January 21, 2021
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Book Review: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Image from Goodreads

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was a wonderful book. At several points in the book I found myself wondering what the next twist would be. The Da Vinci Code is about a symbologist named Robert Langdon. One night, while staying in Paris, he is called to the Louvre to help out on a murder investigation. The victim is in a peculiar pose with instructions to find Langdon scrawled on the floor. Little to his knowledge, Langdon is being investigated as one of the criminals. Now to clear his name, Langdon must solve the mystery himself using his knowledge of symbols.

I enjoyed how the author tied symbology into his novel. I learned things that I was not expecting to in a way that did not feel like I was in a class. I also feel that the action-packed novel kept me engaged with the characters. I often found myself sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the next piece of the puzzle to be revealed. I highly recommend The Da Vinci Code to any who love mysteries or even to those looking for an adventure.

You can put a hold on The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown today through the JKM Library catalog and pick the book up at the library! Click here to get started.

Nerice Breen Lusen is an English Major here at Chatham University with a minor in Creative Writing. They have been working at the Jenny King Mellon Library as a student worker since their freshmen year, starting in 2018. Following their time at Chatham they plan to gain their master’s degree in Library and Information Science and become a librarian themself.

December 22, 2020
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You Need to Read This: The Best Inclusive Titles of 2020

2020 has truly been a year of turmoil and adversity, but that doesn’t mean it stopped the literature industry from producing new gems. Our shifting cultural climate has been met with a new wave of prose and poetry that addresses issues of injustice on a deeper level, and now more than ever, books are providing us with an outlet for the powerlessness we’re feeling due to the effects of this year’s chaos. In order to be culturally responsible literary citizens, we need to expand our horizons and develop as wide of a cultural canon as we can. I’ve compiled a list of 2020’s best inclusive titles and while the JKM Library is currently closed for the winter season before the next semester, upon our reopening, patrons can utilize E-ZBorrow and Interlibrary Loan to request newer titles that we may not have on our own shelves.

Best Fiction

The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich

Erdrich is known for her impressive blend of historical and literary fiction, highlighting the struggles of Native Americans suffering the effects of colonialism. The Night Watchman is loosely based on Erdrich’s grandfather’s experience working as a night watchmen during the Native dispossession era. One of the novel’s protagonists, Patrice, desires a life outside of the reservation and rejects the matriarchal roles that are set out for her, longing to move to Minneapolis to follow the lead of her older sister. The second hero, Thomas, is a night watchman and Chippewa council member on their North Dakota reservation, fighting against Congress’ new “termination” bill to eradicate Native communities. Erdrich does not romanticize life on the rez–rather, she paints a colorful cast of characters that encapsulates the essence of the Native struggle, one that is poignant, witty, and tender.

The Death of Vivek Oji, by Akwaeke Emezi

Powerhouse newcomer Akwaeke Emezi third novel addresses the intersection of African identity with queer identity, highlighting otherness, isolation, and the feeling of finding home. A deep, complex mystery that finds itself in the middle of political reform in the 1990s Nigeria, The Death of Vivek Oji forces the reader into complicated literary disorientation. The titular protagonist Vivek struggles with dissociation and a sense of belonging, befriending the mixed-race children of immigrant mothers to Africa and struggling with what he considers a “sinful” relationship. Emezi’s swirling prose coupled with the layered cultural narrative present in the novel creates a tension that is so hard to achieve in literary fiction, but when attained, is incredibly significant.

Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel, by Julian K. Jarboe

This is my personal favorite title of 2020, and for good reason. Jarboe’s debut fiction collection covers everything from cyberpunk dystopia, body horror, mythical lore, subtle romance, and stories of abusive religious institutions. All of these vastly different narratives share a common thread, though: the constant threat of being stripped of our individuality, whether it be our culture, our community, our physical vessel. Jarboe’s literary voice is spectacular from segment to segment and the pacing never falls flat. I particularly enjoyed the stories “I Am a Beautiful Bug!,” which is part love letter to Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and part transgender allegory, and “Self Care,” an antiestablishment stream-of-consciousness narrative that highlights the end of times at the hands of ostentatious religiosity and greed.

Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar

Loosely inspired by Akhtar’s own experiences as an Arab-American following 9/11, Homeland Elegies tells the story of a family struggling with feelings of national dispossession. While the story is fictional, the content is autobiographical in nature, drawing directly on the oppression that Akhbar felt in the field of the humanities. He makes you long for an America that never truly existed, one that could have hyperbolized peace and unity. Rather, we’re exposed to a more complex, pessimistic America whose racial bias and detestment of immigrants bleeds through to our everyday life whether we’re cognizant of it or not.

Best Nonfiction

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot, by Mikki Kendall

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that racial injustice has always been a reality, it has only become more apparent in the media because we have more access to the struggles of others. Kendall discusses the overwhelming power of white feminism, and how so often gender overpowers other facets of identity. The crux at which true allyship happens includes race, class, ability, and sexuality, and Kendall’s thesis statement enforces that all issues of denial to access are issues of feminism. The critique of mainstream feminist scholars is biting and well-written, tackling issues like food insecurity, education, medical care, and more in its analysis. Kendall truly reminds us that it’s not feminism unless it’s inclusive and intersectional.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, by Cathy Park Hong

Part immigration memoir, part critical cultural studies, Hong’s essays directly confront modern-day racial consciousness here in America with a twist. What she calls “minor feelings” are stand-ins for the grief, shame, and internalized notions about race that we face in a society that is so inherently whitewashed. Hong works to unpack this implicit bias of self and others in a way that is both intellectual and entertaining, peppering in stories from her youth to punctuate the more theoretical elements of the text. Park discusses the stereotypes typically inscribed upon Asian Americans; she manages to blend the educational with the conversational in a way that even the newest of allies can process.

