Guest post by Meg Brown, Head, Exhibition Services and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Exhibits Librarian
A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of spending a magical evening with Jerry and Bruce Chappell, the namesakes of the Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery near the main entrance of Perkins Library on Duke’s West Campus.
Jerry and Bruce were members of our Library Advisory Board for 12 years. They are generous supporters of the Libraries’ exhibition program, and they have always been very kind to me personally. Sadly, Jerry passed away a few days after our visit, on November 6, 2023, and I’m so grateful to have had such a wonderful evening with an amazing, warm, loving woman.
I was there with Susan Berndt of Duke Alumni Engagement and Development. It was a beautiful night, and Jerry took us through her garden and shared stories of special people who taught her about plants. She spoke with gratitude of the time she spent with her mother in the yard. She asked me about my mother, and she listened with interest. She toured us through her book-filled home, including a room with an extensive genealogy collection. She spoke about researching her family history and how it was all intertwined with her studies years ago at Duke, and how she never lost her love of learning. She worried aloud about new generations of people who don’t appreciate books, and we commiserated about a future full of digital history. But together we tried to look on the bright side of all of the opportunities for research this might bring.
We all sat down and talked about the library, and about the future of the library exhibition program. Bruce and Jerry told us stories about what Duke had meant to them. They explained that it was fun, it was extraordinary, it was hard work, and it was family. One of Jerry’s favorite professors was Dr. Robert Durden, a professor of history and author of several books about the history of this institution. It turned out that Durden’s mother was also Jerry’s housemother when she was a Duke undergraduate in the Woman’s College. She spoke of how important those relationships were, and how she always felt welcome there. She spoke of Duke even today as an extension of her family, her sorority sisters, her classmates, her teachers, the new students and alumni she meets all around the world.
That night, Jerry treated me like family. She asked me about my work, my kids, my passions. She hugged me when I left and she thanked me. She held my hand and I felt appreciated, like she wanted to make sure I knew I was doing good work. All that the Chappells asked of me that night was that I make the library a place where people feel inspired—and in Jerry’s honor, I hope I am able to always fulfill that request.
The next time you visit Perkins Library, I hope you will look up and see the Chappells’ name on the gallery near the main entrance. And I hope the exhibitions there will inspire you to feel that Duke is still a welcoming place.
On April 12, the Duke community will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Grateful Dead concert at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Widely regarded as a top show that year, the band delivered smoking renditions of “Jack Straw,” “Bertha,” “Good Lovin’,” and “Eyes of the World,” as you can hear for yourself in the video above.
To commemorate this historic show, join us for a special panel discussion, selections from the remastered video recording, live music, and refreshments on Wednesday, April 12, at 6:00 p.m. in the Ruby Lounge of the Rubenstein Arts Center.
A panel of Dead experts will share their interpretations of the show, including Professor Eric Mlyn; show volunteer and former Duke University Union coordinator Peter Coyle; and John Brackett, author of the forthcoming book Live Dead: The Grateful Dead, Live Recordings and the Ideology of Liveness, coming out next fall from Duke University Press. The book will be the first in a new Duke University Press series, Studies in the Grateful Dead, in the fall of 2023.
Bridget Booher, Director of Duke WIN, will moderate the panel. Footage featuring selected songs from the concert will be screened. After the program, local Dead cover band The Loose Lucies will perform for an hour. Refreshments will be served.
Professor Mlyn teaches a first-year seminar about the Grateful Dead. His students researched the band’s performances at Duke from 1971 to 1982 and curated an exhibit in Perkins Library. According to Mlyn, “4/12/78 was a raucous and animated performance and has been widely recognized by Deadheads as one of the best shows that year. The band was preparing for a trip to Egypt and it was the last full year of shows for keyboardist Keith Godchaux and his wife Donna whose unforgettable vocals punctuated shows during that era.”
A new exhibit in the IAS Office Exhibit Space, located on the second floor of Bostock library, showcases recent acquisitions on East Asia. New Chinese-language arrivals provide a glimpse of perspectives surrounding female agency and subjectivity during major political shifts in contemporary Chinese history. New Korean-language publications (including graphic novels) focus on important historical issues and events, such as the experience and testimony of Korean women during periods of Japan’s colonial occupation, and contemporary social and political movements in 20th-century Korea. Finally, our existing holdings in Japanese have been enhanced by a major gift of volumes focused on Japanese religion, which provides new research avenues for scholars of East Asian Buddhism.
