February 22, 2021
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Judge a Book By Its Cover Bracket 2021

CLICK HERE FOR ROUND TWO VOTING!

We’re back with our second year of the Judge a Book By Its Cover Bracket! No one should be surprised that there are still many more delightfully goofy library book covers in our collection to judge and enjoy. We all know how outdated and silly some book covers can be to us now, and this bracket is all about embracing and enjoying everything these covers have to offer! We have selected 16 of our most ridiculous covers for you to compare and vote for the best/worst. Each book featured in the bracket is from our collection and is available for check-out by Chatham community members.

While we are clearly encouraging you to put on your judgment caps for this activity, don’t forget that the old saying is true: never judge a book by its cover…unless your librarians are demanding that you do it in the name of fun. But in all seriousness, some of the best books out there have been saddled with covers that just don’t fit what’s inside. So while we all love a beautiful book cover, don’t let the outdated covers discourage you from picking up what might end up being your next favorite book.

Now that the disclaimer is over, let’s get to the judgment. Feel free to download a bracket to fill out for fun prior to the voting. You can access the ballot HERE and on Instagram and Facebook. Make sure to follow us on social media to see which covers advance and how to vote in round two! Keep scrolling for a preview of the round one matchups and to help you fill out your brackets.

2021 Matchups

January 27, 2021
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The Chatham-Hampton University Exchange and the Civil Rights Movement

Student newspaper article about Hamtpon Institute Seminar

Student newspaper article announcing seminar at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University)

The 1960s is recognized as a pivotal era in American history, when activists in the Civil Rights Movement worked to remove barriers to equality in the voting booth, the workplace, in banking, and more. But, how involved were Chatham students in these efforts? Some might recall that Chatham students joined the marches from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 and organized a campus visit by John Lewis in 1964, but when did they begin to participate in the movement? Using the recently digitized Chatham Student Newspapers Collection from the University Archives, we can explore how a student-initiated exchange program with Hampton University, a historically black college in Virginia, created opportunities for students to better understand racism in American culture and to engage more closely in efforts to dismantle Jim Crow segregation laws in the early 1960s.

In March of 1961, the Chatham student newspaper (then called The Arrow) ran a front-page article about a seminar to be held at Hampton University (then known as Hampton Institute) on “African Nations in the World Community,” an event that invited interested students and faculty from other schools to attend[1].  Chatham students Dina Ebel `63, Helen Moed `63, and Janet Greenlee accepted the invitation and, upon their return, remarked that they were impressed by the “generosity shown by the students at Hampton” and “their keen interest in international affairs, even with a problem of their own race.”[2]

Portraits of four Chatham students involved in the initiation of the Chatham-Hampton Institute exchange program

 

The three students were highlighted in an article in The Arrow by Stephanie Cooperman `63 as a counterpoint to a sense of general apathy that she felt was affecting the Chatham student population.  Cooperman wrote that more opportunities like the seminar at Hampton Institute would help to engage students in the world beyond the campus.  She wrote, “Why not allow more of us to learn from actual experience the pain and courage it takes to live as a minority?  Why not institute an exchange program, perhaps a week’s duration, with a Southern Negro college?”[3]  Ebel, Moed, and Greenlee likewise supported the exchange program idea and wrote, “We had the opportunity and we want others to share our experience.  You can’t just talk and write about it; you must live it.”[4]

Clip from The Arrow 02/16/1962

Clip from article by Stephanie Cooperman `63 published on 2/16/1962 “[6]

By the spring of 1962, an exchange program between Hampton Institute and Chatham College was in place.  Those who were unable to travel to Hampton were invited to serve as hostesses for the Hampton Institute guests.  This was the first such exchange program at Chatham and a variety of campus events, including dorm parties, a student-faculty tea, and a “folk sing at the Snack Bar” were planned to welcome the visiting students.  The Hampton guests were encouraged to attend classes, student governance meetings, and on- and off-campus events of their choice.[5]

Phyllis Fox`64, one of the five Chatham students to visit Hampton Institute in 1962, wrote in The Arrow that she hoped the program would “help bridge the wide gap of misunderstanding between beings of the same species.” Using poetry to express her thoughts, Fox wrote:

“Every face has known joy and pain;Group of Chatham and Hampton students gathered at Hampton in 1962
Every face is wet with the same rain;
The face is only the mask of life
That hides the real human strife.
A person is not a face, but a spirit and a mind
So what matter if his skin is of a different kind?”[7]

Winter of 1963 saw the Hampton-Chatham exchange program promoted in the student newspaper with an article describing it as an opportunity for “discussions on segregation with students who had led or participated in sit-downs and other integration movements in the South” and for insight into “one of the foremost problems of today, that of racial relations.”[8]

