The Griffin, King of the Beasts

The mighty griffin, with the head, wings, and talons of an eagle and the body of a lion, is said to represent power and majesty as the ruler of all creatures.  Which makes sense since the eagle is commonly cited as the king of birds and the lion as the king of beasts.  The griffin is quite common in tales and mythology throughout the ages, and is one of the more well-known fantastic beasts, like unicorns or dragons.

Griffins are incredibly strong, and are often used in heraldry and crests.  Griffins were also said to be exretemely wise, and, like dragons, had a tendency to seek out and hoard gold.  Adrienne Mayor suggests that the origin of the griffin myth comes from fossil findings of the pentaceratops (a dinosaur with a beaked face and four-legged body), whose bones would have looked much like a griffin's were supposed to, near known gold veins.

Lewis Carroll even includes a gryphon (pictured below) in his stories as a demanding guide to take Alice to the Mock Turtle.

To find the king of the beasts for yourself, all you need to do is pay a visit to us here at Special Collections – no digging in the mountains necessary!

Carroll’s Wonderland Menagerie

"And as in uffish thought he stood,

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!"

With an imagination as great as Lewis Carroll's was, it's no wonder he was able to create such a range of creatures to inhabit the appropriately named Wonderland.  In addition to the Jabberwock above,  Wonderland is home to a host of bizzare beings.  Most famously, perhaps, is the Cheshire Cat, who appears and disappears to give Alice some cryptic advice from time to time.

Other denizens of Wonderland are the toves, mome raths, and borogroves; talking flowers, a mock turtle, and even a caterpillar that smokes a hookah while dispensing even more crytpic advice to poor Alice.

More fabulous beasts from the mind of Lewis Carroll can be found by visiting us at Special Collections!  (Perhaps you might stop by on a hunt for the elusive Snark?)

Here There Be Dragons

How do you make a dragon student angry?  You send it to knight school!

Bad jokes aside, our fabulous beasts series continues with this week's feature creature – the dragon.  From our 13th century manuscripts to modern day joke books, dragons are running rampant through our collections.

Like this little guy, a favorite of the librarians here, curled around a letter "p" in our illuminated manuscript leaf of the Acts of the Apostles.

Another dragon drawn from a religious text is this take on the story of Moses and the Serpent.  Instead of his staff turning into a snake as the story usually goes, here we see Moses leap back in fright from the dragon that has sprung forth instead.

A bit of visual humor here, from the same volume as the pun that opened this post.

And for all the latest information on dragons, try Dr. Ernest Drake's Dragonology, found in our Closed Collection.

To see more of these dragons, and others, stop in at Special Collections!

home Resources and Services, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books New series: Fantastic Beasts of Special Collections

New series: Fantastic Beasts of Special Collections

What does Special Collections have in common with Rubeus Hagrid of the Harry Potter novels?

We both take care of multitudes of fantastic beasts! Though unlike Hagrid with his forest full of creatures, ours live on the shelves in books called bestiaries.

In the spirit of the first week back at classes here at Mizzou, we'll kick off our new series of fantastic beasts and where to find them in Special Collections with The Academic Bestiary by Richard Armour.  In this book, which combines the style of medieval bestiaries with humorous depictions of the modern residents of Academia, you'll find creatures such as the Dean, R.A., Artist, Historian, and (of course) the Librarian.  Can you tell which of these names belong to each of the pictures above?

 

home Resources and Services, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Special Collections at the Movies: Hercules

Special Collections at the Movies: Hercules

This week's post is by Shelby Wolfe, a Special Collections undergraduate assistant.

While Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might not be the first person who comes to mind when pondering the classical humanities, his portrayal of Hercules in the most recent film version about the mythological demi-god might spark your desire to delve far back into classical mythology. If so, check out these Hercules-related materials at Special Collections.

Heathen-Gods-Title-Page

Hercules has entertained generations of adventure-loving readers and listeners for centuries. From pottery and poetry to compendium and comic book, illustrated depictions of the mythological hero are typically easy to identify – a large, muscular man often wielding a bulky club and donning a characteristic lionskin.

