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Sacred and Secular: Christmas in Special Collections

BETHLEHEM
“Christmas in Special Collections,” the newest presentation by Falvey’s Special Collections staff, invites your perusal on the Library’s first floor. Laura Bang, Digital and Special Collections curatorial assistant curated the exhibit with the aid of Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator; Demian Katz, library technology development specialist; and Ruth Martin, a volunteer intern in Falvey’s Digital Library. Joanne Quinn, design specialist, created the graphics for this display.

“Christmas in Special Collections” fills six cases. Materials are drawn from Special Collections holdings, and the exhibit contains a wide variety of works, religious and secular, all related to Christmas. Publication dates range from 1773 through the 1970s.

For this writer, the most unexpected part of the display is a book by Richard E. Byrd, Into the Home of the Blizzard, New York, 1928; a 1929 Christmas card from Commander Richard E. Byrd and the Byrd Aviation Associates and a 1928 letter on Byrd Antarctic Expedition letterhead to Mr. Dwight P. Robinson from H. H. Railey, conveying Commander Byrd’s “wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.” One wonders how these objects arrived in Special Collections.

Two early periodicals for children—St. Nicholas: Scribner’s Illustrated Magazine for Girls and Boys, December 1876, and Boys’ and Girls’ Weekly Catholic Magazine, published in Philadelphia in 1846—provide an interesting look at 19th century children’s literature.

Thomas Fitzpatrick, The Lepracaun: Cartoon Monthly, Christmas Number, 1906, published in Dublin, is one of a number of publications from Ireland. This issue is open to an advertisement for Kennedy’s Bread and on the facing page, a lepracaun holding a card wishing “MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.”

Christmas Books: Tales and Sketches, 1894, by Charles Dickens, and Washington Irving’s The Old English Christmas, 1900, present old-fashioned Christmas stories.
CANDLEThe most visually appealing part of the exhibit (at least for this writer) is the case containing the Missale Romanum; The Belles Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry, Prince of France; The Prayer Book of Michelino da Besozzo; The Christmas Sky by Franklyn Mansfield Branlay and Blair Lent; and The Christmas Book of Legends and Stories by Elva S. Smith. Each of these books is opened to show beautiful illustrations of the Christmas story.

The Missale Romanum is a Roman Catholic missal printed in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1773. The book is opened to a full-page hand-colored illustration of the Nativity and on the facing page a colorfully decorated page with part of the “Proper Mass” for the first Sunday of Advent. The Missale contains the official texts for the Roman Rite mass.

Two books in the same case are facsimiles, that is, modern exact copies of much older illuminated manuscripts. (An illuminated manuscript is a hand-written and hand-illustrated book or scroll.) The Belles Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry, Prince of France, was illuminated (illustrated) by the Limbourg brothers at the turn of the 15th century for the Duke of Berry. A book of hours is a book of Christian devotions for a lay person, the most popular type of devotional book in the Late Middle Ages. The other facsimile is the Prayer Book of Michelino da Besozzo; the original was illuminated by an Italian artist, Michelino da Besozzo, c. 1420. Look carefully at these two small books; the illuminations are incredibly detailed.

In the same case is The Christmas Sky, 1966, by Franklyn Mansfield Branlay and Blair Lent. It is open to the text of Luke 2:1-7 and a color woodcut print of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Also in this case is The Christmas Book of Legends and Stories, 1944, by Elva S. Smith. This is open to a two-page illustration of the Annunciation to the Shepherds and the artist has included a fascinating variety of animals, not just the traditional sheep, but also a bear, a lion and a wolf.

The exhibit is well worth viewing, for its religious content, for the colorful art and for the wide variety of books on display—only a small part of the treasures housed in Special Collections.


Article by Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Publications Team.

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Over Six Million Images for You to Use: ARTstor and AP Images

imagesAre you giving a presentation or writing a paper that would benefit from including images? Rather than Googling, why not investigate Falvey’s two image databases, ARTstor and AP Images (Associated Press Images). In both of these collections you will find high quality, properly identified images.