Me and White Supremacy, by Layla Saad

What started as an Instagram challenge to encourage white people to address their implicit biases became one of the year’s best tools for white allies to use to confront their implicit biases surrounding race and ethnicity. Saad creates a resource that elevates BIPOC people and teaches white people about their levels of privilege and unconscious engagement in the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy without forcing people of color to exert their emotional labor. So often, communities exploit the emotional and mental work of its scholars of color and assume they will be educators for white people without providing compensation. This book can provide that insight for white allies to understand that they must use their power to support people of color, and that with privilege comes a special position to support others.

The Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

DACA recipient Villavicencio decided to start writing this collection in response to the 2016 election results, and in it paints a beautiful depiction of undocumented immigrants in the United States. She meets with immigrants all over the country and learns their stories in order to come up with some semblance of her own. It is a touching, unrestrained take on refuge and sanctuary, how with citizenship comes privilege, and the denial to access that goes hand-in-hand with undocumented status. Rather than living in the shadows of her own identity, Villavicencio advocates on behalf of other undocumented people in an unflinching critique on how our society treats those simply seeking solace in the world.

Best Poetry

Just Us: An American Conversation, by Claudia Rankine

A spiritual successor to her collection Citizen, Rankine tackles the big issues of white supremacy in a jarring collection of poems, short prose, and art. Just Us highlights the microcosms of Americana, a nation divided, and how indifference has made even liminal spaces hostile for nonwhite individuals. Rankine dives into the politics of politeness, calling attention to the way that privilege often encourages the majority to turn a blind eye to oppression and marginalization. Her poetic voice is blatant and urgent while still providing a strong aesthetic flow, a varied poetic voice that has cemented itself as one of the most striking of the 21st century.

Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems, by Wanda Coleman.

Poetry spanning a forty-year body of work, Wicked Enchantment is a consciously anti-racist collection that confronts marginalization with humor, ennui, and sometimes anger. Coleman’s legacy on the poetry community is insurmountable, and with an introduction and edits from the great Terrence Hayes, she so rawly and honestly depicts the progression of racism in America. The poems in this collection are not about being pretty or being pleasing. They are about feeling and filling a void where society has failed us. In addition to the overarching theme of racial injustice, Coleman also tackles concepts like mental illness, wealth inequality, and the failings of the healthcare system particularly against Black women. This is a dense read, but a very worthwhile one.

Music for the Dead and Resurrected: Poems, by Valzhyna Mort

Belarusian poet Mort discusses the traumatic intergenerational legacy of war and propaganda in this heart-wrenching collection of love letters to the dead. She weaves historical elements like World War II, Soviet labor camps, and tyrannical dictatorships throughout the text, tracing the timeline of her native country’s development to her and her family’s experiences in these toxic, violent environments. Tethering her own coming-of-age with the mythology of a fragmented nation, Mort creates a lyricism of ghosts, an existence that will always be permeated by the atrocities committed against or by our ancestors. Music for the Dead and Resurrected confronts the American historical myths and forces the reader to take an uncomfortable but nonetheless poetic look at how they got to where they are.

Inheritance, by Taylor Johnson

A recent release, Taylor Johnson asserts the precariousness of poor Black identity in a nation that constantly surveils our most at-risk populations in this collection. They elaborate in their poems about the intrinsic link of capitalism to the exploitation of bodies of color, and with broad lyricism, Johnson opens a dialogue as to what a world without the boundaries of class and financial standing would look like. Cynicism of cultural monoliths permeate the text as Johnson conveys their theories through the lens of radical love and sex. There is a stark juxtaposition of lightheartedness with the prison industrial complex, pleasure against poverty. This jarring dichotomy conveys the meaning of the collection: suffering will always plague us so long as we allow ourselves to adhere to oppressive cultural rules.

Best Children’s and Young Adult

You Should See Me in a Crown, by Leah Johnson

Johnson’s debut novel is one that is sweet and fun, typical of YA, but tackles the very real issues of growing up a minority in small-town America. Protagonist Liz Lighty views herself as being “too Black, too poor, too awkward” to be taken seriously in her rural, conservative community, and she desires nothing more than to break out of this restrictive town and attend a prestigious university. Johnson highlights the very real threat of financial insecurity that plagues teens and young adults, and Liz’s reluctant journey to attain prom royalty to assure financial aid is an interesting subversion of the traditional high school narrative. It’s so important to see young, empowered Black girls in stories where they have agency and dreams, and where their hardships are not fetishized–Johnson creates a new kind of Black hero in Liz, one in which many young viewers can see bits of themselves.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, by Hank Green

The follow-up to Hank Green’s bestseller An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is just as stunning as its predecessor, a science-fiction tale that tackles concepts like colonization, decimation of lands, and class consciousness. Green’s social commentary is presented in a youth-friendly way, fast-paced and action-packed. The elements of mystery and eclectic cast of characters is what will draw you in, but the interesting theories surrounding technology, reality, and virtuality will keep you coming back for more. Considering Green’s science background, there’s validity to the scientific elements of the text, but it’s not so academic that it’ll go over the head of the readers.

Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo

In a similar style to her bestseller The Poet X, Acevedo crafts a novel-in-verse that ties together the notions of togetherness and grief in an incredibly touching testament to the power of familial love. Camino, who lives in the Dominican Republic, and Yahaira, who lives in New York City, are sisters who are totally unaware of one another’s existence until a horrible tragedy brings them together. Their intrinsic connection forces them to think about the boundaries between their cultures and what sorts of secrets lurked within their families. The blend of poetry and prose makes for an easy reading experience and the content helps to show the subtle differences between groups of Latinx identity.

The Degenerates, by J. Albert Mann

Disability is a subject of intersectionality that we don’t see too often in modern fiction, or at least when it’s not portrayed in the unfortunate genre of “inspiration porn.” The Degenerates does not glamorize the disabled experience in the case of mental, physical, and learning disabilities. Taking place in an institution for the mentally ill or disabled, these girls are not portrayed as weak, simple, or naive. Instead, they are empowered and fierce young women, dedicated to escaping the system that oppresses them. The Degenerates also doesn’t shy away from the severity of institutionalization–the interactions are coarse, belittling, and show the reality of living with a disability in a world that does not provide access or accommodations.