This plate in Andrew Tooke’s 1806 edition of The Pantheon details the hero’s attributes. Covered in a lionskin, the main image features Hercules resting his club on the ground. Two roundels above provide a closer inspection of the club and lionskin.

Hercules-Ill.-1

Likewise, this illustration from Tooke’s 1844 Pantheon shows Hercules outfitted with his attributes. In addition, two roundel inserts depict Hercules in the midst of his Twelve Labors – slaying the Nemean Lion (the source of his lionskin attire) on the far left and his battle with the Lernaean Hydra on the far right.

Hercules-Ill.-2

For a more modern depiction of the famed hero, take a closer look at this comic book from 1984. Hercules: Prince of Power features a monstrously muscular title character intent on saving the Marvel universe from rebel military forces in the year 2385.

Hercules-Comic

Whether it’s the 8th century BCE or 2385 CE, Hercules is sure to be flexing his muscles somewhere. 

home Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Special Collections at the Movies: Planet of the Apes

Special Collections at the Movies: Planet of the Apes

Released today is the eighth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”  Set ten years after its predecessor “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this film promises a darker, more engaging science-fiction world than any other Apes film before it.  In honor of the new movie, Special Collections is proud to bring you “Books of the Planet of the Apes”!  If you’ve got a monkey on your back, swing in to Special Collections and check out some of our simian stuff!

Gorilla-Hunter

This is a scan from one of the opening pages of “Paul Du Chaillu: Gorilla Hunter,” the noted French-American explorer and zoologist.  Du Chaillu is credited with confirming the existence of gorillas, and worked extensively with indigenous Pygmy tribes in Africa.  His exciting life of adventure and discovery is chronicled in “Gorilla Hunter,” and while some today might find the subject matter offensive, Du Chaillu’s legacy in ape history is unquestionable.

Tarzan

Up next we have a graphic novel adaptation of one of the most famous apperances of apes in popular culture, Tarzan the Ape Man.  Tarzan was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs and introduced in the 1912 short story, “Tarzan of the Apes.”  In Burroughs’ origin story, a family is marooned on the African coast and only their young son survives.  He’s adopted by a tribe of apes and raised as their own.  Burroughs continued to publish stories about Tarzan until his death in 1950.  Since then, Tarzan has been adopted once again, this time into popular culture.  Over 200 movies have been released that feature the Ape Man. 

Jungle-Book

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” introduced the character of Mowgli, an inspiration for Burrough’s Tarzan.  It also inspired this graphic novel by Harvey Kurtzman, also called “The Jungle Book.”  Kurtzman’s work is a social commentary on the nature of man in society, and how quickly humanity can descend back into its more primitive forms.  Kurtzman satirically dedicates his novel to a half-man, half-ape creature. 

Classification

Lastly, and perhaps slightly less aesthetically pleasing, is a chart from former University of Missouri professor James Gavan’s “A Classification of the Order Primates,” which details the line of descent of different species of apes.  It’s interesting to note which species Gavan cites as being nearest to man – according to his work, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees are just one evolutionary step away from us.  Published in 1975, more than a century after Charles Darwin pioneered his Theory of Evolution, Gavan’s work still caused controversies.  He participated in a creationism/evolution debate in October, 1975, against a famous creation scientist called Duane Gish, author of several anti-evolution books, including 1972’s “Evidence Against Evolution” and 1986’s “Evolution: The Fossils Say No!”  According to audience reaction, Gish outperformed Gavan in the debate.  A “rematch” was scheduled, but never occurred.  Professor Gavan passed away in 1994, and Gish in 2013.

That’s just a small sample of our simian stockpile.  Don’t wait for the apes to take over – take a look at these (and other great monkey materials) today!

 

home Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Special Collections at the Movies: Days of Future Past

Special Collections at the Movies: Days of Future Past

Marvel Comics' winning streak continued in 1963 when they debuted the X-Men, a group of teenage superheroes who received their powers through mutation.  Originally going to be called the “Merry Mutants,” creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby settled on the title “X-Men” since their characters had “EX-tra power.” 

