The Library Café

James Mundy
James Mundy (VC'74), Anne Hendricks Bass Director of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, talks about the Exhibit "American Stories 1800-1950" on view at the Center January 29 - April 17, 2016. "The founding strength of the art museum at Vassar College in 1864 was its American paintings. That collection has grown greatly over the years with the result that a number of the works by major American painters are seldom seen. This exhibition will explore some of the American riches found in storage and will feature key works of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries housed in the Art Center's vault. Among the artists featured are John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Sanford Gifford, George Inness, William Merritt Chase, Maxfield Parrish, Arthur B. Davies, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Ben Shahn."
American History, Art Galleries, Art History, Curatorship, Elias Magoon, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Higher Education, Matthew Vassar, New Deal, Progressive Movement, Vassar College, VC, Women in Art
Jamshed Bharucha
Biopsychologist and Tufts University Provost Jamshed Bharucha talks about exciting new research on the cognitive and neural basis of music perception and what it tells us about human thought, communication and development.
Cognition, Higher Education, Interdisciplinarity, Language, Memory, Music, Natural Selection, Oral Theory, Perception
Jeffrey T. Schnapp
Harvard cultural historian and media theorist Jeffrey T. Schnapp (VC'75), Co-director of the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society and founding Faculty Director of the Harvard Graduate School of Design's knowledge design studio metaLAB, talks about his new book, co-authored with Matthew Battles, entitled The Library Beyond the Book (Harvard, 2014), as well as about the Library Test Kitchen and experiments in library interfaces for the digital age."With textbook readers and digital downloads proliferating, it is easy to imagine a time when printed books will vanish. Such forecasts miss the mark, argue Jeffrey Schnapp and Matthew Battles. Future bookshelves will not be wholly virtual, and libraries will thrive, although in a variety of new social, cultural, and architectural forms. Schnapp and Battles combine deep study of the library's history with a record of institutional and technical innovation at metaLAB, a research group at the forefront of the digital humanities. They gather these currents in The Library Beyond the Book, exploring what libraries have been in the past to speculate on what they will become: hybrid places that intermingle books and ebooks, analog and digital formats, paper and pixels."
Academic Computing, Curatorship, Design History, Digital Humanities, Graphic Design, Innovation, Interdisciplinarity, Libraries and Archives, Media Studies, Medieval Studies, Memory, Peer Review, Print Culture, VC
Jeffrey Walker
Jeffrey R. Walker, Professor of Geology at Vassar College and editor of a new edition of the naturalist John Burroughs' book Signs & Seasons, talks about Burroughs, his life and work.
Architecture, Gilded Age, John Burroughs, Nature Writing, VC, Walt Whitman
Jennifer Church
Jennifer Church, Professor of Philosophy at Vassar, talks about perception, imagination, and her book Possibilities of Perception, published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. "Possibilities of Perception is a stimulating, wide-ranging treatment of perception in its many guises that should be of interest to a commensurately wide audience." --The Review of Metaphysics
Aesthetics, Epistemology, Moral Philosophy, Perception, Phenomenology, Philosophy, VC
Jennifer Phegley
Jennifer Phegley, literary historian and professor of English at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, discusses her book: Educating the Proper Woman Reader: Victorian Family Literary Magazines and the Cultural Health of the Nation, published by the Ohio State University Press.
Advertising, American Literature, Authorship, Copyright, Feminism, Gilded Age, Literary Criticism, Media Studies, Reading Practices, Serials Publishing, Textual Communities, Women's Studies
Jerome McGann
Jerome McGann, University Professor and John Stewart Bryan Professor of English at the University of Virginia, discusses his new book, A New Republic of Letters: Memory and Scholarship in the Age of Digital Reproduction (Harvard, 2014). "A manifesto for the humanities in the digital age, A New Republic of Letters argues that the history of texts, together with the methods by which they are preserved and made available for interpretation, are the overriding subjects of humanist study in the twenty-first century. Theory and philosophy, which have grounded the humanities for decades, no longer suffice as an intellectual framework. Jerome McGann proposes we look instead to philology—a discipline which has been out of fashion for many decades but which models the concerns of digital humanities with surprising fidelity."
