Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Ennui

Image of Dartmouth Student in costume, 1991
From the Archival Photo Files
We went looking into The D for some good Halloween stories. We found a few off-color pranks we do not really want to celebrate, and a few sweet articles on Hanover kids, but mostly we found a kind of bored resignation to the holiday--not the fun we hoped for.

The November 6, 1896, edition complained that "the decadence of the old-fashioned Hallowe'en party has been very much regretted by many" and that "a majority of the students forgot entirely" about Hallowe'en. One party was held, "although of course the absence of the fair sex detracted from the pleasure as is generally the case." 78 years later, on October 30, 1974, and in a co-educational campus environment, The D was pretty much just as zombie-like in its enthusiasm: "People just want something to do on Halloween night.... So this year we've got something--they can put on their uni's, dance, watch cartoons..."

We hope your Halloween is more exciting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Excavating Hamlet: The Play as a Palimpsest

Here at Rauner, we love Hamlet. We’ve previously written about an edition of the play performed in French and a 1949 woodcut version that resembles a graphic novel style, but we figured there’s no such thing as too much Shakespeare.

Mary Heebner’s The Tragic History of Hamlet: An Artist’s Interpretation of the Classic Text by William Shakespeare is a 2008 edition that produced only 20 copies. The “book” (I use the term loosely) is encased in a clamshell case and features loose-leaf excerpts from the text, which fold over paintings that follow the subject matter. Heebner says in her Artist’s Note that her works are “palimpsests of sorts” created by painting over printed text and then scraping into the paint. Drawn to the play’s subtext about female relationships that manifests itself through the figures of Gertrude and Ophelia, she meditates deeply upon the nature of feminine emotional conflict through her repeated depictions of the female body.

Interacting with a play as a series of paintings is definitely a unique experience. Each piece has to be carefully lifted out of its case and handled individually, forcing readers to reflect upon each one as a unique art object. Instead of being presented with the play as a whole, it’s an ant’s eye view of Heebner’s perspective of Hamlet - and what a view it is!

To explore Heebner’s interpretation of Hamlet, ask for Presses S579heh.

Posted for Emily Rutherford '16