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“The audience is half of the poem”: the First Latino Poet Laureate

Library of Congress appoints the 1st Latino Poet Laureate

Connecting to people through performance is crucial for Herrera. “I used to stand on the corner in San Diego with poems sticking out of my hip pocket, asking people if there was a place where I could read poems,” he recalls. “The audience is half of the poem.”

(Retrieved from LA Times, 6/22/15)
Photo: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/juan-felipe-herrera

Photo: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/juan-felipe-herrera

Congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera, who was appointed the 21st poet laureate on June 10 by the Library of Congress. Herrera will be the first Hispanic-American person to be chosen as poet laureate in the United States in the 79 years since the program’s inception. His tenure will begin in September—national Hispanic heritage month.

Herrera, the son of migrant farmers, spent much of his youth travelling and living in tents in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Though terribly underprivileged, he was presented with the remarkable opportunity to attend UCLA as a young adult. From there, he went on to attend Stanford University and the University of Iowa’s Writing Workshop, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

Through his education and experiences as a young Hispanic-American, Herrera developed a deep passion for writing and performing in both English and Spanish. He penned several pieces, including collections of poetry and children’s books in honor of his heritage and worldview. In addition to his writing and performing, Herrera has been an avid teacher and has also served as the poet laureate of California from 2012-2014.

Villanova University was lucky enough to welcome Juan Felipe Herrera as one of the featured speakers during the 14th annual Villanova Literary Festival, organized by Alan Drew, Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing. The talk took place on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner. A jam-packed audience had the opportunity to listen to Herrera as he read and performed selected poems in both Spanish and English. With great enthusiasm and detail, Herrera shared his past experiences and showed poignant images to illustrate his work.

It’s been reported that Herrera’s main focus during his tenure as poet laureate will likely be to connect people of all different cultural backgrounds through poetry and to help highlight the stories of those people who are typically overlooked.

Interested in learning more about Juan Felipe Herrera? Check out Falvey Memorial Library’s holdings by this author.

Also, visit the following sites for additional information on Herrera and the position of Poet Laureate, provided by librarian Susan Ottignon.

Juan Felipe Herrera, Current Poet Laureate

List of works by Juan Felipe Herrera

Past Poets Laureate: 2011-present

About the Position of Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry

Dig Deeper links provided by Sue Ottignon, subject librarian for romance languages and literatures.


St Joseph, Patron Saint of Fathers


Saint Joseph is a protector of the Augustinian order. Early in the fifth century, Saint Augustine addresses the issue of how Saint Joseph can be said to be the ‘father’ of Jesus, since God is the father of Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Logos, and Saint Joseph never had any conjugal relations with the Theotokos, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“On account of that faithful marriage both of them deserved to be called the parents of Christ. Not merely was [Mary] called his mother, but as the spouse of Christ’s mother, [Joseph] was called his father, for he was both of these by his mind, not by the flesh. Though he was [Jesus Christ’s] father only by his mind and she was his mother also by the flesh, they were both parents of his humble condition, not of his lofty condition, of his infirmity, not of his divinity.” (Augustine, “Marriage and Desire” I. 11.12. Translated by Roland J. Teske, S.J. The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century. Volume I/24: Answer to the Pelagians, II, 37. Edited by John E. Rotelle, O.S.A. Hyde Park, New York: New City Press, 1998. Many volumes from this contemporary edition in English of The Works of St. Augustine are available via the Past Masters database.)

In a signed article, “Marriage” (from Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, edited by Allan D. Fitzgerald, O.S.A., available via Falvey’s Digital Library), David G. Hunter states: “Augustine’s initial response to Pelagian critics of his views on marriage is found in the first book of De Nuptiis Et Concupiscentia, addressed to Count Valerius (ca. 418).” De Nuptiis Et Concupiscentia, “Marriage and Desire,” book one by St. Augustine is the work quoted above.

Around the time of the writing of this work, Augustine’s doctrine of grace was vindicated. The Catholic Church affirmed against the perfectionism of Pelagianism that human will is ineffective in doing good, including in marriage, unless first perfected by God’s gracious gift of participation in the divine life of the holy Trinity. A preeminent father of the church and one of the four great doctors of the Latin, i.e., Western, church, the sobriquet of Saint Augustine, the spiritual father of the Augustinian order, is doctor of grace.


