Tuesday, May 24, 2016

For the Love of Beauty

Early skin grafting from Gaspare Tagliacozzi's De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem.OUCH! This poor guy is benefiting from the latest in medical technology. Too bad he lived in the 16th century.  This early example of skin grafting, where the skin is peeled up from the arm and then grafted to the face, is from Gaspare Tagliacozzi's De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem (Venice: Apud Gasparem Bindonum, 1597), the first western book to describe the techniques of plastic surgery. The skin had to remain attached to the arm to facilitate blood flow until the graft took to the face. The straight-jacket like outfit immobilized the arm relative to the face. It couldn't have been comfortable.

Tagliacozzi was ahead of his time in many ways. He was a strong advocate for sanitation, and worked to minimize scars from grafts. His work pioneered plastic surgery in Europe.

You can see this book in our current exhibit, "The Doctor Will See You Now," on display in the Class of 1965 Galleries in Rauner through June 13. The exhibit was curated by students from Sienna Craig's First-Year writing seminar, "Values of Medicine." After the exhibit comes down, ask for Rare QM21.P528.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Green Key Like it's 1937!

Here at Dartmouth, Green Key has become synonymous with spring time fun. The weekend is full of live music and dancing. College kids take a break from their studies to enjoy the festivities. The past, however, reveals the slightly more formal origins of our modern Green Key.

This ticket from 1937 is a reminder of a very different kind of Green Key event. In 1929 the Green Key Society decided to host a Spring Prom to help fund raise for their group. The success led to an annual event. This Green Key Prom was a ticketed affair that only lasted a single night. Musical acts were added throughout the years. The event became a full weekend as more acts and events were added and frats held parties during the concurring weekend. This prom/house party weekend eventually evolved to what we on campus are familiar with today. While this ticket is a neat keepsake to help remember a different time, you can fortunately enjoy the festivities this weekend without needing a ticket of your own!

To learn more about Green Key Weekend, ask for the "Green Key" Vertical File. The ticket can be found in the "Dances, Ball, Cotillions" Vertical File.

Posted for Angela Noppenberger '17

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Glory of Morning Glories

red and white morning glory print
Behind a muted cover, morning glories blossom. Kataoka Senfu's work Asagao zusetsu uses woodblock prints to present the diversity of the morning glory.

Japanese woodblock prints -- colorful and affordable -- have been popular in Japan since the seventeenth century. These prints were "discovered" by the West in the nineteenth century after Japan was strong-armed into European trade in 1853. Japanese prints were an inspiration for artists from Vincent Van Gogh to Edgar Degas.

Kataoka Senfu was active around 1902. Our copy was given to Special Collections in 1956 by H. G. Fitzpatrick in memory of Roger Conant Wilder, Jr., a member of the class of 1949 who passed away in 1953, and is an inheritor of the tradition of Western admiration for Japanese prints.

blue and white morning glory printThe first volume contains pages of stunning, vibrant woodblock prints, while the second volume consists of information about the plants and a few uncolored woodcuts. The second volume has been digitized by Princeton and is available via the Hathi Trust.

But Princeton doesn't have the first volume, and the binding of ours is super tight (resulting in these photographs, rather than our usual high quality scans), so you'll have to come to Rauner to see the flowers; ask for Rare Book SB404.8.K3 A7.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Nothing to Write

While looking for books to use for a class
We found a long poem about a vain Lass,
"Nothing to Wear," poor rich girl, a pity.
It rhymed, of course, and was oh so witty.

Then we found the sequel, a parody
Titled "Nothing to Do" by "a Lady"
About an idle young man whose life was a bore.
Both poems a hit, the public wanted more.

Next came a volume, so slender and neat
T'was a spoof on a spoof, "Nothing to Eat!"
One by one, this doggerel did appear
And all were written in just the same year!

So come see them, read them, and you will learn
That life is best lived with something to earn.