Carina Stopenski is the Access Services Associate at Chatham University’s Jennie King Mellon Library. They started out as a student worker while getting their creative writing degree at Chatham, and received their Master’s of Library Science at Clarion University in summer 2020. They enjoy games of both the board and video persuasion, vegan baking, and reading graphic novels. They also teach cultural studies and “cartoon theory” classes on the platform Outschool.

December 14, 2020
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Book Review: Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Image from Goodreads

The book Carmilla is an 1872 English novella by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Carmilla can be downloaded as a PDF from the library’s website or it can also be requested in tangible form through E-ZBorrow (when E-ZBorrow is accessible). The novella features the first appearances of a female vampire in English gothic literature. Carmilla served as an inspiration for Brim Stoker’s Dracula, which was published about twenty-five years later in May of 1897.

The novella begins with a prologue from a doctor’s assistant explaining that the tale that follows is a recounting of events that befell one of the doctor’s patients. It is told from a young woman named Laura’s point of view. She begins by telling the reader of her first encounter with Carmilla when she was just six years old, saying that it is her oldest memory. She is left scared and scarred from this encounter.

The story picks up years later as Laura explains the castle she and her father have come to live in. Together with Laura’s governess and “finishing governess” – as Laura calls her – Laura and her father live in Syria but are originally from England. One day Laura and her father receive a letter from one General Spielsdorf. He has unfortunately cancelled his visit to them because his niece and ward had died, claiming that she was killed by a monster. On a walk shortly after, a carriage crashes in front of Laura and her father. The riders of the carriage consist of an elderly woman and a younger woman the elder claims as her daughter.  The young woman is hurt in the crash but seeing as her mother is on an important journey, she leaves her daughter in the care of Laura’s father. The girl is introduced as Carmilla, and Laura is excited to have a friend to spend the foreseeable days with.

I thought the novella was well written, though the dialect – being that of the 1800’s can be a bit confusing for the modern reader. While I was reading there were passages that I read twice to make sure I understood them, but I don’t think this detracted from the story that was being told. Carmilla, the character, was not forth coming with details about herself. This gripped me as a reader and made me want to read onwards.

Vampires are often characterized in stories with alluring and mysterious airs. Carmilla is no exception. There are often times in the story where either Carmilla speaks to Laura, vice versa, or even when Laura describes Carmilla to the reader that shows an attraction between the girls – romantically and even physically. It is not explicit in the novel that Carmilla and Laura are together in any sense, but it creates a dynamic between the two characters that made me want to read more. It made me what to learn more about the mysterious Carmilla just as Laura wished to.

The story is not one of grand fights or intense dramas like novels or novellas of today, but I felt that Carmilla was a great book. It is a quick read and holds themes and motifs that are ahead of its time.

Nerice Breen Lusen is an English Major here at Chatham University with a minor in Creative Writing. They have been working at the Jenny King Mellon Library as a student worker since their freshmen year, starting in 2018. Following their time at Chatham they plan to gain their master’s degree in Library and Information Science and become a librarian themself.

November 12, 2020
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2020 El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Celebrations

Screenshot from the first Zoom event. Provided by Professor Mildred López.

El día de los muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a special international celebration practiced throughout many Spanish speaking countries. Its rituals and traditions can be traced back to both indigenous cultures and European Christian practices. As a holiday, it demonstrates the blending of these countries in Central and South America, and it is now celebrated in many countries across the world including the United States and some parts of Asia. Although it is celebrated differently in each country and culture, at its heart it is intended to be a celebration of life and a way to honor and remember loved ones who have passed.

The JKM Library was proud and excited to partner once again with Modern Languages, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Counseling Services to host Chatham’s third celebration of el día de los muertos as part of the Latinx Heritage Month celebrations. This year, to keep everyone safe, we hosted our event series virtually via Zoom. This meant lots of compromises concerning activities and programming during each event, but we were pleased to be able to bring this event series back to Chatham despite such difficult times. There were 34 total participants between both virtual events.

Screenshot from the first Zoom event. Provided by Professor Mildred López.

On Tuesday, October 27th we offered “¡Celebremos el día de los muertos!”, an educational presentation on el día de los muertos. Students from Professor Mildred López’s Spanish LNG161 and LNG261 classes led a presentation on the history and culture of the holiday. After the presentation, we watched a video, got a tour of JKM Library resources on the subject, and played a spirited game of el día de los muertos trivia.

The second event was hosted on Thursday, October 29th and featured a discussion led by Dr. Elsa Arce and Susan Kusmierski from Counseling Services on how to cope with grief, celebrate life, and honor both. Attendees shared personal losses they experienced in their lives, what those losses meant to them, how they handle their grief, and how they remember and honor those they have lost. Attendees also discussed the place that a holiday like el día de los muertos could have in the United States, and what communal grieving could offer them personally. Professor Mildred López also walked attendees through an event in Piura, Peru that helps women cope with the loss of children. The entire community comes together through a very touching and emotional ritual that asks mothers to share their children with the women who have lost theirs. This event allows individuals to heal both communally and across generations. Professor López also discussed the significance of Monarch butterflies, which are used as both a metaphor for immigration and a symbol of the souls of loved ones coming back to visit their families.

Because we were unable to offer the usual crafting projects as part of this year’s event series, templates and instructions for multiple engaging crafts were made available on the JKM Library’s resources page. Participants were encouraged to try the crafts at home. Recipes for the traditional refreshments were also made available for those who wanted to try their hand at making the pan de muerto or indigenous hot xocolatl (chocolate) themselves.

