Affordances of the Codex

The first class session in the Rare Book Room this term was for DIG 220: Electronic Literature with Dr. Mark Sample and his students.  Electronic literature?  In the Rare Book Room?  Yes, because one of the interesting things to do as we look at using/reading/researching texts online, is to compare that to how we’d use the same text in a physical space.  So, we looked at the “Affordances of the Codex,” or to put it another way, the attributes of the physical book.  What do we do differently; how do we interact differently; what do we see in a different way when we use physical books?

The five affordances we attributed to physical books were:

  • Books are simultaneously sequential and random access.

For example, we can look at a dictionary and read from A to Z, or we can find the definition of a particular word.  We can look at a book of short stories and read the first story through to the last, or we can choose a story to read.

Short Stories

Short Stories

  • Books are volumetric objects.

They have size and shape.  They “contain” the information in a three dimensional way.  Or, the shape may be representative of the contents.  The book “Snake Poems,” by Margaret Atwood literally unfolds like an accordion or “snake.”  “Gulliver’s Travels” text of his visit to the land of the giants is huge; the text of his visit to the Lilliputians is tiny.

  • Books are finite (bounded information spaces).

Single titles may be bound in one or more volumes; multiple titles may be bound together; single titles bound in one volume may be divided into parts.

  • Books offer a comparative visual space.

Books may be printed on the “front” side (the recto) of a leaf, but not on the “back” side (the verso.)  Notes, glosses, or translations may be on pages opposite the text itself.Page in SanscritPage in English

  • Books are writable as well as readable.

We all often take notes, underline, or mark passages in books (our own, of course, not those which we check out from the library!) for our study.  But, some books in the Rare Book Room have recipes on a flyleaf, notes from previous owners regarding their readings of the book, children’s drawings, gift inscriptions and other markings indicating their use.Children's drawings

Some of these affordances may also apply to electronic texts, but some don’t.  How do you see them differently?

Thanks, Dr. Sample and students for a great discussion!

Justice, Equality, and Community Archivist Is In The Library!

Hello, my name is Jessica Cottle and I am the recently hired Justice, Equality, and Community (JEC) Project Archivist.

A group of dedicated faculty and staff developed this new position to further the goals of the “Justice, Equality, Community: Reimagining Humanities Curricula for an Interconnected, Rapidly Changing World” initiative, funded by a generous Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. Over the course of 3.5 years, the initiative aims to “reimagine humanities curricula through the lens of three ideas that…cut across cultures, time, and disciplines: justice, equality, and community…to demonstrate the critical role of humanistic inquiry in public discourse, global problem-solving, engaged citizenship, and democratic leadership.”

The grant includes funding for innovative partnership between faculty and students, a humanities practitioner-in-residence program, community-minded experiential learning projects, and archives-supported assignments centered on questions about race and religion in the greater-Davidson area.

As the JEC Project Archivist for this endeavor, I will be developing, promoting, and digitizing archival resources related to the research and teaching of social justice issues (particularly race and religion), and facilitating collaboration between community partners, faculty, and students. I was raised in Charlotte—I graduated from Harding University High School in 2011—so I plan on tapping into personal connections to homegrown groups to ensure the initiative’s positive impact on both the campus community and local residents.

I graduated from Appalachian State University with my B.A. in May 2015. I majored in Global Studies with a concentration in East Asia, and double minored in Women’s Studies and Chinese. I returned to Boone that fall to complete my M.A. in Public History, graduating in May 2017. I believe unearthing connected historical and current marginalized narratives and subsequently serving as a conduit through which people can address their communities for themselves is my foremost responsibility as a public historian and archivist. When applying for jobs this summer, I immediately connected with the project goals described in this position’s advertisement as I saw my understanding of history and archives reflected in them. I am excited to familiarize myself with the archive’s resources and getting to know everyone as the JEC initiative moves forward!

Jessica Cottle
Email: jecottle@davidson.edu
Phone: 704.894.2669
Office: E.H. Little Library, Room 203

Research, Teaching, and Collection department's contributions to welcome Jessica Cottle.

Research, Teaching, and Collection department’s contributions to welcome Jessica Cottle.

