Harry Potter and the Quest for Enlightenment

Dragons, mandrakes, and potions have taken over the cases outside Special Collections & University Archives!

Students in Donna Parsons’ Honors Seminar titled “Harry Potter and the Quest for Enlightenment” have curated an exhibit using materials from Special Collections. The exhibit is one part of a semester long project utilizing Special Collections materials for research. The students chose one item from the collection to represent their research and worked together to fit their items into themes for display.

Parsons’ seminar has the students closely read the texts and analyze their themes as well as investigate the influences from the literary canon and the effects on popular culture in the US and Britain. She envisioned the collaboration with Special Collections as an exciting opportunity to enhance student learning. “The Harry Potter series is filled with extensive references to science, literature, mythology, and history,” Parsons says. “Partnering with Special Collections has supplied my students with the resources needed to trace a specific reference and discuss its relevance to a particular scene, character, or plotline. The partnership has also provided the context for a deeper understanding of the series and its appeal to a diverse audience.”

Greg Prickman, Head of Special Collections & University Archives, welcomed the collaboration. “The idea to have the students create an exhibition was Donna’s, and we quickly agreed to it. Rather than showing or telling, we are giving them the chance to do their own showing and telling, which results in a unique learning opportunity that can only be experienced with access to original historical documents.”

Kelsey Sheets, a student in the seminar, loved finding out how complex the world of Harry Potter really is. “In the past I have read books about how J.K. Rowling draws inspiration from a wide variety of historical and mythical sources and incorporates them into the series, but my own research [on links between the study of Potions and the muggle study of Chemistry] really solidified this point and made me appreciate the depth of the wizarding world.”

The exhibit will be on display until June 1st on the third floor of the Main Library outside Special Collections & University Archives anytime the library is open.

Significant Science Fiction Collection comes to the University of Iowa Libraries

Collection encompasses 100 years of material.

The University of Iowa Libraries has acquired a significant collection of pulp magazines, fanzines, and science fiction books owned by the late James L. “Rusty” Hevelin. The collection encompasses nearly one hundred years of material, documenting in great detail the development of science fiction, popular culture, and participatory fan culture in the United States during the twentieth century.

Rusty Hevelin began collecting pulp magazines in the 1930s when they were a popular item on newsstands. Pulps were cheaply produced weekly fiction magazines. They were the training ground for many of the most famous science fiction writers like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.   The collection contains thousands of pulps, ranging from the early Thrilling Wonder Stories, the eclectic Weird Tales, character titles such as The Shadow, The Spider, and Doc Savage, and many examples of mystery, western, and aviation pulps.    “This vast collection of material rarely collected by traditional libraries is a goldmine for teachers and scholars,” said Corey Creekmur, UI Associate Professor of English and Film Studies. “Pulp magazines were central to mid- 20th century American popular culture, but their ephemerality has made them rare and inaccessible for later readers. The arrival of this collection makes Iowa a major archive for future research in this area.”

Fanzines push science fiction genre

Readers of pulps began communicating with one another through the letter columns in each issue, and this back-and-forth exchange soon developed into fanzines, which fans produced on home mimeograph or other printers, and distributed through the mail and at conventions. The collection is particularly rich in the early years of science fiction fanzines, including several titles that Hevelin produced.

Science fiction grew out of the pulps and into mainstream publishing, and the Hevelin collection documents this process in thousands of hardcover and paperback science fiction books. First editions of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and other writers are included, along with many paperback novels. Together, these materials depict the great diversity of styles in science fiction as the genre evolved.

“The Hevelin collection presents a rare opportunity to study the development of this genre, as seen in many of its most important formats, through the lens of a single collector,” says Greg Prickman, Head of Special Collections & University Archives. “Fans like Rusty weren’t just fanzine writers, or pulp collectors, or science fiction readers, they were all of these things, and Rusty’s collection shows how these materials interact with one another.”

The University of Iowa Libraries is home to internationally significant science fiction collections. Holdings include the Horvat Collection of Science Fiction Fanzines, the Ming Wathne Fanzine Archive Collection, and a growing body of materials resulting from the Fan Culture Preservation Project, a partnership with the Organization for Transformative Works.

