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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.


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.



May the Fourth Be With You! A Star Wars Dig Deeper


To say Star Wars is the best movie franchise of all time might be overselling it (especially considering the execrable episodes I-III), but it was the first movie I ever saw on the big screen, and yes, it was brand new when I saw it in 1977. I was five, and even though I didn’t understand the subtext, it helped define my lifelong love of science fiction and high fantasy and the same can be said of millions of fans worldwide. The question is “why”? Why is it so important to so many people? Why has it been translated into dozens of languages, spawned more movies, cartoons, dozens of novels, and a fanatical global following? Why are my friends handing down their original 1970’s Kenner action figures to their children, like some ancient sword passed down from their father’s, father’s, father? Why is it being reborn, yet again, by Disney and directed by the highly respected J.J Abrams?

Two simple words: It’s awesome.

Prior to Star Wars (now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, an inelegant name for an inelegant time) a “Space Opera” was a pejorative term for the cheap, pulp comics of the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a science fiction story or drama set in space; space fiction esp. of an unsophisticated or clichéd type.” These stories are known for their melodramatic and overly romantic portrayals of enemies fighting each other in outer space using advanced, futuristic weaponry and technology.

By 1977, Space Opera was a well-established – if fringe – genre in comic books like Flash Gordon (1934), television shows like Star Trek (1966), and films like Barbarella ( 1968). But Star Wars brought something new to the equation; a complex coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of a totalitarianism and rebellion.


Themes of mysticism, oppression, community, colonialism, trade politics and self-discovery gave the first trilogy a depth that did not jibe with the “unsophisticated” definition of Space Opera. The genre had suddenly become something for grown ups: The number of times you saw “Jedi” became a badge of pride for geeks and non-geeks alike. Its state-of-the-art special effects blurred the line between reality and fiction to the point that robots and fighting teddy bears became lovable – and essential – characters. Discussions about hyperdrive, Jedi mind tricks, and the feasibility of real world light sabers became water cooler conversation. It marked a sea change that first legitimized Space Opera and, by extension, science fiction as a mainstream genre.

Viewership for shows like Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica swelled as fans hungered for more and the success of these shows and ancillary movies spawned hundreds of sci-fi knock-offs and permutations. Whether you love Star Wars or not, it can be argued that all modern science fiction, from blockbuster movies like Interstellar and Transformers to TV shows like Futurama and Doctor Who, owe their continued success, and even their genesis, to a low budget 1970’s film trilogy about a farm boy, a scoundrel, a sassy princess, and a few droids who toppled an oppressive empire and saved their galaxy a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

To learn more about the Star Wars universe and its influence, check out these Falvey Memorial Library resources:

Non-Fiction Books:
Star Wars and Philosophy : More Powerful than you Can Possibly Imagine
by Kevin S. Decker
PN1995.9.S695 S76 2005 – Falvey Main 4th Floor

Empire Building : The Remarkable, Real-life Story of Star Wars
by Garry Jenkins
PN1995.9.S695 J46 1999 – Falvey Main 4th Floor

Culture, Identities, and Technology in the Star Wars Films : Essays on the Two Trilogies
by Carl Silvio
PN1995.9.S695 S55 2007 – Falvey Main 4th Floor

From Star Wars to Indiana Jones : The Best of the Lucasfilm Archives
by Mark Vaz
PN1995.9.S695 V3913 – Falvey Main 4th Floor

Fiction Books:
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis
by James Luceno
PS3562.U254417 D37 – Falvey popular reading collection, Main floor

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire  by Timothy Zahn  PS3576.A33 H45 1991 – Falvey Main 4th Floor

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe : The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise
by Chris Taylor

Search for articles using the search terms “Star Wars” (in quotes) and Film. Other useful search terms: politics, mysticism, influence, impact, technology, etc.

For help with research on the movies and their influence, contact Rob LeBlanc, first-year experience & humanities librarian at robert.leblanc@villanova.edu.

Rob LeBlanc is first-year experience & humanities librarian.Rob-ed


The Highlighter: Discover Falvey’s Many Study Spaces


Need a place for individual or group study? This video shows how to discover Falvey’s many study spaces. (Enable Closed Captioning for silent viewing):

For additional “How to” videos, click the “Help” button on Falvey’s homepage.

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The Belgian Cook Book

belgian cookbookWhile visiting my nieces, one of them showed me a cookbook she found and thought I might like to borrow. The Belgian Cook-Book (1915), edited by Mrs. Brian Luck, who apparently has no first name of her own and is referred to as M. Luck elsewhere in the book, is owned by only 58 libraries in the world, according to WorldCat.

The editor, M. Luck, collected recipes from “Belgian refugees from all parts of the United Kingdom” and intended this “small manual…for the use of the work-a-day and inexperienced mistress and maid.”  The preface, as well as the recipes, are filled with amusing expressions and anecdotes.

A newer edition was published by Baker & Taylor in 2006. There is also a digitized copy of the 1915 edition available through Project Gutenberg, which proved handy while cooking one of the recipes displayed on my iPad.

I was torn between using a recipe calling for asparagus, an early spring vegetable, or for mushrooms, which are typically harvested in spring or fall. Since the local asparagus crop at the farm in my area isn’t quite ready, I decided to go with mushrooms.

An image of the 1915 recipe is displayed below with my translation under it.

gourmands mushroomsgourmands mushrooms 2



















Gourmands’ Mushrooms

8 tbsp. butter

1 lemon

½ lb. white button mushrooms

1 tbsp. flour

1 egg yolk

¼ tsp. salt

⅛ tsp. pepper

Bread or English muffins

mushrooms ingredients

Warm a whole, uncut lemon in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Remove lemon from hot water and cut in half, squeeze one half lemon and set aside. Place butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add lemon juice. When butter & lemon start to simmer, add mushrooms and cook until some of the liquid has been absorbed. Don’t allow the mushrooms to brown.

Remove mushrooms from pan with slotted spoon, leaving the juices in the pan. Toss mushrooms with flour, salt, and pepper. Return floured mushrooms to pan over low heat. Add one egg yolk and stir until thoroughly mixed with mushrooms. Add a few drops of water or chicken broth to moisten if needed. You can also add a few more drops of lemon juice to taste.

mushroomsServe on toasted bread or toasted British muffin. Makes 2-4 servings.

I leave you with this comment about savories from Madame Luck:

“If you serve these, let them be, like an ankle, small and neat and alluring.”



Food blog by Luisa Cywinski, writer for the Communication & Service Promotion Team and team leader, Access Services.


‘Cat in the Stacks: Journals by the Poolside (Try BrowZine!)


 I’m Michelle Callaghan, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our column, “‘Cat in the Stacks.” I’m the ‘cat. Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.

Every so often, you’ll have classmates or colleagues who seem to know so much trendy information about your shared field and you’ll wonder when these fine folks have the time and how they have the energy to read for fun on top of studies and working hours. (Hint: they’re cyborgs. I wasn’t supposed to tell you that. Don’t make eye contact.)

Of course, there are the lucky breed of academics whose work is their studies and whose studies are their hobbies and whose hobbies are their tasks. But that’s not everyone, and you certainly shouldn’t feel bad if that sort of overlap is not your experience. The average person can stay just as in-the-know with certain information routines that hardly take extra time out of their days.

Combining your academic interests with your social media pursuits is a solid option. The cosmic harmony achieved when a Star Wars meme is counterbalanced by a Shakespeare article promoted by JSTOR’s Facebook page is quite satisfying. Tons of academic journals, databases, and organizations have a social media presence, and following them alongside your fun favorites is an excellent way to stay on top of the academic buzz—and hardly noticing you’re feeding your brain. Search Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or whatever platform you can think of for database names or journal organizations, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Especially during nice summer walks and runs and lounging in the sun on the beach, podcasts are quick and easy ways to stay in the loop.