Jessica Cottle's Welcome Cake

Jessica Cottle’s Welcome Cake
August 28, 2017

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

“It’s alive! It’s alive”
You probably associate that line with the movie, “Frankenstein.” And, you’d be right. You’d be wrong, however if you think the monster is Frankenstein. That was actually the name of the doctor who created him, and both were born from the imagination of Mary Shelley, who began her book Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus during the summer of 1816 when she was not yet nineteen. Mary (the lover, and later wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley), Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori were spending time in Geneva, and the gloomy, rainy weather often kept them indoors. Among the often occult topics of conversation was galvanism, the contraction of a muscle that is stimulated by an electric current. One rainy afternoon, Byron suggested that they have a contest to see who could write the best gothic horror story. Mary’s was the only one which was completed. Her story is of a doctor, Victor Frankenstein, who experiments with a technique for giving life to non-living matter which ultimately leads to his creation of The Monster. Full of gothic elements, and considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction, it is more than that. It explores themes of goodness and beauty as well. Shelley’s tale was published in London in 1818, but that first edition was published anonymously. Her name did not appear as the author until the second edition was published in France in 1823.
Although when first published Frankenstein did not receive favorable critical reviews, it did gain almost immediate popular success, and the story has been retold in theatrical productions, movies (and movie spoofs) through the years. Although Mary Shelley continued to write, she will always be remembered for Frankenstein.
We have in the Rare Book Room an early copy of the celebrated novel.

Forthcoming book ad for Vanity Fair

Forthcoming book ad for Vanity Fair

Back cover of original paper wrappers

Back cover of original paper wrappers

Publisher's list of some of their other works

Publisher’s list of some of their other works

Title Page

Title Page

Original preface

Original preface

1831 Bentley edition preface

1831 Bentley edition preface

Opening pages of the story

Opening pages of the story

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus / by Mrs. Shelley. Boston: Sever, Francis, & Co., 1869. Third American edition. Includes both the original preface, and the preface the author wrote for the 1831 Bentley’s Standard Novel edition (London). Rebound in brown buckram, but retains the original green paper wrappers. Includes original publisher’s ad for “the elegant Cambridge edition” of Vanity Fair.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

The Scarlet Letter, title page of first edition, first issue.

The Scarlet Letter, title page of first edition, first issue.

The Scarlet Letter was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of America’s most well-known writers, and was first published in March 1850 by Ticknor Reed and Fields in Boston. In November of 1849, James T. Fields, the junior partner in the firm (Boston’s most eminent) went to Salem to see Hawthorne, came back with an unfinished manuscript and began advertising this new work of Hawthorne’s. The tale of Hester Prynne (the adulteress branded with the scarlet letter A by her Puritan judges,) the Reverend Dimmesdale (father of her child) and Pearl (the child of the ill-fated union) is one with which most of us are familiar, since it’s often “required reading” in high school English classes. If you haven’t read it since high school, however, get it out again. You may find that your reaction to this masterpiece is quite different now.

The Scarlet Letter, title page verso.

The Scarlet Letter, title page verso.

Thanks to Dr. Wilber Fugate, Davidson class of 1934, we have a first edition, first issue of The Scarlet Letter in the Rare Book Room, one of only 2500 copies printed. According to one antique bookseller, Phillip J. Pirages, “this is a volume of firsts: the first edition, first issue of Hawthornes’ first novel, his first publication for Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, and generally recognized as the first major American novel.” There are several points which determine the first issue, including the absence of the preface which Hawthorne added later, and several misprints which were corrected in later issues.

Printing error: reduplicate for repudiate

Printing error:
reduplicate for repudiate

Printing error: mortal for moral

Printing error:
mortal for moral

Printing error: characterss

Printing error:
characterss

Printing error: tobelieve

Printing error:
tobelieve

Printing error: The number 21 printed at the foot of page 321.

Printing error:
The number 21 printed at the foot of page 321.

 

 

 

 

 

Our copy has been rebound in quarter red morocco with red linen boards, and uses raised bands, black morocco spine labels, and gilt spine lettering. The inscription on the title page reads “C. G. Atherton to Hon. J. Hurst Jr.” Charles Gordon Atherton was a lawyer and politician who served as a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire from 1843-1849, and from 1852 until his death in 1853. He served as Chairman of the Committee on Printing (Twenty-ninth Congress), the Committee on Roads and Canals (Twenty-ninth Congress), and the Committee on Finance (Thirtieth Congress.)

The Scarlet Letter binding

The Scarlet Letter binding

Books from the Nonesuch Press

A Nonesuch Press Dust Jacket

A Nonesuch Press Dust Jacket

I wrote an earlier blog on The Golden Cockerel Press , one of the famous private presses represented in our Rare Book Room.  Another private press which was also noted for its beautiful volumes was the Nonesuch Press.