After visiting Hampton Institute that year, Carol Sheldon `66 wrote about participating in a protest  and learning about segregated lunch counters and employment discrimination.  She wrote, “There is a certain unity about a group of fifty Negroes and three whites who walk into downtown discrimination-ridden Hampton on a Sunday afternoon; perhaps we were partners in fear, since many of us had not picketed anything before and were slightly apprehensive.”[9]

 

Chatham and Hampton students gathered in front of what may be the Emancipation OakArticles in the student newspaper about the program document a range of responses, with students expressing interest in extending the exchange for a whole semester and also insinuating that the Hampton visitors were given a less than welcome reception on campus.[10]

Philip A. Silk, an Assistant Minister from the First Unitarian Church, submitted a letter to the editor to The Arrow in which he describes the potential for the exchange program to create “intelligent follow-up projects as aiding groups such as the NAACP or the Urban League.” He continues, “But it can also lead to a feeling that you have done your part, having proved your liberalism in this brief event.”[11]  At the start of the 1963-1964 year, The Arrow announced plans to host a bi-monthly exchange column with the Hampton Institute newspaper[12] and efforts to help organize an exchange program between Hampton and a nearby men’s school, Washington and Jefferson College.[13]

The exchange that occurred in the spring of 1965 seems to be the last.  Following the exchange that year, Leslie Tarr `68 reported that there was little discussion of civil rights on Hampton Institute campus because the administration “frowned” on student engagement in civil rights demonstrations.[14]  That administrators discouraged student participation in civil rights demonstrations is surprising, especially considering that Hampton Institute President Dr. Moron arranged, in 1957, an on-campus position for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks after her demonstration sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and she was fired from her job.[15]  Tarr also said that Hampton Institute students agree that “It’s the parents who are causing the trouble, and there’s hope for our generation.”[16]

Newspaper Clipping Civil Rights ForumThough it is unclear from the student newspapers exactly why the exchange program ended, it seems that Chatham students remained interested in discussing racism and civil rights issues with members of the Hampton Institute community.  In 1966, the Chatham chapter of the National Student Association organized a week-long Civil Rights Forum with an aim to “broaden the exchange of ideas between Chatham students and students of other campuses.” Panelists included students from Hampton Institute, Howard University, Tuskegee Institute and Central State University as well as speakers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).[17]

Illustration from The Arrow published on 4/9/1965 [18]

By exploring the newly digitized student newspaper collection, a more vivid picture of the early 1960s on Chatham campus emerges.  However, lots of questions—like why the exchange program ended and how the participants continued to engage in efforts to dismantle race-based discrimination—remain unanswered.  This period in Chatham history evokes enduring questions that are critical to the fight for equality, including questions of authenticity and performativeness that circulate within contemporary anti-racist efforts.  Though materials in the Chatham University Archives can’t answer all of these questions, they present an opportunity to examine how activism on campus has—and has not—changed over the years.  The Chatham University Archives welcomes questions about using the collections; more information can be found at library.chatham.edu/archives.

Notes

  1. “Hampton Institute Holds Conference on Africa,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), March 17, 1961, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168715.   
  2. Dina Ebel, Helen Moed, and Janet Greenlee, letter to the editor,  The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), May 12, 1961 on 05/12/1961, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168720.
  3. Stephanie Cooperman, “Student Slams Do-Nothings,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), April 28, 1961, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168718.
  4. Ebel, Moed, and Greenlee, letter to the editor, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168720.
  5. “Chatham Welcomes Eight from Hampton,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), April 13, 1962, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168875.
  6. Stephanie Cooperman, “Chatham Arts On Integration,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), February 16, 1962, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168871.
  7. Phyllis Fox, “People Are People From Va. To Pa.,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), April 27, 1962, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168876.
  8. “Hampton, Chatham Trade Students for Weekend,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), February 22, 1963, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168895.
  9. Carol Sheldon, “Chathamites at Hampton,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), April 12, 1963, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168899.
  10. “NSA Board Requests Reply From You,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania),May 10, 1963, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168901.
  11. Philip A. Silk, letter to the editor, The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), March 9, 1962, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168874.
  12. “Arrow States Policy,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), September 27, 1963, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25168903.
  13. “Seven to Travel to Hampton, Va.,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), March 13, 1964, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25169448.
  14. “Five Students Visit Hampton College On Annual 4-Day Exchange Program,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), April 9, 1965, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25169477.
  15. William Harvey , “Hampton University and Mrs. Rosa Parks: A Little Known History Fact.” Hampton University Website. Hampton University. Accessed January 28, 2021. www.hamptonu.edu/news/hm/2013_02_rosa_parks.cfm.
  16. “Five Students Visit Hampton College,” https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25169477.
  17. “NSA to Sponsor Forum on Rights,” The Arrow (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), February 4, 1966, https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25169521.
  18. “Five Students Visit Hampton College,” https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community.25169477.

 

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.

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