Where the Visual Meets the Verbal: Letters as Art

Hypergraphic paintingThe Sheridan Libraries' significant avant-garde collections hold some real gems; among them is one of the most important collections in North America of the mid-20th century French movement of Lettrisme. We have been adding to our lettriste holdings over the past several years and now have an important collection, including the movement's periodicals and books. Interestingly, the basis of our Lettrism holding is in the Goulemot collection. Many of our early lettrist titles come from this collection.

The essence of lettrisme is, well, the letter. Its founder, Isidore Isou, believed that poetry must be deconstructed, down to its most basic element, a single letter. Letters, as mere visual symbols, would be the basis of a new poetics and art. Isou's ideas and influence spilled over into the visual arts, film, architecture, even mathematics, psychiatry and politics.

There's nothing new under the sun of course, and Lettrism probably reminds you of Concrete Poetry, which has been around for centuries. Coincidentally, the Sheridan Libraries also boasts a significant collection of this unlikely marriage of word and image; from a book of the German Baroque to Guillaume Apollinaire's experiments in the early 20th century, and lots in between.

The Lettrist collections here at the Sheridan Libraries include books by Isou and his colleague Maurice Lemaître, periodicals put out by the lettrists, as well as works by their once-collaborators and later rivals - the Situationist International, led by Guy Debord.

Try exploring our collection of this fascinating movement. Here are a few searches to get you started:

Look for an exhibit in the Eisenhower Library at the end of this month showcasing our Lettrist holdings. The exhibit will be curated by the students in Professor Molly Warnock's class on "the long 60's" in European art.

BorrowDirect Outage: April 1, 7am

ELEVENPartnerLogoThere will be a BorrowDirect full system outage tomorrow starting at 7am lasting for approximately 30 minutes. Please consider this outage as you plan your April 1 work.

For those unfamiliar with the service, you can use BorrowDirect to search and request books from the Ivies + Chicago and MIT with average delivery times of 3-6 business days. A JHED login is required.

Women at Hopkins: Trailblazers since the 1870s

By Rachel Shavel, A&S '18, Hopkins Retrospective Student Assistant

Residents of Clark Hall, 1972.
University Archives Photograph Collection

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Hopkins Retrospective would like to recognize the many women who have made Hopkins great. From the first women on campus, to groundbreaking faculty members, to graduates representing JHU in the field, the hospital, and on bookshelves, we’re proud of what our Hopkins women can do!

Hopkins did not always welcome women with open arms, however. Daniel Coit Gilman, the first president of Hopkins, supported the education of women but felt that it was best accomplished via women’s colleges rather than coeducational facilities. Enter our heroine, Christine Ladd-Franklin, who was admitted to graduate study in 1878 on the basis of her undeniably superior logic abilities and the support of influential Hopkins professor J. J. Sylvester. She was the first woman both to earn a Hopkins degree (she completed all requirements for it by 1882, but it was not officially awarded by the university until 1926) and to join the Hopkins Faculty of Philosophy (the precursor to today’s School of Arts & Sciences). Equality came at an uneven pace here at Hopkins: women were officially admitted to graduate programs in 1907 and part-time programs in 1909, though they would not be admitted as full-time undergraduates until 1970. The School of Medicine, though, has been open to both sexes since its doors opened in 1893. So, what have our intrepid Lady Jays been up to since their Hopkins days? Let’s check it out!

1959 Public Health graduate alumna Dr. Virginia Apgar was the first woman to become a full professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and, most notably, was the creator of the Apgar score, a method of evaluating a newborn’s health in the transition from womb to real world.

1979 graduate alumna Louise Erdrich is a celebrated author and poet and a recipient of the National Book Award for Fiction, the Anisfield-Wold Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, among others.

1987 SAIS graduate alumna Carlyle Murphy became a long-time contributor to the Washington Post, author of two critically acclaimed books, as well as a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting.

2008 Public Health and Business graduate alumna Alison A. Hill has helped 4.5 million Kenyans get access to clean drinking water via her work with LifeStraw Carbon for Water.

2008 Arts & Sciences undergraduate and 2010 Education graduate alumna Yasmene L. Mumby has proven to be an invaluable asset to educational reform and was a driving force behind a $1.1 billion plan for improving Baltimore schools.

