Friday, January 30, 2015

First Super Bowl Party

The Super Bowl gets a lot of hype, but the first game was a kind of experiment that had poor television ratings, and didn't even sell out. So, we checked to see if Dartmouth students paid any attention to the event that would one day come to dominate the American psyche. The day after the 1967 Super Bowl, there was no mention of it in The Dartmouth, but we dug deeper and found an article on January 4th summing up the college bowl season (mentioning up-and-coming quarterbacks Steve Spurrier, Brian Griese, and Kenny Stabler--who, it noted, would "make the bigtime one of these days) that mentioned "Super Sunday" and the game between the NFL champ and the upstart AFL winner. Ridiculing the superlative, the article noted that the game on "Super-Sunday" would "probably be shown in the Super-Spaulding Auditorium on the Super-screen before a super-standing room only crowd of super punters."  It's Dartmouth's first Super Bowl party.

But what is a Super Bowl party without food?  On January 13, 1967, the Friday before the game, The D used a recipe to fill some space. "Beer Richly Flavors Potted Chuck" called for 3-4 pounds of bone-in chuck pot roast, a package of onion soup mix, a can of tomato sauce and a cup of beer. Cook until meat is fork tender and serve with, you guessed it, a "freshly poured beer or ale."

Did Dartmouth men really make a beer and onion soup mix pot roast for the first Super Bowl? The archival record fails us there

To prep for your Super Bowl party, take a look at The D from January 1967.  (As a bonus, you'll also find pictures of Judy Garland shooting pool at Alpha Theta.)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Text Compression

One of the first challenges that a student new to Rauner Library must grapple with is the desire to privilege exclusively a book's content without also considering its container as well. This is especially true of our medieval texts, many of which reveal numerous clues about their cultural context through their physical presence. Details such as the size of a manuscript book, the layout of its pages, the various ink colors, and even the style of handwriting can be used to create hypotheses about the book's intended purpose and audience.

A great example of this in our collections is a pairing of identical passages from St. Jerome's Latin translation of the Bible, also known as the Vulgate. Both are written on sheets of specially prepared animal skin called vellum or parchment. Both contain the writings of an Old Testament minor prophet, specifically Zachariah 4:2-5:2. Both use the same color of ink and even the same basic script, or handwriting style. However, there are some important differences that might make it difficult for someone who is experiencing them for the first time to determine that the two texts are, in fact, identical.

For one, the texts are very different in size. The first two images above are of the first text, which is over 700 pages in length, nearly five inches tall, and contains written text which is so small as to be nearly unreadable. The second text, at left, is over a foot tall (close to 14"). However, the larger page contains only a few verses of text, while the equivalent page in the smaller text compresses those same verses into a space barely an inch tall. Such physical discrepancies provide us, and the students, with the opportunity to ask important questions: Why is the first scribe's handwriting so small? Why are there two sizes of handwriting in the second manuscript? Why is there so much room in the margins of the second text, compared to the first? All of these questions draw attention away from the actual content of the manuscript text, which is unreadable anyways to many students, and instead encourage students to think about the larger world in which these books were made and once lived. We won't ruin it by giving you the answers, just like we wouldn't for our students, but we encourage you to come by Rauner, explore these two beautiful manuscripts side by side, and come up with your own conclusions. If you want to cheat a little bit, you can read an earlier blog post about the first one.

The first text can be requested by its call number, Manuscript Codex 003202.
The second text is Manuscript 002279.