ARTstor is a digital library containing over 1.6 million images that go beyond the traditional arts – painting, sculpture, graphics and architecture. ARTstor also contains images in the humanities and sciences: music, photography, literature, world history, American studies, Asian studies, classical studies, Medieval studies, Renaissance studies, literature and more.

ARTstor can be found in Falvey’s Databases A-Z or you can go directly to ARTstor. Although anyone can log on to ARTstor from Falvey, registered users with valid Villanova University e-mail addresses are allowed additional privileges: they can save image groups, create shared folders, add notes to images and download the offline viewer. Once you have an account, you can access ARTstor from outside the Library or from a mobile device.artstor-mobile3

You can search for images using a keyword or by an advanced search of such terms as creator, culture, subject, title, geography, a date range or other features. Once you’ve located an image, you can pan or zoom in on the image to look at details. And, of particular interest to art history students, you can even make flashcards for studying. The other image database to which Falvey subscribes is AP Images (listed in Databases A-Z as Associated Press Images).

AP Images contains over 4.6 million photographs dating back to the 1800s, more than 4,500 hours of audio files from the 1920s forward and news stories from 1997 forward. AP Images can be searched by keywords, dates, people’s names, events, locations, photographers and more. Materials found in AP Images are considered primary sources and according to AP Images, the Associated Press “is the most credible source for non-biased reporting.” The database also contains a comprehensive, easily understood “AP Images Quick Reference Guide,” which not only provides thorough information about searching for images and viewing them but also has an appendix that lists topics and their contents.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 12.03.21 PM

While both of these databases are easy to use, if you need help using them or finding specific images, please contact Jutta Seibert, Academic Integration team leader and liaison to the Dept. of History, 610-519-7876, room 228, or any of Falvey’s research support librarians.


Photos by Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Publications Team.

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Dig Deeper: Nelson Mandela

MandelaBookWith Nelson Mandela’s death and his elevation into the pantheon of historical luminaries, “He no longer belongs to us – he belongs to the ages” (Barack Obama, NPR, 12/5/2013) it is easy to lose sight of the chilling history of the struggle against apartheid. Before Mandela became an icon of world peace and reconciliation – in 1993 he was awarded the Nobel peace prize together with Willem de Klerk -, he fought along with many others against the oppressive white South African regime and he paid for it with twenty-seven years of prison. When Mandela was liberated in 1990, celebrities from all the corner of the world flocked to South Africa for a chance to meet with him. His post-apartheid commitment to reconciliation stands in stark contrast to the violence and injustice of apartheid which shaped Mandela’s life and his country. Falvey Memorial Library has an array of resources that shed light on apartheid, Boer history, the African National Congress (ANC) and Mandela’s life.

Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom , as well as many of his speeches and addresses, are available in the library’s print collection. Find them through an author search for Nelson Mandela in the library’s catalog. A subject search for his name leads the interested reader to a long list of secondary literature about his life and struggle. For a quick introduction to apartheid, consult one of the library’s online subject encyclopedias, such as The New Encyclopedia of Africa, The Human Rights Encyclopedia [or the New Dictionary of the History of Ideas.

RESIZEsouthafricaThe library’s archival collections give the interested reader access to historical news sources, both national and international. Start with the New York Times, America’s newspaper of record, to find the first mention of Nelson Mandela’s name in August 1952 in an article that reports on his arrest: “South Africa seizes non-white leaders.” The Page View option makes it possible to see the front page of the same issue. A quick look at the lead articles of that day, among them “$1,200,000,000 atom plant to be built in Southern Ohio,” puts the article in context. We can also compare coverage in the New York Times with that in the Washington Post. The complete archives of both newspapers are available online.

