Reunion is the time for alums to reminisce about Middlebury College when they were students. These two promotional films, recently re-discovered in the Archives, were produced in 1961 and 1976. We hope they trigger fond Middlebury memories of sunny days in the grass, ringing chapel bells, and the clacking of typewriters. Welcome back alums!
Inspired by the 18th century French philosopher Denis Diderot’s massive, thirty-five volume Encyclopédie, the current exhibition in Special Collections & Archives reveals our enduring curiosity of animals through a selection of rare and unusual books dating from the 17th through the 20th centuries.
Other works on display include Edward Topsell’s The historie of foure-footed beastes, published in 1607 in London (and possibly one of William Shakespeare’s literary sourcebooks) and a polar bear as described by Captain James Cook, the British explorer, in the 18th century, upon arrival in the Russian Arctic Circle.
This spring in the Library Atrium, Special Collections and Archives commemorates the 2,000th anniversary of the Roman poet Ovid’s death by showcasing the works of seven exiled authors through the centuries. The exhibition, entitled Banned and Banished: Ovid and 2,000 Years of Exile, explores the lives and works of Ovid, Dante Alighieri, Voltaire, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and Salman Rushdie who, fleeing from war and tyranny, facing persecution for political beliefs or sexual orientation, or punished for speaking out against oppression or ignorance, were forced to abandon their homelands and seek refuge elsewhere.
In selecting authors to feature in the exhibition, we found that some of the most important works of literature were written in exile or were so contentious that they led to the banishment of their authors. From Ovid’s “carmen et error,” the poem and mistake which he says caused Augustus to banish him from Rome, to Dante’s Divine Comedy, the greatest work of Italian literature composed after the great poet’s political exile from Florence, to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses that provoked a religious edict for his death and forced him into hiding, the works on display represent expatriated authors who used their writing as a means of escape, of bringing light to their plights, challenging authority, and reconnecting with their nations of origin.
With the recent government Muslim ban and proposed border wall, we felt that while these authors are remote in terms of time, their struggle is sadly present and pressing. We feature these works not only for their literary merit and historical significance but also to present the library as a space where exiles, refugees, and those seeking solace and knowledge are supported.
Exhibit curated by Postgraduate Fellow for Special Collections & Archives, Mikaela Taylor. Also on display in the Davis Family Library:Beast, Animal, Brute, an exhibit exploring our enduring fascination with animals, curated by Rebekah Irwin, with research assistance by Sam Cartwright, ‘18 and exhibition design assistance by Danielle Rougeau.
Last summer, Special Collections & Archives rolled out new swag: black tote bags (er, book bags) and stickers emblazoned with the slogan My books smell good. First, we want to thank Carey Bass, Middlebury’s talented graphic designer, for the bold serif font and brash ending punctuation. But, “What does it mean?” (People have asked, with a skeptical gaze.) As well as: “Isn’t it a little vulgar?” A little behind-the-scenes seemed overdue.
In a 2010 interview in The Paris Review, the science fiction writer Ray Bradbury was asked about e-books and Kindles:
Those aren’t books. You can’t hold a computer in your hand like you can a book. A computer does not smell. There are two perfumes to a book. If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better. It smells like ancient Egypt. A book has got to smell. You have to hold it in your hands and pray to it. You put it in your pocket and you walk with it. And it stays with you forever. But the computer doesn’t do that for you. I’m sorry.
That sums it up, though a little curmudgeonly. And from the Journal of Chromatography, chemists used solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to analyze volatile organic compounds emitted from a naturally aged groundwood pulp paper originating from an old book. (Read it for yourself here.) Volatile organic compounds. This is what we’re talkin’ about:
And another recent article lays out a framework to identify, protect and conserve the smells that influence the way we engage with the past. Smithsonian Magazine wrote about this research, and here’s a photograph of a scientist taking a deep sniff at the National Archives of The Netherlands.
Whatever it is that brings you to our door—poetry, history, chemistry, or a hankering to smell a centuries old book for yourself—just come. We have lots of bags left and they make memorable graduation gifts. (Totes are $5, while they last).
On Wed., April 19th at 4:30pm in Dana Auditorium, Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives will host the first Addison County screening of the documentary film “The State of Marriage.” The film draws on archival footage and more recent interviews to tell the gripping story of the remarkable men and women who pioneered the national marriage equality movement through their groundbreaking efforts in Vermont. The work of Susan Murray and Beth Robinson, then attorneys in Middlebury, is featured as they work through the legal system and create a grassroots movement, all the while facing stiff opposition to the idea of gays and lesbians marrying legally.
There will be a question and answer segment following the film with the filmmakers Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross of Floating World Pictures, and key participants in the Vermont Supreme Court case, Baker v. State, including attorney Susan Murray and plaintiffs Lois Farnham and Holly Putterbaugh. The event is cosponsored by Chellis House – Women’s Resource Center, the Film & Media Culture and Political Science Departments, and Middlebury College Queers & Allies. In 2015, Middlebury’s Special Collections & Archives became the official repository for the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force’s archives. This nonprofit task force, formed in 1996, was instrumental in passing both Vermont’s landmark civil unions law in 2000 and subsequent same-sex marriage law, which took effect in 2009.
The Huffington Post wrote that “The State of Marriage” is, “Gripping. Audiences will cheer” and the Hollywood Reporter described it as, “Indispensable. A suspenseful nail-biter right up to the feel good ending.” Free and open to the public. Popcorn will be served!
In celebration of Black History Month, we remember Barbara Jordan’s 1987 Commencement address at Middlebury. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws and spoke about values in education and those which members of society should agree to live by: Truth, Tolerance, Respect, and Community.
Other photos of the commencement ceremony show Prof. David Rosenberg, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, handing out diplomas. He remembered about her speech, “She shared many historical and philosophical comments on principles and values to guide our commencing graduates. But the biggest applause and laughter came near the end when she quoted from Robert Fulghum’s essay, “All I ever really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.” It was a good way to acknowledge the critical role parents play at an early and formative stage in the lives of our graduates long before they arrive at Middlebury.”
Born in Houston, Texas exactly 81 years ago, Jordan earned her law degree from Boston University in 1959 and was elected to the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African-American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to hold the seat. In 1972, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman to represent Texas in the House, and (in the same year) as president pro tempore of the Texas senate, the first black woman in America to preside over a legislative body.
She solidified herself as a household name while serving on the House Judiciary Committee during President Richard Nixon’s impeachment scandal. Delivered the opening remarks to the committee and the nation, she supported the articles of impeachment against the president. In her speech she held up her faith in the Constitution and declared that if her fellow committee members failed to impeach President Nixon,“then perhaps the eighteenth–century Constitution should be abandoned to a twentieth–century paper shredder.”
She extended her rhetorical capabilities to Middlebury College in 1987, undeterred by the multiple sclerosis that would ultimately kill her, delivering the address from a wheelchair.
Source: “Jordan, Barbara Charline | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives.” Accessed February 21, 2017. http://history.house.gov/People/Detail/16031.
While we love the entirety of this video by our local Middlebury filmmakers (we’re talking to you, Demetrius Borge ’16, and Chris Spencer), our hands-down favorite clip in their recent piece J-term Scenes: Tell Us What You’re Most Excited About (featured below) has to be minute 1:16, featuring our very own postgraduate Fellow in Special Collections & Archives, Mikaela Taylor.