Thank you to all sponsoring departments, to Mildred López and her Spanish classes, to Dr. Elsa Arce, Susan Kusmierski, and to everyone who attended. We look forward to continuing to celebrate el día de los muertos in 2021.

October 18, 2020
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(A)bridging Community: Social Responsibility During Multiple Pandemics

Welcome to (A)bridging Community: Social Responsibility During Multiple Pandemics, a virtual art exhibition curated by Chatham University student Chenoa Baker (’21, Cultural Studies) and hosted by the Jennie King Mellon Library. Starting October 18th, 2020, carefully selected pieces of art and corresponding library resources will be posted to the JKM Library’s Instagram and Facebook feeds over the course of a week. The entire exhibition (including information on the artwork, artists, and library resources) has been gathered together here as well.

Curatorial Statement

“We live in a moment that exposes our interconnections. They exist as bifurcations: an afterthought for some and constant reminders of inequalities as well as white supremacist capitalist patriarchy for others. At the intersection of two pandemics, we see that the innocent bystander is complicit, the moderate is a danger, and without bridging these connections with compassion, we sever the bridge we stand on and crumble into the water.”

Selected Works

Kim, Byron. Synecdoche. 1991, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Byron Kim (b.1961) is a contemporary Korean-American artist who explores racial identity through minimalist art. Synecdoche, one of his most famous artworks, is a collection of paint swatches matched to random sitters of different races. Some view this work as a collage of people, their untold stories, and the color of their skin speaking for them. Others may see this as a variety of people who are individuals part of the whole; similarly, the squares, put together, represent the human race.

Shimoyama, Devan. February II. 2019.

Devan Shimoyama (b. 1989) is a Pittsburgh-based artist and Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Shimoyama creates renderings of glittery fantasies and anxieties around navigating Blackness and queerness. He creates images with paint, collage, and glass to communicate his message. February II, dedicated to Trayvon Martin, signifies the innocence of Black children killed by police brutality by representing them with an article of clothing—the hoodie. The hoodie masks their true identity and skews their adolescence because of the lens of white supremacy. White supremacy obscures the child inside into a perception of suspicion. (Follow on Instagram @DevanShimoyama)

Ballard, Lavett. Hear My Call. 2020.

Lavett Ballard (b.1970) is a collage artist, curator, and art historian. She primarily uses the medium of wooden fences and wood. She reclaims this wood to represent a retelling of Black history. In her work of Breonna Taylor, Hear My Call, she celebrates her life and the collective that shaped who she was. There are motifs of flowers, circles, and a butterfly to represent femininity, softness, and transition of her life. Typically, in Black tradition, death is accompanied by a celebration of life, a time to dwell in grief and deep lamentation and to remember the interconnected network of ancestors that welcomes the deceased person into the fold. (Follow on Facebook at @LavettBallardArt)

Benjamin, Gavin. Dressed to Kill no. 1 (Hoodie). 2020, Parlor Gallery, Asbury Park, NJ.

Gavin Benjamin (b.1971) is a Guyanese Pittsburgh-based artist that works in paint and a variety of appliqued materials. His most famous series is Heads of State, which depicts portraits of Black royalty in a distinct Neo-Baroque style. In Dressed to Kill, Benjamin layers images onto the subject’s hoodie and face. On the subject are images of protests, George Floyd’s phrase during the time of his death “I can’t breathe,” and Skittles and Arizona drinks that Trayvon Martin and others picked up from a corner store before their deaths. All of these markers on the body and provocative title, stresses that victims of police brutality are dressed in a multilayered story ignored during their murder. (Follow on Instagram @gavinbenjamin)

Leff, Rosa. The Real Pandemic. 2020, private collection.

Rosa Leff is an artist and educator that is known for her paper cutting prowess. She cuts elaborate cityscapes by hand and by X-Acto knife. The Real Pandemic is an accumulation of already present pathologies—systemic racism, a failing healthcare system, and broken economic infrastructure. Through the pandemic, it shows that we lost some of our main tenants of community. While we revisit this concept, police are central to the narrative of state power that was never created for the community and only disrupts it more by metaphorically tearing down bridges and literally ripping apart families. (Follow on Instagram @rosaleff)

Click on the images below to view enlarged versions.

Library Resources

Art can be described as the culmination of cultural, social, and historical context into statements, stories, and expression of creativity. Knowing that context can dramatically change the reading of a piece, but it is not always necessary to appreciate the work. At the Jennie King Mellon Library, we do believe that discovering and understanding the context behind a piece of information (such as a work of art) is critical to full understanding. We try to communicate that importance through our work as library and information professional. To that end, here is a list of resources that we feel can help aid in building your personal understanding of the context behind these pieces.

