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Dig Deeper: Christians in the Contemporary Middle East Conference

Nova Conference: Middle East

Villanova University will host a conference on Dec. 5-6 titled Christians in the Contemporary Middle East: Religious Minorities and the Struggle for Secular Nationalism and Citizenship. With such wonderful speakers attending as Retired General Anthony Charles Zinni (USMC) and Ussama Makdisi of Rice University, the conference promises some elucidating conversation.

For a conference on such a particular subject, the presentations will cover a diverse range of topics. Attendees will hear such intriguing talks as “Christian Contributions to Art, Culture and Literature in the Arab-Islamic World” and “The Impact of the Shia-Sunni Political Struggle and Future Strategies for Christians and Other Minorities in the Middle East.”

Specialized lectures such as these sometimes require a little bit of background information, and some students may be wondering the relevance of these topics to their lives or academic development. I had similar questions and concerns and brought them up with Assistant Director of Academic Integration and Theology Librarian Darren Poley.

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(Cover of illustrated edition of Universal Declaration of Human Rights from website below)

 

“Religious liberty is not just an American or even an exclusively Western concept,” he began. “Freedom to practice one’s faith or belief system is an intrinsically human desire.”

Poley recommends taking a look at the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights if you’re interested in why the Villanova University should be concerned about the Middle East. It’s available here, and Poley reminds you, “especially since we live in an increasingly interconnected and globalized society: no one can afford to ignore any lack of respect for people, property, social justice or the integrity of creation anywhere in the world.”

Dig Deeper by investing these associations, centers and initiatives for social justice:

“It surprises most students to learn that the Middle East and North African were predominantly Christian lands for the centuries between the official toleration of Christianity in the Roman Empire in the 4th century and the rise of Islam in the 7th century,” Poley continued.

Cartouche

(Villanova University’s Arabic Cartouche)

It’s important for Villanova students to think about the decline of pluralistic spaces in the Middle East because so many of these early Christian societies remain today, albeit under different leadership and sometimes different names.

“Nestorian Christians in the Middle East established themselves in the 5th century and continue as the Assyrian Church of the East.” Poley highlighted, and “there are many different Eastern Orthodox churches often along ethnic or national lines that are affiliated with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, a Turkish citizen who resides in Istanbul.”

Patriarchate Banner

(Banner for the Ecumenical Patriarchate – website below)

In addition, there are Catholics outside of the Latin Rite tradition. The Maronites of Lebanon, the Chaldeans of Iraq, and the Melkites from Syria, Jordan and Israel represent the largest groups of such.

Poley said, “There are also small groups of Christians in the Middle East with doctrinal differences from either the Catholic of the Eastern Orthodox churches, which are collectively called the Oriental Orthodox churches; the three major ones being the Syrian, Armenian, and Coptic (Egyptian).”

Despite the complexity of their histories, you may find statistics and information on the individuals and groups of Christians who continue to “live, work, worship, and coexist alongside Muslims and Jews in Middle Eastern countries,” according to Poley, at these websites:

An encyclopedia of knowledge on the topic, Poley provided me with an exhaustive list of thinkers, theologians and writers who have promoted religious diversity in the Middle East. I’ve included just a few of those thinkers below so that you may familiarize yourself with them before the conference:

  • Saint Pope John Paul II
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
  • Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
  • Catholic Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah
  • Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine William Shomali
  • Melkite Archbishop George Wadih Bakouni
  • Antiochian Orthodox Bishop George Khodr
  • Coptic Orthodox Bishop Barnibas El Soryany
  • Armenian Bishop of Damascus Armash Nalbandian
  • Father Kail C. Ellis, OSA, Villanova University.

Yes, that’s the abridged list. In case you were wondering if you should visit a subject librarian before collecting research for your next term paper: yes, you should. Poley, and indeed all of our subject librarians, work tirelessly to keep up-to-date on current events, research, and research methodologies.