Chinese Women’s Liberation Luo Zhou, Librarian for Chinese Studies
Duke University Libraries has expanded its collection with over 200 titles, primarily published during the 1950s and 1960s in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). These titles consist of original booklets and pamphlets that focus on women’s liberation and the promotion of the new Marriage Law, which was issued by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1950, only one year after the establishment of the PRC. The Marriage Law, which was the first fundamental law of the PRC, sought to provide a legal foundation for Chinese women to combat oppressive practices such as polygamy, widow chastity, child brides, and bride-wealth. The 1950 law was a significant legislative accomplishment for the CCP in terms of women’s liberation. The promotion of the new law was a nationwide effort, with numerous illustrated publications intended for women, 90% of whom were illiterate in the early 1950s. Concurrently, publications were issued to promote a new image of women as citizens capable of doing the same job, and seeking the same rights, as men. “Holding Up Half the Sky,” a slogan first introduced in the People’s Daily in the mid-1950s, best encapsulates the CCP’s goal of achieving two main social objectives: nurturing women’s individuality and their social productivity.
20th-Century Korean History Miree Ku, Librarian for Korean Studies
Duke’s Korean collection recently added new graphic novels (Korean manhwa), monographs, and biographies about important historical issues and events in 20th-century Korean history such as “comfort women, “the Korean War, and civil rights and pro-democracy movements.
Between 1932 and 1945, women from Japanese-occupied areas in Korea, China, and the Philippines were coerced or tricked into joining private military brothels. In some cases, women were kidnapped from their homes. Many of the new additions to Duke’s Korean collection focus on direct attestations of women, including oral interviews and letters, which provide a grim picture of violence against women during this period of Japanese colonial expansion. By preserving the physical record of East Asian female subjectivity, such accounts help researchers to understand not only the range of women’s experiences in colonial contexts, but also how direct testimony remains a valuable source of our historical knowledge. Additionally, the Libraries acquired several works covering contemporary democratic movements in Korea, especially the Gwangju Uprising (1980), which was a period of armed conflict between local citizens and South Korean military. Likewise, there are also new works on the June Democratic Struggle, which was a nationwide pro-democracy movement in South Korea that generated mass protests in the summer of 1987.
Japanese Buddhism Matthew Hayes, Librarian for Japanese studies & Asian American studies
Finally, as part of a large-scale gift generously donated by Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Studies Paul Groner (UVA), Duke University Libraries received key works on Buddhism in East Asia. The work of Dr. Groner, who is a renowned scholar of Japanese Tendai Buddhism, has engaged disciplinary precepts and ordination, the status of nuns in medieval Japan, and later Buddhist educational systems in Japan. The first part of this two-part donation is comprehensive in scope, and includes biographical works focused on key Buddhist figures; expository and commentarial works focused on significant scriptures; philosophical works focused on concepts such as emptiness, non-self, the nature of the mind, and disciplinary ethics; as well as critical reference works. Duke’s current holdings tend toward contemporary Japanese Buddhist histories with a focus on the Zen sect. Dr. Groner’s donation thus fills a crucial chronological and sectarian gap in our current holdings and provides new and important resources for scholars working on East Asian Buddhist philosophy, philology, textual studies, commentarial traditions, law, or ritual. The second part of this donation will arrive in a few years, once Dr. Groner has completed the last of his projects, and will be of similar scale, but contain far more volumes in Japanese. Taken together, this gift will robustly support Buddhist Studies, and the study of East Asia more generally, among Duke faculty and students for decades to come.
APSI launched its Spring Speaker Series by inviting Dr. Groner to give a talk, which was held at Duke Libraries on February 16th. He spoke about the nature of precept-taking in medieval Japanese Buddhism, after which attendees gathered to formally announce Dr. Groner’s donation to Duke Libraries. The exhibit showcasing these new arrivals to the East Asian Collection is on now through May 2023. Visitors to this exhibit space are encouraged to take a bibliographic guide to each title, located on the windowsill to the right of the exhibit case.
Today, as inflation and economic uncertainty put severe stress on library collection budgets across North America, cooperative collection development is en vogue once again. Fortunately, librarians who collect for international and area studies have always been at the forefront of collaborative efforts to build robust and distinctive collections, even during tough economic times. One of the earliest and finest examples of such initiatives is the South Asia Acquisitions Program (SACAP), which this year celebrates its sixtieth anniversary.