Library Books

Other Library Resources

  • Issues & Controversies Database
    • Issues & Controversies is a wonderful tool for both academic and personal use. Focusing on controversial topics such as systemic racism, Issues & Controversies gathers pro-con articles, primary source material, news publications, various media content, court cases, editorials, etc. to help offer a well-rounded view of difficult topics we see on the news and in life. It is an excellent tool for helping build context and understanding around some of the most hot-button topics of the day.
  • Adam Matthew Collection
    • The Adam Matthew Collection contains multiple relevant collections of primary source materials that touch on America’s history with white supremacy, Civil Rights, enslavement, and race relations. These materials are important when becoming familiar with our own history, especially when looking at the role community plays. Documents, newspapers, images, illustrations from the time, artifacts, and more all ground researchers in the correct historical context.
    • African American Communities: Focusing predominantly on Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and towns and cities in North Carolina this resource presents multiple aspects of the African American community through pamphlets, newspapers and periodicals, correspondence, official records, reports, and in-depth oral histories, revealing the prevalent challenges of racism, discrimination and integration, and a unique African American culture and identity.
    • Race Relations in America: Documenting three pivotal decades in the fight for civil rights, this resource showcases the speeches, reports, surveys, and analyses produced by the Department’s staff and Institute participants, including Charles S. Johnson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thurgood Marshall.
    • Slavery, Abolition & Social Justice: This resource is designed as an important portal for slavery and abolition studies, bringing together documents and collections covering an extensive time period, between 1490 and 2007, from libraries and archives across the Atlantic world. Close attention is given to the varieties of slavery, the legacy of slavery, the social justice perspective, and the continued existence of slavery today.
  • Do Not Resist | Streaming on AVON
    • DO NOT RESIST is an urgent and powerful exploration of the rapid militarization of the police in the United States. Starting on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, as the community grapples with the death of Michael Brown, DO NOT RESIST – the directorial debut of DETROPIA cinematographer Craig Atkinson – offers a stunning look at the current state of policing in America and a glimpse into the future.
  • The Hate U Give | Media Shelves | 791.4372 H283t
    • Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, Algee Smith, K.J. Apa, Common. Starr Carter navigates the perilous waters between her poor, black neighborhood and her prestigious, mainly white private school. This all changes when she finds herself in the middle of racial activism after her best friend is shot by police officers, and she’s forced to make a decision. Allow the media to skewer her friend to protect the status quo, or stand up and tell the truth in memory of Khalil?
  • Roots | Media Shelves | 791.4372 R678h
    • An adaptation of Alex Haley’s “Roots”, in which Haley traces his African American family’s history from the mid-18th century to the Reconstruction era.

You can find more relevant resources on our Black Lives Matter resource guide.

September 11, 2020
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ANNOUNCEMENT: New Reservation System in the JKM Library

In order to protect the health and safety of our JKM Library patrons, we have instituted a reservation system for all library seats in the building. This includes our group and individual study rooms, as well as study tables, study carrel desks, comfortable seating, and computer lab seating.

Starting Monday, September 14, all patrons entering the JKM Library building will need to have a reservation in addition to presenting their Chatham IDs and temperature screening cards. Spaces should be reserved in advance of entering the library via this link: https://chathamlibrary.libcal.com/reserve/. Use the dropdown menus at the top of the screen to select different library spaces.

Additional protocols and requirements are in place as well:

  • Padding has been added to each reservation to allow for air circulation before use by the next patron. Patrons must leave their space promptly at the end of the reservation to allow for that padding to work.
  • Patrons are restricted to 3 hours of reservation time in the library building per day, which can be split into two separate reservations.
  • Reservations may be made up to 28 days in advance.
  • Patrons are expected to wipe down their reserved areas after use. Wipe dispensers have been installed on all four floors of the library (near the elevators plus extra ones in the labs and classrooms).
  • Please do not move furniture, including chairs. It has been arranged for appropriate social distancing.
  • Masks must always be worn in the library building unless alone in a group or individual study with the door closed.
  • No food is allowed in the library building. Drinks with lids are permitted.
  • Meetings with OAAR or Career Development do not require reservations through the library’s system, but if you would like to remain in the library after a meeting, you will need one.
  • Library staff is monitoring adherence to campus health & safety protocols, providing friendly reminders, and following appropriate reporting procedures as necessary.

If you have any questions or need guidance while you learn the new reservation system, please contact the library or a librarian. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we make every effort to keep the library as safe as possible for you!

July 21, 2020
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A Look Back at John Lewis and his 1964 Lecture at Chatham

The passing of civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis on July 17, 2020 draws thoughts to the unparalleled impact he has had on this nation and to the brief moments he shared with the Chatham community during his visit to campus in 1964.  At the time, Lewis was the National Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  His visit to campus was a student-initiated event, arranged by the Student Peace Union (SPU), a group organized in 1961-62 and led by Chatham student and activist Linda Watts.

John Lewis at meeting of American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1964.

John Lewis’ visit was the climax of an SPU lecture series, which also included talks with President of the Pennsylvania NAACP Henry Smith, Chairman of the Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee Frank Wilkinson, and member of The Freedom Singers Charles “Chico” Neblett. A Guest Editorial in the student newspaper promoted Lewis’ visit as being “a landmark in the 1963-64 calendar at Chatham.”

During his stay in Pittsburgh, Lewis also spoke at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, the annual Americans for Democratic Action dinner, the Tri-State Conference of Hillel, and the Central Baptist Church.  According to local newspapers, Lewis’s visit aimed to recruit volunteers to increase voter registration among Black members of the Mississippi community.

Student newspaper article printed in advance of John Lewis’ campus visit.

In anticipation of Lewis’ visit to campus, the student newspaper printed excerpts from a speech he delivered at the 1963 March on Washington.  These excerpts reflect Lewis’ views on impact of police brutality, voter suppression, and the need for sustained activism.  The full article can be viewed in the February 29, 1964 issue of the student newspaper accessible here.

Though the collections of the Chatham Archives do not contain photographs of John Lewis on campus, the student newspaper includes articles that describe the event and also offer analysis of the campus climate.  One article, titled “`Time for Waiting is Past,’ Says John Lewis from SNCC” recounts the main tenets of his speech, which included acknowledgement of the work of college students and a rebuttal to anti-communist critics of the civil rights movement.  The full article can be viewed here.

Student newspaper article describing John Lews’ speech on Chatham campus.

Another article in this issue raises a few questions about the reception Lewis received on campus.  In a column titled “Thru the Keyhole,” student Diane Brutout reports that there were some “[r]umblings around campus” that were “critical of SPU’s [Student Peace Union] all-out publicity campaign for Lewis.” According to Brutout’s reporting, some students complained that the multitude of posters promoting Lewis’ lecture “implied a false consensus among Chatham Students about SNCC.” The full article can be accessed here.

Column in the March 6, 1964 issue of The Arrow.