However, this group of mutants isn’t the only one to ever call themselves X-Men.  As we’ve seen in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” sometimes completely different generations of mutants must band together under the same moniker.  To start of our Special Collections at the Movies blog series, we’ll highlight several different incarnations of those Merry Mutants that we have in our collection.

1

This is a reprint of the first X-Men issue, published in September, 1963.  It introduces the original five-man team – Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl – and the X-Men’s most hated archenemy, Magneto.  We can see the team meeting Jean Grey, their newest member, and her amazing power of telekinesis.  Hardcore comic fans might notice something strange about this image – Cyclops’ name is Slim Summers, but we know him better as Scott Summers.  It wasn’t until the third issue of X-Men that Cyclops points out that Slim is just a nickname.

2

Next we have an updated version of the same group of mutants, called the First Class.  We can see by the illustration on the cover that the lineup hasn’t changed, but the stories and events have been redesigned for modern readers.  It was this comic book line that was partially adapted into 2011’s “X-Men: First Class.”

3

Our third incarnation is also an origin story.  A young Scott Summers is shown receiving his ruby visor, which holds in his optic blasts.  This series is meant to tie in with the animated TV show “X-Men: Evolution,” which focused on the very early years of the team.

4

Finally, we have a collection of issues from the Generation X storyline.  Generation X ran from 1994 through 2001, and focused on an entirely different group of mutants.  This group, made of up primarily of Jubilee, Chamber, Husk, Gaia and Synch, often found itself in a moral grey area, often fighting for and against the X-Men. 

These four titles are just a sampling of the various X-Men series we have in Special Collections.  If “Days of Future Past” got you itching for more than the run-of-the-mill mutants, stop on by and check us out!

 

Phrenology

spurzheim-headPhrenology is "a system of Philosophy of the human Mind; it is founded on facts, and the inductive is the only species of reasoning it admits."  So states Dr. Johann Spurzheim in his outlines on the subject.  Spurzheim, collaborator with Dr. Franz Joseph Gall, the founder of modern phrenology, was instrumental in bringing the science to the attention of the public in the U.K. and the United States.  Today, phrenology is known as a pseudoscience that studies the relationship between a person's character and the physical properties of their skull.  Phrenology can trace its roots way back to the ancient philosopher Aristotle, who wrote on the locations of the mental faculties.  Around the 1800s, Gall was the first to posit a direct link between the formation of the skull and the character of the owner, calling his theory crainiology.  Spurzheim was the one who popularized the term phrenology.  Other power players of the field in the 19th century include the Combe brothers and the Fowler brothers, all of whom wrote extensively on the subject.

phrenology1430000001032Phrenology looked at the development of the skull in relation to the development of certain faculties or temperaments in the person it belonged to.  An example would be the faculty of Parental Love, or "Philoprogenitiveness," which is the faculty that people demonstrate in their love of children.  One could discern the prominence of such a person's love of children by observing the back of the head.  According to Spurzheim and illustrated in a book by O.S. Fowler, "When this organ is large … it gives a drooping appearance to the hind part of the head."

phrenology1430000001028

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new science rapidly gained popularity in the early 19th century, inspiring phrenology parlors where you could have your head read for a fee.  Unfortunately, many of these gained a bad reputation for being scam parlors set to cheat people out of their money, and this bad reputation still tinges thoughts of phrenology today.  Also stemming from the popularity of phrenology during this time were galleries where people could go to see casts, molds, and busts that illustrated each of the faculties and served to educate the general public.  A renowned phrenologist and maker of the "phrenology heads" that have become iconic of the science today was Frederick Bridges, who had such a gallery in Leeds.  Visitors could walk the gallery (using helpful catalogues such as this one) and see such things as a cast from the head of Lord Byron in which, "Ideality is very large.  Wit, and Language, are also large" next to a cast of Shakespeare's head with "Imitation, Ideality, Benevolence, Individuality and Language large."

phrenology1430000001027

phrenology1430000001031

phrenology1430000001024Some of the more practical applications of phrenology in the 1800s included using it to defend and/or treat convicted criminals and also to determine the compatibility of two people in a marriage.  In his writing on phrenology and matrimony, Fowler imparts this wisdom upon his unmarried readers, "in the name of nature and of nature's God, marry congenial spirits or none- congenial not in one or two material points, but in all the leading elements of character […] marry one whose Temperament and Phrenological developments are similar to your own!  Do this, and you are safe, you are happy:  fail to do this, and you marry sorrow and regret."

