The Library Café

Stella Beratlis
Stella Beratlis, Modesto California's Poet Laureate and managing librarian at Tracy Library of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library, talks about poetry and librarianship, and reads from and discusses her new book of poems Alkalai Sink, (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2015).
Architecture, Authorship, Composition, Democracy, Diversity, Landscape, Language, Libraries, Memory, Philosophy, Poetry, Solidarity, Translation
Stephen F. Eisenman
Stephen F. Eisenman, Professor of Art History at Northwestern University, discusses our relationship with other species and his book, Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights (Reaktion, 2013). "Stephen F. Eisenman shows how artists from William Hogarth to Pablo Picasso and Sue Coe have represented the suffering, chastisement, and execution of animals. These artists, he demonstrates, illustrate the lessons of Montaigne, Rousseau, Darwin, Freud, and others—that humans and animals share an evolutionary heritage of sentience, intelligence, and empathy, and thus animals deserve equal access to the domain of moral right."
Animal Rights, Art History, Early Modern Studies, French Revolution, Humanism, Iconography, Ideology, Law, Perception, Torture
Susan Bielstein
Susan M. Bielstein, Executive Editor for Art, Architecture, Classical Studies and Film at the University of Chicago Press, talks about her book: Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk About Art as Intellectual Property.
Art History, Copyright, Libraries and Archives, Monograph Publishing, Public Domain, Scholarly Communication, University Presses
Susan Hassler
Susan Hassler (VC '76), Editor-in-Chief of the journal of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), IEEE Spectrum, talks about STEM, publishing, higher education, and trends in technology in this installment of our series on the value of liberal arts education in contemporary society. She has been included in “Folio 40: The Most Influential People in the Magazine Industry” and was inducted into min magazine’s Editorial and Design Hall of Fame in 2011. IEEE Spectrum is the flagship magazine and website of the IEEE, the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and the applied sciences. Its charter is to keep over 400,000 members informed about major trends and developments in technology, engineering, and science. Under Susan Hassler's editorship, Spectrum has won numerous awards for both its print and online efforts, including three Grand Neal Awards and a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in the Thought Leader category.
Artificial Intelligence, Biomechanics, Computation, Curriculum, Ethics, Higher Education, Innovation, Interdisciplinarity, Journalism, Liberal Arts, Research Institutes, Science, Serials Publishing, Technology, VC
Thomas Edward Hill
In this installment of our series on the value of the liberal arts in contemporary society, Milly Budny (VC'71), Founding Director of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, turns the table to interview Library Cafe host and Vassar College Art Librarian Thomas Hill about the Library Cafe, his career as a librarian at Yale University and Vassar College, and his background and views on subjects that include the connection between education and friendship, and how library education and practice might be better integrated into academic research and culture. Part 2.
Art History, Artists' Books, Bibliography, Charisma, Children's Books, Collection Development, Digital Humanities, Education, Liberal Arts, Libraries, Lucy Maynard Salmon, Matthew Vassar, Medieval Studies, VC
Thomas Edward Hill
In this installment of our series on the value of the liberal arts in contemporary society, Milly Budny (VC'71), Founding Director of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, turns the table to interview Library Cafe host and Vassar College Art Librarian Thomas Hill about the Library Cafe, his career as a librarian at Yale University and Vassar College, and his background and views on subjects that include the connection between education and friendship, and how library education and practice might be better integrated into academic research and culture.
Art History, Artists' Books, Bibliography, Charisma, Children's Books, Collection Development, Digital Humanities, Education, Liberal Arts, Libraries, Lucy Maynard Salmon, Matthew Vassar, Medieval Studies, VC
Thomas Warger
Thomas A. Warger, lead author of the Edutech Report, former CIO (Bryn Mawr), and a leading consultant in academic information systems, talks about the changing landscape of technology-enhanced learning at American liberal arts colleges, and the path toward developing more innovative and effective learning and research environments.
Academic Computing, Chief Information Officers, Higher Education, Innovation, Institutional Analytics, Interdisciplinarity, MOOCs, Peer Review, Technology
Tobias Armborst
Tobias Armborst, Professor of Art and Urban Studies at Vassar College and Principal Architect of the award winning design and planning firm Interboro Partners, discusses his book The Arsenal of Exclusion and Inclusion (Actar 2017). "The Arsenal comes at a critical time when interest in the urban realm has moved beyond the innocence of tactical urbanism, with its ubiquitous vocabulary of parklets and bike lanes, and now includes protest movements to fight the perceived agents of gentrification.... The text ultimately embraces history over how-to. The Arsenal, then, could be thought of as an urbanist’s I Ching, but rather than divining the future, each entry tells us about where we have been and where we are right now." --Metropolis Magazine
American History, Architecture, Civil Rights Struggle, Collectivism, Curatorship, Democracy, Design History, Illustration, Maps, Planning, Sociology, Urban Studies, VC
Tobias Armborst
Tobias Armborst, Associate Professor of Art and Urban Studies at Vassar College and principal of the award-winning architecture and urban planning firm Interboro Partners, talks about design thinking and the liberal arts, urban planning, and Interboro's project to reform areas of the Long Island shoreline to protect communities from rising sea levels and future hurricanes.
