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Scholarship@Villanova: Ron Chadderton on Dam Failures in “Flood City”

A house in Johnstown, PA, after the 1889 flood

A house in Johnstown after the 1889 flood

This year’s Scholarship@Villanova endowed chair lecture features Ronald A. Chadderton, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, the Edward A. Daylor Chair in Environmental Engineering. Dr. Chadderton will speak at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, in the Falvey Memorial Library first floor lounge.

Dr. Chadderton, a professor and chair in the department of civil and environmental engineering, will investigate and reconstruct historic floods in the Johnstown, Pa. area, caused by dam failure. He points to the historic nature of the floods, especially the “Great Flood” of May 31, 1889, as a major point of interest.

“As a faculty member at Penn State,” he explains, “I was involved with a study of one of the Johnstown floods. It was a mathematical modeling project. Also, as a ‘history buff,’ I had read various articles about the 1889 flood.” The disaster resulted in the single largest number of civilian deaths at the time and the first major disaster relief effort handled by the American Red Cross.

Johnstown is often referred to notoriously as “The Flood City.” Subsequent laws, taxes, music, art and literature related to its flooding have been created. Several historians have written about the Great Flood; in addition, fiction authors such as Catherine Marshall and Caitlín R. Kiernan have used the historical event as inspiration. Additionally, Bruce Springsteen mentions the Great Flood in his song “Highway Patrolman.”

“The lecture,” Dr. Chadderton notes, “will include some history, some general engineering ideas and some results of my mathematical study of an historic flood event. Hopefully, it will have some content of interest to listeners with differing backgrounds.”

The event is free and open to the public. (Click this link to watch a video of the event.)

Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Research strategies: Relics, pilgrimages, indulgences and holy years of jubilee

by Darren G. Poley

With the relic of Saint Don Bosco recently completing its North American tour, and with Pope Benedict XVI, along with millions of other pilgrims, visiting the Shroud of Turin during its public exhibition earlier this year, many people have been wondering about relics and pilgrimages. Aren’t these things of the past? This topic guide discusses answers to those questions.

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Falvey Celebrates the Graphic Novel with 2nd Annual Event

2nd Annual Graphic Novel Event logo

Last year, comics went to college. This year, Falvey Memorial Library, in partnership with the Villanova University Writing Center, invites you to discuss superheroes and scholars at our Second Annual Graphic Novel Event, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. in the first floor lounge.

Graphic novel writer and Philadelphia resident John Arcudi will give the keynote address. He is best known for developing The Mask for Dark Horse Comics, and his work served as the basis for the 1994 film starring Jim Carey. He has also written for both DC and Marvel Comics, taking on superheroes like Superman, the Flash and Wonder Woman.

Arcudi recently tackled the superhero genre from a more cynical perspective in his original graphic novel, A God Somewhere (Wildstorm, 2010). The story charts the loss of faith and reason in Eric, an everyman who emerges from a deadly accident with superpowers. Publishers Weekly calls the graphic novel “harrowing,” and USA Today says it is “a bold and risky book that dares to offer a challenging new take on what it would be like to be a super-man.”

But that’s not all! Falvey offers an abundance of graphic novels — too many, in fact, to cover in a single event. So for the next two weeks, we’ll share some of our staff members’ favorites from the stacks. (more…)

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Saint Augustine’s “Confessions” Exhibit

Celebrating Augustinian Heritage Month and coordinating with the marathon reading of the Confessions on Nov. 3, Bente Polites, Special Collections librarian, has mounted a small exhibit, “Rare Editions of Saint Augustine’s Confessions from Special Collections.” The exhibit, which will remain on view until November 8, is housed in two cases on the first floor of Falvey.

Two very special books will be on display only on Wednesday, the day of the Confessions marathon reading. One was published in 1482. The other work, a manuscript of the Confessions, written in Florence, c.1456-1480, was the 500,000th volume added to Falvey’s collections.

In the left case are five books, four from the 1500s and one from 1646; the four small volumes are open to their illustrated title pages.

In the center is a large book, printed in Dillingen, Germany, in 1569 and open to display its text. Be sure to examine carefully the large capital Q at the beginning of the left page; it contains a tiny scene with a man on horseback in a landscape. This type of inhabited letter derives from the time when manuscripts were handwritten.

In the right case are an additional six books, all but one open to a title page or an illustration. The open books are all from the seventeenth century.

In the top center is the only closed book and the only one created after the 1600s. This volume is a limited edition of 400 copies published in London in 1900. Of particular interest here is the binding made by Cedric Chivers; it is vellum (calf skin) with applied gold and mother of pearl inlays.

Visit the online Confessions exhibit as well.

By Alice Bampton

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Last Modified: November 2, 2010