For more information on Hopkins’ influential women and the history of their presence on campus, be sure to check out these resources:

BorrowDirect now in Catalyst and WorldCat

ELEVENPartnerLogoTo get you the materials you need faster, last fall we debuted a service called BorrowDirect. This 11-school consortium offers direct access to the more than 50 million volumes from the Ivies plus Chicago and MIT, providing a great alternative to recall wars and waiting for interlibrary loans. Material requested through BorrowDirect is delivered in just 3-6 business days!

Now we’ve taken steps to integrate this popular service into the places you already search, namely Catalyst and WorldCat. In the library catalog, the BorrowDirect option will appear when an item is checked out or on reserve. You’ll also have the opportunity to request a physical copy if our only format is electronic. In WorldCat, BorrowDirect will show under these same conditions and also when you seek an item that’s not in our collection.

So for example, if you searched the library catalog for Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, you’ll now get the option to request a copy through BorrowDirect since all our copies are currently on reserve.


The same would be true if you used WorldCat—when you click the Find It button, you’ll see the BorrowDirect option. The link to check BorrowDirect will automatically run a search for the item you’re seeking.

The integration will remain in beta for the next two weeks while we make sure it’s working as expected. We’ll roll out additional enhancements as they become available. Let us know what you think of the integration in the comments below!

Can’t Find It? There’s a Guide for That.

If you ask a JHU student why they are in the library, they might tell you that they are there to study, to do homework, work on a group project, or use a computer. Taking a look around M level, that seems to be what most students are doing right now. But the library isn't just a place where you can work - any other study space on campus can offer something similar. So what makes the library so special? Well, here, you can discover new things! You are completely surrounded by a wealth of information that you can't find anywhere else. But the trouble with with all this cool information right here just waiting for you? You can't always find it.

Find TOCWe've tried to make that easier for you with a brand new guide to help you find the information you need. Books? You know we have those, but even just figuring out what floor to start on can be tricky! Articles? Tons are online, but are sometimes more trouble to get to than you thought. Media and images? We have that too! Keep hitting a roadblock when you need something we don't have? This guide walks you through the process.

You probably don't use the library resources all day every day like us librarians do, so we don't expect you to figure it out on your own. Check out the new guide to Find Books, Articles, and More, to give yourself an idea of how to start navigating the big wide world of information. But if you get stuck, don't forget, we're here to help you too.

Image Is Everything: ARTstor Can Help Illustrate Your Point!

ImageGroup3Need a specific image for your term paper? Want to explore a topic in a visual way? Try ARTstor, a research database containing over one million images of art and cultural objects.

The collection, which the Libraries subscribe to, documents artistic traditions across all times and cultures and covers architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and design as well as many other forms of visual and material culture. Educators, scholars, and students use ARTstor in a wide variety of disciplines -- not only art, but in fields as diverse as anthropology, history, literature, religion, sociology, Classical antiquity, music, and Medieval and Renaissance studies.

ARTstor comprises several collections, including: Hartill Archive of Architecture & Allied Arts, the MoMA Design Collection, Native American Art & Culture, and the Schlesinger History of Women. In addition, there is a general Image Gallery that includes a wide assortment of illustrations across many disciplines.

artstorlogo.gifImages from ARTstor may not be used for any commercial purpose, but may be used liberally to support your studies -- for papers, presentations, or just as a means to research a topic. Also, if you're publishing an academic book or article, ARTstor has many useful images included in its Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) program; these may be used freely in publications.

Aphorisms Add Spice









So much writing advice focuses on negative rules -- "never brashly split infinitives," "idiomatic expressions won't hammer home your point," "avoid cliché like the plague" -- but how's this for a positive?:

  • Employ the occasional aphorism when it will clarify or otherwise bolster your argument.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "aphorism" as:

"2. Any principle or precept expressed in few words; a short pithy sentence containing a truth of general import; a maxim."

Such rhetorical devices can be particularly effective when some aspect of moral psychology or Human Nature is the object. In this vein, here are a few of my personal favorites:

"It's not enough to succeed. Others must fail." 
Gore Vidal (1925-2012)

"Whoever makes himself a worm cannot complain when he is then trampled underfoot."
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), The Metaphysics of Morals, The Doctrine of Virtue

"If you wish to be appreciated in high society, you have to let yourself be taught many things you already know by people who don't."
Sébastien-Roch-Nicolas Chamfort (1740-1794)

"Silence is the best resolve for him who distrusts himself."
François, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)Maxim 79

"The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel."
Horace Walpole (1717-1797), Letter to Sir Horace Mann, 31 December 1769

"A pessimist thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it."
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Good, comprehensive anthologies of aphorisms include:

(And speaking of cynical, if you've never leafed through Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary, you're missing out on one of the great and hilarious works of American literature.)

