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Pluto—the Second of Two Dwarf Planets Seen at Close Range in 2015

Before New Horizons captured the first-ever detailed images of Pluto this month, it had traveled for nine-and-a-half years to reach the edge of our Solar System. When that spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. on January 19, 2006, Pluto was still classified as a planet.


Pluto discovered—Clyde Tombaugh, working at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, discovered Pluto February 18, 1930. But the first such object, albiet smaller than Pluto, had been discovered more than a century earlier.

Ceres discovered—A Catholic priest, Giuseppe Piazzi, who held a PhD in mathematics, was also an astronomer. His catalog of almost 7,000 stars earned him the L’Institut de France prize for “best astronomical work published in 1803” (Barr). On January 1, 1801, while working on his catalog, he discovered an object whose changes in position were more like those of a planet than a star. “Piazzi had found the first [and the largest] of many thousands of ‘asteroids’ or ‘minor planets’ whose orbits lie mainly in a belt between Mars and Jupiter” (Barr).

Eris discovered—The next such discovery, after that of Pluto, came more than two centuries later, on October 21, 2003.


This sphere, at the Solar System’s limit and orbiting the Sun, was larger than Pluto and had its own moon (Pluto has five known moons). This find begged the question: If Pluto is a planet, how could this larger globe, Eris, not also be considered a planet?

Haumea discovered—Its discovery was officially announced in 2005.

Makemake discovered—The International Astronomical Union officially recognized Makemake as a dwarf planet in 2008.

More dwarf planets?—Scientists have estimated that “dozens or even more than 100 dwarf planets” may be awaiting discovery. The likelihood of additional yet-to-be-discovered globes has left astronomers asking, “Just what constitutes a planet?”

 “Planet” (re)defined— At the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly in Prague, 2006, astronomers “debated vigorously” over the definition of “planet.” They established a definition that would classify Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Makemake and Haumea as “dwarf planets,” leaving our Solar System with eight planets.


Why, then, is Pluto the second dwarf planet to be seen at close range in 2015?

Dawn makes history—Earlier this year, another space probe reached another dwarf planet, capturing detailed images and, this time, discovering a mystery. NASA’s Dawn space-probe entered into orbit around Ceres March 6, 2015, becoming “the first mission to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet.” Dawn’s photos revealed “a cluster of mysterious bright spots” on Ceres’ surface, which have intrigued scientists.

Ceres' spots

Father Giuseppe Piazzi would undoubtedly be pleased that his discovery has generated such interest more than two centuries after he identified it.

Works Cited

Barr, Stephen, and Dermott Mullan. “Planets, Priests and a
……..Persistent Myth.” Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition ed.
……..May 22 2015. ProQuest. Web. 15 July 2015. Gerald Dierkes

Check out these Villanova resources for additional information:

The Library’s Astronomy and Astrophysics subject page

Falvey resources on dwarf planets

The Villanova Astronomical Society

The Villanova Public Observatory


Harper Lee’s Second Book and its Publication Bring Controversy

Go Set a Watchman - cover

Imagine having a book you’ve written published for the first time. How surprised would you be if your book became a bestseller, won a Pulitzer Prize, and was even made into a motion picture starring a major actor? Would you publish another book and risk disappointing your audience? Or would you choose to leave your readers wanting more?

That book, of course, is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. When it was released 55 years ago, one critic compared Lee’s skill to that of Mark Twain, and described her as “an artist of rare talent and control. This first novel is an achievement of unusual magnitude” (Canfield).

The recent announcement that Harper Lee’s second book to be published, Go Set a Watchman, would be released today captured the imaginations of Mockingbird’s fans and of the literary world. Watchman, however, is not a new book. In fact, Lee wrote it decades ago, before writing Mockingbird. That Lee waited so many years before publishing Watchman has raised questions about her decision, including controversy about whether she herself made this decision.

The first controversy

Harper Lee, now 88, suffered a stroke in 2007 and lives in an assisted-living facility (Trachtenberg). Her sister, Alice Lee (now deceased), in a 2011 interview, described Harper as “mostly blind and deaf” following her stroke (Berman). Alice Lee, an attorney, who had “long represented her sister and whom friends describe as Ms. Lee’s ‘protector,’ died Nov. 17 [2014].” Less than three months after Alice Lee’s death comes the announcement from HarperCollins Publishers that Go Set a Watchman would be published on July 14, 2015.

Lee has not spoken to anyone except her agent and her attorney about Watchman, its discovery or its publication. Harper publisher Jonathan Burnham insists that Lee is “very much engaged in the process,” although he bases his assessment on reports from Lee’s agent. Lee, Burnham adds, will not give interviews or other publicity when Watchman is released (Berman).

That Lee’s agent and her attorney, who appear to have everything to gain financially from this situation, have been the only ones communicating with the author Harper Leehas prompted an investigation. The Alabama Securities Commission investigated and “concluded that Ms. Lee appeared to understand what was occurring while approving the publication of ‘Go Set a Watchman’” (Stevens).

Despite the Commission’s findings, Lee’s fans have remained skeptical over the circumstances of Watchman’s discovery. These lingering doubts may have motivated Lee’s attorney, Tonja Carter, to publish an explanation in Monday’s Wall Street Journal (Carter).

The second controversy

Although Watchmen includes characters from Mockingbird, such as Scout and Atticus, the novel is set twenty years into the future, into the civil-rights movement. Fans of Mockingbird may be shocked to discover changes in Atticus. He served as Mockingbird’s “moral conscience: kind, wise, honorable, an avatar of integrity” (Kakutani).

In Watchmen, Scout, 26 and known as Jean Louise, has been living in New York City. She visits her hometown, Maycomb, Ala., to discover that Atticus now holds “abhorrent views on race and segregation” (Kakutani). Readers may wonder why Lee wrote this book as “a distressing narrative filled with characters spouting hate speech.” Ultimately, as Mockingbird “suggested that we should have compassion for outsiders like Boo and Tom Robinson,” Watchman “asks us to have understanding for a bigot named Atticus” (Kakutani).

Works Cited

Berman, Russell. “How Harper Lee’s Long-Lost Sequel Was
……..Found.” theatlantic.com. Feb 4, 2015.

Canfield, Francis X., “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Critic, 1960

Carter, Tonja B. “How I found the Harper Lee Manuscript.” Wall
……..Street Journal
, Eastern edition ed. Jul 13 2015. ProQuest.
……..Web. 13 July 2015.

Kakutani, Michiko. “Review: Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’
……..Gives Atticus Finch a Dark Side.” http://nyti.ms/1ULlBZv

Stevens, Laura, and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg. “Business News: No
……..Fraud found Is Discovered in Harper Lee Case.” Wall Street
, Eastern edition ed.Mar 13 2015. ProQuest. Web. 13
……..July 2015.

Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A., and Laura Stevens. “Harper Lee
……..Bombshell: How News of Book Unfolded.” Wall Street
, Eastern edition ed. Feb 07 2015. ProQuest. Web. 13
……..July 2015.

To Dig Deeper, explore the following links, prepared by Sarah Wingo, team leader: Humanities II and also subject librarian for English, literature and theatre:

One of the big issues that has sprung up around GSAW beyond the controversy over its publication is the difference in the character of Atticus Finch and concerns that it may “tarnish” his legacy.

Here is another point from yesterday

You can read the first chapter or listen to Reese Witherspoon read it

NPR piece from yesterday

NPR piece from Feb

NPR piece from 2014 indicating that if Lee is being taken advantage of with this publication it may not be the first time

SarahDig Deeper links selected by Sarah Wingo, team leader- Humanities II, subject librarian for English, literature and theatre. Article by Gerald Dierkes, senior copy-editor for the Communication and Service Promotion team and a liaison to the Department of Theater. 

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Dig Deeper: The Revolutionary War and American Independence

“… these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

 Not just a list of grievances, the Declaration of Independence is also a checklist for good government. Its approval and adoption by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia (woot woot!) marks the beginning of a new nation, the United States of America.

Bell_Tower_of_Independence_HallIt’s easy to take the ideological stories of the birth of our nation and its heroes for granted as they have been taught to us since elementary school and romanticized in movies and television. But have you, as an adult, visited the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall (where the Declaration and its forebear, the Articles of Confederation,) were debated? Or walked the streets near Declaration House at 7th and Market where Thomas Jefferson wrote the document? Have you ever read or researched with a critical eye, materials that dig deeper into the symbolic, mythical and political realities of the document’s history?

The following links, curated by history liaison librarian, Jutta Seibert, are great scholarly resources for getting beyond the myths and into the historical context of the American Revolution. Why not take some time this July 4th weekend to explore some of Falvey’s many resources written about that time? She’s also included authentic primary materials from the Digital Library, to truly complete your step back into history.

 New Books

Books about the Declaration of Independence

Books about the American Revolution

Books about the history of the U.S. Constitution

 Primary Sources in Digital Collections

Falvey Memorial Library has a strong collection of primary sources about this monumental period in American history. Here are some suggestions from the library’s digital collections. Additional primary sources, available in print or microform only, can be discovered with the help of the library’s online catalog.

American Founding Era
This collection brings together scholarly digital editions of the papers of major figures of the early republic: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Dolley Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriott Pinckney Horry.

America’s Historical Newspapers, 1690-1922
Follow the War of Independence and the birth of a new nation in contemporary newspapers.

Pennsylvania Gazette, 1728-1800
Follow the events of the American Revolution from a local perspective.

American Periodicals Series
Read the first magazines published in the American colonies and in the early republic.

Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800
Digital copies of over 37,000 books and pamphlets published and sold in the American colonies and the early republic.

Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819
Digital copies of over 36,000 books and pamphlets published and sold in the early republic.

Sabin Americana, 1500-1926
Digital copies of works about the Americas published throughout the world from 1500 to the early 1900’s.

American State Papers, 1789-1838
Legislative and executive documents of the first 14 U.S. Congresses.

Interested in the other side of the story? Discover British opinions on events in the American colonies through contemporary newspapers and magazines:

Online References

Encyclopedia of U.S. Political History

Encyclopedia of the American Constitution

Dictionary of American History

American National Biography Online

Encyclopedia of the American Revolution

A Companion to the American Revolution

Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution


Jutta Seibert

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


“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.


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.


Happy Bloomsday!


Fans of James Joyce and his novel, Ulysses, commemorate the Irish author and that novel on June 16: Bloomsday. Named for Leopold Bloom, the main character in Ulysses, Bloomsday is celebrated on that date because Ulysses spans a single day—June 16—in Dublin.

Why June 16?—So that’s the reason Bloomsday celebrations occur on June 16. But why did Joyce set his story in June 16? The date, when Joyce chose it, did not coincide with the anniversary of a major world event. Nor does it appear to carry significance to Joyce in his personal life.

Could Joyce have chosen June 16 to commemorate the beginning of his romance with Nora Barnacle? Or perhaps he selected that date because it would not be in competition with that of a significant anniversary or holiday. Could Joyce have imagined that setting the actions for Ulysses on a neutral date would result in his novel receiving its own commemoration every June 16?

Answers could be found at the following Free, Local Event

Marylu HillThe Rosenbach Museum & Library, which has a manuscript of Ulysses— handwritten by Joyce—in its collection, hosts a Bloomsday celebration every June 16. This event includes a reading of Ulysses. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., Philadelphia area dignitaries, such as Edward G. Rendell—45th governor of Pennsylvania, will each read a passage of Joyce’s novel. This year’s roster features Marylu Hill, PhD, director, Villanova University Center for Liberal Education.

To Dig Deeper, explore the following links, prepared by Sarah Wingo, team leader: Humanities II and also subject librarian for English, literature and theatre:

Free Downloadable audiobook of Ulysses
The Cambridge companion to James Joyce
Joyce Reading from Ulysses
Our Special Collections holdings for Joyce
The James Joyce Centre website

Sarah WingoSarah Wingo
Team Leader: Humanities II
Falvey Memorial Library
Villanova University

Article by Gerald Dierkes, senior copy-editor for the Communication and Service Promotion team and a liaison to the Department of Theater. Alice Bampton, digital image specialist and senior writer on the Communication and Service Promotion team, also contributed to this article.

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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.


Memorial Day – Then and Now


A brief history of the Memorial Day holiday

Memorial Day or, more accurately, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer. Memorial Day itself is now celebrated on the last Monday of May. However, this was not always true, so below is a bit of the history of this holiday.

A number of locations claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, Boalsburg, Pa., among them. Often called Decoration Day, it was established as a day to decorate with flowers the graves of those who lost their lives in the Civil War. Approximately 620,000 men lost their lives in the war so most families, North and South, had some personal relationship with the dead or injured.

alice-tombstoneOn May 5, 1868, Major General John Alexander Logan (1826-1886)  , an organization of Union veterans, declared that May 30 should be the day on which the graves of the war dead should be decorated with flowers. That year a large ceremony, presided over by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and various Washington, D.C., officials, was held at Arlington National Cemetery. Congressman James Garfield of Ohio was one of the speakers. At the conclusion of the speeches, members of the GAR and children from a nearby orphanage for children of Union veterans placed flowers on the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers while singing hymns and reciting prayers.

The back story for this: an anonymous writer had sent a letter to the GAR adjutant general, a letter in which the author told the adjutant general that in his native Germany it was a custom to place flowers on graves in the spring. alice-flagThe adjutant general, Norton P. Chipman, sent this information to Logan. Logan then expanded upon the idea, and sent an order to all GAR posts to observe May 30 as a day to honor the Civil War dead. This date, May 30, became the first nationally observed commemoration held in more than 200 locations, mostly in the North.

There are other claimants for the establishment of Memorial Day. In Richmond, Virginia, women formed the Hollywood Memorial Association of the Ladies of Richmond and they helped to establish the Oakwood Memorial Association; the purpose of these two groups was to decorate the graves, both those of Union and Confederate soldiers, in the Hollywood and Oakwood Cemeteries. The same year, 1865, Confederate veterans organized, but the decoration of graves remained women’s work.

From the 1870s on some observed the holiday as commemoration and others chose to enjoy themselves. By the 1890s May 30 had become more a popular holiday, less a memorial to the Civil War dead who had been forgotten by many. Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in 1889.

Recent history

0142184e39c4a65c074e0437142edc22President Lyndon Johnson and Congress declared in 1966 that Waterloo, N.Y., was the birthplace of Memorial Day, based upon a ceremony held there on May 5, 1866, honoring area veterans of the Civil War. Other claimants are Boalsburg, Pa.; Macon and Columbus, Ga.; Carbondale, Ill; Columbus, Miss.; and others.In 1968 Congress changed the date of Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday of May. This change was strongly encouraged by the travel and resort industries; a three day weekend was an invitation to travel for many.

Since the late 1960s Memorial Day has become a major commercial activity. Originally many businesses closed, but this is no longer true. Now there are numerous Memorial Day sales – my email is filled with advertisements for these as are newspapers.

Congress passed a law, signed by the president, in December 2000, to honor the fallen of all wars, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act.” There are also Confederate Memorial Days still observed in many Southern States: Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Each of these states set its own date to honor their Confederate dead.


Picnics and memories

On a personal level, I grew up hearing Memorial Day referred to as Decoration Day, perhaps a regional or generational custom. I lived in western Maryland, south of the Mason Dixon Line, but an area more Northern than Southern in its history. I remember going with my family – grandparents, parents and younger sister – to visit a small, very rural hilltop cemetery where the adults spent the day clearing weeds and other debris from the graves and, when lunch time came, we had a picnic right there (Mom’s homemade meatloaf, kept warm by wrapping it in multiple layers of newspaper, and potato salad). Flowers, cut from my grandmother’s flowerbed, were placed in front of the tombstones. I knew an older widow who cut peonies from her garden to take to the cemetery to place on her husband’s grave. None of the graves in that old family cemetery belonged to Civil War soldiers nor was the widow’s husband a Civil War veteran. Even today I know family members who visit cemeteries to leave flowers on Memorial Day. Is this a local custom?

Many communities do have Memorial Day events with speeches honoring those who fell serving the United States, parades, picnics and other activities. How will you spend your Memorial Day?

Dig Deeper: Falvey resources

The National Memorial Day: A Record of Ceremonies Over the Graves of the Union Soldiers, May 29 and 30, 1869. 1870. E. F. M. Faehtz.
Memorial Lessons: A Sermon Preached at King’s Chapel, Boston, on Sunday, May 29, 1870, with a List of the Sons of the Church Who Entered the Service of the Country. 1870. Henry Wilder Foote.
Memorial Day, May 30, 1870, Oration by Gen. I. F. Shepard (Adjutant General of Missouri) at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Mo. 1870. I. F. Shepard.
 A History of Memorial Day: Unity, Discord and the Pursuit of Happiness. 2002. Richard P. Harmond.
Honoring the Civil War Dead: Commemoration and the Problem of Reconciliation. 2005. John R. Neff.
Celebrating America’s Freedoms. (Online) 2009. United States Dept of Veterans Affairs.

Cemetery photos and story by Alice Bampton. Waterloo, NY photo credit: Joseph Sohm/Visions of America/Corbis.


Dig Deeper: Mad Men (What to Read Next)


Almost as much as the booze and mid-century decor, AMC’s Mad Men used books to define the sixties generation.

Characters were often seen perusing or reclining aside towering stacks of TBR paperback bestsellers on their night tables. Serious fans of the show would map plots of Don Draper’s reading materials onto his “real life” emotional state of mind, aware of creator Matt Weiner’s slavish and lavish attention to detail and propensity for seeding foreshadowing and plot just about anywhere. Not one frame of the 45 minute show was ever wasted.

I don’t think I’d be too off base to believe that readers of an academic library blog would be dedicated spine readers like me and would agree that part of the fun of watching Mad Men was keeping an eye out for the books. Also sharing our idea of geeky fun was the New York Public Library, which has maintained the “Mad Men Reading List”  since 2010. (Why didn’t we think of that!?)

But no need to travel to Manhattan to schlep some of Don or Sally Draper’s favorites to the beach this summer. Falvey has dozens on our shelves:

Meditations in an Emergency – Frank O’Hara (see “Table of Contents”)

Confessions of an Advertising Man – David Ogilvy

Babylon Revisited and Other Stories – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword – Ruth Benedict

Exodus – Leon Uris

Ship of Fools – Katherine Ann Porter

Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence

The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner

Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

The Agony and the Ecstasy – Irving Stone

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – Edward Gibbon

Despite Sterling Cooper/McCann Erickson Chief Copywriter Peggy Olson admitting that she never knows whether it’s good or bad, this list is just the tip of the iceberg.  (In this case, it’s good, Peg.) Check NYPL for more books and our catalog for availability. And remember, now that you’re not watching so much television, you’ll have more time to read! Woo hoo!

Advertising resources

Mad Men also has celebrated and skewered the field of advertising. The bookend music of last night’s series ending episode: Paul Anka’s “The Times of Your Life” and the Hilltop Singers’ “I’d like to Teach The World To Sing” both were parts of iconic landmark ads that used some of our favorite human emotions to sell film and sugar water.

Usage of these songs exemplify tactics that Draper described in an very early episode, serving to bookend the entire series: “Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.”

The fanfare surrounding the end of Mad Men and unceasing growth of communication and business marketing majors speaks to how the field of advertising is perennially fascinating and attractive, with hundreds of new Villanovans entering the field yearly.

Dig Deeper

Business librarian Linda Hauck maintains a helpful and browser-friendly subject guide that highlights advertising resources that are fun to dip into even if you don’t have a paper due and would just like to trace the steps of real Mad Men (and Women) through the history of advertising.

Here are some curated links, and feel free to stop by or contact us if you’d like direction or ideas for further digging.



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Last Modified: May 18, 2015