Tuesday, June 15, 2021

‘Childhood and Age’ by Dranoel, and ‘Ozymandias’ by Shelley

One of the most exciting aspects of our collections is the way that Dartmouth students engage with them to create new ideas within the context of the classroom. For the next seven Tuesdays, we will publish posts that were originally written by students in Michael Chaney's Literary History survey course during the Winter 2021 term. Each student essay comparatively examines two poems, one from the Dartmouth student newspaper and the other by a canonical American or British author. Matthew Nolan, class of 2021, is today's author.

Childhood and Ageis a poem included in The Dartmouth: Vol. II, a publication that focuses heavily on epitaphic poetry. In the volume, Dartmouth students commemorate and remember friends they’ve lost a long with famous writers and locations, and places important to them now lost or in the past. Childhood and Age is an epitaph to youth, the speaker being the poet, but the subject being the old man, watching on as the sun sets on his life. The author writes, “Past is the storm that swept his early day; / And sinking in the distance, on its rear, / His sun, just setting, bids the bow appear.” On both the literal and metaphorical levels of the poem, the old man is looking back on the twilight of his life; in the calm water he sees the storm henceforth passed. The poem continues, “Mnemonic and assuring-so the gay / Warm light of youth points the far-future way, / While his own weary path must end in silence here.” We can infer that the man is reflecting on his past life while facing the consequences of time’s passing. For the speaker, the rote pattern of life and death is one to take comfort in, however somber it may be for the subject – or the reader.

In Ozymandias, Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley reminds us that despite the greatest efforts of kings among men, nothing lasts forever. Often all that remains long after is a vague reminder of the vanity of great men who thought they could live forever in stone or ink:

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

This quote from the poem, taken originally from the supposed real inscription of Rameses II (now lost), is meant to mock the king, highlighting his arrogance at purporting that he would long remain after desert had reclaimed the world. To Shelley, the monumental stele is a crude reminder of the impermanence of power and empire. However, as modern readers, we must consider the implications of Egyptian burial practices of the Ramesside period of Dynasty XIX, which would indicate that Rameses’ tomb beneath would hold hiska, a placeholder for his eternal spirit which watches over his tomb.”

In light of Childhood and Age, Shelley’s quote represents the vastly different ways men seem to conquer or suffer through the twilight of their lives. The great King Rameses – Ozymandias – is reduced to Dranoel’s old man, looking back at the storm of time that swept his desert empire away. As the visitor to Rameses’ tomb, Shelley occupies both the subject and the speaker in the poem, observing the same notions of Dranoel’s old man, but instead choosing to seek comfort in the seeming impermanence of the structures of power which bind his own world. Viewing the passing of time as a rote pattern is central to both poems, but how their speakers choose to understand and represent this concept differs. Both poems touch greatly on the futility of human will against time and against any attempts to control our own narratives after death. Even now as we read these poems in the 21st century, we abrupt and perhaps enhance any hopes of legacy and continuing narrative set in motion by these poets centuries ago.

Written by Matthew Nolan, class of 2021

Friday, June 11, 2021

Anne Frank and the Pennyroyal Press

A print by Joseph Goldyne of Anne Frank looking out a windowAnne Frank was 13 years old when she began keeping a journal about her experience as a Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis during World War II. She had been given an autograph book with a lock on it for her birthday on June 11th, 1942, and decided to turn it into a diary. For over two years, Frank chronicled her life in seclusion as a teenager who was going through the usual sorts of experiences and challenges associated with that phase of life. Three months after her fifteenth birthday, Anne and the other nine residents of the secret annex were discovered and arrested by the Nazis. She was sent to Auschwitz with her family and then later on to Bergen-Belsen with her sister Margot, where both died from typhus. Of the Frank family, only their father Otto survived the war. However, thanks to Otto's secretary, Miep Gies, Anne's diary also survived, was published in 1947, and soon became one of the world's best-known books.

Here at Rauner, we have a beautiful letter press edition of Anne's diary that was printed by the Pennyroyal Press in 1985 as a collaboration with Jewish Heritage Publishing. Our copy is number twenty-six of a limited run of three hundred and fifty. The text was set by the Stinehour Press in Lunenburg, Vermont, a company that was started by Rocky Stinehour '51. The gorgeous aquatints in the book were created by Joseph Goldyne and evoke a sense of enclosure, isolation, and loneliness. To see our copy, come to Rauner and ask for Presses P372fran.