The press was founded in London in 1922 by Francis Meynell, his wife Vera, and their friend David Garnett, co-owner of a bookshop in Soho.  Nonesuch Press published its first book in May 1923, and from then until the mid-1960s it produced more than 140 books.  Unlike most private presses, Nonesuch used a small hand press to design their books, but then had them printed by commercial printers.  This method allowed the books to be designed with the quality of a fine press, but since they were commercially printed, to be available to a wider audience at lower prices.  Nonesuch editions are prized by collectors, and we have several in our collection thanks to Dr. Harold Marvin, Davidson class of 1914.

Two of the titles in our collection are

Princess of Babylon

Princess of Babylon

The Princess of Babylon by M. de Voltaire, and Graziella by Alphonse de Lamartine.  The Princess of Babylon was printed in a limited edition of 1500 copies (ours is #106) on Batchelor’s Kelmscott hand-made paper, and bound in vellum backed marbled boards.  It is beautifully illustrated with plates and decorative vignettes by Thomas Lowinsky.

 

Graziella was also printed in a limited edition consisting of 1600, of which 600 were for sale in the United States.  This semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of a young Frenchman’s romance with a Neapolitan fisherman’s daughter.  It was bound in decorated cloth boards and includes 30 illustrations, some in color, by Jacquier.

Graziella

Graziella

 

Thanks, Dr. Marvin, for your wonderful gifts to our library!

Marbled Paper

American Military Biography

When you hear the word “marble” what comes to mind?  Small round glass balls you played with as a child?   The streaks of fat alternating with lean in a rib-eye steak?  Your beautiful variegated stone kitchen counters?  All are accurate.  But what if I told you that the Rare Book Room has several examples of “marbled” paper?  Do you picture paper that has hardened to rock?  Actually, “marbled paper” is given that description because of the appearance of the paper —with streaks and patterns like marble.

It is made by transferring water colors floating on the surface of a gum solution to a piece of paper.  The colors are drawn on the solution with sticks or combs to create patterns such as swirl, splash, and feather.  Colors vary, from dark to light; from the use of many colors to few.

Moby Dick

The technique was found as early as 118 in Japan, but the Persians are credited with first using it for books.  It was first used for the endpapers of a book, but it is also used for covers and bindings, and was used heavily in Europe and the U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries.  It has more limited use currently, but has been revived for special books of limited editions.

Johnson & Queeney

The Rare Book Room has several examples of this beautiful technique, many currently on display.  So, if you’re in the area, come by the RBR to see some of our beautiful “marbled paper” books.

Le Duc de Nemours

Works of Robert Burns

Mill on the Floss

History of England

Matsukaze: A Japanese No Play

Cover of the RBR's copy of Matsukaze: A Japanese No Play

Cover of the RBR’s copy of
Matsukaze: A Japanese No Play

So, just what is a Japanese No (or Noh) play?  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Noh comes from a Japanese word meaning “talent” or “skill.”  It refers to a traditional Japanese theatrical form, one of the oldest exant theatrical forms in the world.  It involves music, dance and drama, and has been around since the 14th century.  Plots are drawn from legend, history, literature and contemporary events, with themes often involving dreams, the supernatural world, and ghosts.  All the performers in a No play are men, in rich and heavy costume.  The main character, the shite, often takes several roles, each represented by a mask so that the audience knows which character is on stage at the time.  There is actually little action, with the performers acting more as story-tellers than actors.

One of the most famous of the No plays is Matsukaze, translated as “Breeze through the Pines,” or “Wind in the Pines.”  It is a “wig play” or “woman play” in which the characters are women, although played by men.  In Matsukaze, the two main characters are the spirits of Matsukaze (the wind) and her sister Murasame (the Autumn rain).  They lived in Settsu Province, and when the news of the death of their lover came, they both died of grief.  However, their sprits lingered on.  As the play opens, a traveling priest asks about a local memorial, finding out that it was built as a tribute to the two dead sisters.  The priest meets them in a dream, they explain their past and are overcome with madness.  Their souls are released and they pass from the mortal world, leaving only the sounds of the wind and the rain behind.

Matsukaze title page

Matsukaze title page

Dr. Harold Marvin (Davidson, Class of 1934) donated a copy of Matsukaze to the library’s Rare Book Room from his private collection.   Our copy, Matsukaze a Japanese No Play by Kwanami, was translated by Dan Frank Waugh, was privately printed in New York City in 1933, and is number 15 of only 75 copies.  It was bound by hand at the Stratford Press in imitation vellum and textured gray and black paper boards.  It was printed on hand-made Japanese silk paper.