Darren Poley resize

(This is what Darren Poley looks like, in case you go looking for him.)

They also keep tabs on the library collection and can direct you to books and journals available either here at the Falvey or through the library’s databases. I asked Poley: what library resources are available for students to learn about the prospects of and strategies for promoting piece in the Middle East?

He suggested looking at the Theology & Religious Studies and Cultural Studies subject guides and reading one, some, or all of the following:

For some students, including me, starting to read up on Middle Eastern Christianity would be difficult without some background on Middle Eastern geopolitics. I submitted the same question to Poley about library resources for looking at the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. He suggested starting with the Political Science Subject Guide and the History Subject Guide, but also directed me to these books:

Mary Queen of Peace

(Mary Queen of Peace)

Speaking of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Poley said, “So in the middle of the 20th century, perhaps the bloodiest in history so far in terms of wars and other violence, people of good will came together to publically declare among other tenets that freedom of conscience and religion is a basic human right.” Described as “timely and riveting” by the university’s poster, this conference may be an excellent opportunity for the Villanova community to validate these tenets.


Website photo 2

Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 


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Dig Deeper: Kerbel talks Election

On Thursday, Nov. 17, Political Science Department Chair Matthew R. Kerbel will visit the Falvey Memorial Library to give a talk about moving forward after this year’s turbulent presidential election. His background in studying the effects of media on American politics make him eminently qualified to be dissecting this year’s contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Kerbel on 6ABC

Kerbel appearing on a local media station (courtesy of 6abc.com)

In 1999, Kerbel wrote, “We are prompted to think about the political system as the journalist tells us about it, as a place filled with people of dubious character bent on image manipulation at all costs. It becomes a challenge for us to sort our political information in the news from messages about the political system conveyed along with the facts–to learn about politics without acquiring an attitude.”

Written almost two decades ago, these words contain an even more powerful truth in today’s world. From his “Remote & Controlled: Media Politics in a Cynical Age,” this insight demonstrates Kerbel’s keen eye for the nuances of contemporary political discourse, a discourse which has shifted dramatically during Kerbel’s 30-year career.

Of course, Kerbel’s expertise on American Politics, the Presidency, and the media go back before the 1990s. Early in his career, he published on the presidency of Gerald Ford. In this piece he argued that a president’s news exposure varies with the political climate. He continued his research throughout the ’90s, even scoring coverage by Villanova’s own newspaper, the Villanovan in 1992:

Kerbel Villanovan

Based on the research discussed in this article, Kerbel published his “Edited for Television: CNN, ABC, and the 1992 Presidential Campaign.” He followed this book up with a number of books throughout the ’90s and early 2000s; he’s credited on all of the following:

These resources, available through the Falvey Memorial Library, will give you an excellent glimpse into Kerbel’s background as a scholar. He also maintains a blog called “Wolves and Sheep,” where he discusses current political issues in relatively short posts.

Whether you’ve been feeling confused and scared, or vindicated and elated by this year’s election, Kerbel’s talk, today at 1pm in Speakers’ Corner, will be the right place to find some answers about moving forward.


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Dig Deeper: John R. Johannes, Ph.D., Kicks Off Presidential Election Lecture Series

You walk into your first day of class for the semester, sit down with your Holy Grounds cup of joe, and curiously await the arrival of your professor. An energetic gentleman walks in with an enthusiastic smile and tells you that you’ll be graded on a debate later this semester, claiming that it will be fun to become an expert. If he also says that you will be guided through the material by a professor cum coach and makes it clear that the responsibility for learning is yours, then, chances are, you’ve walked into Professor John R. Johannes’ survey course on American Politics.

This pedagogical ethos makes him the perfect candidate to give the premiere talk (at 1pm on Wednesday, Oct. 26) of the Falvey Memorial Library’s US Presidential Election Lecture Series. You may be thinking that you’ve heard all there is to know about the stakes of the current election. You may be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, I get it. I have to get out and vote.” Not so fast, according to Johannes’ recent book Thinking About Political Reform: How to Fix, or not Fix, American Government Politicsthere are two sides to the eligible voter participation debate.

