Joseph, Nicole Curvin and Sarady Merghani.
  • Patrick Wallace prepared all of the audio files for the Archives.
  • Bill Koulopoulos’ group provided the funds for transcription.
  • Meg Daly and Maddy Goodhart planned the airing of the shows on WRMC.
  • Austin Kahn posted advertisements for Jeopardy.
  • Susan Burch educated me, as she always does, on the Life Stories project.
  • And all this is without mentioning the many people who will be staffing the trivia event!
Twelve headshots of librarians

An image of Middlebury College librarians. (Patrick Wallace not pictured.)

How can we help?

  • Know your librarian. There are 12 of us and we all have different strengths and expertise. 
  • Make appointments. It is a tremendous help to be able to anticipate office visits.
  • Heed advice. Want to develop a display? Read go/displays/. Or want new items purchased? Use go/requests/
A screenshot featuring an image of late author Julius Lester (1939-2018).

A screenshot featuring an image of late author Julius Lester (1939-2018). He is the author of seven items in the Middlebury College Libraries catalog, including Black Folktales. The text reads, “”It’s strange that whites fear that anything addressed to blacks is an automatic rejection and condemnation of them. That is not necessarily so… whites do not want to acknowledge the fact that if they want to know blacks they will have to immerse themselves in what blacks have to say, and that there is no white Dante who can take them gently by their…hands and lead them on a guided tour of blackness and keep them from getting a little singed by the fires.” ~ Julius Lester, in a letter, 1970 (Children’s Literature Review, Vol. 41)”.

 

 

What did you learn in the process of prepping all this?

  • Kathleen Collins was an African American cinematic directing pioneer and a Middlebury Language Schools alum who developed 1982’s film Losing Ground.
  • Stand-up comedian, actress and talk show hostess Whoopi Goldberg directed a documentary about a humorist who influenced her by the name of Moms Mabley.
  • Roxane Gay, writer of Bad Feminist, wrote a work of fictional short stories late last year called Difficult Women. It is en route to the Davis Family Library.
  • There’s a book in our collection titled The Loneliness of the Black Republican.
  • Julius Lester (1939- 2018), author of Black Folktales, recently passed away. With a book history project in grad school, Singed By the Fires, it was his work that first taught me I could incorporate blackness into librarianship. So, I dedicate this work to him.

What’s next?

About a year ago, I wrote that I hoped my work would be contagious. I wanted it to inspire others to further and more regularly engage with difference. People have been receptive to those cues and are creating ever more dynamic discourses on this campus.

From easiest to hardest, Leanne [Galletly] (User Experience and Digital Scholarship Librarian) and I want to make the spreadsheets used for the displays from the last year public. I want to find more time to read, research and contribute to national discourse on librarianship. Lastly, I need to recruit more professional peers who are people of color into my life.

Taste of The World 2018!

image of a wooden cart full of books

Join the Student Government Association’s Social Affairs Committee as they celebrate cultural expo “Taste of the World” from January 22nd- 26th, 2018.

Quick Announcement: This week, January 22nd- 26th, the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Social Affairs Committee is hosting a cultural expo called “Taste of the World,” featuring foods from all over the globe. This week-long event includes explorations of world cuisine, calligraphy, dance workshops, a film screening of Fruitvale Stationan open-mic night interspersed with performances by dance troupes Evolution, Riddim, K-Pop and many more! There will also be a panel addressing several types of art featuring Christal Brown (Dance), Damascus Kafumbe (Music) and Marissel Hernández-Romero (Spanish & Portuguese)! For more information, see the event’s Facebook page at go/middlebury.edu/taste and stop by the Davis Family Library to see this thematic display! Event Contact: Adiza Mohammed, adizam@middlebury.edu.

On Very Short Introductions

woman hovering over a table of books

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses with the Very Short Introductions display. With more than 500 titles, these works represent one of the libraries’ most diverse collections.

Hey, there’s a new display up of Very Short Introductions to usher in the New Year. Come check it out, January 3rd- 26th!

Katrina (Literatures & Cultures Librarian), what are these books?

Every title featured on the table belongs to the Very Short Introductions series. They attempt to treat big themes in relatively few pages. The topics covered are broad in range from anything as abstract as “love,” as concrete as “water,” as complex and involved as “American politics,” as controversial and problematic as “racism” and as esoteric as “Kant.”

How many do we own?

Between the print and digital volumes, our MIDCAT catalog shows records for over 500 items in the Very Short Introductions series.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on love by Ronald de Sousa.

Why are they on display?

Aside from having beautiful, eye-catching colors and covers, J-Term is dedicated to studying one particular theme intensely and for a brief period of time. These items are rather “meta” because they have the same objective. Do you see what we did there? ;)

How do I get access to more?

Visit go/midcat/ (or, from off campus, go.middlebury.edu/midcat) and type in “very short introductions” as a keyword search. The results will list what we own in our collection in both print and e-format.

Is there a place that I can see the whole listing in the series?

Yeah, if you check out the Wikipedia page, you’ll see every theme that’s covered, starting with “classics” and all the way through “the immune system,” as of January 3rd, 2018.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on hormones by Marin Luck.

How long will they be out in the lobby?

We’ve chosen a small collection of thirty items to represent the series and they will be in the lobby either from January 3rd- January 26th or until you, your buddies and colleagues pick them up and check them out. ;) You can always pick them up off the shelves to check them out and remember that Armstrong has various very short introductions in its holdings, too! For example, climate change, fungi, hormones, infectious disease, moons, nuclear physics and viruses, just to mention a few!

How many can I check out?

We haven’t got a limit.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on Islam by Malise Ruthven.

Is the writing accessible?

I say yes. However, reading them is not like reading a novel. The works are more academic in nature and reflect the words of experts and years of research. While made and written for the layperson, don’t expect character development– perhaps except in the cases of Jesus, Muhammad, Goethe and other historical figures– and plot. (Speaking of which, they could likely use some historical figures who are women in this series like the Queen of Sheba, Juana Inés de la Cruz, Marie Curie and Malala Yousafzai. Just sayin’.) They are written to be informative and, as with many other items in our collection that serves academic needs, you may find yourself drawn to certain chapters or sections and less inclined to read from the first word to the very last.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on African History by John Parker and Richard Rathbone.

Can I use these works for my research?

Yes, of course! Though tiny, these works are credible sources that can supplement broader research and be cited like any other. Here is a sample citation:

Parker, John, and Richard Rathbone. African History: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

For more on citing, visit go/citations/ (or, from off campus, go.middlebury.edu/citations) or see a librarian at the Research Desk.

multicolored cover art for a book

The cover art used for the Very Short Introduction on colonial America by Alan Taylor.

Which is your favorite?

Me? I’m partial to the ones that feature religious themes, like the Koran and the Bible. Religion shapes so much of our lives and mores and having the opportunity to understand the contexts in which sacred texts were born is really enlightening. Since developing November’s display featuring Native American history and related content, I’ve also been eyeing the one on North American Indians. And there’s the one on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, something I’ve been trying to get a greater grasp on for nearly all my life.

Who’s behind this effort?

Every– EVERY– display is a group effort. Many invisible hands make these displays possible. While I’m a great source of ideas ;), Kat Cyr, Rachel Manning and their student workers help to pull items from the shelves, Marlena Evans consistently has excellent feedback (and leadership) on design and Kim Gurney and Dan Frostman exercise a lot of patience with me and my constant requests for reserving props and status changes. Come by and see the culmination of our work!