The Daily Reports of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS, 1974-1996) database makes international opinions of events in South Africa available to U.S. readers in translation. FBIS is a U.S. government foreign news reporting and translation service. Among the South African news sources featured in FBIS are The Star (Johannesburg), UMTATA Capital Radio, South Africa’s first independent radio station, The Sunday Times (Johannesburg), and the Sowetan, one of the liberation struggle newspapers. Reports about the release of Mandela from prison are grouped together in the FBIS database under the Events tab which features pre-selected news stories on important historical events.

To gain a broader picture of events in South Africa, the reader can browse content from individual news sources, such as the Sowetan, by typing the name of the source into the search field. And don’t forget, FBIS also includes transcripts of speeches and interviews.

Last but not least, Mandela, Tambo, and the African National Congress: The Struggle against Apartheid, 1948-1990 : A Documentary Survey includes a wide range of primary sources covering over forty years.  Documents range from Mandela’s 1951 presidential address to the ANC Youth League, to his court room testimony, to interviews with fellow prisoners and the Harare Declaration (1989). Questions? Contact us and we will help you to navigate the library’s print and online collections.


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

 

Our Dig Deeper series features links to Falvey Memorial Library resources curated and provided by a librarian specializing in the subject, to allow you to enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of seasonal occasions and events held here at the Library. Don’t hesitate to ‘ask us!’ if you’d like to take the excavation even further. And visit our Events listings for more exciting upcoming speakers, lectures and workshops! 

 

 

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Library displays rare Mendeliana at University Mendel Medal Awards

mendelAnyone associated with Villanova University knows the special status that 19th century Augustinian friar and scientist Gregor Mendel holds on our campus. Most of us have either walked the shiny corridors of Mendel Science Center, relaxed or eaten a hoagie on Mendel Field during first-year orientation or admired the seven foot bronze statue of the “father of modern genetics” that stands behind the Library. Most notably, the University awards the Mendel Medal each year to outstanding contemporary scientists in recognition of their scientific accomplishments and religious convictions.

This year, Villanova’s Mendel Medal recognizes Sylvester “Jim” Gates, PhD, for his groundbreaking work in supersymmetry, supergravity and string theory, as well as for his advocacy for science and science education. Dr. Gates visited Villanova on Nov. 15 as part of a two-day event culminating in a dinner and lecture by Gates in the Connelly Center. As in years past, the Library played a special role in welcoming the esteemed guest to the event by providing display support and rare Mendeliana for all attendees to view during the celebration.

According to Michael Foight, Special Collections and Digital Library coordinator, the items chosen for display were two volumes that represented two of Mendel’s first attempts to explain plant hybridization, which are the basis of modern genetics.

The first of the items is

Mendel, Gregor Johann.  Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden. Vorgelegt in den Sitzungen vom 8. Februar und 8. März 1865.  Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn, Band IV, Heft 1 (1865): 3-47.  Brünn: Verlag des Vereines, 1866.

Foight explains the volume’s historical significance. Gregor Mendel’s experiments with hybridization of pea plants were conducted in the garden at the Augustinian Monastery in Brünn, Austria. Mendel reported these experiments in two lectures, which he read before the Natural Sciences Society of Brünn on Feb. 8 and March 8, 1865. The manuscript was published in the Society’s Proceedings in 1866. An English translation, “Experiments in Plant Hybridisation”, was first published in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, London, 26, 1901, p.1-32.

The second volume,

Mendel, Gregor Johann.  Über einige aus künstlicher Befruchtung gewonnenen Hieracium-Bastarde. Mitgeteilt in der Sitzung vom 9. Juni 1869. Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn, Band VIII, Heft 1 (1869): 26-31.  Brünn: Burkart, 1870.,

is Mendel’s paper on the results of his experiments with hawkweed hybrids as read to the members of the Natural Sciences Society in Brünn on June 9, 1869, and published in the Society’s 1869 Proceedings. An English translation, “On Hieracium-Hybrids Obtained by Artificial Fertilisation,” was first published in William Bateson’s Mendel’s Principles of Heredity,” Cambridge, 1902.

Both volumes were presented to Villanova University by the Augustinians of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova on January 23, 1999, and have since been displayed regularly at the Mendel Medal event. Lorraine McCorkle, graphic designer for University Communications, prepares the Mendeliana for display each year.


Dig Deeper: If you knew SUSY …

While a primer or even a rudimentary understanding of supersymmetry—aka “SUSY,” the field in which Dr. Gates excels—may be beyond the scope of this article, our Science Librarian Alfred Fry was able to locate a fascinating lineup of videos featuring Dr. Gates, as well as several other links discussing quantum field theory.

Like all our librarians, Fry is available to patrons as a gateway to further resources and help is as close as a click away.

A 10-minute lesson in supersymmetryIn two new videos, Fermilab physicist Don Lincoln explains the what and the why of supersymmetry.

Supersymmetry  From CERN: Supersymmetry predicts a partner particle for each particle in the Standard Model, to help explain why particles have mass.

What is supersymmetry? In less than 100 seconds, Helen Heath explains why SUSY is so beautiful.

Series of lectures on supersymmetry given by Jim Gates at the African Summer Theory Institute in 2004  and other videos featuring the Mendel Medal recipient’s work available on YouTube.


Article by Joanne Quinn, team leader for Communication and Service Promotion.

UnknownLinks prepared by Alfred Fry, Science & Engineering Librarian

Our new Dig Deeper series features links to Falvey Memorial Library resources curated and provided by a librarian specializing in the subject, to allow you to enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of seasonal occasions and events held here at the Library. Don’t hesitate to ‘ask us!’ if you’d like to take the excavation even further. And visit our Events listings for more exciting upcoming speakers, lectures and workshops! 

 

 

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What Did President Lincoln Have To Do with Thanksgiving?

imageThe 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address—Nov. 19, 2013—has deservedly received a great deal of attention. That indelible speech reveals not only the humble heart of an influential leader but also his vision of what our country was and could become. Yet 2013 also marks another sesquicentennial: President Lincoln’s Oct. 3, 1863 proclamation “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving,” making Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Americans did celebrate Thanksgiving prior to Lincoln’s proclamation, but each state chose its own date for this day of gratitude. In fact, President Washington had issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation of his own on Oct. 3, 1789—exactly 74 years before Lincoln’s—that “the People of these States … may then all unite in rendering unto [God] our sincere and humble thanks.”

But Lincoln’s proclamation established Thanksgiving as an occasion for the entire nation to give thanks together, on the same day:

“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Our first Republican president contributed his proclamation two years into the Civil War, three months after the Battle of Gettysburg and just weeks before delivering his Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation serves as an example of his efforts to unite the people of our nation.

Gerald Dierkes is an information services specialist for the Information and Research Assistance team, senior copyeditor for the Communication and Service Promotion team, and a liaison to the Department of Theater.

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Perfect for the Train Ride Home, Try a Very Short Introduction

GIRL TRAIN trThis time of year, every minute counts – especially with finals less than two weeks after we return from Thanksgiving holiday – hashtag: for real, dude! Fortunately, the Library has resources designed to pack a lot of information into a little bit of time. So instead of perusing Buzzfeed on the train ride home, buzz through one or two Very Short Introductions to get a head start on crunch time!

Sometimes we need background information for a speech or project. Maybe, we need to become more familiar with a subject before seeking more, in-depth, scholarly information. Sometimes, we just need a very short introduction. That’s where Oxford University Press’s “Very Short Introductions,” published since 1995, can help. Over 200 of these concise, pithy “pocket-portable introductory lectures” (Guardian Review) covering such topics as archaeology, arts & architecture, biography, business & management, economics & finance history, language & linguistics, law, literature, mathematics & sciences, medicine & health, music, sociology, philosophy, politics, psychology & neuroscience, religion & bibles and the social sciences can be found at Falvey.

merrillepost2

Noted authors in many fields have contributed to these short successful volumes about the world. This series has spawned literary events and lectures on both sides of the Atlantic. So, are you game? Just seeking leadership, or logic? Seeking the more spiritual leadership? Try short introductions to the New TestamentAugustine, or IslamKant, you say? We’ve got that too. Everything from the mystical to the mind bending, consciousness to Christian ethics, from American politics to chaos theory, from relativity to Tocqueville. And we’d bet nine of out ten of you would want to shorten statistics!

However, as a prominent reviewer described one of the series titles “The brevity of this volume is both its strength and its weakness.” Judge for yourself. Find out more about “Very Short Introductions” (VSI) at You Tube. Or learn more from one of the VSI study guides at Oxford University Press.  Better yet, check one out at Falvey.

SteinMerrill Stein is team leader of the Assessment team and liaison to the Department of Political Science.

 

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Part Two: “Doctor Who” Celebrates 50 Years

As we mentioned on Monday in part one of the “Doctor Who” anniversary blog, this year marks the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who,” the longest running science fiction television series in the world. If you lived in the United Kingdom between the 1960s and 1980s, you might already be familiar with the original BBC television series. Or perhaps you were indoctrinated by a friend or relative and became completely obsessed with “Doctor Who.”

And now we continue with part two of our Whovian exploits in the paragraphs below.

Memorable People & Places – by Laura Bang

The Doctor’s ability to travel through time and space in his TARDIS means that there is plenty of opportunity for a wide variety of settings. The Doctor seems to have a particular fondness for and fascination with Earth, and his visits to historical periods in Earth’s history provide some interesting (and sometimes cringe-worthy, especially if you are a historian) interpretations of events and biographical explorations.

van gogh

Some of the most memorable episodes are those that feature notable human personalities. For example, the “Vincent and the Doctor” episode could be described as historical fiction given its representation of Vincent Van Gogh’s life and his personal demons.

In his many travels, the Doctor has seen the formation of the planet (178 – The Runaway Bride) and he has also seen the final destruction of the Earth when it is absorbed by the expanding Sun (158 – The End of the World). In between these two extremes, the Doctor has visited many important moments in human history on Earth. The Doctor meets a tribe of cavemen from 100,000 B.C. (1 – An Unearthly Child), travels through Central Asia with Marco Polo (4 – Marco Polo), encounters the Aztecs in 15th-century Mexico (6 – The Aztecs), visits Depression-era New York City (182a – Daleks in Manhattan), witnesses the eruption of Mount Vesuvius (190 – The Fires of Pompeii), and advises Winston Churchill during World War II (205 – Victory of the Daleks), to name just a few of his adventures in Earth’s past.

DickensThe Victorian era also seems to be a favorite destination: the Doctor meets Charles Dickens in 1869 (159 – The Unquiet Dead) and Queen Victoria in 1879 (169 – Tooth and Claw). Several other stories are set in the Victorian era, such as The Evil of the Daleks (36), The Talons of Weng-Chiang (91), and The Snowmen (230).

Some human characters have noted the Doctor’s propensity for appearing at destructive moments of Earth’s history and wonder if his appearance always foretells death (157 – Rose).

Of course, the Doctor has also visited many time periods in Earth’s future, and it is interesting to see these imagined paths for humanity, including the rise and fall of various forms of government and the devastating effects of climate change, pollution and the depletion of energy resources.

The Doctor and His Companions – by Luisa Cywinski

Whether or not the Doctor is in fact the last of the time lords, it can probably be agreed that he is a lonely soul. After “borrowing” the TARDIS and running away from his planet, he sought out traveling companions. Some “Doctor Who” experts refer to the companion as a sidekick or as a foil to the Doctor’s exploits. They claim the presence of companions act as an audience surrogate and give a human audience the ability to live vicariously through the companion(s).

