Friday, February 11, 2011

The Grief of Winter Carnival

The first snow sculpture, 1925
Winter Carnival, the brainchild of Fred Harris, 1911, founder of the Dartmouth College Outing Club, began as a series of sporting events designed to get students outdoors and clear away the winter doldrums. By the 1930s, Carnival had transformed into a series of parties, balls and contests (such as the crowning of the Queen of Snows) that had barely a passing connection to winter sports. Dartmouth men trapped in the woods of New Hampshire had turned it into the best excuse yet to invite women to campus. National Geographic actually dubbed it the “Mardi Gras of the North.”

Waiting for dates to arrive on the Carnival Train

F. Scott Fitzgerald with Walter Wanger, 1915,
at Carnival in 1939
Following each Carnival, the Outing Club ran “Grief Meetings” where they detailed problems and issues in the vain hope of avoiding the same problems the following year. In 1933 they reported 2,848 people in attendance. By 1939, the year Budd Schulberg 1936, and F. Scott Fitzgerald showed up on campus with a film crew to create the movie “Winter Carnival,” the event had grown so big that The Dartmouth reported, “Dartmouth must soon decide whether its largest social event of the year should be curtailed.” This did not come to pass, and Carnival went off again the following year with no apparent changes.

It took the outbreak of the Second World War to bring the tradition to its knees. Even then, it was not dead. Carnival was back and going strong again when the war ended. Now, 100 years after Fred Harris’s first modest ski contest, Carnival still thrives, albeit on a scale more in keeping with what the DOC wanted in 1939.

Winter Carnival Committee members, undated

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Christi und Antichristi

Propaganda played a major role in the spread of the Reformation. While the leaders of the Reformation were members of the clergy, and were used to a formal, scholarly form of communication, to reach the people they resorted to a visual, didactic method. We recently acquired this example of Protestant rage published in Wittenberg in 1521, Passional Christi und Antichristi.  Through a series of 26 woodcut illustrations, the life of Christ is juxtaposed with the life of the Pope. The text is in the vernacular German and contrasts excerpts from the Gospels with quotations from canon law. As you might expect, the Pope doesn't fare well in the images.

The most satirical image shows Christ driving the merchants from the Temple next to an image of the Pope counting his money from selling indulgences. But the darkest is the day of judgment: As Christ ascends, the Pope is driven into the fires of hell.

The title page is also telling: there is no author, publisher or place of publication listed. It is believed that Luther himself began selecting the texts continued by Melanchthon assisted by Schwertfeger. But no printer was going to risk church censure by claiming responsibility for such an incendiary book.

Ask for Rare Book NE 1150.5 .C7 P379 1521.