Academic Computing, Bibliography, Cultural Transmission, Digital Humanities, Editing, Higher Education, Humanism, James Fenimore Cooper, Literary Criticism, Literary History, Memory, Scholarly Communication
Joan M. Ferrante and Robert W. Hanning
Joan M. Ferrante and Robert W. Hanning, distinguished scholars who have long collaborated in translations and scholarship in comparative literature at Columbia University, discuss their new translation of the medieval roman d’antiquité, The Romance of Thebes (The French of England Translation Series: 11; Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2018). "The romans d’antiquité, medieval re-makings in French of the stories of Troy, Thebes, Greece, and Rome, first appeared in the reign of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in the twelfth century and continued to be read in England throughout the Middle Ages. Among them, the Romance of Thebes medievalizes the stories of Oedipus and Jocasta; Polynices and Etiocles; Antigone, Creon, and Theseus; and the Siege of Thebes. The medieval French re-working also complicates Trojan-based accounts of European identity by adding African and Muslim allies for Thebes to the narrative’s classical source in Statius’ Thebaid, thus suggesting that Europe is not forged simply in opposition to Islam. "This new translation and introduction by two distinguished scholars of comparative literature is the first in English for thirty years. It is based on the late fourteenth-century manuscript text owned by ‘battling’ Bishop Henry Despenser, notorious for his harsh suppression of the 1381 rebels in Norwich and for his failed continental crusade. The translation can be read both for itself and to facilitate study of the original poem by scholars and students of the literary culture of England and North West Europe."
Authorship, Columbia University, Cultural Transmission, Curriculum, Education, Humanities, Literary History, Manuscripts, Medieval Studies, Reading Practices, Retirement, Rhetoric, Translation, Women's Studies
Joanne Martin Lukacher
Joanne Martin Lukacher talks about her book, Imitation and Improvement: The Norfolk Sampler Tradition, published by In The Company of Friends Press, 2013. “This new volume identifies and interprets a distinctive body of samplers executed by the girls of Norfolk during a dramatic time of social and cultural change in late 18th-century Britian." Joanne Martin Lukacher is an independent scholar, curator, and historic preservationist, and an authority on historic samplers and their makers. She curated the exhibition in 2004 at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center entitled: "Thanks Be to My Friends: Selected Samplers from the Collections of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College."
Alphabet, Conservation, Education, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Genealogy, Gospel Music, History, Literacy, Needlework, Textiles, Vassar College, Women's Studies
Joel Smith
Joel Smith, Curator of Photography at the Princeton University Art Museum, discusses his exhibition Saul Steinberg: Illuminations, on View at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar, November 2, 2007 through February 24, 2008.
Art History, Artists' Books, Biography, Drawing, Exhibitions, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Journalism
Johanna Drucker
Scholar, artist, printer, and visual theorist Johanna Drucker, Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, discusses her book Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production (Harvard 2014). "Information graphics bear tell-tale signs of the disciplines in which they originated: statistics, business, and the empirical sciences. Drucker makes the case for studying visuality from a humanistic perspective, exploring how graphic languages can serve fields where qualitative judgments take priority over quantitative statements of fact. Graphesis offers a new epistemology of the ways we process information, embracing the full potential of visual forms and formats of knowledge production."
Assemblage, Bibliography, Cultural Transmission, Design History, Digital Humanities, Epistemology, Graphic Design, Humanism, Knowledge Systems, Metaphor, Rhetoric, Temporality, Visualization
John Long
John Long, Professor of Biology and Cognitive Science at Vassar College, discusses his book Darwin's Devices: What Evolving Robots Can Teach Us About the History of Life and the Future of Technology, chosen by the New Scientist as one of the top five books published in the spring of 2012. “Though [Long] is a gifted storyteller, this is no simple fish tale. The engineering draw of robots is clear, but Long also emphasises the value for science, showing how robots can serve as physical models of biological organisms; evolving biorobots can shed light on why organisms evolved as they did; and robot interaction can illustrate coevolutionary dynamics, as between predators and prey…. With Darwin’s Devices, Long reminds us that science is always an adventure, and that new technology only drives us faster and further into the unknown.” -- Josh Bongard in the New Scientist.
Artificial Intelligence, Biodiversity, Biomechanics, Cybernetics, Embodiment, Monograph Publishing, Natural Selection, Norbert Wiener, Peer Review, Posthumanism, Representation, Robots, VC
John Willinsky
Public knowledge advocate John Willinsky discusses his book The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship, winner of the American Library Association's 2006 Blackwell Scholarship Award, published by MIT Press.
Academic Freedom, Archives, Commercialism, Cultural Democracy, Education, Independent Scholarship, Open Access Movement, Professional Ethics, Public Library Movement, Scholarly Communication, Serials Publishing
Joseph A. Dane
Joseph A. Dane discusses his book, What Is a Book?: The Study of Early Printed Books, Published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2012. “Joseph A. Dane is one of our most brilliant and prolific scholars of the early book, and this volume culminates a lifetime of research. For the general reader, it will offer a compelling survey of book history and book making. For the specialist, it will offer insights into the techniques of printers and the lives of collectors. For anyone concerned with how we read the past, and for anyone fascinated by the book as typographical artifact, What Is a Book? will be deeply valued." -- Seth Lehrer, UCSD.