Celebrate Freedom by Exploring Juneteenth and Harriet Tubman resources



Today is the sesquicentennial of Juneteenth, the nineteenth of June, and the day that marks the end of slavery in the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed two and a half years earlier in 1863, at that time without mass media, it actually took the physical arrival of Major General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas to announce to the last of the held slaves there that the Civil War had ended and that they were free. Hence, birthing a new Independence Day.

Juneteenth not only commemorates the abolition of slavery but also is growing to be a multicultural and global celebration of  freedom in general. Specifically, it is an opportunity to build cultural awareness, and in many communities, to educate young African-American generations about the struggles of their past and how their ancestors prevailed. Gratitude and pride, story and song make up many Juneteenth celebrations.


Also in recent news is one of the country’s most legendary abolitionists, Harriet Tubman. Ms. Tubman recently emerged the winner of a public survey (Womenon20s.org) to nominate the first woman to appear on U.S. paper currency. Though the selection, and even the process, was subject to debate (e.g., some see it as hush money, some see it as ‘money’,) the accomplishments of this brave abolitionist in her very dangerous times cannot be minimized. News broke Wednesday, June 18, that the $10 bill, which now depicts Alexander Hamilton, will definitely feature the portrait of a woman, though her identity is yet to be determined. The Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew will determine the person by the end of 2015, with the new currency appearing in 2020 — the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Dig Deeper

Explore further the intriguing times after the Emancipation through the following Falvey resources about Juneteenth and Harriet Tubman, curated by history liaison, Jutta Seibert. She’s also included some links on what actually goes into making the U.S. dollar bill. Contact Jutta here for her guidance through your research needs and also for her help navigating the wealth of books and online library materials.

1. African American Studies Center Online (AASCO)
AASCO is a great source about African American history in general and Harriet Tubman’s life in particular. It includes the Encyclopedia of African American History: 1619-1895, Black Women in America, and the African American National Biography project. AASCO also includes primary sources and images.

2. Books about Harriet Tubman in the Falvey collection:

3. Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865
Find numerous digitized primary sources written by and about Harriet Tubman.

4. African American Newspapers: The Nineteenth Century
Follow the life of Harriet Tubman as chronicled in the African American Press.

5. Historical New York Times, 1851-2009

Tubman’s obituary from March 14, 1913:

A report about the white resistance to emancipation in Texas from July 1865:
“The Negro Question in Texas.” New York Times (1857-1922), Jul 09, 1865.

6. Secondary sources about the tradition of Juneteenth celebrations in the Falvey collection:
Kachun Mitch. “Celebrating Freedom: Juneteenth and the Emancipation Festival Tradition.” In Remixing the Civil War: Meditations on the Sesquicentennial, edited by Thomas J. Brown, 73-91. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011. [E641 .R45 2011]

7. A Brief History of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

8. All you ever wanted to know about the dollar:
Currency Notes. [Washington, D.C.]: Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 2004.

Links and resources prepared by Jutta Seibert, team leader for Academic Integration and subject librarian for History.


Octocentenary! 800th Anniversary Celebration of the Magna Carta


The Magna Carta (originally known as the Charter of Liberties) of 1215, written in iron gall ink on parchment in medieval Latin, using standard abbreviations of the period, authenticated with the Great Seal of King John. The original wax seal was lost over the centuries.[1] This document is held at the British Library and is identified as “British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106” One of four known surviving 1215 exemplars of Magna Carta. Source Britishlibrary.png This file has been provided by the British Library from its digital collections.

John, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants and to all his officials and loyal subjects, greeting. 

Octocentenary! Truly, that’s a word you don’t hear everyday!

Though most of its clauses have been repealed, the Magna Carta – celebrating its 800th anniversary today – still stands as a framework and rallying cry against the arbitrary use of political power.

Signed June 15, 1215 by King John in Runnymede, (and not Runnemede, NJ, for those of us who have watched too much local news) this medieval document was composed as a peace treaty between the king and his subjects.

John, according to history (and to this entertaining British Library-produced video narrated by Monty Python’s Terry Jones,) was allowing power to go to his head – having allegedly imprisoned his wife, murdered his nephew, and raising taxes to pay for expensive foreign wars and wasteful expansionism. His barons had had enough and imprisoned John, forcing him to negotiate and follow the rule of law himself. Though most of of the document was rewritten within its first ten years, three of its original clauses still stand in English statute books: one granting liberties to the English Church, one granting certain privileges to the city of London, and third and most important, the right to a trial by jury. To writ:

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions,or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

See excerpts of the remaining clauses here.

Ideas in the Magna Carta are also reflected in theories of representative government and influential behind the cries of “no taxation without representation” which sparked the American Revolution and ultimately were incorporated into the US Bill of Rights. Worth viewing is the Library of Congress’ recent digital exhibit, Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor. Its overview material states that, “by examining the ways in which Magna Carta has been interpreted in English and American constitutional law and politics, this exhibition demonstrates how principles such as due process of law, the right to a jury trial, freedom from unlawful imprisonment, and the theory of representative government emerged from a tradition that began 800 years ago.”

Library curator Nathan Dorn and Princess Anne view the exhibit. Photo by John Harrington. Retrieved 6/8/15 http://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2014/11/pic-of-the-week-princess-anne-opens-magna-carta-exhibition/

Library curator Nathan Dorn and Princess Anne view the exhibit. Photo by John Harrington. Retrieved 6/8/15 http://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2014/11/pic-of-the-week-princess-anne-opens-magna-carta-exhibition/

 Can one still view the original Magna Carta?

Yes, If you happen to find yourself in Merrie Ol’ England, you can visit one of three original parchments of the document, or several other locations with amended or later versions. In fact, last week, Princess Anne officially reopened Lincoln Castle after a “multi-million pound refurbishment” that included a new vault for housing that city’s original copy of the document.

Closer to home…Dig Deeper

But if you’d rather save your pounds for a rainy day, you can still get up close and personal with the Magna Carta by viewing the extensive array of Falvey resources gathered by subject librarian for political science and geography, Merrill Stein.

On the famous bronze doors of the Supreme Court in Washington DC, there are eight images; three are dedicated to the Magna Carta (5,6 & 7).

On the famous bronze doors of the Supreme Court in Washington DC, there are eight images; three are dedicated to the Magna Carta (5,6 & 7).


Full text of the document and good explanation of the document’s relevance and history from Fordham University.

Full text with annotations; an ed doc.

British Library Digital Collection

National Archives translation

British Library Modern day English translation

EAWC Readings from Medieval Europe

Yale Law School Avalon Project

William Sharp McKechnie, Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction, by William Sharp McKechnie (Glasgow: Maclehose, 1914)

Magna carta; the Lincoln cathedral copy

Magna Carta Libertatum (Latin)

University of Oxford Bodleian documents

1215 version

1225 version

Falvey Memorial Library subject search:

Dig Deeper links provided by Merrill Stein, subject librarian for political science and geography. Find Merrill’s contact info here.MerrillStein



A Brief Look at Italian and English Renaissance Drama

Did yesterday’s blog post about Renaissance Faires whet your appetite for Renaissance Drama? Look no further than this thoughtfully assembled blog by Sarah Wingo, Subject Librarian for English Literature and Theatre.

When you hear the word Renaissance you may think of Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine chapel and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, or you may think of Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare. In both cases you’d be right, but you may not be aware that you’re thinking of two fairy distinct (though overlapping) time periods. The European or Italian Renaissance spanned the 14th to the 17th century beginning nearly a century before the Renaissance would truly gain momentum in England in the late 15th century and extend to beginning of the 17th century.

The Renaissance period in Italy and England were both characterized by a “revival of the arts and high culture under the influence of classical models” (OED), but each also had traditions and art forms distinctly their own.

One area in which Italian arts and English arts diverged was theatre.

Taglia Cantoni and Fracasso

Two Pantaloons Dancing. Bello Sguardo, Couiello. Dances of Sfessania (Balli di Sfessania 1621) series by Jacques Callot, 1592 – 1635.

In Italy a form of theatre known as commedia dell’arte[i] was popularized between 1575 and1650. Performed in open spaces and at fair grounds commedia dell’arte was largely improvised versions of familiar tropes. Commedia stories relied upon stock characters which were divided into 3 categories the lovers, the masters, and the servants, with distinctive characters belonging to each category such as Pantalone a greedy Venetian merchant. These characters were easily recognized by their distinctive clothing and the masks that they wore, thus allowing audiences to immediately identify heroes and villains within any story being told.[ii]

Most people will be more familiar with the theatre of the English Renaissance due to the enduring popularity of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s earliest plays were likely performed in the mid-1580s. From 1594 onwards his works were performed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a company of players of which he was part owner, who later became The King’s Men after being awarded a Royal Patent by King James I in 1603.

Shakespeare is the most well-known playwright from the English Renaissance at least in part due to the fact that more of his plays survive, thanks to their publication in the First Folio in 1623, than do the plays of most other playwrights from that era. Because plays were considered common entertainment rather than high art plays were not regularly published[iii], in fact of the 36 plays published in the Shakespeare’s First Folio only 16 existed in published form prior to the printing of the folio meaning that a full 20 of Shakespeare’s plays including Macbeth, The Tempest, and Twelfth Night would be unknown to us were it not for the printing of the First Folio. Likewise of the thousands of plays produced by numerous playwrights throughout the English Renaissance only a small percentage survive to this day.

Swan Theatre

The Swan Theatre: Arnoldus Buchelius (Aernout van Buchel) (1565-1641), after a drawing of Johannes de Witt (1566-1622). Utrecht, University Library, Ms. 842, fol. 132r.

Although there were some indoor performance spaces such as those at court and Blackfriars most theatres including The Globe where Shakespeare’s plays were performed from 1599 until it burnt down in 1613, were rounded open air structures with seating around the walls of the building and cheaper standing space in the center around the stage as can be seen in this image of The Swan Theatre, a contemporary of The Globe.

Theatre companies functioned as repertory, with a rotation of plays in performance, rarely performing the same play two days in a row. Theatre companies were also comprised entirely of men, female characters famously being played by “boy actors,” though the term “boy” may be misleading as it is believed that while the female roles were played by young men, they were not as was once believe played by children.

One reason that theatre from this period is so important is that it is really the first time that the Western World begins to see secular theatre performed in much the same way that modern theatre is performed today. The plays themselves also being very recognizable as modern theatre in stark contrast the highly stylized and religious liturgical dramas and morality plays which preceded the theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. [iv]

[i] Katritzky, M A. The Art of Commedia: A Study in the Commedia Dell’Arte 1560-1620 With Special Reference to the Visual Records. Amsterdam ; New York: Rodopi, 2006.

[ii] Read more about Commedia dell’arte at the Metropolitan Museum of Art website.

[iii] For more information about printing and publishing of plays during the English Renaissance see : Jowett, John. Shakespeare and Text. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007

[iv] Andrew Gurr has written prolifically on the topic of English Renaissance drama, and his books The Shakespearean stage, 1574-1642 and Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London would be of particular interest to anyone wishing to learn more on this subject.


SarahArticle by Sarah Wingo, team leader- Humanities II, subject librarian for English, literature and theatre.


All new for 2015! Recommended Summer Reading from English Faculty

Hey, blog fans, have you discovered the wonderful blog published by the Villanova Department of English? Not only is it an informative site for events, and people news, it’s also a place for unexpected delights, such as first dibs on job and internship opportunities and cookies at the coffee breaks!  Be sure to check it out regularly!
Associate Professor and departmental chair Evan Radcliffe, PhD, has kindly granted permission to reprint one of our favorite posts of theirs –  a real book lover’s dream! Below you’ll find a first-class summer reading list compiled by Department of English professors, written in their own voices. Ranging from classics to books just under the radar, you can be sure that time spent with these picks will be worthwhile – and if you’re not careful, you just might learn something! We’ve reprinted their recommendations here, including links, when available, to their Falvey catalog information.

