Teaching Spotlight: Ruth Knezevich

knezevichOur popular teaching spotlight series returns this semester with a fresh look at innovative teaching in Special Collections.  This month's featured educator is Ruth Knezevich, an instructor in the English department at Mizzou.

SC: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a doctoral candidate and graduate instructor in the English department. My research focuses largely on in late 18th– and early 19th-century British literature with interests in ballad collections, Scottish Romanticism, and the emergence of “folk” literatures. My dissertation in-progress is on footnotes within ethnographic poetry and novels of this timeframe. When I’m not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy spending time outdoors and traveling, especially in and around my native northern Minnesota.

At MU, I’ve taught a handful of literature-based courses, including English 1000H (Honors Exposition), English 1210 (Introduction to British Literature), English 2100 (Writing About Literature), English 2159 (Introduction to World Literature), and English 3200 (Survey of British Literature, Beginnings through 1784).

In each of these courses – in addition to teaching critical thinking and reading skills – I like to show students that there are more ways to read a book than breaking down the words on the page, and that there is more to literature than just reading a book and looking at the arrangement of words on a page – each book holds a story of the world around it and the readers who have picked it up, read it, and written in it.

SC: How have you incorporated Special Collections into your teaching?

Each semester, I ensure that I bring my classes to visit Special Collections and spend time learning about various aspects of printing history, reading a book as more than just literature, and letting students get their hands on the materials. And frankly, Rare Books and Special Collections adds variety to times in the semester where we’re all feeling a little bogged down and need a new and exciting way to approach the text.

One semester, I brought my students in Survey of British Literature to Special Collections as a way to break up the monotony of our class discussion on Renaissance poetry. Alla and Kelli brought out a variety of publications and objects featuring the same poems and authors we were reading in class; students were encouraged to dive into reading the primary materials in their original context, outside of the anthology we were using in class. Suddenly, Ben Jonson and Amelia Lanyer came to life for students as they struggled through the centuries-old typography.

I have also asked my honors composition students to actively read selected from Special Collections as objects, carefully analyzing and writing about their thoughts and findings. Students were asked to choose one of the manuscripts or objects that were displayed during our class’s visit to Rare Books and Special Collections, and to spend time with it again outside of class, asking questions of the object, analyzing it, and drawing inferences from their observations of details they might otherwise overlook and then inferring how the book would have been used and who might have used it.

SC: What materials or collections did your students work with?

The various classes I have brought to Special Collections have worked with a wide array of materials and collections, including 19th-century travel writing, publications of Renaissance-era poetry, 18th-century editions of Homer, different antique versions of the Bible, and 16th-century documents addressing the politics of magic and religion.

SC: What outcomes resulted from your class visits?  What were the effects on your students?

In addition to submitting some rich essays from the students detailing their findings from their assignments based on Special Collections, students consistently walk away from their visit in awe, inspired to discover what else is held in Special Collections.

One specific moment that will remain with me is when tears began welling up in one student’s eyes as she held an 800-year-old book. “I’m a part of this book’s history now,” she whispered to a classmate standing next to her. Another student, a college senior, said that the days spent in Rare Books and Special Collections were the highlights of her time in college, and that it was a shame that she was just learning about one of MU’s most exciting resources right as she was about to graduate.

SC: What advice would you give to colleagues interested in using Special Collections in their courses?

When I set aside a day for my class in Special Collections, I often don’t yet know exactly what I want my students to explore. The librarians have consistently helped me figure out the aims and goals of the day’s visit, suggested specific materials, provided samples for follow-up assignments, and offered to lead lectures for the class on topics related to the course.

For instance, I recently taught a unit on Christopher Marlowe’s play, Doctor Faustus, and I had asked the librarians to pull some resources that could be relevant and helpful in exploring the politics of magic and religion expressed in the play. Little did I know that Alla is actually an expert in Renaissance magic! My students were able to get so much more out of the library session than they ever imagined, and more than I could ever offer.

So, the biggest piece of advice that I would give to colleagues interested in using Special Collections in their courses is to use it! The staff in Special Collections is immensely helpful in putting together a productive and exciting day with demonstrations of the materials and offering suggestions for follow-up assignments.

Welcome to Mizzou, Chancellor Loftin!

We're excted to welcome our new Chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, to Columbia.  He's well-known his fashionable bow ties, so in his honor, we're presenting a gallery of neckerchiefs, cravats, ties, and of course, bow ties, in historical illustrations from our collections.  More information about each illustration is below.

