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Cat in the Stax: Defining Meta

By Ethan Shea

"Inception spinning top"

 

On Thursday, Oct. 28, Mark Zuckerberg made a big announcement. As part of a massive rebranding project, his multibillion dollar company, Facebook, has replaced its ubiquitous name with a new corporate title, Meta. As significant as this may seem, to be honest, I’m not very concerned about the odd names billionaires like Zuckerberg come up with (I’m looking at you too Mr. Musk).

Rather, for this week’s “Cat in the Stax,” I’m going to talk about something just as meta but, in my humble opinion, much more interesting. Today I want to define what it means to be meta by exploring some markedly meta books and movies.

With regard to storytelling, in most cases, audiences are meant to be immersed in the book, movie, or song they’re enjoying. But when something is meta, audiences become aware of the fact that they’re watching or listening to something, and the world of the page or screen reveals itself to be separate from the audience’s world. In summation, art that’s meta is self-referential and examines its own meaning as a work of art.

"The Lost Children Archive"Lost Children Archive

I’m actually in the middle of reading this novel by Valeria Luiselli right now, and I can’t help but notice the metafiction present throughout the text. The story describes the life of a family traveling from New York City to Arizona to conduct research in the midst of injustices continuously being carried out against child refugees at the southern border of the United States. Throughout the journey, each family member receives a box, their own personal archive, and fills it with items gathered during the voyage or deemed important beforehand.

This is where things get meta. The book itself is separated not only into chapters but boxes. Instead of turning to chapter two as one may do in a more traditional text, readers of Lost Children Archive will encounter “Box 2.” This formative archival work leads readers to contemplate how they and the book itself construct their own archives as well as the implications of going through someone else’s belongings. Although the contents of the archives can technically be watered down to a list of items, the parallels between chapters and boxes prove there’s a lot more to be written about them than a few words.

Inception"Inception Movie Poster"

Christopher Nolan’s film Inception (2010) is a remarkably meta movie. The very premise of its story alludes to its meta status, as much of the film’s plot subtly calls attention to the fact that it’s taking place within a film. Throughout the movie, the goal of the protagonists is to complete “inception,” which is the act of planting an idea into someone’s mind through complex layers of dreams. In order to do this, a group of dream-building-experts enter the mind of their target and get to work.

The construction of the dream, the setting, actors, and events, must all be perfect so the victim doesn’t realize they’re in a dream, just as movies must be crafted so audiences forget what they’re watching isn’t real. This is why Inception is one of the most meta films in recent memory.

"We Are in a Book!"Elephant & Piggie: We Are in a Book!

For something to be meta, it doesn’t have to be as complex as Inception. In fact, the children’s story Elephant & Piggie: We Are In A Book is extremely meta because the story’s characters, Elephant and Piggie, become conscious of their existence within a book. At first Elephant doesn’t understand how they’re being “read,” but before long, the pair becomes excited about life between the pages. To entertain themselves, Elephant and Piggie make the reader say a funny word… “banana.” Before the inevitable ending of the book, Elephant starts to worry about how their story will conclude, so in a last-ditch effort to extend the time they’re being read, Piggy asks the reader to read the book again.

This children’s story is meta because its entire premise is made possible by calling attention to its form. Here, in a fun and simple way, young readers can begin to understand what it means to be meta and how stories continue to live in the present through the act of reading.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

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Introducing Falvey’s Newspapers & Magazines Research Guide

By Jutta Seibert

Newspaper section of
Emily McPherson College Library,
Russell Street, circa 1960s.
Courtesy of Museums Victoria.

Newspapers and magazines are popular primary sources for good reasons: many of them have been digitized, they cover most topics and events, and they are continuously published over many years.

Compared to other primary sources, which are preserved in brick and mortar archives and which may only exist in their fragile original format, newspaper and magazine archives are widely available with few hurdles to access. By their very nature they were mass-produced when they were first published, and in many cases have since been converted to microfilm and digital formats.

Identifying suitable newspapers and magazines for a project among the plethora of serial publications would be daunting where it not for specific research tools designed to help with this task.

Newspaper and magazine archives present some unique research challenges, such as locating existing archives or issues and finding access to them through library portals. Falvey’s new research guide Newspapers & Magazines addresses most of these challenges. It offers guidance on how to find a specific newspaper or magazine, how to find a cited article, how to identify newspapers and magazines for a project, and gives advice on how to work with digital and microfilm archives. It also covers Chicago-style citations for news articles. One of the most exciting features of the new guide is an A-Z list of available newspaper and magazine archives.

Microfilm reader, Haifa University Library, ca. 1980.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Newspapers & Magazines research guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which encourages interested readers to reuse all or part of its contents. Falvey also offers a workshop on research with newspaper and magazine archives, which can be requested through the Library’s website.

We invite you to take a closer look and revisit the guide the next time you are looking for newspaper and magazine archives. The Newspapers & Magazines research guide can be found on the history subject guide on the Library’s website.

Let us know what you think and send us your questions.


Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 



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Happy Boss’s Day to Bruce Springsteen (Rocking Nova in 1973?)