The South Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Program (SACAP) was launched by the Library of Congress in 1962. This federal initiative was intended to foster the systematic and collaborative collecting of books, journals, and ephemera from this large, diverse, and multi-lingual region by research libraries right here in the United States. Recognising the importance of this field of study and the timeliness of this project, Duke University Libraries joined 10 peer institutions in agreeing to pay an annual fee of $500 USD—over $4,900 USD by today’s standards (according to the CPI Inflation Index)—in exchange for a selection of the latest South Asian publications. This collective investment in international collecting was an unparalleled success and SACAP continues to this day with Library of Congress field offices in New Delhi and Islamabad.
The materials on display in this 60th anniversary exhibition come from Duke University Libraries’ South Asia Pamphlet collection. Reputed to be the largest such collection in North America, it contains approximately 7,500 English-language pamphlets, with another 392 in Urdu and Bengali still waiting to be catalogued. The pamphlets cover a plethora of subjects: in addition to the items currently displayed in the Hubbard Case, there are pamphlets documenting tourism, economic development, arts, and refugees, among other topics. The collection comes from several South Asian countries: India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
This public exhibit is an attempt to offer a different perspective on Afghanistan’s history through the holdings from Duke University Libraries. While the sobriquet the “graveyard of empires” has recently gained primacy in discussions about Afghanistan, the reality is vastly different. Over its long history, this mountainous south-central Asian country has actually been the cradle of a number of great empires, such as the Ghaznavid (Afghanistan), Timurid (Iran), and Mughal (India).
The country literally sits atop one of the world’s largest reserves of various metals and minerals, including gold and lapis lazuli. Many of Afghanistan’s most important cities were once significant spaces for commerce as well as intellectual exchange, particularly along the fabled Silk Roads.
Culturally, Afghanistan has been the home for some notable persons such as Rumi, the 13th-century Persian Sufi mystic, who is still one of the most widely read poets in the world. Moreover, while Afghanistan has become a predominantly Muslim country, there has always been a plurality of religious thought, from Buddhism to Christianity to Judaism as well as Zoroastrianism.
“Land of Lapis lazuli and Gold: Afghanistan in the Collections at Duke University Library” is curated by the interim librarians for South and Southeast Asia from the library’s International & Area Studies Department and dedicated to the South Asian studies specialists who have helped to build Duke’s collection on Afghanistan.
This public exhibit will run from December 1, 2021 – December 31, 2022.
This blog post was compiled from contributions by current (Luo Zhou, Miree Ku, Matthew Hayes) and past (Kristina Troost) East Asian Studies Librarians at Duke University.
From November 16, 2021 to April 14, 2022, Duke University Library will host an exhibit “Celebrating Thirty Years of East Asian Collections” in the Michael and Karen Stone Family Gallery. The physical exhibit will be accompanied by a virtual counterpart, which will be published on the library’s Exhibits page. The exhibit opening will take place on Friday afternoon, November 19, with a special event organized by the Duke University Asian/Pacific Studies Institute and the Duke University Libraries.
This exhibit is part of a commemoration of the founding of Duke’s East Asian Collection in 1990. Collecting on East Asia in both Perkins and Rubenstein libraries predates the founding of the East Asian Collection, but it became a distinct focus in 1990 with the hiring of the first Japanese Studies Librarian, Kristina Troost, and then, in 1996, a Chinese Studies Librarian and finally in 2007, a Korean Studies Librarian. The collection in Perkins has gradually grown from 20,000 to over 200,000 volumes in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s collection for East Asia also predates the founding of the East Asian Collection. It has built on some areas of strength (e.g. history of medicine), but as the program has grown in recent years, it has added some new areas such as historical maps and Zen in America. Materials from the seventeenth century to the present illuminate the cultures and societies in East Asia. Some items, such as the personal papers of missionaries, businessmen, and diplomats, shed light on westerners’ understanding of East Asian cultures; more recent acquisitions (e.g. documentary photography, postcards, and other visual material) produced by East Asians themselves have been equally valuable for our understanding of this region.