Dapper gentlemen from Allgemeine Modenzeitung, 1823Dapper bowtie-wearing gentlemen from Allgemeine Modenzeitung (1823, above; 1839, below)

Dapper gentlemen from Allgemeines Modenzeitung, 1839

Neckwear of the Bourbon Restoration, from Histoire du costume masculin francais (Paris, 1927).

Ties and cravats from the Bourbon Restoration (above) and the Second Empire (below) from Histoire du costume masculin français

Neckwear of the Second Empire, from Histoire du costume masculin francais (Paris, 1927).

Traditional dress of Lozere, from French Costumes by Lepaige-Medvey (London, 1939)

Traditional dress of Lozére (above) and Alsace (below) from French Costumes by Lepaige-Medvey (London, 1939)

Traditional dress of Alsace, from French Costumes by Lepaige-Medvey (London, 1939)

The great Gatsby himself (Limited Editions Club, 1980)

The frontispiece of an edition of The Great Gatsby featuring Gatsby himself. 

From the pages of Red Ryder Comics

Red Ryder Comics

…and Dick Tracy!

Dick Tracy

And finally, the very first cover of Showme, MU's long-running student humor and literary magazine.

The very fist issue of Showme Magazine, fall 1920

 

TAGS:

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli

home Cycle of Success, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Teacher spotlight: James Terry, Stephens College

Teacher spotlight: James Terry, Stephens College

Today our guest in Teacher Spotlight is Dr. James Terry, professor of Art History at Stephens College. Professor Terry regularly brings his Renaissance and Baroque class to Special Collections. We were delighted when he agreed to step into our Spotlight today. We’ve queried him about his teaching philosophy, inspirations, academic interests, and put to him our standard question about the way he incorporates Special Collections into his teaching. Here is his response:

James Terry. Art History class

I like to get my art history students out of the classroom as often as I can–whether that’s a visit to the MU Museum, the local mosque, the Christopher Wren church in Fulton, or an artist’s studio, art gallery or exhibition. A visit to Special Collections at Ellis Library is always a highlight for the students in my Renaissance and Baroque Art course at Stephens College.

Most of them have never handled a 500-year old book–or any fine, handmade, pre-industrial object. It puts them in touch with the material (quite literally). Of course, they are amazed by the engravings and woodcuts, and even the quality of the paper and bindings. I expect that many of them had never considered the possibility that a book can also be a work of art–but they certainly understood that by the end of our recent visit.

Students today spend so much time looking at digitized *pictures* of things, but they don’t have nearly enough experience interacting with real objects.

I would recommend that all college instructors–whether in the humanities, sciences, business or whatever–visit Special Collections at Ellis and find out what treasures the library holds that might relate to your field. Then find a way to get your students over for a visit.  All librarians in Special Collections are very generous and accommodating, and will work with you to set up an eye-opening experience for your students.

 

Teacher Spotlight: Rabia Gregory

Dr. Rabia Gregory, an assistant professor in the Religious Studies department at the University of Missouri, is the focus of the first Teacher Spotlight of the new school year.  Her primary interest is in medieval women’s religious literature, and she can often be found teaching courses at Mizzou on Historical Christianity, and Women and Religions.  Dr. Gregory is a frequent visitor to Special Collections and has often brought her classes to learn about the primary sources we have here.  We were pleased to get a chance to talk to her at the beginning of the semester.

SC: How have you incorporated Special Collections into your teaching?

Gregory: I initially only took upper-level and graduate seminars to Special Collections and designed the visits to help students learn to work with sources in the original. Last spring I attempted to bring a large introductory lecture course to Special Collections.  I designed a new assignment asking the undergraduates to spend time with a manuscript or an early printed book and then write about it as if they were, themselves, professional historians.

SC: What sort of outcomes or effects on your students have you observed after visiting the Special Collections department?

Gregory: I noticed a variety of responses, particularly with the large lecture class. Some students were so excited that they snapped photos of manuscripts to share with old teachers or with family members. Others came back to visit with friends and classmates. And some were completely disinterested, trying to sneak out of the room even before class was over. Learning how books were made and used really changed the ways that my class responded to primary sources in translation. They less frequently asked "why" different sources offered competing versions of history or why miracles were recorded. Instead they were interested in why those versions of history had been considered important enough to put into something so expensive and time-consuming as a manuscript.

SC: What advice would you give to faculty or instructors interested in using Special Collections in their courses?

Gregory: Plan ahead, make sure that the visit has a clear pedagogic purpose for your class and that the students have a way of finding meaning from the objects they will (most likely) not be able to read. Do talk with the Special Collections staff and get their input on the assignments, a semester in advance if you can! And make sure that you explain clearly to your students and teaching assistants the purpose of the assignment.

Changes at the Vet Library

Congratulations to Trenton and Kate on new appointments!

Consolidation of the veterinary and health sciences historical collections of the MU Libraries is underway. The collections will be curated by a librarian with an outstanding reputation for scholarship in the history of veterinary medicine.

Trenton Boyd has accepted a new position in the MU Libraries: Distinguished Librarian Curator of Medical and Veterinary Historical Collections. The appointment is the culmination of forty-two years of veterinary librarianship as Head of the veterinary library. Trenton is well-known for his scholarship in veterinary history and his long-term, visionary leadership in the field of veterinary librarianship at the national and international levels.

In his new role, Trenton Boyd will highlight publications of historical interest related to veterinary and medical sciences housed in the MU Libraries, bringing visibility and scholarship to the veterinary and health sciences historical collection. Trenton will be relocating to the Health Sciences Library to be in close proximity to the collections. Trenton’s duties will include curating the archives of the College of Veterinary Medicine, and he will continue to be available for any historical questions you may have.

Kate Anderson will assume the role of Interim Head, Veterinary Medical Library, based on her seven years of successful service as Specialized Services Librarian in the Health Sciences and Veterinary Medical Libraries. Over the past two and a half years, Kate has also served as the Mizzou Advantage Liaison for the MU Libraries.

Special Collections is on C-SPAN!

Watch our very own Alla Barabtarlo show off a few highlights of our collection on C-SPAN’s Book TV.

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli

Agnieszka Matkowska

PhotoSpecial Collections and Rare Books bids a fond farewell to Agnieszka Matkowska. Matkowska has been in residence during the past academic year to consult the Lord collection. The late Albert Bates Lord (1912-1991) was a professor of Slavic and comparative literature at Harvard University best known for his contribution to the understanding of the world’s oral traditions, especially those of the former Yugoslavia. His family donated his library to Mizzou in the Spring of 2011. It comprises a collection of almost 2000 books, articles, and even artifacts, many of which are in the closed stacks of Special Collections and Rare Books.  The A.B. Lord  Fellowship in Oral Tradition  makes these volumes available to international scholars by allowing them to remain in residence at Mizzou for a semester or longer. Matkowska,  PhD candidate from Poznan, Poland, was the award’s first recipient.

[Click on any of the images to enlarge.]

Among Buryat Performerslg

 

Buryat performer at the annual "Yerd Games" festivalMatkowska studies the oral legends of the Buryat people, a group of 450,000 individuals spread across Siberia, Mongolia, and Inner Mongolia. The Buryat people have a rich heritage of oral tradition, though the current generation of performers might be the last. According to Matkowska,   “When in 2011 I was doing my fieldwork in the Irkutsk Oblast’, a region bordering Lake Baikal, it was sometimes hard, so I became doubtful few times. In those moments Galina Vitalievna Afanasyeva-Medvedeva, a befriended professor and an expert in the field of Baikal folklore always raised my spirits emphasizing that what I do is of extreme importance as the folklore of that area is in decline and these processes are irreparable.”

Shaman Rock, in Lake Baikal, is considered sacred by the Buryat people.Matkowska, is writing a dissertation that investigates the factors contributing to variation that occurs across multiple tellings of Buryat oral legends. Before coming to Columbia, Missouri, she undertook fieldwork in southern Siberia along the shores of Lake Baikal. While there she recorded performances and interviewed performers. She was even invited to observe a shamanistic ceremony, a privilege seldom granted to an outsider.  While in residence at University of Missouri, Matkowska has taken advantage of the many comparative and theoretical studies in the Lord collection, gaining insight into the different methodological approaches she could take: “There are many ways to bite the cake,” she says “I just have to figure out which way will make it taste the best.” Matkowska will defend her dissertation in February at Adam Mickiewicz University.

Shamanistic ceremony, Tulunzha near Ulan-Ude, November 2009

 

Congratulations, Trenton!

Trenton is the guest editor of the latest volume of the international journal Historia Medicinae Veterinariae (Vol. 36, No. 1-3, 2011). The  issue is on “Veterinary Medicine as Portrayed on Postcards” and features a selection, in color, of approximately 240 veterinary postcards from around the world.

As you know, Trenton has been collecting veterinary postcards since 1973 and has about 3,000 postcards pertaining to veterinary medicine, broken down into over 50 subcategories.

Celebrating Teaching

Students from Sean Franzel's class doing research in Special CollectionsToday and yesterday, participants from across campus gathered for the annual Celebration of Teaching in recognition of faculty innovation and achievements.  We’re celebrating another record-breaking year for classes and groups in Special Collections, and we count ourselves lucky to work with such dedicated and creative instructors.  Here’s just a sampling of the classes we taught this past year:

  • History of Modern Engineering
  • Jane Austen and Her Contemporaries
  • Theatre Scholarship
  • Italian Civilization
  • Letterpress and Book Arts
  • Historiography of Medieval and Early Modern Convents
  • The Inhuman Subject (English honors seminar)
  • Information and Student Success
  • History of Typography
  • Introduction to Visual Culture
  • Introduction to German Literature
  • History of Western Dress
  • Beginning Latin
  • Color Theory
  • Monstrous Births: Tales of Creation in 19th Century Literature

Graduate student Amy Jones shows ancient Asian artifacts to Smithton Middle School studentsYou can find out more about some of our student and faculty patrons in our Spotlight posts, and we look forward to adding even more profiles and interviews once the fall semester begins.

Wondering if Special Collections can support your next course?  Contact us at SpecialCollections@missouri.edu, or check out the Resources for Instructors section on our web site.

TAGS:

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli

Teaching spotlight: Sean Franzel

Sean FranzelProfessor Sean Franzel from the German and Russian Studies department is our guest for the Teaching Spotlight this month. His research interests span the culture, philosophy, and history of eighteenth- to twentieth-century Germany and include the history of education and the university; media theory; German Idealism and Romanticism; and the history of the novel. Professor Franzel is a frequent visitor to the Special Collections and Rare Books department, and we were delighted to have a chance to ask him a few questions.

SC: How did you incorporate Special Collections into your teaching?

I have used SC repeatedly for two courses I teach. In a graduate seminar on the literature of the medieval and baroque periods in Germany, I usually take the students in for two separate visits. First we look at an introductory selection of Special Collections’ excellent medieval manuscripts and representative early printed books (incunabula). We then go in a second time to examine SC’s sixteenth century emblem books. This was a very popular pedagogical genre throughout Europe at the time that placed poetry and allegorical images side-by-side. For me it is important that my students get an initial sense that what literature is and does has changed so much since antiquity. It is also very important for students to think about how books operate on visual and textual levels; emblem books are great for discussing this, because they are all about the interaction between text and image.

Students from Sean Franzel's class doing research in Special CollectionsIn my undergraduate Introduction to German Literature course, we do a section on children’s literature, and we go in to SC to look at their excellent collection of children’s books. This is fun for students because they learn to appreciate how books for children have played such a wide range of functions throughout history, from basic ABC primers for reading the Bible to very imaginative fantasy books. I ask students to look at the books and think about differences in form, function, design, audience, etc. Basically, I think that taking students to special collections is a way to awaken their curiosity as well as their critical ability to differentiate between the various functions that books and other media have had over time.

 

SC: What outcomes resulted from your class visits? What were the effects on your students?

 

Student from Sean Franzel's class doing research in Special CollectionsI think students respond really well to the visits; inspired papers and active discussions usually ensue in the class sessions following a visit. In an age when every assignment or paper can appear in uniform PDF-format on a laptop or e-reader, it is really important to hold actual books in our hands. Sometimes even just the realization that books used to be made on papyrus or animal skin is enough to change the way we think about how we process information today in the digital age. Personally I also love going into SC because I learn something new each visit. I get a lot out of trying to imagine the socio-historical contexts in which books were made and used— it is amazing how many new insights come from actually holding the books in your hands! In fact, my trips to SC have inspired me to get a more systematic introduction to book history, and I am going to take a course this summer at the UVA Rare Books School on the history of the book. I am very excited about this, and about incorporating more book history into my teaching.

 

SC: What advice would you give to faculty or instructors interested in using Special Collections in their courses?

 

There is so much interesting material in our library, chances are that it has something relevant for most courses, even if simply to shed light on the history of certain issues across the sciences and the humanities. And it is hard not to sign on to spending a class session looking at cool stuff! So even if instructors do not have a clear idea about what they want to do, they should contact the SC librarians for advice and guidance. Alla Barabtarlo and her team are all extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and eager to show students what the library has to offer!