Bruce Springsteen

Happy Boss’s Day to the Wildcat supervisors out there, and to one special, non-Villanovan: Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen.

Before he was “Born in the USA” or “Born to Run,” Bruce was born to play at Villanova a whole lot. He rocked the campus three times in 1973 alone! From all accounts, he crooned to mere dozens back then, and the photo above, from the 1974 Belle Aire yearbook, didn’t even caption whether this is actually Springsteen strumming.

The Library staff is divided on the identity of the singer in the photo too.

The hair, beard, silver cross, and guitar model and strap closely match this image, also from 1973.

So what do you think? Did we find a long, lost Springsteen photo or bust out with a basic Bruce-a-like?

 

While you’re pondering, head over to our Digital Library and check out our other amazing yearbooks from yesteryear.


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Dig Deeper: Learn More About the Pipeline of Irish Athletics to Villanova

By Shawn Proctor

George Guida, 1946

George Guida, an early member of the Irish Pipeline to Villanova, in 1946.

Irish runners and Villanova Athletics. For more than five decades, the pairing was synonymous, resulting in medals and championships in the highest levels of collegiate and world track competition.

Yesterday Marcus O’Sullivan ’84, Villanova Men’s Track and Field Coach, and Beaudry Rae Allen ’13 MA, Preservation and Digital Archivist, discussed this era of fleet Irish feet at the talk “Irish Pipeline: Irish Athletics at Villanova,” co-sponsored by the Center for Irish Studies and Falvey Memorial Library.

In all, this pipeline of talent, beginning in 1948, included all 50 states and 715 athletes, and was a benefit to both scholar-athletes and the programs they joined. Dig deeper into this storied tradition with these resources:

Excerpt: “The Pipeline, as the American scholarship trail was originally known, soon spread far beyond Villanova University, the small rural-like campus 12 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Villanova, however, is where the connection still runs strongest.”

Excerpt: “Wildcats also have vaulted to glory in global competitions, including at least one Villanova Track and Field Olympian in every Summer Olympics since 1948. Beginning with the 1956 Summer Games…Villanovans have won 11 gold and silver medals in track and field events.”


Shawn ProctorShawn Proctor, MFA, is a Communications and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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#TBT: Coca-Cola Then & Now

photo of a 1916 Coca Cola advertisement featuring Grover Cleveland Alexander

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many brands have held a place in the media for decades, one of those being Coca-Cola. Take a minute to look at the evolution of Coca-Cola ads over the years. The Grover Cleveland Alexander ad is from May 20th, 1916, while the video is one of Coca-Cola’s most recent ad campaigns from August 2020. The company’s advertisement campaigns have evolved from the traditional “drink Coke because so-and-so is.” The modern-day campaign focuses on drinking Coke because of the values of the company and their desire to ignite change.

To see more classic advertisements, visit Falvey’s digital exhibit, “You Can Learn a Lot from Advertising!”

You can watch the full Coca-Cola advertisement here.


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department. Current mood: Getting ready to run out and buy a nice, cold Coke on my lunch break.

 

 

 

 


 


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On 1842 Day, Declare Your Falvey Fandom

By Shawn Proctor

 

 

Today is 1842 Day, Villanova’s annual day of giving, the 24-hour event that celebrates the people and programs that are making a difference at Villanova and beyond. While there are so many departments that make the University a special place, we hope Villanovans will take this opportunity to make a gift to Falvey Memorial Library this 1842 Day.

Your gift of any amount will go even further this 1842 Day—University Librarian Millicent Gaskell has announced she will match donations to the Library up to $1842!

“A gift to the Library is a gift to the whole University,” Gaskell says. “Those gifts have a lasting impact.”

The 1842 donations will continue to support and preserve the Library’s distinctive collections, including University Archives and rare materials, aiding students and faculty for years to come.

Typically, the Library receives more than half a million visitors. While this year is anything but typical, Jeehyun “Jee” Davis, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Stewardship, says Falvey’s staff have found ways to keep providing services and support throughout the spring and fall semesters. “It is so important for our students and faculty to have access to Falvey’s online and physical collections. That’s why I am so proud of our successful and safe reopening.”

Funds from 2019 allowed the University to purchase equipment and supplies used in the University Archives and Special Collections to clean and maintain valuable materials and books.

Villanova will feature a livestream broadcast highlighting all that makes the University great. Tune in at villanova.edu and catch featured segments on Facebook @VillanovaU. This year, our livestream coverage will feature hosts Keith Jones ’07, Lauren Dugan ’16, and Darryl “D.Rey” Reynolds ’17.

We hope you will support Falvey and help us continue to make a difference. Every gift, of any amount, makes a difference.

 


Shawn Proctor  Shawn Proctor is a Communication and Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


 


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From the Archives: Documenting COVID-19 Project

Documenting COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Villanova community in unique ways with the swift shift to online learning; seniors not being able to attend in-person commencement; NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament cancelled; our faculty and students in the Nursing School called into service; the campus closed; the uncertainty of what fall 2020 will look like; and the ever-growing disruptions to our personal lives.