The Library of Congress Subject Heading for this topic is "Aphorisms and Apothegms." This is what you'd use as your search term in Catalyst. Other relevant terms include: Maxims, Proverbs, Quotations.

But be careful: just as over-salting ruins the pot, use such rhetorical spice sparingly. Like the name-dropping boor, too many aphorisms easily annoy. Know your audience and make sure the aphorism is -- like pearls at a wedding reception, like cutoffs at the Dylan show, like boxed wine at the Reading -- perfectly appropriate.

After all, one man's profundity is another's inane truism.

Please be sure to visit our Writing Guide for other tips.

Women Make Movies!

To commemorate Women’s History Month, we thought we’d share some of the fantastic contributions women make to the art of filmmaking!

Let’s start with the title of this blog post – I stole it completely from a great media arts organization that distributes cutting-edge films by and about women from around the world. You guessed it! It's called Women Make Movies. Check out their complete catalog of films to see the breadth and diversity of the films they distribute. And, if you want to view some right away, look at our library holdings. It’s great stuff!

So, you know Alice Guy-Blaché and Lois Weber, right? Sure you do – they’re among the pioneers of early film (of either gender) that broke ground for all filmmakers. If you want to refresh your memory, watch this film about their remarkable careers (it’s in VHS format, so feel free to view it at the Library AV Center where we have VHS equipment at the ready). We also have books about Guy-Blaché and Weber, and much more information generally about women in the film industry. It’s a rich and often-overlooked history.

Who are some other female filmmakers of note? These are just some of my favorites, from the obscure to the very mainstream. Have fun!

Want to explore more about women in the film industry? In addition to all the material linked to above, take a look at this book (yes, BOOK): Women Directors and their Films. That will surely give you lots of great ideas.

Find even more information via the tools on the Film & Media Studies Research Guide!

Are You Ready to Read It and Eat It?

EdibleCakeThe Sheridan Libraries are hosting Read It and Eat It, our second annual Edible Book Festival, and we would like to invite all of our Hopkins friends to submit your very own literary-inspired cake to our food-for-all! The culinary event of the decade is happening in the Glass Pavilion on April 1st from 12:30pm-2:30pm. Eat free cake! Bake a book-based-cake! Be in the running for gift cards to local restaurants and shops, like Atomic Books, The Brewer's Art, Carma's Cafe, Cazbar, Chocolatea, Donna's, Eddie's Market, HomeSlyce, Miss Shirley's, A People United, and tickets to concerts of your choice at the Peabody! Did I mention eating cake? Because you get to eat cake!

The Edible Book Festival was originally created by two book artists back in 2000 and is meant to be a whimsical, literary way to celebrate both April Fool’s Day and the birthday of Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, an incredibly snarky French gourmand of yore. It has since been celebrated at various libraries and museums throughout the world, including locally at Goucher and University of Maryland, College Park. Obviously, our Edible Book Festival is the best ever. A feathered giant has awoke, baking pan in wing. Fear the Blue Jay!

So, if you want to pay homage to the celebrated oeuvre, say, of Jacqueline Susann via cake (I mean, who doesn’t) embrace this opportunity! Love literary puns? See if you can top creations from other festivals, such as All Quiet on the Western Bundt and Mansfield Pork. Love Special Collections material? Why not try to make this in cake form. Have a great idea, but zero baking skills? You’ll be a winner with our award for Best Cake Wreck.

To register a cake in the contest or to find out about rules for submission, please check out our official blog for the event! Please note, though, if you wish to participate, you must register by March 29. Enough of these formalities! Let them eat cake! Delicious, book-inspired cake! Cake!

And the Winner is…

envelope1The Grammys and Oscars have me thinking about awards (and stunning evening wear). It's been a few years since we looked at the most downloaded online journals, so let's take a peek into the envelope.

In the category of most downloaded journal at JHU between January and October of 2014...

The winner is...

The New England Journal of Medicine with 172,176 downloads!

Runners up include: