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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.


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.



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.


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.


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! 




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.


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.


Forums Explore Ways to Make Villanova University Scholarship More Accessible

nsf1The National Science Foundation has extended its “where discoveries begin” initiative to include not just  principal investigators but anyone interested in perusing publically funded data through the promulgation of rules requiring funding recipients to have data management plans in place. Instead of researchers seeing this request as another chore in an unending to-do list, data management plans (DMP) can be considered a beneficial and valuable impetus to organize and archive resources with potential for enhancing a researcher’s profile. As Alfonso Ortega, PhD, associate vice president for research and graduate programs and the James R. Birle professor of energy technology in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, says “DMP’s are not just about fulfilling regulations but also about making your good work available.”

Intermim Director Darren Poley

Interim Director Darren Poley

The imperative to make Villanova University scholarship more accessible drove Falvey Memorial Library Interim Library Director Darren Poley to organize a series of forums with Dr. Ortega on three emerging developments in scholarly communication: data management plans (Sept. 16), open access journals (Oct. 21st) and institutional repositories (Nov. 11). All forums will take place in Connelly Center cinema from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Both Dr. Ortega and Mr. Poley recognize that a “build it and they will come” philosophy can lead to costly missteps and that faculty input is critical to success. With this guiding principle in mind, the forums are designed to facilitate conversations about these trends and generate ideas about how they ought to be tackled at Villanova.

At the first forum on data management plans, Dr. Ortega introduced the topic by commenting on the challenges researchers face in the day to day management and storage of data of all stripes (big, proprietary, and sensitive), the dilemmas researchers face about pressure to archive and share data, and the importance of clearly articulating how solutions to data management will advance the University Strategic Plan and are essential for them to be resourced sustainably. Poley spoke about how libraries are natural partners in the scholarly enterprise with deep expertise in organizing and archiving resources that ought to be extended to research data.  Linda Hauck, business librarian, surveyed how data management services are progressing at other higher-education institutions.

Ortega and Hauck

Ortega and Hauck

The highlight of the program was talks by Assistant Professor Melissa O’Connor, PhD, MBA, RN, COS-C (College of Nursing) and Professor Amy S. Fleischer, PhD, (College of Engineering) and the discussion they generated. Dr. Fleischer described the National Science Foundation’s data-management-plan requirement from the inside out. Dr. O’Connor illuminated the technical and physical security safeguards that need to be in place when using Medicare data and National Institutes of Health funding as well as the costs associated with data extraction. Comments and questions were volleyed about how to balance intellectual property rights with public access and scholarly reputations, whether Villanova has a research data policy, who should curate and provide stewardship of data a Villanova, and what secure methods for data back-up are available at Villanova.

Clockwise from top left, Spiro, Fogle, Hoskins and Bauer.

Clockwise from top left, Spiro, Fogle, Hoskins and Bauer.

At the second forum, held Oct. 21st on open access journals, Nikolaus Fogle, PhD, subject librarian for philosophy, provided an overview of the open access journal publishing movement including quality issues, tenure and promotion dilemmas, faculty initiated open access policies, and sustainability challenges.  He detailed how the traditional journal-publishing-business model employed by for-profit, non-profit and association publishers alike are straining library budgets. Next up was Professor Aaron M. Bauer, Gerald M. Lemole endowed chair in integrative biology, presenting the researcher point of view, noted that publication fees for high quality open access journals range from $1350 to $3000 per paper and that those fees cannot reasonably be recouped for externally funded research given the volume of papers some projects spawn (one such project alone lead by Dr. Bauer generated 68 papers!). He observed that publication fee discounts are among the benefits of institutional membership in open access publishing organizations, such as PLoS (Public Library of Science) and Biomed Central, and many of our peer institutions have made the commitment. Finally, he commented that the transition to open access will not be simple or quick as pressure to publish in high impact and h-index journals is a fact of life for academics establishing careers and striving to advance professionally. Dr. Bauer implored Villanova academic departments, Colleges and the Library to commit to finding sustainable solutions to the National Science Foundation’s impending mandates for open access publishing. Interim Library Director Darren Poley discussed library supported journals. Gregory D. Hoskins, PhD, Lawrence C. Gallen fellow in the humanities, took attendees for a deep dive into how Concept has become a professional-looking online journal powered by graduate student editors and reviewers. Finally Professor John-Paul Spiro shared the joys and difficulties that came with starting up the online journal, Expositions: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, including managing subscriptions and submissions to cultivate readership.

Faculty Forum #2 panel

Faculty Forum #2 panel

Contribute to the ongoing conversation by attending the final forums on institutional repositories (Monday, Nov. 11, 3:30-5 p.m., Connelly Center Cinema).

Linda Hauck, MS, MBA, is a business librarian. Photographs by Alice Bampton. 


Dig Deeper – Behind the Mask: What are the Origins of Halloween?

Many of us are probably gearing up for this Thursday, Oct. 31st. Whether you’re buying candy bars in bulk to satiate the impending hordes of trick-or-treaters, dusting off an old fog machine to give your haunted house that final touch of creepy or still struggling to find the right makeup to perfect your zombie/walker costume, we know that Halloween has come. But what is the meaning behind the holiday we’ve grown up with?

Halloween is believed to have been influenced by a pre-Christian harvest festival called Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”), which marked the end of the summer and the beginning of the winter season for the Celtic peoples. As the Celts used a lunar calendar and divided the year into these two seasons, Samhain was the first day of the Celtic new year and was celebrated from sunset on Oct. 31st to sunset on Nov. 1st. During this time, it was believed that the souls of the dead, as well as other supernatural entities, were restlessly roaming the earth because the barrier between worlds, or the time between the old and new years, was temporarily broken. Sacrifices, as well as offerings of food and drink, were made to appease these spirits and ensure the Celtic people’s survival throughout the winter. To avoid being recognized by wandering spirits, celebrants would disguise themselves in feathers and fur, a tradition that we still carry on today, albeit primarily in polyester.

Halloween Party (1942), by Philip Guston (1913-1980)

Although Samhain remained popular among the Celtic people throughout the Christianization of Great Britain, the British church may have added a Christian celebration to the calendar on the same date in order to lessen the impact of these pagan customs. As a result, Halloween is also known as Allhallows Eve because it precedes All Hallows, or All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1st). This feast is a solemnity that is held in honor of all the saints, both known and unknown. All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2nd) completes the Christian Triduum of All Hallows, also known as Hallowmas, which is a time to remember departed saints, martyrs and Christians.

Dig Deeper

For more information on Halloween and other festivals, check out the resources available at Falvey Memorial Library:

- Trick of Treat: A History of Halloween is a recently published book that traces Halloween from its Celtic origins through popular culture today.

 - Check out Holy Holidays!: The Catholic Origins of Celebration for a fresh new look  at the religious roots of secular holidays like Halloween, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s.

 - Search for holidays, festivals and other celebrations in Gale’s Encyclopedia of Religion.

- Browse our print Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary

Want to learn about the origins of the jack o’ lantern? Check out these two brief articles from History.com:

- “History of the Jack o’ Lantern”

- “The Halloween Pumpkin: An American History”

Still curious about Halloween or other days of celebration? Leave a question or post a comment below.

RS6126_Alex-Williams-work-stationAlexander Williams, ’11 MA, is the temporary librarian liaison to the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and a research librarian on the Academic Integration and the Information and Research Assistance teams. He is currently pursuing an MS in Library and Information Science at Drexel University’s iSchool.



Ever Wonder Where to Get Good Zombie Literature in Your Discipline?

ZOMBIESTUDENTZombie literature abounds. There’s even a rumor that Jules Verne authored the first zombie book ever written. That’s not really true, though. We only have a small amount of zombie-related literature. Yet, at this time of the year, some people ask, “Where can I get good zombie literature in my discipline?” (I said some people.)

Well for starters, the business bestseller rack holds, Zombie Banks: How Broken Banks and Debtor Nations are Crippling the Global Economy. Folklore or literature more your style?  Try Better off Dead: the Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human, the excellent Zone One: a Novel, Feed and Cinema of George A. Romero: Knight of the Living Dead. There are even those that associate zombies and politics. Check out Theories of International Politics and Zombies. The Library has graphic novels too, like the ever popular The Walking Dead series. And remember the ever more popular Shaun of the Dead film and recent creations like I Am Legend and ParaNorman.

backpack iconBack pack full? Try an e-book: Zombie Economics How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us or Preparedness 101 Zombie Pandemic (see also Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Even grad students can learn to survive a zombie apocalypse, as evidenced in The Chronicle of Higher Education articles, “Dawn of the Grad: Rules for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse and Your First Year at Grad School” and “The Zombie List.”

Of course we always hear about the limits of science, as in Man, Beast, and Zombie: What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us About Human Nature. However, no need to lose sleep over the idea of zombies. They can’t really exist. At least that’s the premise in Zombies and Consciousness, arguing against the possibility of zombies’ existence.

Actually, there’s a symbolism going on here – as a search of “living dead” titles will attest to.  In fact, “It is probably no surprise, then, that much of the imagery of zombie movies is borrowed, consciously or unconsciously, from Dante’s Inferno … who eerily resemble the description of the damned that Dante gives as he begins his descent into hell: they are ‘the suffering race of souls who lost the good of intellect.’” – (Gospel of the Living Dead, Paffenroth, p. 22).

And the idea of personal, zombie librarians is just a myth also. Of course, since it’s also a crunch time of year for research, real librarians can meet with you in person or assist you via chat or the online question form. pumpkin zombie

Happy Halloween and happy researching, from your frighteningly good academic library.