Riot Grrrl: Finding a voice

UI Libraries, Mission Creek Festival host zine open house and interactive exhibition March 30

Riot Grrl

In conjunction with the Mission Creek Festival of music and literature, the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Libraries will host “The Zine Dream and the Riot Grrrl Scene” from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 30. A cooperative project of librarians, scholars, and zine-makers, this event will highlight the 1990s Riot Grrrl movement and its independent publishing zine culture by exploring the intersection of music, writing, and social issues.

Zines (originally called fanzines) are amateur publications produced noncommercially and designed to circulate among a small number of people sharing similar cultural or social interests. Before the advent of the Internet and the introduction of blogging as a tool of personal and creative expression, zines were an important method of communication among members of subcultures traditionally underrepresented by the mainstream media.

The open house will focus on the Libraries’ collection of zines from the 1990s feminist “riot grrrl” movement that cover topics such as female-driven music, complexities of female identity, and a consciousness of institutional, social and cultural sexism. Riot grrrl zines are also concerned with feminist political and social issues such as discrimination, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and body image. Many zines are marked by stories of intensely personal experiences relating to these issues.

“Just before the rise of the Internet, the Riot Grrrl movement used photocopiers, scissors, glue and the Postal Service as tools to develop a hugely influential social network,” says Kembrew McLeod, associate professor of communication studies and co-organizer of the event. “In doing so, these pioneering feminists carved out an independent media space that challenged the dominant culture.”

Monica Basile, local zine-maker, artist, and doctoral candidate in gender, women’s, and sexuality studies, will curate a browseable selection of zines in the reading room. Attendees will be invited to share their experiences and thoughts in a discussion group on the importance of zines and zine culture. They’ll also have the chance to work on a collaborative zine which will be copied, collated, and shared with all of the contributors.

“As a print phenomenon, a Riot Grrrl zine demands attention be paid to its origins but it is physically turning the page that makes the continued relevance and urgency of the messages so evocative,” says Colleen Theisen, outreach and instruction librarian in Special Collections. “Zine newbies, Riot Grrrls, librarians, zine-makers, students, scholars, punk rockers, writers, community members—all are welcome to touch and turn the pages.”

from IowaNow: http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/03/riot-grrrl-finding-voice

Barrett research with Libraries’ Special Collections reveals secrets of old paper

Research by a University of Iowa led team reveals new information about why paper made hundreds of years ago often holds up better over time than more modern paper.

Led by Timothy Barrett, director of papermaking facilities at the UI Center for the Book, the team analyzed 1,578 historical papers made between the 14th and the 19th centuries. Barrett and his colleagues devised methods to determine their chemical composition without requiring a sample to be destroyed in the process, which had limited past research. The results of this three-year project show that the oldest papers were often in the best condition, in part, Barrett says, due to high levels of gelatin and calcium.

“This is news to many of us in the fields of papermaking history and rare book and art conservation,” says Barrett. “The research results will impact the manufacture of modern paper intended for archival applications, and the care and conservation of historical works on paper.”

Barrett says one possible explanation for the higher quality of the paper in the older samples is that papermakers at the time were attempting to compete with parchment, a tough enduring material normally made from animal skins. In doing so, they made their papers thick and white and dipped the finished sheets into a dilute warm gelatin solution to toughen it.

“Calcium compounds were used in making parchment, and they were also used in making paper,” Barrett says. “Turns out they helped prevent the paper from becoming acidic, adding a lot to its longevity.”

Barrett acknowledges that some may wonder why research on paper longevity is worth doing today, when art or text on paper can be scanned at high resolution and viewed later on a computer. He notes that close analysis of the papers themselves can often shed new light on a particular historical episode or figure. For example, when letters from a particular writer are found on especially poor quality paper given the writer’s time and place, it may indicate something significant about the writer’s financial situation. When a book was printed on very high quality paper for its period and location, it may suggest something new about the publisher’s intended audience and marketing strategy.

“Both instances provide evidence wholly lacking in digital scans of the same pieces of paper,” Barrett says. “Paper does more than support words or images. It can bring alive its own moment in history or show us how to make longer lasting paper in the future.”