As phrenology's popularity grew, and also likely owing in part to the many scam phrenology parlors, there were some who became skeptical about this practice, likening phrenology to a form of mysticism.  In his reply to an article published by a Dr. Ashburner about phrenology, mesmerism, and clairvoyance, George Corfe asks, "What parent would deliberately wish to educate a child to become a disciple in such antichristian and immoral principles?"

Outsiders weren't the only ones with criticism for phrenologists.  As with any scientific field, phrenologists would write about the work of their contemporaries, as seen in this pamphlet where the author, George Combe, criticizes another work he has read, eloquently calling its author out on several important points and stating that "This is the second time that Mr. Stone has charged 'dishonesty' against Phrenologists, founded solely on gross mistakes of his own," here also referencing a previous article criticizing phrenological practices.

phrenology1430000001025Phrenology experienced a sort of revival in the early 20th century when scientists began to apply it to other areas of study, such as anthropology, psychology, and pedagogy.  On the negative side, the Nazis and other fascist ideologies have historically misapplied the principles of sciences like phrenology and eugenics to advance their own ways of thinking.  Though not nearly as popular today, studiers of this science remain, active in the pursuit of knowledge and the quest to fulfill the charge of the age-old adage to "Know Thyself."  To learn more about this fascinating branch of science (and maybe more about yourself in the process!), check out the links below and stop in to see us here at Special Collections.

 

All print sources come from our collection.  See links to catalog records in post above for more information.

Online Sources Used:

"Phrenology in the 20th Century." The History of Phrenology. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. <http://www.phrenology.org/intro20.html>.

"What Is Phrenology?" Phrenology Lab. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. <http://med.stanford.edu/medwebtraining/shc-class/student5/treatments/phrenology-lab.html>.

 

Teaching Spotlight: Mark Langeneckert

For the next installment in our Teaching Spotlight feature, we're featuring Mark Langeneckert.  Mark and his students visit our reading room each semester to work with our bookplate collection.  His use of the collections in teaching is a model for those looking to historical collections for creative inspiration.

PhotoI’m an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Art Department. Drawing is my passion and the focus of my teaching. I’m responsible for coordinating the drawing area and leading the study abroad in art to the Netherlands (on even years) and Italy (on odd years).

One of the drawing courses I teach is Illustration. This course requires students to create an original work for a specific visual problem. One assignment is to create a bookplate design that incorporates the students name and the text, Ex Libris, into their work. The assignment is introduced by a visit to Special Collections to view their extensive assortment of historical bookplates. In many cases, this is their first visit to Special Collections.

The impact of this first-hand experience for students has resulted in some of their best work.

In the fall of 2014, I will be teaching a Drawing III course with an emphasis on the Graphic Novel. I look forward to accessing Special Collections resources in developing this new course.

The staff at Special Collections are extremely helpful with gathering materials, offering support and promoting their collection. I would encourage all faculty to consider using this resource in their classroom.

home Resources and Services, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Unsolved Mystery #6: The Lucubrator by James Noyes

Unsolved Mystery #6: The Lucubrator by James Noyes

Our final unsolved mystery of the semester is a manuscript donated to the MU Libraries by Mrs. Edwin Ball in 1974.  Its title page attributes the work to James Noyes, but we know very little else about it.  It consists of a series of essays on a wide variety of topics.  Titles include "On Female Education," "On Bad Neighbors," and "On the Utility of Dancing," to name a few. The essays are dated between 1794 and 1797. James Noyes (1778-1799) wrote a mathematics textbook and a couple of almanacks around 1793-1794, but we have not been able to establish whether he and the author of this manuscript are one and the same.

1980520

1980521

1980522

1980523

1980525

Who was James Noyes?  Is this manuscript in his hand?  Where was it created?  Were the essays ever published?

As always, email us at SpecialCollections@missouri.edu with your thoughts on this unsolved mystery.

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