Duke has the largest Japanese collection south of the Library of Congress in DC. Its strengths reflect the program’s focus on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It has strong collections in modern art history, Buddhism, women’s and labor history, Japan’s colonial history, modern literature, manga and anime. Some themes cross disciplines such as the colonial experience, disaster, including earthquakes, and LGBTQ issues.
The historical collection in Duke’s rare book and manuscript library includes reports from missionaries, early British diplomats to Japan, East India company papers, diaries and letters from merchants and seamen, as well as items in such collections as the Stereographic card and postcard collections and materials related to advertising in the Hartman Center.
The Rubenstein library also has strong collections in military history and the history of medicine. For Japan, it has the papers of General Robert L. Eichelberger (1886-1961), who commanded all ground occupation troops in Japan (1945-1948). The sword in this exhibit was given to Eichelberger during the Occupation.
In addition to such standard Tokugawa medical texts as Kaitai shinsho (解體新書), Duke has 63 Edo-era medical manuscript volumes of medical lectures transcribed by students, which are included in this exhibit; the papers of a Methodist missionary, Mary McMillan, which detail her services to the hibakusha (被爆者), the survivors of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as her peace activism; and a collection of materials related to the effects of the atomic bombing. This includes the papers of Hachiya Michihiko and Dr. Warner Wells, surgical consultant to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission,as well as the Leon S. Adler papers, which document the destruction of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa. The collection of photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki belonged to Dr. Wells.
Duke has also collected missionary papers and materials related to religion because of the Divinity School. Duke holds the papers of Isaac Leroy Shaver (1893-1984), a Methodist clergyman and missionary to Japan from the 1920s to the 1960s. But this interest in religion is also going in new directions; in response to programmatic changes in the department of Religious Studies, the special collections library has begun to build a strong collection on Zen in America, acquiring the Philip Kapleau papers and some documentary recordings of D.T. Suzuki, as well as the Reginald Horace Blyth and Norman Waddell papers.
In keeping with Rubenstein’s focus on visual materials, Duke has built a strong collection in photography, acquiring many iconic works. In recent years, Duke has acquired several photographic collections, notably those taken by Sidney Gamble (c. 1917-1932), William Shockley (c. 1987-1905), Carl Mydans (c. 1941-1952) and Kusakabe Kimbei (c. 1885-1890), as well as Japanese photography of China during WWII. It has also acquired other visual materials such as postcards and sugoroku (双六) game boards and materials relating to the Japanese student movement in the 1960s (Anpo tōsō 安保闘争), examples of which are included in the upcoming exhibit.
Duke’s Chinese collection can trace back to the donation of the tobacco industrialist and philanthropist James Augustus Thomas (1862-1940), who left his papers, a collection of books mostly on China in English, some photographs and other artifacts – such as Chinese vases, robes, furniture, and even lotus shoes for bound feet – to the Duke libraries. The Chinese collection at Duke began to grow rapidly as a result of the expansion of Chinese studies program at Duke in the mid-1990s. Duke began collecting Chinese materials that UNC was not collecting in depth, especially popular culture and contemporary social science. As the program has grown and changed, Duke has been acquiring materials in visual culture. Photograph collections, notably those taken by Sidney Gamble (c. 1917-1932), William Shockley (c. 1987-1905) and Lucy Calhoun (1886-1973), as well as photographic albums produced by the Japanese in 1920s and 1930s China, have all been acquired in the past two decades. Duke also has a small teaching collection of pre-modern Chinese medicine.
More recently, the collection has focused on materials about the first thirty years of People’s Republic of China. Duke acquired the “Memory Project,” a collection of oral histories from survivors of the Great Famine that devastated rural China between 1958 and 1962, by documentary filmmaker, Wu Wenguang, and his team. The Chinese studies librarian has collected 350 titles anti-American pictorial books and Radio Free Asia’s Journal to the Soul complete program. Many of these are housed in The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and some have been digitized and published including the Gamble Photographs and the Memory Project collection.
Korean studies at Duke is the only program and collection on this East Asian region in the entire Southeastern United States. In 1994, the Carl Wesley Judy Korean Library Fund was established with the purpose of the acquisition of and/or access to Korean materials. Rev. Carl Wesley Judy, who graduated from the Divinity School of Duke University in 1943, made great contributions to medical missionary work in Korea through his entire life. He was joined in this endeavor by his wife, Margaret Brannan Judy, and his parent-in-law, Rev. Lyman Coy Brannan, who also dedicated his entire life for the missionary work in Korea from 1910. The upcoming Rubenstein Library exhibit intends to show unique items related with American missionaries’ works in Korea during the colonial period. Just like the past 100 years of devotion and passion of missionaries who served for Korea, Duke’s Korean program and collection will continue to grow with the passion and deep commitment to our future Korean Studies researchers and students.