"Thinking about Political Reform."

The cover of Johannes’
“Thinking about Political Reform.”

Johannes writes in his book that “members of a democratic society who work, pay taxes, serve in the military, help their neighbors, and so on have, as fundamental to the notion of a political community, both a right and responsibility to vote… on the other hand, many citizens recoil from compulsion, doubt the efficacy of incentives, and worry about abuse.” Passages like these in Thinking About Political Reform demonstrate Johannes’ acumen for seeing and articulating both sides of a political debate.

Johannes’ attention to such detail was developed over an academic and professional career that started with graduating summa cum laude from Marquette University in 1966. After receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard in the early ’70s, Johannes began teaching at Marquette where he stayed until 1995. During his time at Marquette, he served as department chair of the Political Science Department and as the Dean of Arts & Sciences. He also received a number of grants to author and publish his own pieces, many of which dealing with the US Congress.

In 1995, Johannes joined us here at Villanova as our Vice President for Academic Affairs. Since then he has also taught classes in the Political Science Department. He served as a member in the Philadelphia Economy League Task Force on the Knowledge Industry from 2000-2002. Then he worked with and served as chair for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, where he still serves as commissioner.

Dr. Johannes

Dr. Johannes poses for a photo.

A blog post like the present piece hardly leaves room to mention his time spent as an editorial board member for the American Journal of Political Science and the Legislative Studies Quarterly, his experience with several political science associations, or his summers spent as a visiting professor at Harvard. A full list of Johannes’ achievements, accomplishments and honors can be found on his webpage.

The point of telling you all of this is to show the qualifications of a man who has dedicated his life to teaching political science and has dedicated a large portion of his career to improving the Villanova University community. On Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 1 pm, Johannes will continue his dedication by giving us Wildcats the chance to learn a thing or two about the direction of our country, focusing specifically on Congressional elections. We’ll see you at 1 pm in Speakers’ Corner.


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Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.

 


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Seeking state or local statistics?

Try SAGE Stats, a combination of state stats and local stats collections. A trial subscription of SAGE Stats, from CQ Press/SAGE Publications, is available until April 9.

sagestats

SAGE Stats was developed as a data visualization and research resource providing extensive social science data, including states, cities, counties, and metropolitan statistical areas and topics “across 21 high-interest research areas” within the United States, such as economy, education, crime, government finance, health, population, religion, social welfare, and transportation. The data series span as far back as 1980 and are updated on a timely basis in accordance with the collection and publication schedules of original sources. Detailed source information, with links where applicable, is provided for every data series.

Browse information by topic and location and retrieve data in an interactive map format. Users can create visual comparisons of state and local data and datasets for visualization, comparison citing, sharing, saving, downloading and exporting. Data tables can be downloaded in XLS or CSV formats and visualizations can be converted to JPG or PNG formats.

Additional information about SAGE Stats is available via a video and online guide. Explore other CQ/SAGE products available through Falvey, in the CQ Press Library (SAGE). Explore another statistical database on trial, Policy Map, at the Business Reference blog.

For more information or comments, contact Falvey subject liaison Merrill Stein.


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Human Rights Studies Online and on trial

HumRights

A trial subscription of Human Rights Studies Online, from Alexander Street Press, is available until March 2. Human Rights Studies Online is a unique database of streaming video and text materials providing comprehensive, comparative documentation, analysis, and interpretation of major human rights violations and atrocity crimes worldwide currently covering the years1900-2010.  The collection includes primary and secondary materials (some publicly available materials) across multiple media formats and content types for each selected event, including Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, Darfur, and more than thirty additional subjects.

