Special Collections Obtains Lothar Schreyer’s “Kreuzigung”

Geliebte Mutter. Resource: still image. Genre: woodcuts. Date issued 1920 - 1921.

Geliebte Mutter. Resource: still image. Genre: woodcuts. Date issued 1920 - 1921.

The Sheridan Libraries’ Special Collections, a treasure trove of research and teaching material, has just grown by one very significant acquisition. A gem in the multi-faceted field of German Expressionism was recently added, thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Johns Hopkins University Libraries.

Kreuzigung: Spielgang Werk VII. Sturm dir Sturm allen Sturm is an illustrated book from 1920 with 77 full-page, hand-colored pochoir woodcuts and 5 full-page images of mask costumes. A very unusual book, it is a fascinating addition to our significant avant-garde collection.

What on earth is this book with such a ponderous title? The author, Bauhaus artist Lothar Schreyer, who founded an experimental Expressionist theater group with the artist and critic Herwarth Walden, puts his original ideas on theater into print here. and attempts a transformation of a theatrical text into something quite different from a typical literary work.

Untitled, Leaf XXIIII. Resource: still image. Genre: woodcuts. Date issued: 1920 - 1921.

Untitled, Leaf XXIIII. Resource: still image. Genre: woodcuts. Date issued: 1920 - 1921.

The text is laid out along a three-line staff, like music:

  • The first line depicts the spoken words. The speakers are designated by colorful symbols which correspond to the performers' costumes.
  • The second line lays out the vocal rhythm, pitch, and volume.
  • The third line is the stage directions, conveyed in symbols and words.

Related to this new book, we have a large run of the magazine founded by Herwarth Walden, Der Sturm. This publication was extremely influential and its publisher, the Verlag Der Sturm, spawned many other publishing projects. Including the only publication to come out of the Schreyer-Walden collaboration, Sturm-Buhne: Jahrbuch des Theaters der Expressionisten. (The entire run has been digitized by the Blue Mountain Project).

Kreuzigung Title page. Resource: text. Genre: woodcuts. Date issued: 1920 - 1921.

Title page. Resource: text. Genre: woodcuts. Date issued: 1920 - 1921.

The early 20th century avant-garde was complicated! German Expressionists mixed with Italian Futurists, who collaborated with French Surrealists. The combinations of nationalities and movements might be endless. So much is out there, still to discover and piece together. Thanks to our Friends of the Libraries, we have one more piece of the puzzle.





My Solo Travels in Greece: A POC in Paradise

venice mykonos greece

Little Venice and the Windmills, Mykonos Town, Mykonos Island. Photo by Annie Tang.

Part I:  Microaggressions in Mykonos 

When I was asked to write a travelogue on my two-week sojourn to Greece, I could not help but write this through a lens of intersectionality. As a person of color (POC) and a young woman, solo traveling in predominantly white countries intensifies my experiences in these overlapping identities. My identities (more than what was mentioned) influence me, as my outward physical identities influence how people treat me, wherever I am.


meteora monolith kalambaka thessaly

Meteora monoliths, Kalambaka, Thessaly. Several medieval monasteries were built atop the monoliths by monks who climbed and used a system of ladders and pulleys to construct the places of worship thousands of feet in elevation. Photo by Annie Tang.

This international trip was a whirlwind of self-planned inland and island adventures with an itinerary which included: the archaeological wonders of Athens, Mycenae, and Delphi; the geologic awe of Meteora and the Samaria Gorge; and the paradisal islands of Corfu, Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos. As amazing as this trip was (indeed, it is going to be hard to top!), paradise was not perfect; it was slightly marred by racial microaggressions.



