Of Ephemeral Cats, Popish Plots, and the Baltimore Occult

Think Special Collections is only composed of fancy materials like Shakespeare folios or exquisite medieval books of hours? Well, think again! Students enrolled in the Intersession course “Cheap and (Not Too) Tawdry: An Exploration of Ephemera” had hands-on access to materials people do not always associate with the Special Collections, such as cheaply produced collections of bawdy jokes and other materials that luminaries like Samuel Pepys referred to as mere "bum-fodder" (aka, toilet paper).

In addition to exploring examples of, um, "bum-fodder" in our collection, students learned quite a lot about the history of street literature, souvenirs, and personal mementos. For their final project, they each had to come up with a display based on a theme of their choosing, and there truly is something for everyone! Love cats? Then “Ephemeral Cats” will have you meowing for hours! Enjoy conversing with the spirit world? Then our display on the occult will have you seeking auras throughout the Brody Learning Commons! Dig advertising, popish conspiracies, silly “erotic” cards, or cranky babies? Then what are you waiting for? Head to the Special Collections Reading Room posthaste! The display will be on view through February 6, 2015.

About Heidi Herr

Heidi Herr is the librarian for philosophy and outreach coordinator for Special Collections.

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