AIA, Architecture, Design History, Drawing, Higher Education, Innovation, Liberal Arts, Public Domain, Spatial Literacy, Urban Studies, VC, Visualization
Wendy N. E. Ikemoto
Wendy N. E. Ikemoto, Associate Curator of American Art at the New York Historical Society and former Vassar professor, talks about her new book Antebellum American Pendant Paintings: New Ways of Looking (Routledge, 2017). Antebellum American Pendant Paintings: New Ways of Looking marks the first sustained study of pendant paintings: discrete images designed as a pair. It opens with a broad overview that anchors the form in the medieval diptych, religious history, and aesthetic theory and explores its cultural and historical resonance in the 19th-century United States. Three case studies examine how antebellum American artists used the pendant format in ways revelatory of their historical moment and the aesthetic and cultural developments in which they partook. The case studies on John Quidor’s Rip Van Winkle and His Companions at the Inn Door of Nicholas Vedder (1839) and The Return of Rip Van Winkle (1849) and Thomas Cole’s Departure and Return (1837) shed new light on canonical antebellum American artists and their practices. The chapter on Titian Ramsay Peale’s Kilauea by Day and Kilauea by Night (1842) presents new material that pushes the geographical boundaries of American art studies toward the Pacific Rim. The book contributes to American art history the study of a characteristic but as yet overlooked format and models for the discipline a new and productive framework of analysis focused on the fundamental yet complex way images work back and forth with one another.
Allegory, American History, American Literature, Art History, Foundation Literature, George Washington, Historiography, History, Hudson River School, Revolution, Science and Art, Thomas Cole, Time in Art, VC
Werner Pfeiffer
Artist Werner Pfeiffer talks about the exhibition of his work on view in the Thompson Library, Van Ingen Art Library, and Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College through December 14 entitled: “Reexamining Books: Book Objects and Artist Books by Werner Pfeiffer."
Alphabet, Artists' Books, Autobiography, Censorship, Drawing, Exhibitions, Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Libraries and Archives, Marshall McLuhan, Printmaking, Sculpture, Typography, World Trade Center, WWII
William Noel
William Noel, Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at the Walters Art Museum, talks about the book he co-authored with Reviel Netz entitled: The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book is Revealing the true Genius of Antiquity's Greatest Scientist, and his ten-year project to uncover one of the most important documents in the history of science, the Archimedes Palimpsest.
Antiquities, Classical Studies, Cultural Transmission, Higher Education, History, Interdisciplinarity, Libraries and Archives, Mathematics, Memory, Paleography, Scholarly Communication
Wolfgang Ernst
Wolfgang Ernst, Chair of Media Theories at Humboldt University, Berlin, talks about media archaeology and his book Digital Memory and the Archive, published last year by the University of Minnesota Press. "Digital Memory and the Archive offers the most compelling and insightful account published to date of how and why objects matter. Moving beyond textual analysis, its careful, theoretically rigorous engagement with the relic—the physicality of the archive—promises to change the direction of the digital humanities. Thanks to this book, we will all now be addressing the microtemporality of archives and the mechanics of remaining. Finally, a definitive collection in English of one of the most brilliant and influential media archaeologists." -- Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
Archives, Curatorship, Embodiment, Friedrich Kittler, Historiography, Knowledge Systems, Material Culture, Media Studies, Memory, Posthumanism, Radio, Technology, Temporality
Yvonne Elet
Yvonne Elet, Associate Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Vassar College, discusses her article, co-authored with Virginia Duncan for Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes (39:2, 2019) entitled: "Beatrix Farrand and campus landscape at Vassar: pedagogy and practice, 1925-29." Farrand, one of the great landscape architects of the 20th century and a path-breaking woman in the field, came to Vassar as Consulting Landscape Gardener in 1925. She is well known for her institutional designs (unusual for a woman at the time), notably at Princeton and Yale; Vassar was her one opportunity to work at a womens’ college. Farrand came to campus at a significant moment when the Chair of Botany and pioneering ecologist Edith Roberts was fostering progressive programs in native plant ecology and landscape architecture – efforts that reformed young women’s training and career prospects, and made Vassar an early center for women and landscape. Yvonne Elet discusses the challenges these women faced, and traces Farrand’s design projects, from the forecourt of Main Building to the so-called Euthenics quad around Blodgett Hall. Most significantly, Farrand established an arboretum, conceiving it to comprise the entire campus: she mixed formal and informal design elements, and native and foreign species, to create a beautiful setting that would serve the instructional needs of students and faculty –a notion that has come to be central to Vassar’s identity.
Architecture, Archives, Art History, Design History, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Higher Education, Landscape, Lucy Maynard Salmon, Matthew Vassar, Science and Art, Vassar College, VC, Women in Art
Yvonne Elet
Yvonne Elet, Associate Professor of Art at Vassar College, talks about Raphael as an architect and her book Architectural Invention in Renaissance Rome: Artists, Humanists, and the Planning of Raphael's Villa Madama. "Villa Madama, Raphael's late masterwork of architecture, landscape, and decoration for the Medici popes, is a paradigm of the Renaissance villa. The creation of this important, unfinished complex provides a remarkable case study for the nature of architectural invention. Drawing on little known poetry describing the villa while it was on the drawing board, as well as ground plans, letters, and antiquities once installed there, Yvonne Elet reveals the design process to have been a dynamic, collaborative effort involving humanists as well as architects. She explores design as a self-reflexive process, and the dialectic of text and architectural form, illuminating the relation of word and image in Renaissance architectural practice. Her revisionist account of architectural design as a process engaging different systems of knowledge, visual and verbal, has important implications for the relation of architecture and language, meaning in architecture, and the translation of idea into form."
Architecture, Art History, Design History, Drawing, Genealogy, Interdisciplinarity, Landscape, Murals, Mythography, Painting, Poetry, Renaissance Studies, Sculpture, VC

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