Nothing to Wear (New York: Rudd and Carleton, 1857), Val 816B974 T7
Nothing to Do (New York Wiley & Halsted, 1857), Rare PS2014.H16
Nothing to Eat (New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1857), Rare PS991.A1 N63 1857

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Soviet Data Visualization

We recently acquired a portfolio of Soviet economic illustrations from 1932. If that sounds dry, bear with us while we explain. The Struggle for Five Years in Four captures Soviet economic progress through isotypes --  an abbreviation for the International System of Typographic Pictorial Education (ISOTYPE). In the 1920s, members of Vienna's Social and Economic Museum developed a system where a symbol of a fixed size is repeated to signify difference.

In The Struggle for Five Years in Four, the isotypes speak to the "crisis in the leading capitalist countries." In the early 1930s, it seemed as though the communist state had figured out something that the capitalists had not: capitalist countries faced breadlines, riots, and high unemployment rates, while the USSR's industrialization brought economic prosperity.

The foreword is brief, stating that "the following charts tell their own story." Each page displays the colorful economic advances of the Soviet Five Year Plan, compared to the (typically black) isotypes representing the tsar's reign.

From the seemingly quotidian (rubber overshoes, granulated sugar) to the ground-breaking (collectivization of peasant farms, state medical aid, vacation), the portfolio aims to demonstrate the massive advances of the communist state. Of course, the propagandistic booklet does not explore the more controversial reforms or the backlash against Soviet policies. We're curious whether the statistics are accurate, but that's a whole research project.

To see the portfolio, ask for Rare Book HC335 .S78 1932.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Do You Know What You're Singing?

Detail from title page of Old Kentucky HomeThis state song of Kentucky is performed at the start of the annual Kentucky Derby.  But, do you know what it is you are singing?  “My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!” was originally written for minstrel singers. The song is narrated from the perspective of a slave who is being sold south because his Kentucky plantation master has gone bankrupt. All of the other slaves on the plantation are sent to freedom, but this slave sings that he will long for his “old Kentucky home” when he is sold to a southern plantation.

Stephen C. Foster was an abolitionist, which makes this suggestion that the southbound slave will fondly miss his Kentucky enslavement very puzzling. Also, it’s a minstrel song, intended for white actors to sing in blackface – anything but progressive.

Title page of Old Kentucky HomeSo what was Foster thinking? He was originally from Pittsburgh, but he frequently visited his cousin, John Rowan, and his wife, Ann, at their property in Bardstown, Kentucky. It was at this Kentucky farm that Foster gained his first-hand exposure to the plight of enslaved servants. While he may have admired his cousin, and thus romanticized his plantation, he still saw slavery as an inherent evil. Foster’s song was released in 1852, the same year as the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Foster initially entitled the tune “Poor Old Uncle Tom, Good-Night!” but finalized the title to “My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!” as we know it today.

Chorus to Old Kentucky Home
So as you sip on your mint julep on Saturday, ponder the irony of your “Old Kentucky Home.” To see the sheet music, ask for William/Watson SF 30.

Posted for Regan Roberts '16.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Commerce and Communism

cover of Mexican People
Patronage is complicated. It's especially complicated when you're a member of a Mexican communist artists' collective but you live in a capitalist society, so you need money to continue your quest to inspire revolution.

Enter Mexican People, a portfolio produced around 1947 by the Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP, the People's Graphics Workshop). The TGP was established in 1937 by a group of Mexican leftists who wanted to create art that reflected the daily struggles of the Mexican people.

Mender's print "Grinding Maize"
Leopoldo Méndez, "Grinding Maize"
In 1947, the TGP faced a crisis -- they needed money, and they turned to the United States. Associated American Artists was an American gallery established in 1934 to provide affordable art to the middle class, primarily in the form of prints such as lithographs. The TGP created Mexican People, a portfolio of twelve signed lithographs, for an audience in the United States that was hungry for "authentic" images of Mexico.

As students in Professor Coffey's art history class on Mexicanidad (Mexican Identity) pointed out last week, Mexican People creates an ambivalent vision of Mexico. Are the images of backbreaking work (quarrying, grinding maize, rolling logs down a river) celebrating the culture of Mexico and the indomitable spirit of Mexicans? Or are they a critique of capitalism?

To see it, ask for Rare Book NE2314 .A8 1947