Bibliography, Bookbinding, Digital Libraries, Early Modern Studies, Humanism, Libraries and Archives, Literary History, Material Culture, Media Studies, Printmaking, Renaissance Studies, Typography
Joseph Bertolozzi
SEASON FINALE: Composer and sound sculptor Joseph Bertolozzi (VC '81) and photographer Franc Palaia talk about Bertolozzi's percussion compositions employing structures such as the Eiffel Tower and the Mid-Hudson Bridge as instruments. "Tower Music is a 21st-century homage to the Eiffel Tower, to the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and to Paris itself. Joseph Bertolozzi presents us with an acoustic version of a deck of old photographs, movie posters, and postcards related to Paris and the Tower. Once again, as in Bridge Music (2008), the composer uses the substance and structure of an engineering marvel to create a unique sense of place. This sound creation can only be realized through the resonances of the Eiffel Tower itself. It is intrinsically of the Eiffel Tower." -- Andrew Tomasello.
Architecture, Composition, Monumentality, Murals, Music, Performance, Photography, Scale in Art, Time in Art, VC
K. David Harrison
K. David Harrison, professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore College and Director of Research for the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, discusses his book, When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge, published by Oxford University Press.
Anthropolgy, Archaeology, Archives, Biodiversity, Cognition, Ethnography, Geography, Knowledge Systems, Language, Linguistic Diversity, Mathematics, Memorialization, Memory, Oral Theory, Perception, Sustainability
Karen Hwang & Patricia Phagan
Karen Hwang, Assistant Professor of Art at Vassar College, and Patricia Phagan, Philip and Lynn Straus Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar, will discuss the traveling exhibition currently on view at the Center through December 15, 2013 entitled "Genji's World in Japanese Woodblock Prints." "The Tale of Genji, written in the eleventh century by the Japanese court lady Murasaki Shikibu, has greatly influenced Japanese culture, from novels and kabuki performances to today’s manga and animé. That influence can be clearly seen in the works in this exhibition, which features a rich array of fifty-seven woodblock prints by many of Japan’s leading eighteenth- and nineteenth-century artists."
Art History, Asian Studies, Assemblage, Calligraphy, Edo Period, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Games, Heian Period, Japanese Art, Landscape, Printmaking, Seasons, Textiles, VC
Karen Lucic
Karen Lucic, Professor of Art at Vassar College, talks about her exhibition on view in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center May 3 - July 28, 2015, entitled "Embodying Compassion in Buddhist Art: Image, Pilgrimage, Practice." Embodying Compassion in Buddhist Art: Image, Pilgrimage and Practice is the first transcultural exhibition in America solely devoted to the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who emerged in India two thousand years ago to become a venerated deity throughout Asia. Like all bodhisattvas, this figure selflessly leads others to enlightenment, but Avalokiteshvara’s special role is to exemplify limitless compassion, a fundamental ideal in Mahayana Buddhism.
Art Galleries, Asian Art, Asian Studies, Buddhism, Curatorship, Education, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Geography, Iconography, Manuscripts, Religion, Sculpture, Transculturation, VC
Kathleen Hart
Kathleen Hart, professor of French and Chair of the Department of French and Francophone Studies at Vassar College, talks about Flora Tristan, George Sand, Louise Michel, and her book: Revolution and Women's Autobiography in Nineteenth-century France, published by Rodopi.
Allegory, Authorship, Autobiography, Collectivism, Feminism, French Revolution, History, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Katrina Disaster, Literary Criticism, Memory, Reading Practices, VC, Women's Studies
Laurence McGilvery
La Jolla Bookseller Laurence McGilvery talks about his role in one of the Twentieth Century's most important literary censorship battles, the attempt on the part of a coalition of conservative groups to censor Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, and McGilvery's own arrest and trial (People v. McGilvery, No. M-11466 San Diego Municipal Court, 1962) for selling a copy of the novel to an undercover San Diego police officer. His acquittal preceded by two years the U.S. Supreme court decision (Grove Press vs. Gerstein, 1964) that effectively put an end to the censorship of literary works on obscenity grounds. This is a Twainesque story of epic strife, rife with humor and a remarkable cast of characters. For reasons that become clear in the telling, it may also be "the most remarkable censorship case that has ever been tried," as McGilvery and his lawyer turn the courtroom into a classroom and make close readers and discerning critics of the jury.
American History, American Literature, Barney Rosset, Bookselling, Censorship, Law, Literary Criticism, Paperback Publishing
Lawrence Webster
Author Lawrence Webster discusses her book: Under the North Light: The Life and Work of Maud and Miska Petersham, published by WoodstockArts, on the influential Woodstock-based husband-wife team of children's book illustrators. “Maud, a 1912 Vassar graduate, had deep Yankee roots; Miska immigrated from Hungary in 1912 after rigorous study at the Royal National School for Applied Arts in Budapest. They met while working at a commercial design studio in New York City and married in 1917. They moved to Woodstock, New York, in 1920. “Pioneers in a golden age of children's book publishing in America, the Petershams were among a handful of people who set the direction for illustrated children's books as we know them today. They worked closely with such legendary editors as Louise Seaman Bechtel and May Massee, and with such inventive printers as Charles Stringer and William Glaser, greatly advancing the art of the illustrated children's book. Under their studio's north light they produced more than a hundred books, as illustrators or author/illustrators, during a career that spanned five decades."
Authorship, Biography, Children's Books, Color Processes, Design History, Drawing, Exhibitions, Libraries and Archives, May Massee, Vassar College, VC, Woodstock Artists Colonies
Leah Price
Leah Price, Professor of English at Harvard University and Senior Advisor in the Humanities at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, discusses her book: How To Do Things With Books in Victorian Britain, published by Princeton University Press in 2012. “Leah Price has challenged every book historian, librarian, and reader of secular or spiritual scripture to think through the object we fondle or maul and the ways in which it circulates in whole and in pieces through our home and global economies. . . . [T]here's no doubt in my mind that this is a potent intervention in the study of material culture. No one who cares about books should miss handling and reading it." -- Robert L. Patten, Review of English
Authorship, Bibliography, Bildungsroman, Bookbinding, Historicism, It-Narrative, Literacy, Literary Criticism, Material Culture, Media Studies, Posthumanism, Prisons, Reading Practices, Victorian Studies
Leah Price
Leah Price, Distinguished Professor of English at Rutgers University and Founder and Director of the Rutgers Initiative for the Book, returns to the program to talk about her book, What We Talk About When We Talk About Books (New York: Basic Books, 2019). "Price's book-unlike other examples of what she calls 'autobibliography'-is funny and hopeful, rather than dour and pious...What We Talk About When We Talk About Books is an enjoyable tour, full of surprising byways into historical arcana."―Jennifer Szalai, New York Times
Bibliography, Bookselling, Children's Books, Electronic publishing, Healing, Health, Literary Criticism, Literary History, Material Culture, Psychology, Public Library Movement, Publishing, Reading Practices
Lindsay Shepherd Cook
Lindsay Shepherd Cook (VC'10), Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Vassar College, discusses her essay "Religious Freedom and Architectural Ambition at Vassar College, 1945-1954," and Philip Johnson's unbuilt design for a modernist Vassar Chapel sited near Noyes Circle in the early 1950's.
Architecture, Archives, Chicago, Columbia University, Design History, Diversity, Health, Higher Education, Journalism, Landscape, Modernism, Religion, Vassar College, Vatican II, VC
Lisa Gitelman
Lisa Gitelman, Professor of English and of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, will discuss her book Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents (Duke University Press, 2014). "Paper Knowledge is a remarkable book about the mundane: the library card, the promissory note, the movie ticket, the PDF (Portable Document Format). It is a media history of the document. Drawing examples from the 1870s, the 1930s, the 1960s, and today, Lisa Gitelman thinks across the media that the document form has come to inhabit over the last 150 years, including letterpress printing, typing and carbon paper, mimeograph, microfilm, offset printing, photocopying, and scanning. Whether examining late nineteenth century commercial, or "job" printing, or the Xerox machine and the role of reproduction in our understanding of the document, Gitelman reveals a keen eye for vernacular uses of technology. She tells nuanced, anecdote-filled stories of the waning of old technologies and the emergence of new. Along the way, she discusses documentary matters such as the relation between twentieth-century technological innovation and the management of paper, and the interdependence of computer programming and documentation. Paper Knowledge is destined to set a new agenda for media studies."
Archives, Bibliography, Copyright, Cultural Democracy, Epistemology, Material Culture, Media Studies, Print Culture, Robert C. Binkley, Scholarly Communication, Surveillance, Technology, Vietnam War
Lisa Kaborycha
Lisa Kaborycha, Director of Academic Affairs at the Medici Archive Project and Professor of History at the University of California EAP in Florence, talks about the project and its extraordinary educational and research programs. This December the Medici Archive Project will launch its BIA digital interactive platform on the Web, which will eventually provide digital access to between three and four million letters and other documents in the archives of the Medici Granducal Collection, and promises to revolutionize research in early modern studies across the disciplines.
Archival Studies, Archives, Digital Humanities, Digital Libraries, Early Modern Studies, Historiography, History, Humanism, Interdisciplinarity, Manuscripts, Paleography, Renaissance Studies, Research Institutes
Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert
Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Professor of Hispanic Studies at Vassar College, talks about the book she co-authored with Margarite Fernandez Olmos entitled: Creole Religions of the Caribbean: An Introduction from Vodou and Santería to Obeah and Espiritismo, in a two-part interview to be aired May 22nd and May 29th.