Even in a digital age, some materials will still be created and preserved on paper. For instance, Barrett and his UI papermaking team worked with National Archives staff in 2000 to produce special handmade paper that now sits beneath the Charters of Freedom at the Archives Rotunda in Washington D.C.

“The information lying dormant in paper in important books and works of art needs to be preserved for researchers in future generations to uncover and utilize,” Barrett says. “Just as important, paper originals — that can be read without hardware and software — will continue to be essential backups to digital scans long, long into the future.”

Barrett’s group included Mark Ormsby, physicist at the National Archives and Records Administration Research and Testing division; Joseph Lang, UI professor of statistics and actuarial science; Robert Shannon at Bruker Elemental; Irene Brückle, professor at the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart, Germany; Michael Schilling and Joy Mazurek from the Getty Conservation Institute; Jennifer Wade at the National Science Foundation; and Jessica White, a UI graduate student who is now proprietor of the Heroes & Criminals Press.

The Institute for Museum and Library Services, the University of Iowa, and the Kress Foundation provided funding for the research. The UI Libraries is hosting the newly launched website http://paper.lib.uiowa.edu/ which details all the project goals, procedures and results. The UI Center for the Book is a part of the Graduate College.

The Forever War is UI Libraries BookMarks Statue

The Forever War is UI Libraries BookMarks StatueIowa City UNESCO City of Literature and three Johnson County public libraries unveiled 25 unique BookMark statues FRIDAY, JUNE 3, kicking off what is believed to be the first public art display in the world to celebrate reading and writing. These gigantic statues were created by artists from throughout the Midwest and will be on display now through the end of October in Coralville, Iowa City, North Liberty, and at the Eastern Iowa Regional Airport. Two to four additional statues will debut in July 2011.

The University of Iowa Libraries statue depicts The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. This ground-breaking novel is one of the most influential works of science fiction written in the last 40 years. It was completed while Haldeman was attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and published in 1974 while he was living in Iowa City. He submitted a copy of the first edition as his Master’s thesis.

The Forever War is an oblique depiction of Haldeman’s experience as a soldier during the Vietnam War, and a mind-bending treatment of the concept of time and space, the ways in which human experience is forged by our perception of the times in which we live. In the novel William Mandella is sent many light years across space to engage an enemy species known as the Taurans. Due to time dilation caused by faster-than-light travel, Mandella and his fellow soldiers age two months while time on earth advances by a decade. Haldeman uses this scenario, which most science fiction conveniently avoids, to depict the concept of future shock in tangible terms. The novel becomes a meditative examination of the senselessness of war and the immensity of time and cultural change, with a love story stitching the pieces together on a human scale.

The novel won every major award for science fiction, including the Hugo and Nebula, and it is considered an important work about the Vietnam War. Haldeman wrote two sequels, and the original novel is currently being adapted to film by Ridley Scott. The sculpture, by the artist Jim Kelly, depicts the powered suit of armor that the soldiers in the novel wear, while the interior of the sculpture invites viewers to step inside the suit, by stepping inside the book.

The University of Iowa Libraries is home to one of the largest collections of science fiction fanzines in the world, and this growing body of material is used frequently by faculty, students, and the public for classes, research, and enjoyment. Fanzines document the growth of communities in the pre-internet era, an area of increasing scholarly interest. They are often produced with paper and inks that fade with time, and the Libraries is actively engaged in collecting and preserving these ephemeral pieces for future generations to study—a span of time made easier to comprehend by the writing of novelists like Joe Haldeman.

BookMarks, a public art partnership, is expected to attract many visitors, and shows our community’s spirit for reading, writing, literature, and living in the only City of Literature in the United States. Each BookMark statue is an original collaboration between generous sponsors and talented area artists and designers.   A complete list of sponsors, artists, statues and their locations is attached. A separate map of the statue locations is also included with this information and is available at the BookMarks  website (www.bookmarksiowa.org).

