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Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Curriculum Guides1

Good news for English instructors: We have four new Curriculum Guides–collections of images from the Artstor Digital Library based on syllabi for college courses–covering different aspects of English Literature, each created by experts in the field:

British Romantic Poetry by Hugh Roberts, Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine

Gender in Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Literature and Gothic Literature by Jennifer L. Airey, Associate Professor of English at the University of Tulsa

The Coffeehouse: English Literature and the Culture of the Public Sphere, 1660-1740 by Misty G. Anderson, Professor of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Eugène Atget, Bon Marche, 1926-27. George Eastman House

Eugène Atget, Bon Marche, 1926-27. George Eastman House

I recently came across the BBC adaptation of Émile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise and, as a self-confessed Francophile, couldn’t wait to begin watching it. A few episodes in, though, my enthusiasm dimmed when it became clear that the series didn’t faithfully follow the book. Zola’s novel is, at heart, an acerbic commentary on consumer culture, not a love story. Where Zola makes The Ladies’ Paradise, a department store, into a protagonist, the show instead relies on the budding romance between a shop girl and the store’s owner to drive it along. The Ladies’ Paradise is the backdrop of the story, but unfortunately not its focus.

Zola, often credited as one of the shrewdest observers of 19th-century French society, did not choose the department store arbitrarily as the setting for his novel. By the time he wrote The Ladies’ Paradise in the 1880s, the department store had become one of the most iconic features of modern Parisian life.

Gustave Eiffel; Louis Auguste Boileau, Le Bon Marché, 1876. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Gustave Eiffel; Louis Auguste Boileau, Le Bon Marché, 1876. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

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William P. Barrett, The Library of George Frederick Ernest Albert Prince of Wales, 1904. UD Library: William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection

William P. Barrett, The Library of George Frederick Ernest Albert Prince of Wales, 1904. UD Library: William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection

Despite entreaties to the contrary, the debate about e-books vs. printed books doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Traditionalists frequently tout the sensual pleasures of paper (smell, which doesn’t have much to do with reading, comes up often), while readers of electronic devices usually point to convenience. There have even been studies about which format is better for comprehension and retention.

One thing that never comes up? Bookplates! Laugh if you want, but those small decorative labels with the book-owner’s name can be quite beautiful, and we haven’t yet seen an e-reader with one. Take a look at these examples from the University of Delaware’s William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection to see what they’re missing. (more…)

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Gustav Klimt, Burgtheater (Vienna, Austria); Death of Romeo and Juliet, 1884-1887. Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y., artres.com

Gustav Klimt, Burgtheater (Vienna, Austria); Death of Romeo and Juliet, 1884-1887. Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y., artres.com

Artstor is introducing curriculum guides–collections of images from the Artstor Digital Library based on syllabi for college courses–compiled by faculty members and experts around the country. Learn more here.

Shakespeare: Text and Performance
Julia Reinhard Lupton, Professor, English, University of California, Irvine
This curriculum guide focuses on three plays: Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and Cymbeline. The reading list covers three genres (tragedy, comedy, romance) and leads from very familiar to less familiar works by Shakespeare. I use Artstor images to build out Shakespeare’s world and the worlds depicted in the plays; to explore themes from mythology and literature drawn on in these plays; to provide insight into subsequent stage history; and to inspire students’ own scenographic imaginations.

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Paul-Émile Bécat, André  Gide,  1919, La Bibliothèque de l'INHA-collections Jacques Doucet. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.; artres.com

Paul-Émile Bécat, André Gide, 1919, La Bibliothèque de l’INHA-collections Jacques Doucet. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y.; artres.com

This year’s Nobel Prize winners in literature are set to be announced next week. Despite there being no public information about the candidates–the list is kept secret for fifty years after each award–U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes has been busy taking bets.

While we’re as much in the dark as to who will win as anyone else, we can offer a list of all the previous winners, along with links to dozens of their portraits (or, in the case of Thomas Mann, to a photo of his hands) in the Artstor Digital Library.

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Gavin Hamilton, Venus Presenting Helen to Paris, Museo di Roma. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.;www.artres.com; scalarchives.com, Rights (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Gavin Hamilton, Venus Presenting Helen to Paris, Museo di Roma. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; http://www.artres.com; scalarchives.com, Rights (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

“Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?”

So asks the title character in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus upon seeing the radiant ghost of Helen of Troy. Marlowe was not the only artist to be captivated by Helen and her fabled beauty. Indeed, for millennia, painters, sculptors, poets and playwrights have been inspired by her story.

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Aubrey Beardsley, Le Morte D'Arthur; "La Beale Isoud at Joyous Gard", 1893. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Aubrey Beardsley, Le Morte D’Arthur; “La Beale Isoud at Joyous Gard”, 1893. Image and catalog data provided by Allan T. Kohl, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Aubrey Beardsley was born on August 21, 1872. Despite dying of tuberculosis at the young age of twenty-five in 1898, the artist managed to have a brilliant career full of controversy and scandal. He shot to fame with his illustrations for Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur in 1893, and then became notorious for his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salome (1894).

Recurring images throughout his career follow two seemingly incongruous paths. There is an emphasis on sly, clever wickedness; a youthful disregard for propriety; and an interest in the perverse and profane. Overlapping imagery of melancholia and death lead the second path. These two broad and inconsistent currents each render distinct images of the same artist who was drawn to scandal and associated himself with the 1890s Symbolist crowd often scorned by the arts elite and general public alike.

The images in this post come from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and George Eastman House collections in the Artstor Digital Library.

– Elizabeth Darocha Berenz

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