Recommended Summer Reading from English Faculty


I’ve got two books to share! The first is We Need New Names, a novel by NoViolet Bulawayo. You should read it, if not for anything else, for the author’s arresting name! But, seriously, it’s a great story on migration and the different levels of displacement that attend to it when economic and racial pressures are applied. The young and sassy first person narrator Darling will reward you with shock, amusement, and much to think about for choosing to hang out with her this summer. If you are an English senior, Bulawayo is also on the reading list for my section of the senior seminar this fall.

The other novel is Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe. I haven’t read it yet, but the blurb is intriguing. Having read Evaristo’s earlier work, Lara, a semi-autobiographical verse novel that deliciously presents the myriad diasporic roots of Evaristo, reaching to Ireland, Germany, Nigeria and Brazil, I am excited to read The Emperor’s Babe, which is also in verse form. But this is no turgid verse. It flows. The Emperor’s Babe is set in AD 211 London (or, Londinium as the Romans called it) and features Zuleika, the daughter of Sudanese immigrants who marries a Roman merchant. Evaristo likes taking poetic risks in language and I look forward to reading about romance and power play in third century London. By the way, Evaristo will be here at Villanova in spring 2016 as keynote speaker at the Cultural Studies Association conference. Not a bad idea to read one of her novels before she arrives.
New Names
Emperor's Babe


This summer I plan to read through the Library of America’s collection American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s. As Junot Díaz says, “These novels testify to the extraordinary range, profound intelligence, and indefatigable weirdness of ‘50s American science fiction. A must-have for anyone interested in one of the most vital periods of our literature and for anyone who wants a wild wild tumble down the rabbit hole.”



For a break from literature, I recommend Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997), a readable Pulitzer-Prize nonfiction winner. Many years ago, a New Guinean asked Diamond “why white people developed so much cargo [steel tools and other products of civilization] while we black people had little?” It took Diamond 25 years to answer that question. As Bill Gates notes: “this book lays a foundation for understanding human history.”





Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1989). This is an exquisitely—even perfectly—crafted novel. The story is told as a series of post-World War II diary entries by an English butler, Mr. Stevens, who reflects on a career of dutiful service to his aristocratic employer even when it became clear that Lord Darlington was abetting the Nazis. The novel is a poignant, elegant, and subtle study of how moral will and personal fulfillment are effaced by the constraints of duty.

Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays (1970). This novel of Los Angeles makes me homesick and heartsick. It captures the rhythm and industrial beauty of the LA freeway system and offers an uncompromising depiction of the existential vacancy of Hollywood values: youth, beauty, celebrity, surface. In Didion’s long, distinguished career, Play It As It Lays remains a standout.





Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs. The narrator of this slim novel, a writer, travels from Boston to coastal Maine for a summer of uninterrupted work. What she finds, however, is a concentrated lesson in the stages of friendship across difference: from the uneasy hesitations of initial meeting to the gradual accumulation of shared knowledge.

Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric. We’re maybe used to novels and even poems capturing something exceptional and, for that reason, noteworthy. In this book-length poem about being black in a white supremacist nation, Rankine makes the mundane noteworthy. If you’ve read Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” you’ll recognize the epic scale Rankine locates in everyday occurrences, where casual gestures and offhand remarks recall hundreds of years of history and the clash of competing hierarchies.

Tana French, The Secret Place. French writes smart murder mysteries set in contemporary Ireland. I love them all. This one, her most recent, deals with a murder on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school. The chapters oscillate between the procedural perspective of the adult police and the meandering perspective of teenagers, a structure that allows it to highlight adolescence in all its unknown and terrifying in-betweenness.

Adam Phillips, On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life. One essay here begins with Phillips, a practicing psychotherapist, asking his patient, an anxious ten-year-old boy, to define “worries.” The boy thinks for a bit and then responds: “Worries are farts that don’t come out.” For most of you, that will be all the endorsement this volume needs. For the rest, let me add that Phillips is an enviably beautiful writer who will leave you smarter, more self-aware, and maybe even happier than you were before.



The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker. It is a moving story of a young girl coming of age in a near future in which the Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing–a phenomenon that is wreaking physical and social havoc across the globe.