Brutout, later a Chatham Trustee whose lifelong dedication to civil rights included focused work supporting women in the workplace, described the work of Lewis and SNCC as restoring law in the American South by encouraging voter registration.  She quoted Lewis’ speech, “Last week 500 people stood in line all day long in one Mississippi county in order to register.  In that period of time, seven people were given the test.” The test Lewis refers to is the voter application and literacy tests that were used to deny Blacks the right to vote prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.  An example Mississippi voter application is shown below.

Directing her comments at those students who were dissatisfied with Lewis’ visit, Brutout writes, “When only 20,000 out of a potential 400,000 Negros can vote in Mississippi, it is time to press for a revitalization of the earlier mentioned consensus.”  In closing, Brutout sharply chides her classmates by stating, “The most many Chatham students have done is to open a forum for the articulation of valid grievances.”

We don’t have an opinion piece in the student newspaper to explain the “rumblings” any further, so we don’t know (from the newspaper at least) why there was disagreement.  Could it have been because Lewis was considered to be a radical member of the civil rights movement and some Chatham students preferred a more moderate approach?  Could the rumblings have resulted from an absence of enthusiasm for the civil rights movement?  Something entirely different? What resources could one use to get a fuller picture of the climate and what might one discover about the history of the civil rights movement on college campus through that research?

In looking at the climate on Chatham’s campus in the mid-sixties and student engagement in the civil rights movement, we can note the work of Linda Watts, chair of the Student Peace Union.  During the summer prior to Lewis’ visit to campus, Watts worked on behalf of SNCC in the Fayette County, Tennessee voter registration drive.  In 1965, Linda Watts and classmate Susan Schnapf `67 traveled to Selma, Alabama to participate in the marches across the Edmond Pettis Bridge on Tuesday, March 9, 1965.  Read Watts and Schnapf’s first-hand accounts of the march here. Watts served as the contact for the Pittsburgh chapter of the Friends of SNCC and remained active the Pittsburgh social justice movement, protesting race discrimination by craft unions.

John Lewis’ speech at Chatham in 1964 and the vigorous activism he inspired among Chatham students serve as single point in a monumental career that is without parallel.  Please explore the links provided below for resources and archival collections that more fully document the impact John Lewis has made on the country and history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

 

July 16, 2020
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New Fun and Games guide available from the Chatham Archives!

Fun & Games in the Archives

Did you know that archival collections could be used for more than just historical research, or even that learning about the history of a place through their archives could be fun? At the Chatham University Archives & Special Collections, we know that sometimes learning about and celebrating history is made better by doing so in a non-traditional fashion. So, in order to facilitate that, we’ve created an entire guide full of all the fun things we could think of to celebrate Chatham history!

The guide itself, at present, contains virtual puzzles, coloring sheet downloads, Zoom meeting backgrounds, and BuzzFeed quizzes, and we’re adding new things all the time. All of the materials on the guide feature either photos from our collections, or information that we learned by looking at the primary sources in our collections. Links are provided to where those collections are housed virtually whenever possible. You can access the guide itself here.

We hope you enjoy exploring and playing on the guide. If you have any questions, or even a suggestion for something to add to the guide, feel free to contact the archives using contact info on the Archives home page.

June 10, 2020
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The JKM Library’s Antiracist eBook Reading List

Antiracist eBook List header imageMany organizations and institutions have been offering incredible antiracist reading lists, packed with critically acclaimed fiction and nonfiction that add to our individual education on systemic and institutional racism in the United States and around the world. You should consult these lists and make your own TBR (to be read) pile of antiracist titles. It is a personal, moral, and civic duty that we commit to learning about the history, hardships, and experiences of our fellow Americans. It is also our duty to confront white supremacy on personal, local, and systemic levels. These reading lists can be an excellent start to that work. Armed with new knowledge and understanding, we can be better equipped to help push for lasting change in this country and around the world. Knowledge truly is power.

Below is a list of eBook titles that can be accessed freely by Chatham University students, faculty, and staff. Some are antiracist staples, some are more specifically focused on education, and some can help you take the next step in turning your knowledge into productive action for the collective good. Images are from Goodreads. Descriptions are from the publishers and/or Goodreads. Follow the linked titles to check out the eBook today.

The Souls of Black Folk book coverThe Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

“This collection of essays by scholar-activist W. E. B. Du Bois is a masterpiece in the African American canon. Du Bois, arguably the most influential African American leader of the early twentieth century, offers insightful commentary on Black history, racism, and the struggles of Black Americans following emancipation. In his groundbreaking work, the author presciently writes that ‘the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,’ and offers powerful arguments for the absolute necessity of moral, social, political, and economic equality. These essays on the Black experience in America range from sociological studies of the African American community to illuminating discourses on religion and ‘Negro music,’ and remain essential reading. A new introduction by Jonathan Holloway explores Du Bois’s signature accomplishments while helping readers to better understand his writings in the context of his time as well as ours.”

The New Jim Crow book coverThe New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

“Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as ‘brave and bold,’ this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that ‘we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.’ By targeting Black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a ‘call to action.’ Called ‘stunning’ by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Levering Lewis, ‘invaluable’ by the Daily Kos, ‘explosive’ by Kirkus, and ‘profoundly necessary’ by the Miami Herald, this updated and revised paperback edition of The New Jim Crow, now with a foreword by Cornel West, is a must-read for all people of conscience.”

Black Feminist Thought book coverBlack Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins

“In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins explores the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals as well as those African-American women outside academe. She provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde. The result is a superbly crafted book that provides the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought.”

On Lynchings book coverOn Lynchings by Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Though the end of the Civil War brought legal emancipation to Blacks, it is a fact of history that their social oppression continued long after. The most virulent form of this ongoing persecution was the practice of lynching carried out by mob rule, often as local law enforcement officials looked the other way. During the 1880s and 1890s, more than 100 African Americans per year were lynched, and in 1892 alone the toll of murdered men and women reached a peak of 161.

In that awful year, the 23-year-old Ida B. Wells, the editor of a small newspaper for Blacks in Memphis, Tennessee, raised one lone voice of protest. In her paper, she charged that white businessmen had instigated three local lynchings against their black competitors. In retaliation for her outspoken courage, a goon-squad of angry whites destroyed her editorial office and print shop, and she was forced to flee the South and move to New York City. So began a crusade against lynching which became the focus of her long, active, and very courageous life. In New York, she began lecturing against the abhorrent vigilante practice and published her first pamphlet on the subject called ‘Southern Horrors.’ After moving to Chicago and marrying lawyer Ferdinand Barnett, she continued her campaign, publishing ‘A Red Record’ in 1895 and ‘Mob Rule in New Orleans,’ about the race riots in that city, in 1900. All three of these documents are collected in On Lynchings, a shocking testament to cruelty and the dark American legacy of racial prejudice.”

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass book coverNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave: Written by Himself, Critical Edition

“A new edition of one of the most influential literary documents in American and African American history. Ideal for coursework in American and African American history, this revised edition of Frederick Douglass’s memoir of his life as a slave in pre-Civil War Maryland incorporates a wide range of supplemental materials to enhance students’ understanding of slavery, abolitionism, and the role of race in American society. Offering readers a new appreciation of Douglass’s world, it includes documents relating to the slave narrative genre and to the later career of an essential figure in the nineteenth-century abolition movement.”

Race for Profit book coverRace for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

“By the late 1960s and early 1970s, reeling from a wave of urban uprisings, politicians finally worked to end the practice of redlining. Reasoning that the turbulence could be calmed by turning Black city-dwellers into homeowners, they passed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and set about establishing policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black homebuyers equally. The disaster that ensued revealed that racist exclusion had not been eradicated, but rather transmuted into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusion. Race for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining’s end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties. Meanwhile, new policies meant to encourage low-income homeownership created new methods to exploit Black homeowners. The federal government guaranteed urban mortgages in an attempt to overcome resistance to lending to Black buyers – as if unprofitability, rather than racism, was the cause of housing segregation. Bankers, investors, and real estate agents took advantage of the perverse incentives, targeting the Black women most likely to fail to keep up their home payments and slip into foreclosure, multiplying their profits. As a result, by the end of the 1970s, the nation’s first programs to encourage Black homeownership ended with tens of thousands of foreclosures in Black communities across the country. The push to uplift Black homeownership had descended into a goldmine for realtors and mortgage lenders, and a ready-made cudgel for the champions of deregulation to wield against government intervention of any kind. Narrating the story of a sea-change in housing policy and its dire impact on African Americans, Race for Profit reveals how the urban core was transformed into a new frontier of cynical extraction.”

Black and Blue book coverBlack and Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism by John Hoberman

Black and Blue is the first systematic description of how American doctors think about racial differences and how this kind of thinking affects the treatment of their black patients. The standard studies of medical racism examine past medical abuses of Black people and do not address the racially motivated thinking and behaviors of physicians practicing medicine today. Black and Blue penetrates the physician’s private sphere where racial fantasies and misinformation distort diagnoses and treatments. Doctors have always absorbed the racial stereotypes and folkloric beliefs about racial differences that permeate the general population. Within the world of medicine this racial folklore has infiltrated all of the medical sub-disciplines, from cardiology to gynecology to psychiatry. Doctors have thus imposed White or Black racial identities upon every organ system of the human body, along with racial interpretations of Black children, the Black elderly, the Black athlete, Black musicality, Black pain thresholds, and other aspects of Black minds and bodies. The American medical establishment does not readily absorb either historical or current information about medical racism. For this reason, racial enlightenment will not reach medical schools until the current race-aversive curricula include new historical and sociological perspectives.”

We Have Not Been Moved book coverWe Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America by Elizabeth Betita Martinez (Editor) Matt Meyer (Editor), Mandy Carter (Editor), Alice Walker (Afterword), Sonia Sanchez (Afterword), Cornel West (Foreword)

“A compendium of writings that detail the grassroots actions of social and political activists from the civil rights era of the early 1960s to the present day, this book reviews the major points of intersection between white supremacy and the war machine through historic and contemporary articles from a diverse range of scholars and activists. Among the historic texts included are rarely seen writings by antiracist icons such as Anne Braden, Barbara Deming, and Audre Lorde as well as a dialogue between Dr. King, revolutionary nationalist Robert F. Williams, Dave Dellinger, and Dorothy Day. Never-before-published pieces appear from civil rights and gay rights organizer Bayard Rustin and from celebrated U.S. pacifist supporter of Puerto Rican sovereignty Ruth Reynolds. Additional articles, essays, interviews, and poems from numerous contributors examine the strategic and tactical possibilities of radical transformation for lasting social change through revolutionary nonviolence.”

Antiracist School LeadershipAntiracist School Leadership: Toward Equity in Education for America’s Students by Jeffrey S. Brooks

“Since the passing of Brown versus Board of Education to the election of the first Black president of the United States, there has been much discussion on how far we have come as a nation on issues of race. Some continue to assert that Barack Obama’s election ushered in a new era—making the US a post-racial society. But this argument is either a political contrivance, borne of ignorance or a bold-faced lie. There is no recent data on school inequities, or inequity in society for that matter, that suggests we have arrived at Dr. King’s dream that his ‘four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ Children today are instead still judged by the color of their skin, and this inequitable practice is manifest in today’s schools for students of color in the form of disproportionate student discipline referrals, achievement and opportunity gaps, pushout rates, overrepresentation in special education and underrepresentation in advanced coursework, among other indicators (Brooks, 2012). Though issues of race in the public education system may take an overt or covert form; racial injustice in public schools is still pervasive, complex, and cumulative. The authors in this book explore various ways that racism is manifest in the American school system. Through a plurality of perspectives, they deconstruct, challenge, and reconstruct an educational leadership committed to equity and excellence for marginalized students and educators.”