Friday, June 4, 2021

June 4, 1989

Black and white photograph of protestors reading a document over a megaphoneOn June 4th, 1989, the government of the People's Republic of China declared martial law and sent armed soldiers and tanks to disperse a student-led demonstration that had begun on April 15th of that same year in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. The protestors, who at one point numbered close to a million, had been calling for significant governmental and social reforms, among them democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. Their movement became publicized to such an extent that sympathetic protests began to spring up all over the country. Sensing a threat to Communist Party hegemony, the Chinese government mobilized over 300,000 troops and sent them into central Beijing with the express purpose of forcibly crushing any resistance. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of protesters and bystanders were killed, and thousands were wounded.

Here at Rauner, we have a small collection of photographs that were taken by a participant in the protest activity. It contains 65 color and black and white photographs of the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square, Beijing and Hefei in Anhui province in China. The photographs depict protest marches, groups of protesters, banners, tanks, political posters and political cartoons. To look through them, come to Rauner and ask to see Iconography 1743.

Friday, May 28, 2021

A Cherokee Address to the Whites

Title page of Boudinot's printed addressOn May 26th, 1826, Elias Boudinot stepped to the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia to deliver a speech titled, "An Address to the Whites." Boudinot was a young man of twenty-six, and was a writer and newspaper editor from Georgia. He was also a leader of the Cherokee Nation whose birth name was Gallegina Uwati [ᎦᎴᎩᎾ ᎤᏩᏘ]. He was the first editor of the first Native newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix, which was ostensibly created to inform Europeans about the advanced nature of Cherokee culture as well as to unify Cherokee people who lived in the Southeastern United States of America (i.e., their rightful land).

Boudinot was a member of a political faction within the Cherokee Nation that believed that integration of their culture into Euro culture was inevitable if their people hoped to survive. He was also initially a strong voice against the proposal to remove Native people from their lands, a position which was strongly supported by President Andrew Jackson and the Georgia legislature. In his address from the Philadelphia church pulpit, Boudinot emphasized the similarities between Natives and Europeans and the ways in which Native cultures were adopting aspects of white culture. Boudinot's goal was to raise funding for a Cherokee seminary and for printing equipment for the newspaper, which likely included a set of Cherokee typeface. With that in mind, he had his address printed soon after its delivery as a means of circulating his message to potential donors while raising awareness about his people.

Although Boudinot's efforts to raise money were successful, Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act, signed on this very day in 1830, dashed any hopes of cultural integration or peaceable separateness for the Cherokee Nation. Soon after, the US Army began violently displacing many Native tribes from their homelands and forced them to travel over five hundred miles on foot to what is now Oklahoma. Approximately a third of the population of some of these displaced Nations died along the way or soon afterwards from disease, exposure, and starvation. The motivation for this racist eviction was the discovery of gold on Cherokee land in Georgia as well as white farmers' desire to grow cotton on the twenty-five million acres of land that belonged to the Cherokee and other Native people, including the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole.

To read Boudinot's address from 1826, come to Rauner and ask to see Rare E99 .C5 B65.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Fiasco at Fredericksburg

First page of Sargent's letter to Maria, 17 Dec 1862This week we had the opportunity to visit a local 5th-grade classroom via Zoom to talk with them about the American Civil War. The students looked at and analyzed an image from Gardner's Sketch Book of the Civil War, read a military map that provided information about Corinth, Mississippi, and interpreted a personal letter written by a Union soldier, Ransom F. Sargent, to his wife Maria.

Sargent was a Fife Major of the 11th New Hampshire regiment, Company F, and was in his mid-twenties when he joined the army. His letters home to Maria are a wonderful firsthand account of several important battles that Sargent witnessed, including the disastrous Battle of Fredricksburg, the Siege of Vicksburg, and the Siege of Petersburg. Despite the seriousness of his situation, Sargent also discussed smaller and more personal issues in his letter, including news about other New Hampshire men that he knew and comments about what was going on back in New London, New Hampshire, where Maria awaited his return.

For the 5th-grade class, we both transcribed and provided color scans of a letter he wrote outside Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 17, 1862. In the letter, Sargent reflects on the recent loss by the Union, saying to Maria: "I long to know what the papers say about this battle. Believe me if they call it anything but a terrible slaughter and defeat into the bargain they very much misrepresent the matter. If ever the works behind Fredricksburg are taken it must be done by some strategy. It never can be taken by storm as last Saturday’s battle proves which cost New Hampshire the lives of more brave and true men than the whole of theaccursed South is worth in my opinion."

Soon after the loss at Fredricksburg, Burnside was relieved of his command by President Abraham Lincoln and replaced by Joseph Hooker. Despite the embarrassment of this demotion, Burnside went on to have a successful political career; was elected to the governorship of Rhode Island after the war and concluded as well as serving as the first president of the National Rifle Association in 1871.