I seem to be in the habit of recommending books that are about poetry, or that are almost poetry, but that achieve this while remaining stubbornly free of line breaks. Here are two more for this summer, one short (that I’ve already read) and one long (that I’m reading right now):

1. 10:04, by Ben Lerner. This novel (by a poet) is set in New York City and bookended by two hurricanes, Irene and Sandy. It’s a slim book–quiet, ruminative–and reads like a dream. What’s it about? Too many things to name, but, chiefly, the porous line between life and art. Plus the best use (ok, the only use) of the film “Back to the Future” in any novel I’ve ever read!

2. James Merrill: Life and Art, by Langdon Hammer. Full disclosure: the author of this book, a biography of the poet James Merrill, was my dissertation adviser. Merrill was a fascinating figure, gifted beyond belief, and fully committed to a life in the service of art. And this biography again and again rises to the task of making its subject come alive, without sacrificing any of the subtlety of his art. I’m far from impartial, but totally taken by this book.





Lucy Gayheart, by Willa Cather. This short novel is extremely well written. The plot is nicely constructed. The language, as almost always with Cather, is a perfect fit. And the ending is extremely powerful. A moving love story.





I’d like to suggest the novels of Glenn Patterson, who will be our Heimbold Chair for 2016. He is a Belfast novelist, and I loved Lapsed Protestant and The Mill for Grinding Old People Young, which was selected as the One Book, One City for Belfast in 2012.



I’ve got God Help the Child on my bedside table, waiting.  Nothing to say but, ‘It’s Morrison!’





First on my summer reading list is Zia Haider Rahman’s In the Light of What We Know (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014), because it sounds big in the best possible way: epic, global, provocative. Its story roams from Kabul to London, New York, Islamabad, Oxford, and Princeton, and I’ve heard that it considers, in one way or another, many of the key challenges of our contemporary moment in history. I’m curious.

As a teacher of the modern American novel, my summer pick is The Professor’s House (1925) by Willa Cather. It’s complex, ambitious and atmospheric. Although it does feature a middle-aged college professor, at the novel’s center is the grand story of a young adventurer who stumbles upon the remnants of an ancient civilization in the Southwest.





Redeployment by Phil Klay recently won the National Book Award. This collection of short stories highlights the brutal nature of war in Iraq and the haunting memories that follow soldiers home. By showing both the battle and home-front, Klay provides readers with a searing and unflinching look into the Iraq War that will ultimately change one’s perspective on soldiers and war as a whole. Excellent read!





I have three books waiting to go for summer. First, My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard. I’m desperate to start this book. The New York Times Magazine’s “Travels Through North America” can give you a sneak peek: click here. I’ve already started and am enjoying Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and since it just won the Pulitzer, I better finish and see why! Finally, I’ve been sucked in by the hype surrounding the reclusive Elena Ferrante and her trilogy, starting with My Brilliant Friend. I can’t wait to see what the excitement is about!



I’m a fan of the archetypal film noir The Maltese Falcon (1941) starring Humphrey Bogart as the detective Sam Spade (as well as of “Tequila Mockingbird,” the episode of the TV show “Get Smart” that parodied it). But I’ve never read the original 1929 novel by Dashiell Hammett, which is a classic of noir crime fiction and the original “California noir” novel. I’m reading it this summer as a prelude to next summer, when Alan Drew’s own California noir novel, Santa Ana, will be published.



Orpheus Lost, by Janette Turner Hospital, adapts elements of the Orpheus legend in this engaging contemporary novel that takes its characters through the long-lived consequences of wars past and present.

Martin Blaser’s Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling our Modern Plagues is as interesting for changing how we think about boundaries of bodies, of selves and others, as it is for its pragmatic prescriptions.





Some of the above titles are in the library collection, in which case you can click on the links provided. If the title isn’t linked, consider using the E-ZBorrow or Interlibrary Loan services to request the book from another library.

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The Best of The Highlighter: Library Policies for DVDs


Click here for the video about library policies for DVDs.