Visitors and families are invited to experience the BookMarks project by touring all of the statues and uploading photos of themselves with each statue at the Flickr Photo Sharing page of the BookMarks website (www.bookmarksiowa.org), or on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Book-Marks-Iowa/128608547192443). In addition, the public can vote for their favorite statue through an online ballot starting June 20, 2011 at the Iowa City Press Citizen  website (www.press-citizen.com). Winners of the “People’s Choice Award” will be announced at the Iowa City Book Festival’s Day in the City of Literature on Sunday, July 17, 2011.

BOOKMARKS™ BOOK ART OF JOHNSON COUNTY will benefit the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature and the public libraries of Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty, when no fewer than 24 of the statues are sold during a public auction in November. The City of Literature USA is designating its share of the proceeds of this public art project to enhance outreach activities that attract visitors to the area such as the annual Iowa City Book Festival. Iowa City Public Library will direct its share of the contributions to increase its early childhood literacy efforts. The Coralville Public Library will utilize the proceeds to enhance Library programming and augment high-use collections. The North Liberty Community Library will use their portion of the funds toward the expansion and renovation project currently underway. The three public libraries in Coralville, Iowa City, and North Liberty have 95,000 cardholders who visited the libraries more than 1.2 million times last year.

The rest of the world became aware of the area’s literary culture two years ago when Iowa City received the UNESCO invitation to join the Creative Cities Network as one of only three Cities of Literature in the world.

Susan Craig, Director of Iowa City Public Library, made the claim that this community cares as much about literature as it does about football. Once she said it aloud, she envisioned the BookMarks project as a way for everyone in the community to celebrate all forms of reading and literature. Her vision of BookMarks statues—modeled after the highly successful “Herky on Parade” in 2004—was met with enthusiasm by all.

UICB @ 25 Exhibit in Main Library

The new exhibition in the North Hall of the Main Library celebrates the 25th anniversary of the UI Center for the Book, UICB @ 25: The Future of a Legacy (www.lib.uiowa.edu/exhibits).

The UICB is a unique program that conjoins training in the technique and artistry of bookmaking with research into the history and culture of books. The first twenty-five years of the UICB reach back to the University’s distinctive programs in art practice at the graduate level, while looking forward to the new media world we find ourselves in today.

Trace the history of the UICB through the work of current and former students, faculty and staff. Remarkable works held in the Libraries Special Collections as well as beautiful pieces loaned from alumni bookartists. Learn about the disciplines studied in the UICB – papermaking, letterpress printing, calligraphy and book binding – and view the tools book artists use.

The exhibit is free and open to the public in the University of Iowa Main Library during regular library hours through the end of February.

LGBT Life in Iowa City, Iowa: 1967-2010 Online Exhibit Earns Honorable Mention

OutHistory.org, the award-winning website on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer U.S. history, announced the winners of its “Since Stonewall Local Histories Contest,” 41 years after the start of the rebellion that marks the beginning of the modern movement for LGBTQ rights and liberation.

“LGBT Life in Iowa City, Iowa: 1967-2010” online exhibit curated by University Archivist David McCartney and Iowa Women’s Archives Curator Karen Mason earned an honorable mention in the competition. The exhibit is a timeline featuring over 70 images chronicling the history of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender communities in Iowa City. Content was drawn from collections in the Iowa Women’s Archives, the University Archives, and from the personal collections of several members of the community, who contributed their time to the UI Libraries’ effort.

The contest—the first of its kind—invited people from across the country to create exhibits on OutHistory.org about the history of LGBTQ life in their village, town, city, county, or state since the Stonewall riots, 40 years ago. The contest also offered five cash prizes, from $5,000 to $1,000, to the creators of the top five exhibits. The awards were provided by the Arcus Foundation, which funded OutHistory.org for four years.

OutHistory.org received over thirty exciting exhibits about LGBTQ history. One of the contest’s major goals was to draw attention to LGBTQ history in places that scholars have overlooked. Exhibits include entries about states such as Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, and Virginia, among others.

The “Since Stonewall” exhibits are all geographically-based, but range dramatically in subject, from one New Yorker’s memoirs, to a history of the Gay Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., an account of a long-lived gay bar in Michigan called The Flame, and a timeline of The Lesbian Mothers National Defense Fund in Seattle. All the entries are listed on the site.

Professors and historians of homosexuality John D’Emilio and Leisa Meyer served as judges of the contest.