As you might imagine, there are more companions than there are Doctors. After all, he is over 1000 years old. It’s hard to say exactly how long each companion stays with the Doctor, but the more significant companions appear in about 10-20 episodes.

SusanTheEscapeThe first companions are the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan Foreman, and two unrelated adults, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, both school teachers. The fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, takes on a robotic (and laser-equipped) dog known as K-9, and aliens Adric, from the planet Alzarius, and Nyssa, from the planet Traken.

Several British military personnel, including Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart and Sergeant John Benton, are officers of UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) and appear in various episodes with the second and third Doctor. They aren’t officially known as companions because they don’t travel with the Doctor in the TARDIS for more than one or two episodes.

Among a very long list of human companions, Polly (who, unfortunately, has no last name), Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith, Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith, Donna Noble, Martha Jones, Amy Pond, and the most recent companion, Clara Oswald, all hail from Earth. One could argue that Clara’s Earth origins are debatable since her first appearance takes place inside a Dalek and by the name Oswin Oswald, not Clara Oswald.

victorian doctor who

The male “omnisexual” character, Captain Jack Harkness, formerly a con man, becomes immortal after being killed by a Dalek and resurrected by Rose Tyler, who temporarily holds omnipotent powers. He is recruited as an operative for Torchwood, an organization established by Queen Victoria to defend the earth from aliens, and later becomes the lead character in a spin-off series, “Torchwood.”

We hope you find this blog enticing enough to prompt your first encounter with Doctor Who. Please don’t ask us to recommend one; there are just too many excellent episodes to choose from!

Then again, the holidays are coming, so you might enjoy the episode that stars David Tennant as the newly regenerated tenth Doctor, “The Christmas Invasion.”

(If you really want to “geek out” about “Doctor Who,” visit some of the links above, many of which will take you to the “Doctor Who” wiki.)

We have a few books and media items in the collection that might also further your interest in “Doctor Who.”

Watch the 50th anniversary “Doctor Who” episode, “Day of the Doctor,” which airs today at 2:50 p.m. (EST) on BBC America.

Contributors include Laura Bang, digital and special collections curatorial assistant, Special & Digital Collections team; Luisa Cywinski, editorial coordinator, Communication & Service Promotion team and team leader, Access Services; Demian Katz, library technology development specialist, Technology Development team; Sarah Wingo, team leader, Humanities II and subject librarian for English and theatre.

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Cristina Soriano, PhD, Presents Research on Social Networks in Colonial Venezuela

Cristina Soriano, PhD

Cristina Soriano, PhD

This Wednesday, Nov. 20, Cristina Soriano, PhD, holder of the Albert R. LePage Endowed Professorship and assistant professor in the Department of History, will deliver a lecture as part of our ongoing Scholarship@Villanova series. The lecture is entitled “The Revolutionary Contagion: Pamphlets, Rumors, and Conspiracies in Venezuela during the Age of Revolutions,” and explores the many fascinating connections between plebeian literary practices, webs of circulation of information, and the emergence of social networks for political mobilization in colonial Venezuela.

This week’s Dig Deeper material was prepared by Jutta Seibert, librarian and Team Leader for Academic Integration.


Martín Tovar y Tovar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Martín Tovar y Tovar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dig Deeper: Revolutionary Movements in Latin America & Revolutionary Print Culture

Falvey Memorial Library has numerous resources related to Dr. Soriano’s research for those who would like to learn more about the revolutionary movements in Latin America and revolutionary print culture.

In El Libro En Circulación: En El Mundo Moderno En España Y Latinoamérica, Dr. Soriano writes about the circulation of books in colonial Venezuela.

Among the more recent books about Latin American revolutionary movements available in the library are—

 

Falvey also has various related primary sources in translation:

For those who would like to read more about the relationships between print and politics in early modern history, we recommend—

Need to brush up on your knowledge of Venezuela’s history? The Encyclopedia of Latin America History and Culture is a great starting point.