Now on Display: Sinking of the Lusitania Special Collections Exhibit

The RMS Lusitania, designed to be the fastest ocean liner in service, was launched in Sept. 1907. Owned by the Cunard Line, Ltd., her maiden voyage was from Liverpool, England, to New York. Her 68,000 horse-power engines allowed the Lusitania to travel at an average speed of over 25 knots per hour (28.8 miles per hour). That same year the top speed for a Model T Ford was about 45 miles per hour; a Stutz Bearcat had a top speed of 85 miles per hour. For comparison, by 1969 the Queen Elizabeth, another large Cunard luxury liner, had a maximum sustained speed of 28.5 knots (32.8 miles per hour).

In 1913, with war clouds looming, the Lusitania was sent to dry dock to be fitted for government service: ammunition magazines and hidden gun mounts were installed on her decks.
On May 1, 1915, the Lusitania, captained by William Turner, left New York bound for Liverpool on what became her last voyage. Although the German embassy had placed advertisements in New York newspapers warning that any ship sailing into the “European War Zone” might be attacked by German submarines, the Lusitania nevertheless sailed, carrying 1,264 passengers, including 124 children and infants, and 693 crew members.

At 2:10 p.m. on May 7 a German submarine, U-20 captained by Walter Schwieger, torpedoed the Lusitania as she cruised eight miles off the coast of Ireland. After the torpedo hit, a second, larger explosion quickly followed, and within eighteen minutes the Lusitania sank. Schweiger said in his log, “… great confusion on board … they must have lost their heads.” (“The Lusitania.” HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2014. Web) One thousand one hundred ninety five of the 1,959 people aboard the Luisitania died, 123 Americans among them. Captain Turner survived although he had been washed overboard and spent over three hours in the sea.

Installing the Lusitania exhibit are  (l-r): Laura Bang, Alison Dolbier and Marjory Haines.

Installing the Lusitania exhibit are (l-r): Laura Bang, Alison Dolbier and Marjory Haines.

This event sets the stage for the current Special Collections exhibit, “‘Too Fast for Any Submarine’: The Last Voyage of the Lusitania,” curated by Allison Dolbier, a Digital Library intern. Laura Bang, Digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant; Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator; and Marjory Haines, intern, helped Dobier install the exhibit, which fills seven display cases. Joanne Quinn, graphic designer and Communication and Service Promotion team leader, created the graphics. The exhibit is multi-faceted, incorporating a wide variety of materials: newspapers, children’s books, two medals, photographs and more.

2015-05-05 17.11.22A large poster, “Dastardly Deed!” captures the eye and leads one to the beginning of the exhibit in the upright case; the dastardly deed is, of course, the German U-boat’s attack. On the top shelf is the curator’s introduction, “A Fateful Voyage.” And on the same shelf is a color postcard of the Lusitania, mailed in 1909. On the next shelf are a 1913 two-page advertisement for the Cunard Steamship Co. in The Fra: A Journal of Affirmation, “Are You a Citizen of the World? An Advertisement by Elbert Hubbard.” There is a newspaper from Panama City, May 9, 1915, with a prominent headline, “Death’s Toll of the Lusitania, 1346.” There are also a menu and tickets in a frame as well as a copy of an advertisement for the Lusitania with a “Notice” below warning travelers. The “Notice” is signed by the Imperial German Embassy.

On the bottom of this case is a bright red flag with a golden yellow lion, a Cunard Steamship Company flag on loan from Eugene L. DiOrio, a small bottle containing rust from the Lusitania and its certificate of authenticity, and Exploring the “Lusitania”: Probing the Mysteries of the Sinking That Changed History, 1995, by Robert D. Ballard and Spencer Dunmore. This book is open to show the Lusitania as it appears underwater today.

IMG_2146Flanking this cabinet is a large framed print, “The Cunard Line Steamships: Lusitania and Mauretania.”
There are six more cases, each labeled “Too fast for any submarine,” the claim made for the Lusitania. These cases contain a variety of materials such as books, a newspaper scrapbook open to a clipping with the headline. “U. S. Ship Torpedoed; American Lives Lost,” pamphlets from 1915 and ’17, two medals, and much more.

One case is dedicated to “The Irish advocate for Germany … and Independence,” and another case focuses on “German-Americans and the case for American neutrality.” These two cases remind viewers that the United States is and was a nation of immigrants and there were often conflicting opinions about the Great War, World War I.