Africa, Colonialism, Creolization, Cuban Revolution, Espiritismo, Hatian Revolution, Healing, Knowledge Systems, Obeah, Religion, Santería, Slavery, Transculturation, VC, Vodou
Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert
Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Professor of Hispanic Studies at Vassar College, talks about the book she co-authored with Margarite Fernandez Olmos entitled: Creole Religions of the Caribbean: An Introduction from Vodou and Santería to Obeah and Espiritismo, in a two-part interview to be aired May 22nd and May 29th.
Africa, Colonialism, Creolization, Cuban Revolution, Espiritismo, Hatian Revolution, Healing, Knowledge Systems, Obeah, Religion, Santería, Slavery, Transculturation, VC, Vodou
Louis Rose
Louis Rose, Executive Director of the Sigmund Freud Archive at the Library of Congress and Professor of History in the Departments of History and Political Science at Otterbein University talks about his new book, Psychology, Art, and Antifascism: Ernst Kris, E. H. Gombrich,, and the Politics of Caricature (Yale 2016), as well as the Sigmund Freud Papers and their newly announced digital archive. “In 1934, Viennese art historian and psychoanalyst Ernst Kris invited his mentee E. H. Gombrich to collaborate on a project that had implications for psychology and neuroscience, and foreshadowed their contributions to the Allied war effort. Their subject: caricature and its use and abuse in propaganda. Their collaboration was a seminal early effort to integrate science, the humanities, and political awareness. In this fascinating biographical and intellectual study, Louis Rose explores the content of Kris and Gombrich’s project and its legacy."
Aby Warburg, Archives, Art History, Biography, Caricature, Digital Libraries, Library of Congress, Psychology, Science and Art, Sigmund Freud, Totalitarianism, WWII
Lydia Murdoch
Lydia Murdoch (VC'92), Associate Professor of History at Vassar College, talks about her book Daily Life of Victorian Women (Greenwood, 2014). "Contrary to popular misconception, many Victorian women performed manual labor for wages directly alongside men, had political voice before women's suffrage, and otherwise contributed significantly to society outside of the domestic sphere. Daily Life of Victorian Women documents the varied realities of the lives of Victorian women; provides in-depth comparative analysis of the experiences of women from all classes, especially the working class; and addresses changes in their lives and society over time. The book covers key social, intellectual, and geographical aspects of women's lives, with main chapters on gender and ideals of womanhood, the state, religion, home and family, the body, childhood and youth, paid labor and professional work, urban life, and imperialism."
Education, Exhibitions, Healing, Historiography, History, Labor Movement, Libraries and Archives, Progressive Movement, Suffrage Movement, Urban Studies, VC, Victorian Studies, Women's Studies
Marc Michael Epstein
Mark Michael Epstein, Professor of Religion on the Mackie Paschall Davis & Norman H. Davis Chair at Vassar College, discusses his new book, co-edited with Eva Frojmovic: Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts (Princeton University Press, 2015). “The gorgeously illustrated volume ... should challenge almost all assumptions about Jewish identity, difference, or art. Its twelve instructive chapters and 287 full-color images survey a stunning array of illustrated books made for Jews from the twelfth to the twenty-first centuries." -- Sara Lipton, New York Review of Books
Art History, Calligraphy, Color Processes, Iconography, Jewish Studies, Manuscripts, Medieval Studies, Meyer Shapiro, Paleography, Religion, Transculturation, VC
Marc Michael Epstein
Marc Michael Epstein, Professor of Religion at Vassar College, talks about his book: The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative, and Religious Imagination, published by Yale University Press and listed by the Times Literary Supplement as one of the best books of 2011. “A dazzling analysis. . . . The Medieval Haggadah shows with remarkable sophistication and an acute visual sense how those who commissioned, produced the blueprint for, and illuminated four medieval haggadot, or books for use at the Passover ceremony, did much more than illustrate the story of the Exodus, creating, rather, complex statements about the role and place of Jews in the society of the time, as well as producing remarkable works of art."— Gabriel Josipovici, The Times Literary Supplement (Books of the Year)
Allegory, Authorship, Cultural Transmission, Historiography, Jewish Studies, Libraries and Archives, Manuscripts, Medieval Studies, Memory, New Medievalism, Patronage, Reading Practices, VC
Mardges Bacon
Mardges Bacon, Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Art and Architecture Emerita, Northeastern University, discusses her book John McAndrew's Modernist Vision: From the Vassar College Art Library to the Museum of Modern Art in New York (Princeton Architectural Press, 2018). "With the recent restoration of his boldly colorful modernist design for Vassar College's art library, John McAndrew has been revealed not only as a curator, historian, and teacher but as an adventurous designer and historical figure in his own right. Mardges Bacon's engaging study allows McAndrew to emerge more fully; he can now be seen as a key voice in dialogue with the changing valences of architectural modernism in the United States in the interwar period." - Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History, Columbia University. Photographs of Andrew Tallon's series in the book of the Art Library can be found in this blog post for the exhibit Back To the Future: Andrew Tallon's Vision.