Towards Collective Liberation book coverTowards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy by Chris Crass

“Organized into four sections, this collection of essays is geared toward activists engaging with the dynamic questions of how to create and support effective movements for visionary systemic change. These essays and interviews present powerful lessons for transformative organizing. It offers a firsthand look at the challenges and the opportunities of antiracist work in white communities, feminist work with men, and bringing women of color feminism into the heart of social movements. Drawing on two decades of personal activist experience and case studies within these areas, Crass’s essays insightfully explore ways of transforming divisions of race, class, and gender into catalysts for powerful vision, strategy, and building movements in the United States today. This collection will inspire and empower anyone who is interested in implementing change through organizing.”

The Next American Revolution book coverThe Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee Boggs

“The pioneering Asian American labor organizer and writer’s vision for intersectional and anti-racist activism. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis—political, economical, and environmental—and shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities. A vibrant, inspirational force, Boggs has participated in all of the twentieth century’s major social movements—for civil rights, women’s rights, workers’rights, and more. She draws from seven decades of activist experience, and a rigorous commitment to critical thinking, to redefine “revolution” for our times. From her home in Detroit, she reveals how hope and creativity are overcoming despair and decay within the most devastated urban communities. Her book is a manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will collectively constitute the next American Revolution—which is unraveling before our eyes.”

We hope you find this eBook reading list helpful as you begin or continue your antiracist work. You can follow the JKM Library’s Instagram account (@jkmlibrary) for more book recommendations on various topics. And you can recommend a specific book to be added to the JKM Library’s collection by emailing Reference@Chatham.edu or reaching out to a specific librarian.

May 27, 2020
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An Introduction to Academic Video Online (AVON): Feel-Good Videos to Stream During Quarantine

The JKM Library has a new database worth checking out! Academic Video Online (AVON) is a premier database that holds over 68,000 videos spanning a variety of disciplines and subjects. Whether you’re in the mood for a documentary, news, feature films, or interviews, AVON has access across the board. Explore videos of different genres, lengths, and age, and expand your horizons; search for the exact title you’re looking for, or just peruse the homepage! The database’s wide variety provides a well-rounded collection of both educational and entertaining resources, and Chatham users can see it all! Here’s a few titles that both highlight the diversity of AVON and can lift your spirits!

Image of the cast of Candide1.) Candide, libretto by Leonard Bernstein

Bernstein’s operatic adaptation of Voltaire novella comes to life in the 2004 production with the New York Philharmonic, featuring the musical stylings of theatre giants like Kristin Chenoweth and Patti LuPone. The show tells the story of the eponymous protagonist as he traverses through adulthood meeting bizarre new people and learning important life lessons. Candide boasts an impressive score full of bright, exuberant numbers and an overall feeling of comedy and joy throughout. Viewers can expect to laugh their way all the way through this musical adventure. A true testament to the quality of AVON’s performing arts selection, Candide is fun for everyone.

Film poster for Land Ho!2.) Land Ho!, directed by Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens

Here’s one raucous comedy evokes the feeling of the ’80s road trip movies, but turns the trope on its head with its elderly protagonist. This feature film follows former brothers-in-law Mitch and Colin as they attempt to relive their youth while taking a trip through Iceland. This indie darling is simple and character-driven, and while it has the occasional heavy moment, the majority of Land Ho! is chock full of quirk and witty humor. Coupled with the beautiful scenery of Reykjavik, this movie is a short and sweet romp that prioritizes mischief, friendship, and the idea that we all need someone to be there for us every now and then.

Film poster for Awake3.) Awake: The Life of Yogananda, directed by Pablo Di Florio and Lisa Leeman

In this documentary, the life of acclaimed yogi Paramahansa Yogananda serves as the subject. His story of enlightenment and self-discovery is juxtaposed against his personal struggles growing up, and paints an incredible picture of his journey. Often credited as bringing yoga to the west via his memoir Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda’s grounded view of life and practice of self-realization helped to propel yoga into the mainstream. This documentary would be a great fit both for those who want to further inform their practice of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness as well as those brand new to the topic and wanting to learn more.

Film poster for Fermented4.) Fermented, directed by Jonathan Cianfrani

Part science, part history, all educational, this documentary explores the roots of one of oldest forms of food preservation, perfect for the sustainability-savvy viewer. Learn all about the different ways that fermentation can occur, from pickling to making alcohol, and their importance to the world of food! Host Edward Lee is incredibly passionate about exploring this food practice, and his enthusiasm could very well extend to the viewer. Considering the growing popularity of food studies and sustainable food practice, this film would serve as a great supplement to learning about current food trends–canning and pickling may make a quarantine comeback!

Film poster for Mister Rogers It's You I Like5.) Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like, directed by John Paulson

Nothing says “feel-good” quite like Mister Rogers. 2019 gave us two great movies, Won’t You Be My Neighbor and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, but this earlier documentary pays homage directly to Mister Rogers’ television legacy. Highlighting some of the show’s most memorable clips and performances, and featuring interviews with celebrities on how Mister Rogers shaped their lives, It’s You I Like gives an inside glimpse of the importance of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in its 900 episode run. You’re guaranteed to finish this documentary with a smile on your face, and an even greater understanding of the importance of this hometown hero on children’s television.

These are just a few of the thousands of titles available through AVON. Whether you’re interested in a three-minute mindfulness video, a fashion show, or a virtual trip to the orchestra, AVON has something for everyone. Watch with your significant other, your kids, or with friends, maybe host a Zoom watch party–regardless of what you choose, the possibilities seem endless! Access the database here, and remember to also check out our other available library resources during our closure. Happy watching!

Carina Stopenski is the Access Services Associate at Chatham University’s Jennie King Mellon Library. They started out as a student worker while getting their creative writing degree at Chatham, and have since started working on their Master’s of Library Science at Clarion University. They enjoy games of both the board and video persuasion, vegan baking, and reading graphic novels.
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