Duke’s East Asian collection is curated by subject librarians from the International and Area Studies department. For more information about the collection that forms the basis of the upcoming exhibit in the Michael and Karen Stone Family Gallery, please contact Luo Zhou, Chinese Studies Librarian, Miree Ku, Korean Studies Librarian, and Matthew Hayes, Ph.D., Japanese Studies and Asian American Studies Librarian.
This is the sixth in a series of blog posts on global pandemics written by the staff of Duke Libraries’ International and Area Studies Department. Like the first, second, third, fourth, and fifthposts, it is edited by Ernest Zitser, Ph.D., Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies, library liaison to the International Comparative Studies Program, and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at Duke University. The following post is written by Heidi Madden, Ph.D. , Librarian for Western European and Medieval Renaissance Studies.
You have all probably seen them: online reading lists created expressly for the bored souls forced to stay indoors because of the restrictions on movement imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (If not, check out the “Meta-List of the Books You Should Read in Coronavirus Quarantine,” created by the writers at Open Culture). Some booklist-makers promise to provide prospective readers with cathartic relief from coronavirus fears through curative stories. Others focus on escapist fantasies that keep you sitting on the edge of your seat (Literary Hub Round). Still others recommend plague novels that let us walk with our fears in virtual communities and to experience our common humanity through empathy. But no matter where you find them or who writes them, most online reading lists created during the COVID-19 pandemic—such as this piece in Vogue magazine, significantly entitled “Six Centuries later, The Decameron is Suddenly the Book of the Moment”—reach back to the Italian Renaissance and, more specifically, to Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375) and his Decameron (multiple copies of which are available in English translation, in both print and electronic format at Duke University Libraries). In this blog post, I will try to provide some context for understanding this seemingly irresistible attraction to what more radical literary critics would dismiss as a canonic work of yet another dead, white, Western male.
First, let’s begin with some historical and biographical context. In 1347, when the bubonic plague—or what Joris Roosen and Monica H. Green’s 2020 bibliography on the state of Black Death research in the era of COVID-19 called The Mother of All Pandemics—arrived in the port of Messina, Sicily, and quickly began to spread across the Italian peninsula, Boccaccio was a 34-year-old struggling writer living at home with his parents. The illegitimate son of a prominent and prosperous citizen of the city of Florence, Boccaccio aspired to follow in the footsteps of his older and more famous contemporary, the great Italian poet Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca, 1304-1374), and their even greater role model, Dante Aligheri (d. 1321), the author of the Divine Comedy. That is, Boccaccio wanted to become a “humanist,” i.e. a scholar-writer who used the classics of Greek and Roman literature to create a rich and vibrant, vernacular Italian language, in place of what he and his allies dismissed as the stilted, officious Latin tongue, the language of both Church and State. In effect, to transform the irredeemably corrupt world that they had inherited from previous generations and to lay the groundwork for a metaphorical rebirth (It. rinascimento, Fr. renaissance) of the beauty and splendor that the humanists associated with the lost world of classical antiquity.
When the plague reached the city of Florence, in 1348, tens of thousands of people died of the deadly infectious disease, at least three times the number of those that had died of the same disease during an earlier outbreak back in 1340. This time, Boccaccio’s father and stepmother were among the victims of the deadly infectious disease—a personal loss that also left the writer in possession of the family fortune. Now that Boccaccio had the financial means to pursue an independent literary career, he embarked upon an ambitious, multi-year, book project, one that would eventually come to be known as his literary masterpiece. The setting for this work, which was written between 1348 and 1353, was inspired, at least in part, by the author’s personal experience as an eyewitness and survivor of an outbreak of the plague.
However, the Black Death was more than just the immediate stimulus to Boccaccio’s most famous literary work. It also served as the literary framing device for the 100 novellas contained in the anthology to which he gave an Italian name that he had coined, as one would expect of a Renaissance humanist, from ancient Greek (< δέκᾰ, “ten” and ἡμέρᾱ, “day”). This was a reference to the number of days that the book’s main characters—consisting of a company of 10 young Florentines (seven women and three men, representing various vices and virtues)—spent in bucolic self-isolation, regaling each other with stories, while the pandemic raged outside the walls of their villa and all around them.