Architecture, Art Galleries, Art History, Avant-garde, Color Processes, Curatorship, Harvard University, Innovation, Latin America, Libraries, Modernism, Vassar College, Venice
Maria Höhn
Maria Höhn, Professor of History and International Studies on the Marion Musser Lloyd Chair at Vassar College, talks about her most recent book, co-authored with Martin Klimke, entitled: A Breath of Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany, published by Palgrave in 2010. "Depicting the African American GI as the unheralded keystone of the civil rights movement in America during the post-WWII era, this book exhilaratingly exposes the two-facedness of America denazifying Germany while practicing Jim Crow segregation in its own military. With a thorough analysis of the African American press’s role in disclosing this hypocrisy, it reveals the many ways in which subsequent civil rights leaders owe their success to the groundwork laid by African American GIs. Together, they forged the space to launch a civil rights revolution in America." -- Calvin Robinson, President, NAACP
African-American Studies, American History, Archives, Civil Rights Struggle, Cold War, Historiography, Oral History, Reconstruction, VC, Vietnam War, W.E.B. DuBois, WWI, WWII
Mark C. Amodio
Mark Amodio, Professor of English at Vassar College, talks about his book: Writing the Oral Tradition: Poetics and Literate Culture in Medieval England, published by the University of Notre Dame Press. Hailed as "a major revision of oral theory" and "destined to reshape critical thinking about medieval poetry in English," Writing the Oral Tradition was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2005.
Authorship, Cultural Transmission, Knowledge Systems, Language, Literacy, Medieval Studies, Memory, Oral Theory, Orthography, Paleography, Scholarly Communication, Textual Communities, Translation, VC
Martha C. Nussbaum
Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, discusses her book Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice, just published by Oxford University Press. "Written with her usual mix of grace, precision, passion, and breathtaking scope, Nussbaum probes two seemingly polar emotions underlying our notions of justice-anger and forgiveness. She finds them part of the same vindictive drama, and each problematic. Her call is to move beyond them to become 'strange sorts of people, part Stoic and part creatures of love.' The book offers an important and timely challenge, a most worthwhile and enlightening read for those interested in philosophy, psychology, law, politics, religion-or simply living in today's world." -- C. Daniel Batson, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Kansas
Aristotle, Civil Rights Struggle, Classical Studies, Crime and Punishment, Gender, Interdisciplinarity, Justice, Law, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Pscyhology
Mary-Kay Lombino
Mary Kay Lombino, Emily Hargroves Fisher 1957 and Richard B. Fisher Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, discusses the exhibition on view April 10 - June 14, 2015 entitled Through the Looking Glass: Daguerreotype Masterworks from the Dawn of Photography.
Antiquarianism, Color Processes, Cultural Transmission, Curatorship, Democracy, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, History, Innovation, Memory, Photography, Science and Art, Technology, Time in Art, Visualization
Mary-Kay Lombino
Mary-Kay Lombino, Emily Hargroves Fisher 1957 and Richard B. Fisher Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, discusses the exhibition on view January 29 - April 15, 2018: "People Are Beautiful, Photographs, Prints, and Films by Andy Warhol." People are Beautiful explores shifting notions of beauty in Warhol’s portraits, with a focus on such themes as Celebrity and Stardom; The Artist–Patron Relationship; Fashion, Models, and the Party Scene; and The “Most Beautiful” Screen Tests. The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is part of a consortium of five academic museums in the Hudson Valley each hosting thematic exhibitions of Warhol’s art in 2018. The group of exhibitions, collectively titled Warhol x 5, will feature works lent from the collections of the participating institutions.
Advertising, Aesthetics, Archives, Art History, Avant-garde, Charisma, Commercialism, Cosmetics, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Gender, Iconography, Mass Media, Photography, Printmaking, Religion, Time in Art
Mary-Kay Lombino
Mary-Kay Lombino, Emily Hargroves Fisher 1957 and Richard B. Fisher Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, discusses the exhibition on view April 29 - August 21, 2016: "Touch the Sky: Art and Astronomy." Astronomy can be traced back to antiquity with its origins in religious and mythological beliefs; its study has been closely linked to artistic endeavors since the Renaissance. Touch the Sky is a multi-media exhibition of images of the moon, sun, planets, and stars made by artists since the nineteenth century. Artistic observation of the skies was advanced by the dawn of photography in 1839, when Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre attempted to capture an image of the moon, and in 1865 when Lewis Rutherfurd, inventor of the first telescope designed for astrophotography, made top-quality spectroscopic images of the moon. Since then, artists’ enthusiasm for recording and interpreting the grandeur and mystery of the cosmos has not waned. The exhibition includes work by nineteen artists, including Vija Celmins, Chris McCaw, Sharon Harper, David Malin, Mungo Thomson, Lisa Oppenheim, and Nancy Graves.