Article by Corey Waite Arnold, writer and intern on the Communication and Service Promotion team. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

imgres

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

Our new Dig Deeper series features links to Falvey Memorial Library resources curated and provided by a librarian specializing in the subject, to allow you to enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of seasonal occasions and events held here at the Library. Don’t hesitate to ‘ask us!’ if you’d like to take the excavation even further. And visit our Events listings for more exciting upcoming speakers, lectures and workshops! 

 

 

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Part One: “Doctor Who” Celebrates 50 Years

william-hartnellThis year marks the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who,” the longest running science fiction television series in the world. If you lived in the United Kingdom between the 1960s and 1980s, you might already be familiar with the original BBC television series. Or perhaps you were indoctrinated by a friend or relative and became completely obsessed with “Doctor Who.”

The show first aired in 1963 and featured a set that looked like it was built in someone’s garage. It ran consecutively for 26 years and was “rebooted” in 2005. One of the most recognizable and persistent props is the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), a blue police call box, in which the Doctor travels through time and space. As a time lord, the Doctor is able to completely change his appearance, from his teeth down to his toes, every few years as the result of a process called “regeneration.”

There are some rules about time travel, which the Doctor occasionally transgresses, especially when a temporal (or personal) emergency requires it. The Doctor’s home planet, Gallifrey, was destroyed in the last great time war, which means the Doctor is the last of his species (Or is he?). Luckily, he usually has traveling companions, who are often from Earth.

As Sarah Jane Smith said in the “School Reunion” episode (170), “the Doctor likes traveling with an entourage; sometimes they’re human, sometimes they’re alien, and sometimes they’re tin dogs.” He also encounters quite a few memorable beings and/or species in his travels. Some are notorious, some just ordinary citizens of whatever planet he happens to visit. Earth just happens to be the planet he visits most often.

In the paragraphs below and in part two of the blog, which will appear on Saturday, Nov. 23, several resident “Whovians” describe what they feel are the most significant elements of Doctor Who.

The Faces of the Doctor – by Sarah Wingo

“Doctor Who?” is a very good question indeed. Over the years the title character of the Doctor has been played by a number of different actors. In the opening paragraph to this post, Luisa refers to the Doctor’s ability to regenerate. This concept that the Doctor’s alien race (the time lords) can regenerate, totally changing their appearance, was introduced to the series in 1966 as a way to keep the show going after the departure of William Hartnell, the first actor to play the Doctor. Regeneration not only results in a change in the Doctor’s appearance but also in changes to his personality as well. This allows both for an interesting evolution of the character and for each actor who plays the Doctor to give his own unique approach to the role.

The practice of regeneration has also lead to the different incarnations of the Doctor being referred to, by fans, in the order in which they played the doctor, as a quick and easy way to differentiate them.

There have been 11 incarnations of the Doctor since William Hartnell first took on the role in 1963 up to the present, played by 11 different actors:

1) William Hartnell

2) Patrick Troughton

3) Jon Pertwee

4) Tom Baker

5) Peter Davison

6) Colin Baker

7) Sylvester McCoy

8) Paul McGann

9) Christopher Eccleston

10) David Tennant

11) Matt Smith

And following the 2013 Christmas special, the current Doctor played by Matt Smith will be replaced by Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor. It should be noted that on occasion other actors have also stood in for past Doctors; for example in “The Five Doctors” (1983, produced in celebration of the 20th anniversary), Richard Hurndall played the first Doctor due to William Hartnell’s death in 1975. Furthermore, there is some controversy in Whovian lore as to how many times a time lord, and more specifically the Doctor, can regenerate. Until recently it had been fairly well established that a time lord could regenerate 12 times with a total of 13 different incarnations. However, some claim that due to certain events that have taken place in recent seasons, there is now no limit to the number of times the Doctor may regenerate.