The description of the plague with which Boccaccio’s begins his book was not just an eyewitness account of the outbreak in Florence in 1348. It was a mini-literary work in itself, inspired by the classic description of the plague of Athens in the History of the Peloponnesian War, written by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides (460 BC to 400 BC). Like Thucydides, Boccaccio’s description of the plague in the introduction to the Decameron offered a realistic account of the outbreak of the disease, its symptoms, and its impact on society; and like Thucydides, he focused on earthly matters rather than on supernatural powers. In this, as in many other instances—for example, in many of the plots and themes of the novellas in the Decameron—Boccaccio reveals the humanist project of translating classical stories, motifs, and images into the literary language of the contemporary author and his era. In effect, Boccaccio can be seen as a node in a network of literary texts and their authors—both those that preceded him and those that followed him—and thus as part of a much more complex web of cultural linkages than is usually depicted in the old syllabi of Western Civ courses.
A striking visualization of the connections between Boccaccio and literature before and after the publication of the Decameron was created in 2016 by Kristján Hannesson, a graduate student in the UNC Department of English and Comparative Literature (you can download the full chart from Scribd). Kristján was one of the grad students who took a course on Boccaccio taught by Duke Professor Martin Eisner, a renowned expert on the Italian Renaissance and an authority on Boccaccio. Professor Eisner helped Kristján and the other students in the course to organize and curate an exhibit on Boccaccio and the Genealogy of Stories, which was held on July 20, 2016 – October 16, 2016 in The Jerry and Bruce Chappell Family Gallery at Duke University Libraries. As the title suggested, the exhibit sought to show the genealogy of all of Boccaccio’s stories: where they came from and whom they influenced.
Each circle in the genealogy of stories corresponded to an exhibit case in the Chappell Family Gallery that allowed for the exploration of the texts found in beautiful rare editions held at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
The exhibit cases teamed with beautiful Boccaccio related editions from the Rubenstein Library. One case, for example, displayed a painting and an actual potted plant next to a book showing the opening lines of John Keats’ Isabella, or the Pot of Basil (1818), a narrative poem in which the English Romantic adapted the story of Lisabetta (Fourth Day – Novel 5): Her lover has been murdered and appears to her in her dreams; she goes to dig up the lover’s body and plants the head in a pot of basil that she tends to day and night. Isn’t that romantic?
Another exhibit case included a depiction of a (literally) heart-wrenching scene from the Decameron (Fourth Day, Novel 1): juxtaposing a painting (c. 1650) by Bernardino Mei (1612 – 1676) of Ghismonda, cherishing the heart of her murdered lover, Guiscardo, with a miniature on the same theme from one of the illustrated editions of the Decameron, held by the Rubenstein Library.
As these two examples suggest, and as the prominence of female characters in the Decameron demonstrates, in Boccaccio’s case, the “human” in humanist explicitly included women. As the compiler of an encyclopedia on the lives of famous women (De Mulieribus Claris, available in English translation)–the first in what became a literary genre that stretches from the 14th-century to the present–the Florentine author was acutely aware of the important role that women play in society, not just in traditional familial roles, but as free agents and independent thinkers. Boccaccio’s recognition of the role of women in society and the importance of hearing their stories is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the Decameron appears so modern.
But perhaps the best explanation for the appeal of Boccaccio’s work is also the simplest. The Decameron is an anthology of love stories, which are by definition based on perennial themes (jealousy, anger, fate, desire, hatred, lust, virtue) that change much more slowly than the societies around them. Pandemics may come and go, but a good love story will always stick with you.
Explore the history of cigarettes in the United States, from their initial unpopularity, to their emergence as a ubiquitous element of American life, to rise of vaping today. Tobaccoland examines the role that tobacco marketing, branding, and nicotine addiction have played in twentieth-century American history. The National Cancer Institute estimates that by the 1950s, as many as 67 percent of young adult men smoked cigarettes. But as smoking rates spiked, so did illnesses associated with cigarettes. In the past sixty years, anti-smoking campaigns, lawsuits, regulations, and public smoking bans (like Duke’s pledge to be smoke-free by July 2020) have led to a drastic reduction in the numbers of Americans who smoke. Still, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.