Artists' Books, Astronomy, Cosmography, Curatorship, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, NASA, Photography, Science and Art, Technology, Visualization
Mary-Kay Lombino
Mary Kay Lombino, Emily Hargroves Fisher 1957 and Richard B. Fisher Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, discusses the exhibition on view January 30 - March 29, 2015 entitled: XL: Large-Scale Works from the Permanent Collection.
Abstract Expressionism, Art Galleries, Avant-garde, Curatorship, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Monumentality, Painting, Representation, Scale in Art, Women in Art
Mary-Kay Lombino
Mary Kay Lombino, Emily Hargroves Fisher 1957 and Richard B. Fisher Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, discusses the exhibition on view at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center September 25 - December 13, 2015 entitled “Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument." “Gordon Parks was one of America’s most significant social photographers, filmmakers, and writers of the twentieth century, and the first African-American photographer to work for Life magazine. In 1948, he began a professional relationship with Life that would last twenty-two years when he proposed a series of pictures about the gang wars that were then plaguing Harlem. Parks gained the trust of one group of gang members and their leader Red Jackson, producing photographs of them that are artful, emotive, poignant, and sometimes shocking. From this larger body of work, twenty-one pictures were selected for a photo essay in Life. The exhibition comprises forty-five prints alongside contact sheets, issues of the original publication, and related ephemera that both contextualize the images chosen for the story and suggest the ways in which the editorial process shapes the narrative arc."
African-American Studies, Archives, Autobiography, Civil Rights Struggle, Curatorship, Editing, Exhibitions, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Journalism, Media Studies, Photography
Mary-Kay Lombino
Mary-Kay Lombino, Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, talks about her exhibition Freehand: Drawings by Inez Nathaniel-Walker, on view February 1 - April 14 at the Center. Inez Nathaniel-Walker (1907–1990) made her first works of art while she was serving a sentence at a maximum-security prison for killing a man by whom she had been abused. While in prison she began to draw, creating remarkable portraits of her fellow inmates whom she called “bad girls.” Her richly patterned works combine meticulous detail and playful simplicity, forming expressive depictions of her subjects’ personalities and physical attributes. Freehand is Walker’s first one-person museum exhibition. The exhibition is supported by the Friends of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Exhibition Fund and organized with the cooperation of the American Folk Art Museum, New York.
African-American Studies, Art Galleries, Art History, Biography, Collection Development, Composition, Curatorship, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Prisons, Textiles, Women in Art
Mary-Kay Lombino
Mary-Kay Lombino, Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar, discusses her exhibition Shape of Light: Defining Photographs from the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, on view through December 15, 2019. Shape of Light: Defining Photographs from the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center presents a survey of Vassar’s renowned collection of close to 4,500 photographs. Spanning the history of the medium, the exhibition features numerous innovations in the history of photography including various types of photographic practices from daguerreotypes and gelatin silver prints to large-scale Polaroids and digital color prints as well as a wide range of styles and geographic focuses. This extensive exhibition, the first of its kind at the Art Center, aims to highlight the Art Center’s long interest and dedication to the photographic medium and present the unique character, depth, and diversity of the collection. Shape of Light also celebrates twenty years of commitment from the Advisory Council for Photography for supporting photography acquisitions.
Art History, Avant-garde, Collection Development, Curatorship, Curriculum, Diversity, Exhibitions, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Historicism, Innovation, Landscape, Photography, Vassar College, VC
Mary-Kay Lombino
Mary-Kay Lombino, Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, talks about the exhibition: "The Polaroid Years: Instant Photography and Experimentation," on view in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center April 12 through June 30, 2013. “Filled with images from a trove of artists from Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol, this is the first volume to explore the Polaroid camera’s indelible influence on the history of photography."
Advertising, Cultural Transmission, Edwin Land, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Memory, Modernism, Photography, Technology, Time in Art
Mary-Kay Lombino
Mary-Kay Lombino, Curator of Collections at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, talks about the exhibition: Off the Shelf: New Forms in Contemporary Artists' Books (October 6-December 17, 2006)
Artists' Books, Exhibitions, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
Matthew Israel
Matthew Israel (VC'00), Director of the Art Genome Project, talks about the Project, Artsy, and taxonomies of the history of art. "The Art Genome Project's search technology is the product of an ongoing art-historical study—undertaken by a team of contributors with art-historical backgrounds—seeking to define the characteristics which distinguish and connect works of art, architecture, ancient artifacts and design."