To read more letters by Ransom Sargent to his wife Maria, come to Rauner and ask to see MS-38.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Many Paths for Persistent Protest

What is the legacy of student mobilizing and protests on Dartmouth’s campus? How have the historic student demonstrations for black liberation and equity informed our current campus climate and administrative demands? Dartmouth has a vivid history of student protests. From the disruptive protest of William Shockley’s black inferiority psychometrics speech and the Parkhurst student occupation—both occurring in 1969—to the Dartmouth Review protests of the 1980’s and Occupy Wall Street protests of the 2000’s, Dartmouth’s students have continued to be vocal and consistent in challenging administrative oversight and advocating for the wants and needs of the student body, specifically those that are structurally unprotected and oppressed.

A standout moment in Dartmouth’s history of accountability was the publishing and dissemination of The Redding Report in 1974. Previously reported on in a blogpost by Alexis Reaves ‘20, this report —written by Eileen Cave, Monica Hargrove and Judi Redding—was structurally inspired by and stood as an analysis of the McLane Report, created by administration in 1969 as the first notable administrative push to address and combat racial inequality on Dartmouth’s campus. It was this 1969 report that established the committee on equal opportunity at the end of the civil rights movement; this committee was charged with researching and strategically executing provisions to increase black, native and local low-income student admission rates, increase faculty diversity and address the specific cultural needs of minority students on Dartmouth’s campus.

The notable publication of The Redding Report by three black, female students in 1974—a mere two years after women were allowed admission into Dartmouth College—served as a distinctive and divergent form of student protest that placed the student voice in direct conversation with administrative decision-making. Co-opting the committee report structure to exemplify the black student’s voice subverted the exclusion and secrecy of administrative action and set a precedent for student protest mobilizing. The Redding Report was reproduced and disseminated by the Afro-American Society, along with other allied organizations like the Interracial Student Group, to reach and inform the members of the student body and administration; this literature distribution protested notions of exclusion and put the experiences and voices of black and native students at the forefront for the student body to consume and reckon with internally. The Redding Report signified an instrumental point in Dartmouth’s legacy where the standard for accountability extended beyond self-imposed regulation and promises to the equipment of media and published discourse in influencing systemic change.

A visual indicator of this report generating shifting notions of protesting strategy are seen in the two differing styles of The Redding Report. The first and original formatting, in the typical report fashion, utilized a typewritten, 21-page essay form that from its beginning to end, detailed the shortcomings of McLane Report’s implementation, common campus-wide discrimination practices and proposed solutions to combatting institutional inequity; this is the style found in the President’s Records (Call Number DP-13) as means of emulating and communicating within in the conventional format of the administrative office in pushing for accountabilty.

The second format of the Redding Report was the style used in information dissemination by allied student groups; this form which is found in the Dean’s records (Call Number DA-8) takes on a more informal and accessible design, being dispersed more like a newspaper than the traditionally dense report to aid in its ease of consumption by student and community members. In a novel student protesting methodology, immense consideration was taken into the duality of information diffusion for the two differing yet intended readers of this exposition. The first being the administration, wielding the power and resources to conduct change and the second being the student body, the guiding force to advocate for and realize needed institutional transformation as the direct benefactors of administrative policy. Taking it upon themselves, the student authors of The Redding Report and the groups tasked with uplifting and dispersing documentation of the non-white student experience at Dartmouth, uniquely protested against Dartmouth administration’s stagnancy while highlighting the broken promises and standardized strategies used to push aside and neglect anti-racist policy implementation.

Posted for Kiara Cannon '22, recipient of Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowshipfor the 2021 Spring term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Program provides funding for Dartmouth students to conduct research with primary sources on a topic related to issues of inclusivity and diversity in the college's past. For more information, visit the program's website.

Friday, May 14, 2021

In Celebration of Nonsense

This past Wednesday was Edward Lear's birthday! Although the 19th-century English author is probably best known nowadays for his nonsense song "The Owl and the Pussycat," he was also an artist, illustrator, and musician(!). We have a wonderful selection of Lear's numerous books of nonsense rhymes and verses here at Rauner, including The Pelican Chorus, which was illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke.⁠

To explore Lear's works from our collection, start by searching the library catalog online to find the ones that interest you most. Then, come to Rauner and ask to see such wonderfully nonsensical titles like The Pelican Chorus (Sine Illus B764pel) or the work that started it all for Lear, A Book of Nonsense (Illus L477b).