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




Dig Deeper: Mercedes Julia, PhD, on Juan Ramón Jiménez

Photo Oct 13, 9 56 32 PMThis Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 1:30 p.m., Mercedes Juliá, PhD, professor of modern and contemporary literature and cultural studies, chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, will deliver a Scholarship@Villanova lecture in honor of Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month. Dr. Juliá’s subject is Juan Ramón Jiménez, the Spanish poet and Nobel Prize laureate. Dr. Juliá served as editor on a forthcoming edition of  Jiménez’s autobiography, entitled Life: An Unfinished Project by Juan Ramón Jiménez. The lecture will be in English, and held in room 205 of the Library. In the tradition of all Scholarship@Villanova events, this event is free, open to the public, and available for ACS credit.

Since 2005, Falvey Memorial Library has presented programming in collaboration with other academic divisions and student organizations to honor Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month. Supported by our regular partners, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Latin American studies program, the Spanish Club, and the University’s student cultural organization, the Hispanic Society, Falvey sponsors intellectual events, social occasions, and cultural displays in the Library at the heart of Villanova University’s campus. Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month runs annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

For this week’s Dig Deeper post we welcome Sue Ottignon, the library’s research support librarian for languages and literatures, who has prepared several links to supplement Wednesday’s lecture.

Dig Deeper:

To find more information about Juan Ramón Jiménez, look for the Biography section of the Romance Languages and Literatures subject guide and search the database Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online (Gale), where you’ll find authoritative biographical and critical essays on Jiménez.

dig deeper jimenez images



jimenez 2



Each essay provides a list of the author’s works as well as references to other sources about the author.

If you are looking for criticism on Jiménez’s influence or on his works, try searching the databases found in the Articles section of the subject guide. One of the many databases available is MLA International Bibliography (ProQuest). This database provides criticism in a variety of source types like peer-reviewed articles, books, book chapters and dissertations, and can be limited by language, too. Discover what the critics say about his famous works by performing a subject search on Jiménez.

jiminez 4jiminez 3




Falvey’s catalog is a great tool for locating Juan Ramón Jiménez’s works and works providing critical analysis of the author’s impact on literature and culture, too.

jiminez 5



Also, while you are searching the catalog, don’t forget to check for books by Dr. Mercedes Juliá about Juan Ramón Jiménez!

jiminez 6



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.

Research links provided by Susan Ottignon, research support librarian and liaison, Romance Languages and Literatures. She is also the Good Places to Start librarian!


Reading for October: The Short Fiction of Joe Hill

20th-century-ghostsJoe Hill’s weird and fascinating stories started appearing in literary journals around 2001 when he quickly found a following among aficionados of the horror/fantasy genre. In 2005 he released 20th Century Ghosts, his first and only collection of short fiction thus far. Two years later he published a novel, Heart Shaped Box, about an aging rock-star who buys a ghost on e-bay.

I conjure up Hill’s early career to insist that he’d established a strong voice in the horror/fantasy genre long before the news broke that he’s got a famous father: the one and only Stephen King. In fact, Hill intentionally obscured his given name (Joseph Hillstrom King) in order to avoid the long shadow cast by his father’s startling and prodigious writing career. Writing aside, it couldn’t have been easy being the son to whom The Shining was dedicated. I imagine Hill endured a few too many dinner-party conversations about whether King had ever chased him through a hedge maze or chopped through his door with a croquet mallet, and eventually decided to light out on his own.

But the name-obfuscation may have been unnecessary—Hill’s writing separates itself well enough. It’s difficult to convey how deliciously strange these stories can be without placing the book in your hands. His best piece, “Pop Art,” is a heartfelt recollection of a long-lost childhood friend named Arthur Roth, a young man unique for many reasons, least among them being the fact that he is inflatable. Importantly he is also deflatable, but in any case he’s plastic and filled with air. Arthur can’t speak, really, but he can write messages on a pad hung from his neck, so all his “dialogue” in the story appears as text scrawled in crayon (the narrator stresses that any writing utensil with a sharper point could mean curtains for his poor bullied friend). From this bizarre premise Hill builds a story about the fragility of the artistic temperament as it develops during childhood, the transience of adolescent male friendship, and the powerful impact early experiences of loss have on one’s adult identity.

Joe HillBut this is October, after all, and I can’t leave this book without recommending one of its bloodier stories. The best of the shockers also opens the collection: a story entitled “Best New Horror.” In it we encounter Eddie Carroll, editor of a yearly horror-story compilation who’s lost the thrill of his job. “He tried to struggle through Lovecraft pastiches,” Hill writes of Carroll “but at the first painfully serious reference to the Elder Gods, he felt some important part of him going numb inside, the way a foot or a hand will go to sleep when the circulation is cut off. He feared the part of him being numbed was his soul.” But when Carroll receives a disturbing manuscript entitled “Buttonboy: A Love Story,” written by a university groundskeeper Peter Kilrue, he’s re-energized about the possibilities of the genre, and becomes obsessively compelled to meet this strange man and publish his story.  From there Hill takes the reader on an insider’s tour of the horror/fantasy publishing world, a place full of fascinating and largely unsavory characters.



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Last Modified: October 28, 2013