The University Archives, in partnership with Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest, invites you to contribute your recollections of how you are experiencing the ongoing situation around COVID-19 to the archives’ collection.

The project is meant to capture the stories and thoughts so future researchers and community members can look back to know and understand what this period was like for those who lived through it.  The project is also an opportunity to share in the experience and your memories matter, so your experiences are an important part of our shared Villanova history.

How to participate

We invite you to submit your experience to the University Archives where the materials will be preserved and made publicly available for future research. The submission form can be found here.

And all members of the community– students, faculty, staff, and alumni– are welcome to submit:

  • stories of their experience
  • photographs
  • social media posts
  • video or audio recording
  • digital artwork

How you submit your thoughts and experiences is up to you! For instance, you can write in the form of a journal entry,  save your social media posts, take photos and/or videos of life as you see it, or create multimedia works of digital storytelling.

Also, you may submit as many times as you’d like. Share your experience once or monthly!

If you have any questions about the form or the project please contact: documentingcovid@villanova.edu

Acknowledgments

Thank you to Jason Steinhauer, Director of Lepage Center, for spearheading the collaboration. Thank you to Mark Hewlett and Kaitlin Gottuso in assisting with review. And many thanks to the our Falvey colleagues’ David Uspal and Joanne Quinn for form set-up and graphics.


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Timelapse Video of “Be Not Afraid of Greatness: Celebrating the History of Villanova Theatre”

 

This recording is of curators Beaudry Rae Allen, Preservation and Digital Archivist, and Emma Poley, Theatre MA ’21, prepping materials for the new Spring Exhibit, “Be Not Afraid of Greatness: Celebrating the History of Villanova Theatre.” Before exhibit material is put on display Beaudry and Emma organize and arrange material beforehand to determine how the narrative should be displayed, where the exhibit text should be placed, and what items look best for each case. To make sure sizing is right, they use a cut-out template to outline the space available.


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Throwback Thursday: “That Tailgate Touch”

By Kelly McMahon

picture of students tailgating

Tailgating the Villanova vs. Creighton game this weekend? Get some inspiration from the 1985-1986 edition of the Belle Air and the article, “Partying with that Tailgate Touch.”

Before 1985, students tailgated before football games in the Lancaster parking lot (formerly known as Main Parking Lot before it was transformed into The Commons) with “cars, RV’s (sic), boats, and other assorted vehicles.” After the University created a tailgating policy that prohibited festivities from the parking lots, Villanovans gathered on Sheehan Beach for every home game.

The yearbook published some of the students’ memories of the tailgates, including “I can’t remember,” “I’m not sure but I think I had a good time,” and “I don’t know; is it 1:30 yet?”

 


Kelly McMahon CLAS ’22 is a student assistant in the Communication and Marketing department at Falvey. Like the students in the picture above, she will be tailgating this Saturday for the Villanova vs. Creighton game.

 

 

 

 


 


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Distinctive Collections – Preserving our most valued past

By Nathaniel Haeberle-Gosweiler

Villanova University has a lot of history. However, some students and patrons are not aware just how much history is kept by the office of Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement (DCDE) at Falvey Memorial Library. Located on the second floor of the library, DCDE archives and displays books, articles, and artifacts that preserve and maintain history and cultural heritage.

Many people would be surprised what is available to view upon appointment, leading to experiences that Michael Foight, Director of Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement, says are critical for Villanova’s globally-minded students.

“The experience of touching an item that is hundreds if not thousands of years old can change a person’s life. It creates an appreciation of the ephemeral nature of our digital lives. Often it leads to students thinking about how to preserve their communication, whether that be emails or even tweets, for their children and generations to come,” he explains.

Maintaining this collection, containing thousands of historically valuable and culturally important materials, is just one more way Falvey Memorial Library provides a valuable context to academic research.

“For faculty, being able to talk about the history of printing calls to mind the period in which those people were teaching. For example, being able to peruse the first edition of St. Augustine’s The Confessions can lend students increased historical sensitivity when they are reading the book. Teachers making assignments with those artifacts, including transcribing or translating documents, gives back to the greater historical culture,” Michael Foight adds.


Here are some of the notable inclusions of the collections from DCDE, many of which might just surprise you!


What’s the oldest item in the Distinctive Collections?

cunniform tabletA Sumerian clay cuneiform tablet, est. 2000 B.C.E., detailing the taxes paid on a cow!

 

What are the most requested items in Distinctive Collections?

Sherman's legendary frock

Special Collections:

  • William T. Sherman’s frock coat from 1864 (pictured above)
  • Gregor Mendel’s Experiments on Plant Hybridization paper
  • Codex Atlanticus / Leonardo da Vinci (facsimile)
  • John Maynard Keynes’sThe economic consequences of the peace

    Reap Collection:
     
  • Commemorative Box with Sake cup—Celebrating the Invasion of Nanking, China–Seabag

    University Archives Collections:
  • Belle Air yearbooks
  • Commencement Programs
  • Villanovan issues

Nate GosweilerNathaniel Haeberle-Gosweiler is a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Department at Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in Communication at Villanova University.


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Last Modified: December 10, 2019