Highly informative and often visually appealing, this is an exhibit worth multiple visits to fully absorb its offerings. The exhibit will continue until mid-September.

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Upcoming Workshops for Chicago-Style Footnotes and Bibliographies

9780226103891_p0_v2_s260x420Are you confused by the different formats required by Chicago-style for footnotes and bibliographies? Are you unsure about how and when to use “ibid.”? — Answers to your questions are just around the corner.
Come to Falvey Memorial Library for a quick introduction to Chicago-style rules for footnotes and bibliography. Sessions will be held in Falvey 207 in the second-floor Learning Commons. For more information, contact history liaison librarian Jutta Seibert (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu).

Tuesday, April 14: 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 22: 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Jutta Seibert

Information provided by Jutta Seibert, team leader for Academic Integration and subject librarian for history.


Women’s History Month: Power & Magic in the Kitchen

Historically speaking, the kitchen is a woman’s domain. Women were chained to their stoves for hours on end. Cooking skills were right up there with other desirable traits, such as purity, appearance, and obedience to men. As Laura Schenone puts it in her book, A thousand years over a hot stove, “cooking reveals itself as a source of power and magic, and, at the same time, a source of oppression in women’s lives.”

To paraphrase Schenone, what women learned and what they knew wouldn’t be found in a book. It was passed down in the oral tradition, shared with daughters and friends. Women shared information and found support for more than just cooking. They relied on each other to learn healing remedies, to craft utensils and containers, to secure moral support, and to learn survival skills.

When times made life difficult and challenged even the most experienced cook, women found ways to feed their families with what little food was available. They would pool their resources or come to the aid of a hungry family. Women created new recipes to stretch the limited types and quantities of food.

Not unlike other American households, during World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt’s housekeeper, Ms. Henrietta Nesbitt found ways to deal with meat rationing and developed “meat-stretcher” recipes. There is one such recipe in The Husbandman, an agricultural newspaper. This newspaper was published during America’s Gilded Age, a period when the women’s suffrage movement was strengthening in the United States.

The original recipe for scrap pie is below. My adaptation follows the image.

Scrap Pie – 1886

The husbandman, v. XIII, no. 640, Wednesday, November 24, 1886

Scrap Pie Women's History









Scrap Pie – 2015

1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. white or red potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks

½ large onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp. chicken, beef, or vegetable broth

1 egg, beaten

4 tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. pepper

½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare and assemble all ingredients.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain and set aside. Sauté onion and set aside. Use 1 tbsp. butter to coat the inside of a 9” pie plate. Cover the inside bottom of the pie plate with ground beef. Drizzle broth over beef. Layer the sautéed onion over the beef. Boil chopped potatoes in large pot of water until potatoes are tender. Turn off burner, drain and return potatoes to pot. Mash potatoes until smooth. Add the beaten egg, 1 tbsp. butter, salt, and pepper to the mashed potatoes. Whisk by hand or use an electric hand mixer until smooth. Cover the beef with the mashed potato mixture. Use a dinner fork to create a design on the potatoes. Use remaining 2 tbsp. of butter to dot the top of the potatoes.

beefbeef onionsbeef potato






Bake at 375° until top is browned, about 30 – 35 minutes.

Scrap Pie done










Makes 4-6 servings. Serve with salad or cooked vegetables.

Below are links to books, articles and blogs for your reading, watching and listening pleasure.

A thousand years over a hot stove can be requested through E-ZBorrow or Interlibrary Loan.

What we lose in losing Ladies’ Home Journal (Thanks to Laura Bang, Special Collections, for the link.)

The First Kitchen

Women’s History and Food History: New Ways of Seeing American Life

#FoodieFriday: 5 Kitchen Appliances and Food Creations that Transformed Women’s Lives in the 20th Century

Women’s History Month – Audio and Video

My thanks to Michael Foight, Special Collections, for sending me the link to our digitized copy of The Husbandman.

LuisaCywinski_headshot thumbnailMonthly food blog feature by Luisa Cywinski, writer, Communication & Service Promotion, and team leader, Access Services.


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Last Modified: March 29, 2015