Student Spotlight: Jen Para

Jennifer Para is a freshman from Rogers, Arkansas, majoring in business. As part of Julie Christenson‘s section on the ancient world, part of the honors humanities sequence, Jen and her classmates worked with rare and historic materials in Special Collections, including ancient materials and fifteenth- and sixteenth-century editions of the classics. Jen shares her insights and reactions below.

Glancing through rare books at Ellis Library, a certain leather bound novel with a delicate design imprinted into the spine catches your eye. The marbled paper cover reminds you of exquisite stones with white and gold specks reflecting the bouncing sun, meshed together in a pond of blood. Touching the book, you are surprised at its smoothness, and you wonder why the book does not fall apart at your caress. On the book’s spine you notice gold lettering revealing the title of the book: Aeneidos. This epic poem is a 1583 copy of Phaer and Twyne’s translation of Virgil’s Aeneid.

Flipping through the book, you observe old English type and strain your eyes to read it.  You come to the beginning of a chapter with an intricate black border in which an “Argument” gives a summery of the chapter. As you look through the epic poem, you see no page numbers, only words at the bottom of each page. Curious, you ask the librarian. She informs you that the printing process included folding the papers together, using the first and last words of a page to ensure the correct order.

At the end of each chapter there seems to be a Latin copyright, and you also notice small printed notes in the margins. Between books twelve and thirteen you find the authors’ letter to their readers. Phaer and Twyne intended their translation of the Aeneid to be read by “maisters and students of universities,” who “will not bee too much offended,” by their raw translation, and “pray they will correct the errors escaped in the printing.”

Curious about Phaer and Twyne, you begin researching for more information. Thomas Phaer, a native to Pembrokeshire, translated The Aeneid into one of the oldest meters in English, the fourteener. According to scholars, it was a good attempt, but not attractive. Unfortunately, Phear died while translating the tenth book. Not wanting to leave the work unfinished, Thomas Twyne edited and finished the last two and a half books in 1573.

You look through the book once again. This copy is not an original nor a textbook; there are no handwritten notes anywhere. But in book ten, you see calligraphy and make out words “Hugh Bateman”, “Thomas Payne”, “1767 London”, “Dronfield”. Partaking in more research, you find record of several Hugh Batemans at Dronfield.

You come to the conclusion that this epic-poem, due to its lack of use and penmanship practicing, was most likely a “coffee-table book”. Its gorgeous cover could capture the eyes of any person, but its translation made it very difficult to read. You picture in your mind this epic poem, sitting on a rosewood desk, collecting dust, until a man opens it up to dab ink off his quill. Closing the book, you sigh, knowing you are only partaking in guesswork. You wonder what conversations it has overheard, who read its pages, and how it ended up at the Ellis Library at the University of Missouri. If only books could talk.

Have an outstanding student you’d like to nominate for the Spotlight?  Email SpecialCollections@missouri.edu.

Teaching spotlight: Julie Christenson

This semester, Special Collections will be turning the spotlight on our patrons each month by highlighting teaching and student work inspired by the collections.  This post kicks off the semester and focuses on the teaching of Julie Christenson.  Julie visited Special Collections with her section of Humanities 2111H (The Ancient World; part of the Honors Humanities Sequence).  We corresponded with her via email to get her thoughts on Special Collections and undergraduate instruction.

SC: Can you give us some information about yourself?
I am a graduate student instructor in the English department. I am writing my dissertation on the poetics of commemoration in medieval England. I am interested in the poetic strategies of texts designed to commemorate events and figures.

SC: How did you incorporate Special Collections into your teaching last semester?
My students came for two visits. On their first visit, Kelli Hansen introduced several pieces from the collections that were relevant to the texts my students were studying. For their second visit, each student worked with one of the pieces that had been introduced during the previous session. They used their observations as the basis of a 2–3 page manuscript analysis.

SC: What outcomes resulted from your class visits? What were the effects on your students?
I think it’s good for students to realize that classical and medieval literature served a vital function within much different material, social, and aesthetic frameworks. There is just no comparison to experiencing a one-of-a-kind book, seeing the hole in the parchment where the animal had been bitten by a mosquito, to seeing the pages darkened from generations of hands turning the pages.

SC: What advice would you give to faculty or instructors interested in using Special Collections in their courses?
I understand the hesitation to take time out of our already cluttered schedules to what might seem like a frill, but my advice is to squeeze in a visit. It will enhance the work you do everyday in the classroom. Your students will be able to forge an experiential connection with the periods you are studying. That experiential basis convinces and inspires in a way that complements the work we do in the classroom.

Stay tuned – tomorrow we’ll be sharing some of the student work that resulted from Julie Christenson’s class visit.

Zotero Workshops

Endnote Workshops

Art by John Fennell on Display in Bookmark Cafe

Missouri School of Journalism Associate Professor John Fennell has been a painter as long as he’s been a journalist. In 25 years as a writer and editor, Fennell has worked in almost every variety of print media: a wire service, newspapers and magazines. He is also the editor of a book on typography and the author of a biography. He joined the MU magazine faculty in August 2005 and holds the Meredith Chair for Service Journalism. He teaches writing and magazine publishing.

During his 13-year tenure as editor of Milwaukee Magazine, the publication was nominated for the National Magazine award, the Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial reporting (twice) and won more than 160 national and local awards. Under his leadership, the magazine was also honored by the Society of Publication Design, the Society of Illustrators and won more awards than anytime in the history of the magazine, including two gold awards for general excellence.

He has exhibited his paintings in Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis and in Columbia at PS Gallery. There is a current exhibition of his abstract work, “The Geometry of Light,” in the School of Journalism’s Strategic Communication office in Walter Williams Hall.

He can be reached on campus at 321A Lee Hills Hall, 882-8966.

A review of John Fennel’s Night Lights series.

Ellis Library is closed Sunday – Monday, January 15-16.

LibX 2.0 now available

Note: LibX 2.0 was written for Firefox and Chrome.

It’s Your Fault! Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the New Madrid Earthquakes

MU Celebrates MLK Jr, 2012 with Larry Wilmore – A FREE EVENT!

Designing the Imperative: Libraries, Technology & Leadership

Lisa Carlucci Thomas, who is nationally recognized for her leadership, innovation and research on evolving mobile and social technologies, will give a talk entitled “Designing the Imperative: Libraries, Technology & Leadership” on Wednesday, January 25 at 7 p.m. in Ellis Auditorium.

Thomas is a 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, a 2009 ALA Emerging Leader, and a MLIS graduate of the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. She is currently the director of design think do, a library technology and innovation consultancy. She was formerly digital services librarian at Southern Connecticut State University, responsible for exploring, developing and coordinating library technologies, systems and digital initiatives. Thomas’s previous experience also includes project and services management in Access Services, Manuscripts & Archives, and Electronic Collections at the Yale University Library.

Sponsored by the Library and Information Science Graduate Student Association.