From the tourist who assumed I didn’t have my U.S. citizenship, to the waitress who asked if I was one of the Filipino cruiseline workers, as well as the older traveler who demanded I get her a drink because she thought I was one of the part-time workers at a bus station cafe, examples of microaggression were frequent. It is par for the course for POCs traveling abroad, particularly in Western countries. Racial microaggressions are not just a rare occurrence but a constant struggle for minorities at home and on vacation. They are products of a wider systemic way societies look at traditionally underrepresented folks.

samaria gorge greece

Near trail's end of the Samaria Gorge. The trail eventually turns into a spectacular riverbed that hikers hike alongside. The gorge itself is located in a national park on the island of Crete. Photo by Annie Tang

But that is not to say my trip was ruined! This was the best world adventure I’ve had yet. There was nothing like seeing the golden rays of sunset cast against thousand-foot monoliths, topped by medieval monasteries built by endeavoring monks. There was nothing like making it to the end of a strenuous 6-hour hike through one of Greece’s most beautiful natural wonders and diving into crystal blue waters. There was nothing like sharing a Mythos beer with Greek locals and listening to them play traditional folk songs.  

kalambaka thessaly greece

Locals in Kalambaka, Thessaly, playing traditional folk music in a taverna--and getting complimentary carafes of house wine to boot! Photo by Annie Tang.


I was not only touched by the geographic and built marvels, but by the overall kindness and cultures of people from a country I’ve wanted to visit since I was a child..




The following includes more resources on topics discussed in this blog:

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this travelogue, where I talk about my sojourn from a gender perspective, as a solo woman traveler.

Library Tourism

The Reading Room in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France), Paris.

At some point, we all travel and explore new places. While you're globe-trotting, don't forget to visit libraries! Seriously, some libraries are tourist attractions and well-worth a visit. Even the New York Times has recognized this insider's tip!

You could start close to home, in Washington DC, at the Library of Congress. The Jefferson Building, near the Capitol, is considered by many to be the most beautiful building in the city. See the Gutenberg Bible! See Thomas Jefferson's library! they always have a featured collection on display. And it has a great gift shop!

Further afield, the Morgan Library and Museum in New York has a fabulous exhibit space, beautiful architecture, J.P. Morgan's private library, and a great gift shop. This library/museum also always features exhibits from its treasures.

Ceiling of the Great Hall in the U.S. National Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)

Ceiling of the Great Hall in the U.S. National Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)

Going west? The Huntington Library in San Marino, CA has art collections and botanical gardens in addition to the library. It's known for a splendid collection of the history of science, among other things. It also hosts exhibits, and has a great gift shop.

Going abroad? The Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris is a fabulous space to visit, with exhibits, great collections, a spectacular view, and - a gift shop! The British Library in London is fabulous. And the national library in Florence, Italy - Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze - awaits you too. In Madrid, the Biblioteca Nacional is a destination. You could even visit the National Library of China in Beijing, Russia in St. Petersburg!

Sure, all these libraries have great websites, and their catalogs are online. But it's not just about the books (although they have fantastic collections). Experience the space, the architecture, the exhibits, and, well, the great gift shops!

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, Professor of Greek

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, Johns Hopkins' first professor of Greek, was born in 1831 in Charleston, South Carolina, and was orphaned at a young age. Gildersleeve proved to be a precocious child who displayed a hunger for classical learning. His determination took him first to the College of Charleston, then to Jefferson College in Pennsylvania and on to Princeton, where he earned his bachelor's degree at the age of 18. He then went to Europe for advanced study, earning his doctorate at Göttingen in 1853, at the age of 22. Returning to the United States, he became professor of Greek at the University of Virginia in 1856.

When the Civil War began in 1861, many faculty members in the south resigned their positions to join the Confederate armies. Gildersleeve accepted a staff officer position in the summer of 1861, and he returned to the army each spring at the conclusion of classes. During a skirmish in the Shenandoah Valley in September 1864, Gildersleeve was delivering orders to the front when gunfire shattered his leg. Gildersleeve's comment summed up the incident: "I lost my pocket Homer, I lost my pistol, I lost one of my horses and, finally, I came very near losing my life." As a result of this wound, he would bear a limp for the remainder of his life. During his convalescence, brooding over the prospect of a postwar South dominated by the North, Gildersleeve considered abandoning the academic life and joining the conflict in Mexico with Maximilian.

Overcoming his despair, Gildersleeve returned to Charlottesville and resumed his duties, helping to rebuild an institution ravaged by war. In later life, he reflected, "At the University of Virginia, I learned what scholarship and toil meant in terms of growth and inner rewards." Students came to cherish the rigorous training they received at the hands of this Greek master. A brilliant scholar, Gildersleeve was known to be very demanding of his students, singling out with biting comments those he felt were performing below their abilities. As he matured, his classroom demeanor softened.