Art Galleries, Art History, Classification, Curatorship, Education, Exhibitions, Iconography, Lexicography, Representation, VC
Maureen Millea Smith
Minnesota writer and librarian Maureen Millea Smith, talks about her book of short stories, The Enigma of Iris Murphy (Livingson, 2016). “Astonishing and original, these stories draw us into the singular world of Omaha public defender Iris Murphy and the interconnected relationships she shares with family, lovers and friends. Characters from all phases of her life serve as disparate lenses through which Iris and her fearless, compassionate vision is revealed. Iris is a force of love and sacrifice, guiding those around her to transform and redeem their lives. Maureen Millea Smith gives us an unforgettable character who forever changes her corner of the world." -- Marianne Herrman, Signaling for Rescue. “In her collection of linked stories, The Enigma of Iris Murphy, winner of the Tartt First Fiction Award, Edina author Maureen Millea Smith unpacks the enigma that is Iris by delving into the lives and the psyches of her friends, family members and lovers. The title story, for example, introduces us to Iris's confidant Paul Simmons, a gay recovering alcoholic ‘shoved out of the closet' by his ex-wife, newly in love with a man from his investment club. 'Life would have been far easier for him if he had married and divorced Iris Murphy,' he reflects over dinner, although he is not blind to her more irritating qualities. (‘It is the Irish in Iris that tends to make her a good girl martyr,' he observes, both annoyed and impressed.)" -- Rachel Sugar, Minneapolis Star Tribune
American Literature, Authorship, Composition, Fiction, Law, Libraries, Native America, Prisons
Maxine McClintock
For our last discussion of the season in our series on the value of liberal arts education in contemporary society, historian Maxine McClintock, emeritus teacher at Trinity School in New York, talks about her book Letters of Recommendation (Collaboratory for Liberal Learning, 2014) and the role of the liberal arts in secondary education. "This is a remarkable and rewarding book. In the best tradition of John Dewey's vision of education as a journey that makes for more fully formed, flourishing human beings as well as a more informed citizenry, Maxine McClintock has constructed an intricate and compelling account not just of the fictional student Emilia's winding "senior year odyssey" toward college (and beyond) but also of the mentor-mentee educative process by which both share insights, learn, and develop through intellectual exchanges. The erudition here is striking and subtle. William James, Randolph Bourne, Dewey, Thomas Jefferson, and scores of other major thinkers appear and serve to propel the narrative as well as the analysis, provoking much bigger questions and concerns than simply: where should Emilia go to school? This is a book that interrogates the proper and best role of intellectuals and educators in society. It ponders the city "as educator." It critiques and embraces the drawbacks as well as the opportunities provided by Emilia's elite private school. It investigates the history of ideas and the "purposes of a liberal arts education" in a democracy. And it challenges readers to consider how self-awareness is and might be enabled via education as the book probes how and why this is not happening more in the U.S. At the core of this book, then, lies the so-called "education crisis" and the "crisis of the humanities" as integral to the "dysfunctional meritocracy" endemic to the contemporary educational landscape." -- Christopher M. Nichols.
Adolescence, Commercialism, Education, Eleanor Roosevelt, Higher Education, Instrumentalism, Interdisciplinarity, Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Dewey, Liberal Arts, Philosophy, Reading, Urban Studies, William James
Meg Stewart
Meg E. Stewart, Academic Computing Consultant for Geographical Information Systems at Vassar College, talks about the use of GIS applications inside and outside of the classroom.
Geography, Global Information Systems, Google Maps, Libraries and Archives, Spatial Literacy
Meredith J. Gill
Meredith J. Gill, Professor of 15th and 16th Century Italian Art at the University of Maryland, talks about her latest book Angels and the Order of Heaven in Medieval and Renaissance Italy (Cambridge, 2014). "In this beautifully written and deeply thoughtful book, Meredith Gill, one of the best scholars working in the field of medieval and Renaissance art history, tackles a highly compelling subject that has been “hidden in plain sight.” It considers the difference between medieval and Renaissance angelology, offering close readings of angels in the literary tradition and the visual arts (such as Guariento, Melozzo da Forlì, Raphael, and Rosso). It explores angels’ relationship to the immaterial, as graceful bodies imbued with aria, and their meaning in the history of devotion and philosophy. Gill’s writing style is in harmony with her topic, and her deeply engaging prose never fails to transport the reader into its beauty and mystery. Drawing upon earlier excellent work on St Augustine, Gill’s extensive but lightly worn knowledge of Christian thought—a rare achievement amongst art historians today—lays the foundation for every chapter. The book is an essential read not only for art historians, but for anyone with an interest in medieval and Renaissance Christianity." --Kathleen Christian, The Open University
Allegory, Angels, Art History, Medieval Studies, Philosophy, Religion, Renaissance Studies, Theology, VC

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