The Doctor and His Monsters – by Demian Katz

Dalek_2010_RedesignAt its start, Doctor Who was designed in part to educate its viewers about history, and series creator Sydney Newman insisted on “no bug-eyed monsters” in the show. In spite of this prohibition, the second storyline to be broadcast featured the Daleks, a race of creatures deformed by nuclear war and forced to live inside robot-like metal cases. The iconic appearance of the Daleks, combined with their grating (and fun-to-imitate) voices, sparked “Dalek-mania” in Britain, rocketing the series to success and leading to a flood of Dalek merchandise, from countless toys to the infamous “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With a Dalek” single.

From this point forward, Doctor Who was destined to be as much about monsters as about history, and as the years passed, the emphasis on historical fiction steadily diminished. The Daleks frequently returned to menace the Doctor and his friends, and countless other creatures were introduced in an effort to replicate their success. The second-most-famous foes are likely the Cybermen, humans who have lost their humanity through mechanical enhancement (an idea seen on Doctor Who long before Star Trek’s Borg came along). Other noteworthy creatures include the Ice Warriors, the inhabitants of Mars prior to its desertification; the Sontarans, a race of squat, battle-hungry clones locked in perpetual war with the shape-shifting Rutans; the Sea Devils and Silurians, sentient reptiles in hibernation since the time of the dinosaurs; and the Autons, deadly humanoid tools of the Nestene Consciousness, an alien force capable of animating anything made of plastic.

Part of the fun of Doctor Who is seeing how it draws on its own rich history; it is not uncommon for contemporary episodes to incorporate elements recycled from the show’s distant past. The current season, for example, features the Great Intelligence, an enemy last seen manipulating robotic Yeti in 1968. Of course, it is not necessary to know the show’s history to enjoy its current episodes — everything tends to stand alone quite well – but, the more you learn, the more clever connections and references you are likely to notice.

We have a few books and media items in the collection that might further your interest in “Doctor Who.”

Stay tuned for part two of the “Doctor Who” anniversary blog, which will be posted on Saturday, Nov. 23, when the BBC airs the 50th Anniversary “Doctor Who” Episode, “Day of the Doctor.”

Contributors include Laura Bang, digital and special collections curatorial assistant, Special & Digital Collections team; Luisa Cywinski, editorial coordinator, Communication & Service Promotion team and team leader, Access Services; Demian Katz, library technology development specialist, Technology Development team; Sarah Wingo, team leader, Humanities II and subject librarian for English, literature and theatre.

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Oxford Handbooks Online

Last spring Falvey Memorial Library acquired the digital versions of 25 books in the Oxford Handbook Online series. Each Handbook offers “thorough introductions to topics and a critical survey of the current state of scholarship in a particular field of study, creating an original conception of the field and setting the agenda for new research. The articles review the key issues and major debates, and provide an original argument for how those debates might evolve.” Additionally, Oxford produces monthly updates to introduce articles in advance of and beyond what is available in its print editions. Thus, born-digital content ensures the most current, authoritative coverage available.

As e-books continue to increase in popularity, it is our job as librarians and information professionals to provide our users with the best possible resources we can. This means determining when to purchase e-books in addition to or instead of print editions. We consider a variety of criteria when making these decisions, but one of the most important is a given e-book format’s ease of use. The Oxford Handbook series of e-books is extremely user friendly, with each chapter or section viewable online in continuous scrolling or downloadable in PDF format. Another important factor we consider is how a given book will be used. For materials such as the Oxford Handbooks, which consist of collections of scholarly essays on a given topic, having access to the e-book format makes them very useful to professors who wish to assign individuals essays from a given book. Students can easily access and download them for free through the library website.

You can view our collection of Oxford Handbooks here, or learn more about the Oxford Handbook Online series here.

Sarah Wingo is the team leader for the Humanities II team and the subject librarian for English, literature and theater.

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Last Modified: November 13, 2013