You can use apps like Feedly to subscribe to different sites and blogs.

Last but certainly not least, check out BrowZine, because we have a trial until May 15th and it’s pretty super cool. Straight from the creators, “BrowZine works by organizing the articles found in Open Access and subscription databases, uniting them into complete journals, then arranging these journals on a common newsstand. The result is an easy and familiar way to browse, read and monitor scholarly journals across the disciplines.” Oooooooooo. Now, if you’re anything like me, logging into Villanova’s site and checking out the catalog on a computer to print out a journal article is not exactly something that screams leisure and poolside reading. But put it on my phone or tablet, and I’m there! Not only that—journal articles waste a whole lot of paper if you want to be mobile with your academia! In honor of Earth Day, perhaps its time to use BrowZine as your stepping stone to an ecofriendly research experience.

As you can see…

cat ipad…my alternate tablet activities without BrowZine are decidedly less, uh, elevated.

Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.


Dig Deeper: Earth Day 2015

earthblogHappy Earth Day! Today at 10:00 a.m. a panel discussion on working towards sustainable solutions will be held in Speakers’ Corner of Falvey Memorial Library. Panelists who have devoted their careers to some aspect of sustainability will discuss their work. The challenges and opportunities of working daily to address environmental issues will be discussed. Questions and discussion between panelists and the audience are encouraged. A light continental breakfast will be provided.

Panelists will include the following:

JoAnn Garbin KnowE, Aircuity, Sustainable Business Network

David Masur PennEnvironment

Brenda Gotanda Manko Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP

Rob Fleming Engineering & Design Institute, Philadelphia University

Adam Agalloco Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability

*Moderated by Liesel Schwarz, Villanova University Sustainability Manager*

This event, co-sponsored by Falvey Memorial Library and the Earth Day Committee, is free and open to the public.

See here for more acitivties in celebration of Earth Day 2015 at Villanova University.

To dig deeper into Earth Day celebrations, sustainability and climate resources, and to get involved, check out the links below selected by Merrill Stein, liaison librarian for geography and political science.

Dig Deeper

United States/North America

Earth Day Across America – see what’s happening in your state
Original Earth Day – on the first Earth Day
Climate Central – sea level rise
EPA Earth Day
North American Carbon Program – interagency coordinated program


International Mother Earth Day
Earth Day Network – economic growth and sustainability join hands
World Health Day – World Health Organization
Global Citizen Earth Day
GEO Carbon Strategy
Economic Growth and Sustainable Development

Tools and Social Media

Facebook Earth Day – It’s our turn to lead
Carbon Tracker – NOAA
Globe at Night – impact of light pollution


Past Falvey Blogs




Dig Deeper links selected by Merrill Stein, liaison librarian for geography and political science.


Upcoming Workshop for Chicago-Style Footnotes and Bibliographies

9780226103891_p0_v2_s260x420Are you confused by the different formats required by Chicago-style for footnotes and bibliographies? Are you unsure about how and when to use “ibid.”? — Answers to your questions are just around the corner.
Come to Falvey Memorial Library for a quick introduction to Chicago-style rules for footnotes and bibliography. The session will be held Wednesday, April 22: 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., in Falvey 207 in the second-floor Learning Commons. For more information, contact history liaison librarian Jutta Seibert (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu).


Jutta Seibert

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


Upcoming Workshops for Chicago-Style Footnotes and Bibliographies

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

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


Jutta Seibert

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Scrap Pie – 1886

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

Scrap Pie Women's History









Scrap Pie – 2015

1 lb. ground beef

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

½ large onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp. chicken, beef, or vegetable broth

1 egg, beaten

4 tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. pepper

½ tsp. salt

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

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

beefbeef onionsbeef potato






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

Scrap Pie done










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

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

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

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

The First Kitchen

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

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

Women’s History Month – Audio and Video

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

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


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Last Modified: March 29, 2015