Resources for each topic guide users through the full scope of the event, from the historical context that made such violations possible through the international response, prosecution of perpetrators, and steps toward rebuilding. Materials are meant to work together to help explore significant questions and themes, such as how human rights atrocities could have been prevented, common patterns associated with human rights crimes, and the impact that is made by government intervention.  Alexander Street Press reports that “the collection is growing to include 75,000 pages of text and 150 hours of video that give voice to the countless victims of human rights crimes in the 20th and early 21st centuries.”

Additional information is available online and in brochure form. A bibliography of documents currently included in the database is also available. Advanced search capabilities allow for seeking words anywhere, fulltext/transcripts, title/series, date written, date published, language and sorting options. Further search help is accessible.

Explore other Alexander Street Press subscriptions available through Falvey, such as Counseling and Therapy in Video, PBS Video Collection, Digital Karl Barth Library, North American Theatre Online , and search Oxford Bibliographies – Political Science, International Relations, also in trial subscription this semester.

For more information or comments, contact Falvey subject liaison Merrill Stein.


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Oxford Bibliographies: A Point of Departure

Depositphotos_17700057_m

Explore the political science and international relations bibliographies from Oxford University Press now through the 2014 academic year.  The bibliographies have their own editors, are peer-reviewed, annotated by leading scholars and designed to be starting points for research.

You can search one of these bibliographies by visiting the Databases A-Z list on the library homepage.

 OXBIB

 The bibliographies can:

* Introduce a research topicSimple and advanced search capabilities are available.  Subject bibliographies are browsable together or individually (political science or international relations) and updated approximately three times per year.

Search results can be exported to citation management tools such as EndNote, RefWorks, and Zotero.

* Provide examples of annotated bibliographiesSearch responses include an introduction and general overview, citations to the best articles, books, and a range of other online sources centered on a topic. 

 Where available, journal citations are linked to full-text via the  link and book citations are linked to Falvey via the  link.

* Direct researchers to multiple types of contentSearch responses can include books, journals, web resources, multimedia, primary documents, forthcoming and related articles.

The My OBO feature allows the user to set up a free account to save and annotate search results. Results are available online.

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Oxford Bibliographies was named one of the Top 10 Internet Resources of 2013 by CHOICE Reviews Online

Don’t forget to use other popular Oxford resources, available from Falvey Library,  such as Oxford Islamic Studies Online, select political science Oxford handbooks and history Oxford handbooks.

Find out more about it: from Falvey subject liaison Merrill Stein.


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The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest

intencofrevandprotestThe International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest covers all aspects of resistance, rebellion and revolution over the past 500 years with over 1,500 entries ranging from 250 to 5,000 words about events, people, organizations and movements. Annual updates ensure coverage of current events. Recent updates included articles about the Tea Party and Howard Zinn.

Entries range from the Prague Spring to the Velvet Revolution, from May Day to Solidarnosc, from Utopian communities to anarchism, from Greenpeace to Earth First!, and from civil disobedience and non-violence to fascism and terrorism. While most biographies are on the shorter end of the spectrum, those about key actors and thinkers from Marx  to Lenin and Mao provide a good overview. Major revolutions are well covered and linked to numerous related entries. In the case of the French Revolution these include separate articles on the counterrevolution, radical factions and organizations, women, and historians’ interpretations. The Encyclopedia is particularly helpful in researching more unfamiliar protest movements, such as Native American protests, the Québécois independence movement or the events of the red summer of 1919.

Contents are accessible via the A-Z list as well as through keyword searching. Search results can be narrowed by subject, place, period, people and key topics. The “China” place facet narrows the keyword search for China from 191 results to 41. This approach makes it easy for students to move beyond the article on the Chinese Communist Revolution to a quick review of the history of protest movements in China.

Current events seem to be adequately covered although the Encyclopedia lacks an entry about the Arab Spring while there are entries covering al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban. In a nod to the current interest in film studies, the reader will find articles about such classics as the Battle of Algiers, Battleship Potemkin and October. References and suggested reading lists are up-to-date and a great starting point for undergraduate students. Access to the online Encyclopedia is provided through the library’s catalog.

