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Posts Tagged ‘University of Iowa’

Dear dawdlers,

Forgive this lazy scholar, returning after a prolonged sabbatical. Not that I have not been working, researching, and blogging, too—albeit on another site. (You can read some of those less lazy dispatches on Post-Post-Jew). I even watched the entire first season of Heroes. So you can tell, I have been productive. But I’m happier still to return to these pages and to you dear readers, for another semester of academic detective work, uncovering even more ways to get work done without leaving home.

Bringing education and entertainment to audiences where they lived was also a chief goal of the Circuit Chautauqua, the subject of today’s post. The University of Iowa library hosts Traveling Culture, an incredible collection of brochures and recordings from a local outpost of the Circuit Chautauqua, which brought performances and lectures to small towns around the country from 1904 to 1932. (Read a great introduction here). The digital collection is a remarkable window into American popular culture at the start of the twentieth century before movies and radio took off, ranging from a production of Les Miserables (decades before the musical) to Israel Zangwill’s Melting Pot.

And so many all-male quartets!

Be sure to listen to some of their 300 sound recordings, including bird impersonators, dialect comedians, and singing preachers. It’s a little like watching an episode of America’s Got Talent.

You can also read more about the origins of the circuit in The Chautauquan monthly magazine, digitized on Google.

Yours in pedagogy,

Stephen

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Dear last-minutes-before-class loiterers,

Like some of you, I’m just old enough to remember the days of ye olde card catalog—when finding a book required more than a quick Google search. No, the dedicated researcher pulled out drawer after wooden drawer—even stacked them in a dangerous Jenga-like tower—and then flipped endlessly to find the perfect book for your fourth grade report on farming.

I can’t pretend I’m entirely nostalgic for the pre-digital era. I still remember my feeling of awe the first time a computer card catalog showed up in my elementary school library. But I do miss the aura of those wooden drawers, which lent the library a heimish feel. And what about those tiny index cards, which seemed almost magical, as though they hadn’t been typed and inserted but just appeared mysteriously when a new book hit the shelf.

The University of Iowa library found a rather delightful way to recycle their card catalogs, not by turning the wooden bureau itself into a makeshift liquor cabinet (though that is a good idea, isn’t it?), but by asking artists to transform the cards into creative works. The cARTalog project includes such highlights as Michelle Souliere’s subtly dark “Poe, Heavily Annotated” (below) and Fabio Sassi’s witty take on Plato.

Poe Heavily Annotated

Other projects have a distinctly environmental edge, like Marlene Scott Russum’s “Charta Catalogus” (below) and Corey Gerlach’s commentary on “Genetic Vulnerabilty of Major Crops.”

Charta Catalogus

Speaking of the environment, while you’re on U of Iowa’s digital library site, be sure to check out some of their other collections, including the digital archive of J.D. “Ding” Darling’s cartoons, many of them conservation-themed. In the 1923 image below, titled “Look out! Here come the nature lovers,” Darling reveals the environmental risks of picnicking. Look out here come the nature lovers

Until next time.

Ecologically yours,

Stephen

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