The exhibit is divided into several sections, including early cigarette marketing innovations, moral opposition to tobacco, targeted marketing to women and youth, the U.S. Surgeon General’s 1964 report linking cigarette smoking and cancer, the search for new markets, government regulation and industry response, e-cigarettes, quitting and prevention, and the complicated legacy of tobacco in building the Duke family fortune and, ultimately, Duke University.
Tobaccoland was curated by Joshua Larkin Rowley (Hartman Center Reference Archivist), Meghan Lyon (Head, Rubenstein Library Technical Services), and Amy McDonald (Assistant University Archivist).
Exhibit Book Talk: Please Join Us!
Date: Friday, February 7 Time: 3:00 p.m. Location: Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room (Rubenstein Library 153)
Dr. Sarah Milov, Professor of History at University of Virginia, will discuss her recently published book, The Cigarette: A Political History (Harvard University Press, 2019), in conjunction with the exhibit.
Come see a new exhibit from the International and Area Studies Department which displays anti-American materials spanning 130 years and four continents. Inspired by the recent acquisition of a Cold War-era comic collection from the People’s Republic of China, the exhibit expands to capture a broad range of responses to America’s presence on the world stage throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
The earliest materials on display date from the time of the Spanish-American War at the turn of the 20th century. These include famous critiques of American imperialism by Latin American thinkers like José Enrique Rodó and José Martí, as well as political cartoons from the period which reveal both Cuban responses to the war and dissenting voices from within the United States.
Moving through the 20th century, the exhibit features reproductions of Italian World War II propaganda posters which can be found in the Rubenstein Library’s Broadsides and Ephemera Collection. The bulk of the materials focus on the Cold War and the anti-American sentiment invoked by lingering U.S. military presence in East Asia. Highlights include the allusion-rich and satirically humorous Chinese comics from the 1950s and 1960s, as well as published photograph collections documenting anti-American protests in Korea and Japan.
From archival posters to reproductions found in secondary sources, the Duke Libraries’ collections provide a wealth of visual anti-American material to research and explore. Come to the second floor of Bostock Library by the Nicholas Family International Reading Room to view the highlights, and learn about the complex and competing narratives which have shaped international perceptions of the United States through the years.
Special thanks to Yoon Kim and to the Exhibit Services Department for their kind help in providing resources for the exhibit.
Stayed tuned for our upcoming exhibit of anti-American materials from around the world! The display will feature historic Chinese comics from a recently-acquired collection. These visual propaganda pieces were published in the People’s Republic of China in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Cold War drove tensions between the two nations to new heights. The exhibit will also highlight materials from Europe, Latin America and the United States itself. Take a look below to get a sneak peek at two items which will feature.
Entitled “Be Clear about the Nature of American Imperialism,” this comic illustrates American hypocrisy. A serene President Kennedy poses like the Buddha. On his right, arms reading “The Peace Corps” offer gifts of harmony and prosperity, including a sack labeled “Food for Peace.” On his right, arms reading “Preparing for war against Cuba and Lumumba” wield tools of violence.
This comic, “Thus Is America,” vividly depicts the perceived vices of the United States, including the oppression of workers, the Ku Klux Klan, loose morals and international aggression. Can you spot General George MacArthur?
The exhibit will be displayed on the second floor of Bostock Library next to the East Asian Magazine Reading Room starting in July.
Come explore the truly global popularity of graphic novels at the International and Area Studies exhibit on the second floor of Bostock Library, next to the East Asian Magazine Reading Room. The exhibit will be up through next Tuesday.
Since ancient times, human beings all over the globe have been bringing text and images together to tell stories. In this selection of graphic novels and cartoons from Duke’s collection, you will see retellings of classics and tales of adventure that have gained massive popularity in Japan and China. You will see stories of revolution and bold political movements from Russia, India, South Africa, and Colombia. You will see tales of atrocities, survival, and redemption in Germany and Israel. You will see humor, both lighthearted and political, in Turkey, Portugal and Spain, and everyday life in Korea and Côte d’Ivoire. This variety demonstrates the power of graphic narratives to reflect and lend new visual interpretations to all aspects of the human experience. We welcome you to explore one of the world’s most popular modes of storytelling in the Duke collection.
News, Events, and Exhibits from Duke University Libraries