Questions or Comments? Don’t hesitate to contact us.


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Trial Access to the Stalin Digital Archive

stalin

The Stalin Digital Archive contains 29,000 selected documents from the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI). RGASPI and Yale University Press collaborated in the selection and digitization. At the core of the digital archive are documents written by Stalin from 1889 to 1952, books from Stalin’s personal library with his marginalia and biographical materials.

Yale University Press also contributed digitized editions of its Annals of Communism series. Books in the series contain selected primary sources in the original Russian language together with English translations and editorial comments. For more information about contents, search interface and the document viewer, please consult the online Stalin Digital Archive User Guide.

Trial access to the Stalin Digital Archive will be available until March 23. We are looking forward to your feedback.

Related resources:
Print editions of the Annals of Communism series at Falvey.
The Current Digest of the Russian Press, 1949-


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The Washington Post Archive, 1877-1996

washington post logo

By Merrill Stein

We are excited to announce the addition of Washington Post Historical to our databases. This archive, from the ProQuest organization, offers full-text searching of every available issue of the Washington Post and Washington Post/Times-Herald, from 1877 to 1996 with digital page and image reproductions. The historical coverage will expand annually, by one year. To seek recent (1977-present) Washington Post articles, see the Lexis Nexis Academic database.

How did this publication begin? The name stuck. The first issue contained this letter:
“To the Editor of the Post: I am heart and soul in sympathy with your enterprise, but I am sorry that I did not see you in time, to induce you to call your paper the Washington Statesman. However, the name that you have selected is good enough for me.”

Try your own search. See if history repeats itself. The first issue included an editorial from “Mr. Hayes recent message to Congress,” in which he comments on the eight year insurrection in Cuba and calls for the United States to do something besides abstain from intervention. Or see if this Italian stargazer’s New Year’s predictions for 1960 came true.

The Washington Post Historical archive joins the previously subscribed to Historical New York Times, providing full-text coverage of the New York Times from 1851 to the early 2000’s.

As an added bonus, both databases may be searched together:

1. Click on the yellow arrow at the top left corner of the search screen in either newspaper archive:
select database

 

2. In the drop-down database menu, select both archives and click “Use selected databases” at the bottom right after making your selection.
menu

 

Questions or comments? Contact us directly (merrill.stein@villanova.edu; jutta.seibert@villanova.edu) or post your comments online.

 

A list of all library databases is available at:
http://library.villanova.edu/Research/Databases.

 


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WorldCat for Beginners: How to Search the Global Library

If I had to make a list of the five most important library research tools for historians, I would put WorldCat at the top of the list without a moment’s hesitation. While in the past, scholars were limited to local libraries, print bibliographies and the occasional visit to other libraries, today WorldCat provides them a gateway to the global print collection. WorldCat thus levels the playing field between the top-tiers research libraries and smaller libraries, such as Falvey Memorial Library. Our history students can discover and request basically all the published books on any given topic with the help of WorldCat. If they would only knew about WorldCat!

Remember the student who told you that there is nothing published about her topic? Did she know about and search WorldCat? Remember the student who told you that the library does not have any books about his topic? Did he know about interlibrary loan and how to request books from other libraries via WorldCat? The majority of history students are unfortunately not familiar with WorldCat, and the few who do know about it are often intimidated by some of its unnecessarily complicated search features.

Falvey’s 2012 Research Center Intern, Matt Ainslie, has put together a Brief Introduction to WorldCat, a short online video tutorial that will introduce your students to WorldCat. His Brief Introduction to the Chicago Manual of Style has been widely popular with our students. At last glance, it was viewed more than 1,200 times. Given the unexpected popularity of the Chicago Style tutorial, I would like to hear your ideas and suggestions for additional tutorials.


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Last Modified: February 28, 2013