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Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Elliott Erwitt. USA; NYC; Candice Bergen dancing at the Truman Capote B&W Ball at the Plaza Hotel. 1966. ©Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos

Elliott Erwitt. USA; NYC; Candice Bergen dancing at the Truman Capote B&W Ball at the Plaza Hotel. 1966. ©Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos

Truman Capote’s fame transcended his literary status; he was famous for being, well, famous half a century before reality television and social media stars even existed. Also a uniquely gifted writer, Capote sought fame through publicity stunts, television appearances, and his friendships with both the social and Hollywood elite of the mid-twentieth century. Capote nurtured a persona based on being entertaining, rapier-witted, and eager to spread a rumor–attributes that would later haunt him. (more…)

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William Blake; Pity; ca. 1795. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

William Blake; Pity; ca. 1795. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

William Blake is perhaps the most famous artist born out of the British Romantic period, mostly known for his writing, paintings, and printmaking. But much like Vincent Van Gogh and Henry Darger after him, Blake was largely unrecognized during his lifetime and was mostly seen by the art community as an amateur. And while his published poetry and his illustrations of those poems are wholly original works, Blake spent the majority of his career drawing and painting scenes from fictional stories written by other authors—such as Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, and Dante.

In fact, it might be said that Blake spent a lot of his time working on what we now call “fan art.”

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The Morgan Library & MuseumArtstor and The Morgan Library & Museum are collaborating to make available 200 images from the museum’s permanent collection in the Digital Library.

A complex of buildings in the heart of New York City, The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States.

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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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