Hand-made silk paper with deckled edges

Hand-made silk paper with deckled edges

The delicate paper is uncut (folded at the top) and has deckled edges. The decoration on the title page is from an ancient Japanese sword guard and symbolizes the play Matsukaze.

Thanks to Dr. Marvin for deciding to give us this beautiful book.

Burke’s Weekly for Boys and Girls

Burke's Weekly for Boys and Girls

Burke’s Weekly for Boys and Girls

The library’s 100,000th volume, an addition to the Rare Book Room, was the 1st volume of Burke’s Weekly for Boys and Girls, a short-lived serial (1867-1871) which was published in Macon, Georgia.  Our volume includes the issues for 1867.  It was given to the library by Dr. Leland M. Park, our former library director, who had received the volume from his father.

Burke’s Weekly was begun by two brothers, J. W. Burke (the publisher) and T.A. Burke (the editor) after the U.S. Civil War to provide southern children with a magazine of stories, games, puzzles, and poetry.  The timing of the publication in the South, when many of the region’s families were trying to rebuild from the war and had little money to spare, was not the best, and subscriptions lagged, so much so that the publication ceased in 1871.  The brothers indicated in its last issue that they thought a publication such as theirs was needed and desired, but that they had not succeeded in that enterprise.  They then thanked those who had supported them.

Burke's Weekly Title Page

Burke’s Weekly Title Page

The stories in the issues had plots, which although they were interesting to children, also often included moral lessons.Stories with a moral  Other stories, specifically aimed toward girls, included information on pursuits such as “keeping house” and helping their mothers with the household chores.  The activities of animals and children were often topics for stories, and the poetry was sometimes religious in nature, or had topics related to the seasons.

Poetry

Poetry

Issues also included a section called “Our Chimney Corner” which included riddles, and other puzzles.

Our Chimney Corner

Our Chimney Corner

Thanks to Dr. Park (and his father) for this volume.

Some Things Never Change: Advice for Students

As students graduate and get ready to leave Davidson, they all get plenty of advice.  Whether they’re going on for further formal education, going into their first “real” jobs, or taking a year to volunteer or travel… whatever they decide to do, they all get advice…solicited or not…from parents and other family members, friends, and their “Davidson Family.”  Faculty members who have been important in their lives are often sources of advice, and that hasn’t changed in the last two centuries, as seen in one of our Rare Book Room titles “Youth’s Friendly Monitor, or The affectionate school-master: containing his last pathetick farewell lecture to his young pupils, on their entrance into a busy world, and their diligent pursuit after new employments….”  This 60 page volume, a gift of Dr. William P. Cumming, class of 1921, was published in 1787 and was written by James Burgh (1714-1775), a London schoolmaster.

Burgh’s lecture began:

“The Time being now come, when you are to remove from under my Care and Direction, and to go into other Hands, which will soon send you out into the wide World, where you must struggle for yourself and either sink or swim, according as you are favoured by Providence, and conduct yourself prudently, or otherwise; I think it my Duty to add to the many Advices I have given you from Time to Time…”

 

His advice included the following:

There is nothing of so much Consequence toward gaining a handsome subsistence, and arriving at an early and comfortable Situation in the World, as constant Application to Business, and steady Pursuit of the Main Point.”

“Be on your Guard as to Amusements and Diversions, which, if too much indulged, will take you off your main Pursuits….”

“Do not depend wholly upon your own Judgment; but, in the Choice of a Friend, strive to find one who has the universal Approbation of his Acquaintance, for his Integrity and Discernment.”

He also advised that:

“When you know no Good you can say of a Person, whose Name you hear mentioned, to be quite silent.”

And, he recommends that a scholar continue pursuing

“useful and ornamental Knowledge,” which is “the very Food of the Mind, and except Virture and Piety, is the most truly valuable Acquisition.”

He also reminds students of the importance of philanthropy.

It is a fatal Error, though a common one, …for a Man of Wealth to spend his Riches wholly upon himself….”

 

Good advice in 1787, and still pretty good in 2017!

8th Annual Poetry Reading in the RBR

Tomorrow night, April 20th, at 8:00 we are celebrating National Poetry Month with our 8th annual Poetry Reading in the Rare Book Room of the E.H. Little Library.  Last year was great fun, and we’re looking forward to this year’s event. Davidson students, faculty members, and town poets —talented all—will read from their own works.  There will also be time afterwards for refreshments and chatting with the poets.

Hope to see you there!