After failing to persuade a Harvard scholar to relocate to the new Johns Hopkins University, Hopkins president Daniel Coit Gilman was directed to Gildersleeve. Gilman tendered an offer to Gildersleeve that the latter accepted in December 1875.

Gildersleeve’s hiring helped allay the fears of many who nervously watched Gilman, from Connecticut, build a university with a bequest from a pro-Union railroad baron. Their fear was that the new university would employ only those sympathetic to the North.

Gildersleeve credited Hopkins with satisfying his fondest desires. Writing in 1891, he declared, "The greater freedom of action, the larger appliances, the wider and richer life, the opportunities for travel and for personal intercourse have stimulated production and have made my last 14 years my most fruitful years in the eyes of the scholarly world." In 1880, he founded the American Journal of Philology at Hopkins and edited the journal through its first 40 years. A memorial later declared, "Of Greek authors, there were few with whom he did not have more than a bowing acquaintance."

Gildersleeve retired from teaching in 1915, after a professorial career spanning nearly 60 years, and passed away quietly on January 9, 1924.

Why Not Read About Summer?

The academic year is over, the Memorial Day picnic leftovers are in the fridge, and you're starting to plan your summer activities. If you're like me, one of the most important summer activities is summer reading! Trashy novels, breezy beach reads, it's all waiting for you. Well, why not read about summer?

A subject search for 'summer fiction' in Catalyst yields a few books, but we find more with the subject term summer resorts fiction. There may be other books about summer that don't have the word 'summer' in the subject. A search for 'summertime' in the title gives us novels, short stories, poetry, and a few titles about staying safe in the summer. (I didn't narrow the search to just fiction.)

Play around with other words that remind you of summer. I also tried the following subject searches:

I'm always surprised at what I can find in Catalyst, our library catalog.

Enjoy your summer reading!


Stories from Turkey

Once there was a white elephant, an Indian boy who was his friend, an architect, several sultans, and a mystery. My introduction to Turkish fiction was the beautifully written The Architect's Apprentice (2015). The author, Elif Shafak (sometimes spelled "Safak"), has written eight books; the best known is probably The Bastard of Istanbul.

In an interview on the BBC World Book Club -- my favorite podcast about books -- she spoke very intensely about the importance of diversity and cosmopolitanism. (Listen to it now! Click the icon above her name and close your eyes; it's a radio broadcast.)

In 2006, Turkish author Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Eisenhower Library has 11 of his books. (His Nobel lecture is beautiful.)

In the library catalog, the SUBJECT heading Turkey--fiction gives almost 90 results:

The Library of Celsus is an ancient Roman building in Ephesus, Anatolia (now part of Selçuk, Turkey) built to store 12,000 scrolls.

There is a list of popular Turkish fiction books -- written in English -- from Goodreads.

Here is more from Elif Shafak about Turkish women, diversity, her own upbringing by a single mother, and how her latest novel, Three Daughters of Eve (2016) reflects these themes.

Finally, here is a mystery, or actually several mysteries: a book written in 1943 has suddenly, inexplicably, become very popular. Here is more detail about the plot -- and the murder of the author -- of Madonna in a Fur Coat.

Fake News Changes Us

As we’ve all been learning recently, fake news really takes two forms: 1) information that is truly wrong and 2) accurate information that someone disagrees with. The first type (alternative facts?) can be disproven using any number of fact-checking sources that we’ve identified in our earlier post. The second type is a bit harder to handle since it involves the manipulation of public opinion against factual information for political reasons. Social media likely compounds the problem. Studies show that social media is influencing how we communicate, how we perform academically, and how we engage in politics. Even before the current state of social media, studies have shown that fake news, such as political satire, can influence how people view politics and politicians in a very negative way.

Fake news turns the advantages of the internet into disadvantages. The ability for anyone to create content means the checks we are used to seeing in academic and media articles – peer review and journalistic ethics– are missing. Content can be created strictly for commercial reasons (even here in Maryland!), as we’ve found with much of the recent fake news.

The ease and speed with which information can be shared lures people to click first and think later. This plays into the filter bubbles you’ve heard so much about. What we see is reinforced and multiplied until we are overwhelmed and assume that what we’re seeing is true, just because it’s repeated so often.

Google and Facebook, whose tools have built some of those bubbles, are trying to combat fake news. In early April, Google released a Fact Check function which will allow some search results to be linked to fact checking agency information. Here’s the list of agencies they work with. Facebook is also adding a tool to your news feed to help with fact checking.

Fake news has been with us throughout history, in many guises. There are sites to help you figure out which media outlets and stories are reliable. As always, your librarian is ready to assist – perhaps libraries are the best places to fight fake news.

Protecting Yourself on the Web

As part of ChoImage of laptop with padlockose Privacy Week, we thought we'd look at securing your web history. In March, Congress agreed to roll back consumer protections that kept internet service providers (ISPs) from selling your search history.

Since then, there have been many articles posted that give us (the consumers) advice about what we should – or shouldn’t do – in response to this change. Below are a couple articles that describe several different things you can do if you are concerned.

As Congress Repeals Internet Privacy Rules, Putting Your Options In Perspective – NPR interview with Jules Polonetsky of Future of Privacy Forum

Here’s How to Protect Your Privacy from Your Internet Service Provider – Electronic Frontier Foundation

Here in the library the right to privacy for our patrons is very important to us. The publicly accessible computers in the library are configured to reduce the possibility of tracking user browsing habits. We set our browsers to delete all browsing history upon exit, so every time the browser is restarted it has no cookies or cache items, making it look like a brand new browser.

However, as you probably know, browser configuration is only a part of the issue – ISP behavior also plays a major role in personal data security. The Johns Hopkins network configuration makes most personalized browsing data appear to the ISP as an aggregated lot, making data mining activity to tie it to particular users virtually useless. All these measures make your data and private information safer when you are using Johns Hopkins computers for web access.

Because the network setup affects all computers, using your personal computer on Hopkins network, and using Hopkins VPN, also makes your browsing sessions more secure from unwanted tracking by advertisers and data miners.

An Evening with Thomas Dolby – May 2nd

Recording artist and music producer Thomas Dolby discusses his new memoir.

Presented by The Friends of the Johns Hopkins Libraries...

TUESDAY, MAY 2nd Reception at 6:00 p.m. followed by 6:45 p.m. talk in MASON HALL on Homewood Campus (3101 Wyman Park Dr., Baltimore, MD 21218).

This event is FREE, but RSVP is requested via libraryfriends@jhu.edu or 410-516-7943.

With hit songs like “Hyperactive!” and “She Blinded Me with Science,” Thomas Dolby achieved international fame in the early 1980s. He was a pioneer of New Wave and Electronica, and his innovative music videos were staples of the early days of MTV. (The five-time Grammy-nominated artist is also known for his keyboard and production work, which over the years put him in the studio with David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Foreigner, Joni Mitchell, and George Clinton).

Dolby combined a love for invention with a passion for music. But as record company politics overshadowed the joy of performing, he found a second act in Hollywood. Scoring films and computer games eventually led him to Silicon Valley, but life at the zenith of a tech empire proved to be just as full of big personalities, battling egos, and roller-coaster success as his days spent at the top of the charts.

The Speed of SoundDolby's new memoir, is the remarkable story of his rise to the top of the music charts, a second act as a tech pioneer, and the sustaining power of creativity and art.

Dolby served for 12 years as the Music Director for the TED conferences, and he is the JHU's first Homewood Professor of the Arts in. Film and Media Studies program.

Scientists, Communicating, Doing Science

How does science get done? In many ways -- experimenting, theorizing, testing, observing. But good science also comes from lots and lots of talking.

At conferences, in journals, in hallways, at seminars, with patients, in classrooms and labs, over coffee, through e-mail and shared citation lists and phone calls.

The "community of scientists" can be very much like a family -- you work together for a while before some family members go to other places and work with other scientists; some members of the family support you while others stop speaking to you; and so forth.

There are many accounts of life in labs and in the field, in hospitals, at universities, and at companies, which weave the stories of how scientists communicate, discover and observe, communicate some more, and keep building on what they've learned, both on their own and from others.

Read the inside stories about how science gets done in these engrossing tales:

For more of the "inside stories" about how science gets done, you should also read Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (the movie based on the book is in theaters now) and The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars.