Friday, November 30, 2007

Exhibit Mashup No. 1: Dickens meets Goetzel meets the WPA

A new exhibit will be on display in the lobby of the Hoole Library beginning next week, which features some incredible little artifacts in our collections. These figurines were created as part of the WPA-funded project, the Alabama Visual Education Program.

The Alabama Visual Education Project came out of cooperation between The State Department of Education and the Visual Education Project of the Work Projects Administration. It provided a way for public schools in Alabama to purchase high quality visual aids for education purposes at a low cost. Some of these items are now housed in the Hoole Special Collections Library, including a catalog from 1940 listing items which were available for purchase by Alabama public schools. Also included in the collection are the instructional books Flags, Seals, and Coat of Arms of Alabama published in 1939 and History of Western Costume: prehistoric through nineteenth century, published in the 1930’s and featuring 114 full color plates with detailed descriptions.

We have chosen to exhibit this set of beautifully carved and painted wooden figures depicting characters from Charles Dickens novels. It is understood that decades ago, this set was used for teaching/visual aids by UA's English Department. Also created was a set of Shakespeare figures and Chaucer figures, but only two of the other figures are part of the Hoole Collections.

These tiny figures taken from Charles Dickens' novels and the hand-made wooden storage boxes are compelling and unique items to behold. The Hoole Library also holds a scale model of Shakespeare's Globe Theater, which was created as part of this project.

This exhibit features just the Dickens characters, as well as some of
Dickens' works housed at the Hoole Library, as well as images from these books -- of course featuring his compelling and classic Victorian morality tale, A Christmas Carol.

The most important volume from our collections exhibited is an 1863 edition of Great Expectations printed by Goetzel in Mobile in 1863. This confederate imprint, though rebound at some point long ago in a library binding is an important piece of Alabama history. Please stop by and see this unique convergence of Victorian London, Confederate-era Mobile, and Depression-era Tuscaloosa. This exhibit was developed largely by Amy Allen, SLIS graduate assistant, working with Jessica Lacher-Feldman.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press

On Tuesday, December 4 at 7 pm in Gorgas Library room 205 Dr. Jeff Weddle, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Studies will talk about his new book, and screen a documentary film –Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press (University of Mississippi Press, 2007) .

The event will begin with a lecture on the on small press/little magazine history and how Loujon fits into all of it, and will do a brief reading from the book. We will also have on exhibit original Loujon Press titles including this copy of the Outsider 4-5, which features a photograph of poet and novelist Kenneth Patchen in a body cast. These materials are part of the Book Arts Collections held at the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library.

Following Weddle's talk, there will be a brief intermission, then a screening of the fascinating documentary, The Outsiders of New Orleans: Loujon Press, directed by Wayne Ewing and co-produced by Weddle. The film premiered on November 11th at the Denver Film Festival. More information is available at

In 1960, Jon Edgar and Louise "Gypsy Lou" Webb founded Loujon Press on Royal Street in New Orleans's French Quarter. The small publishing house quickly became a giant. Heralded by the Village Voice and the New York Times as one of the best of its day, the Outsider, the press's literary review, featured, among others, Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, and Walter Lowenfels. Loujon published books by Henry Miller and two early poetry collections by Bukowski. Bohemian New Orleans traces the development of this courageous imprint and examines its place within the small press revolution of the 1960s. Drawing on correspondence from many who were published in the Outsider, back issues of the Outsider, contemporary reviews, promotional materials, and interviews, Jeff Weddle shows how the press's mandarin insistence on production quality and its eclectic editorial taste made its work nonpareil among peers in the underground. Throughout, Bohemian New Orleans reveals the messy, complex, and vagabond spirit of a lost literary age.

Jeff Weddle holds a PhD in Communications from the University of Tennessee and has a broad range of interests and expertise. This talk and film are not to be missed! The flier for the event is available for download at

This event is co-sponsored by UA Libraries, the Program in Creative Writing, and the generous support of Lakey and Susan Tolbert.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Congratulations Harper Lee!

A very special congratulations to beloved native daughter, University of Alabama alum, and friend to the UA Libraries, Nelle Harper Lee. On November 5, 2007, Ms. Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. The image here is from a January 2006 NY Times article by Ginia Bellafante on the To Kill a Mockingbird High School Essay Contest sponsored by UA's Honors College. The photograph was taken in the lobby of the Hoole Library (and features my arm along with Ms. Lee's visage!). Note the Tiffany stained glass window in the background. (photo by Dana Mixer for the NY Times -

Ms. Lee was honored along with Gary S. Becker, an economist and 1992 Nobel Prize winner; Oscar Elías Bisce, a human rights advocate imprisoned in Cuba; Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute; Benjamin L. Hooks, former executive director of the NAACP; Illinois Republican Henry J. Hyde; and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, first woman elected president of an African nation.

Ms. Lee attended The University of Alabama from 1945-1949. Her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, received the Pulitzer Prize in 1960 and it continues to captivate the minds and hearts of people all over the world. Several editions of To Kill a Mockingbird are of course included in the Hoole Library's Alabama Collection.

UA Professor to speak on her book, which examines the role of ‘mammy’ in modern American Politics and Culture.

On Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 4:30 pm, Dr. Micki McElya, Assistant Professor of American Studies at The University of Alabama will discuss her new book, Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America (Harvard University Press, 2007). The event will be held in the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library, on the 2nd floor of Mary Harmon Bryant Hall, 500 Hackberry Lane, on The University of Alabama campus. The talk will begin at about 4:45 pm in the Hoole Library reading room, followed by a reception and book signing in the lobby of the Hoole Library.

McElya’s powerful and beautifully written book examines the far-reaching image of the nurturing, faithful enslaved woman and her hold on the American imagination. McElya exposes the power of the myth of ‘mammy’, an omnipresent figure in popular culture -- from film, song and literature, to advertising and our grocery store shelves, as well as in national monument proposals, child custody cases, white women’s minstrelsy, activism, anti-lynching campaigns and the Civil Rights movement . These images have existed and persisted from the era of the Civil War to today. It is through her carefully researched and thought provoking narrative that McElya argues, “if we are to reckon with the continuing legacy of slavery in the United States, we must confront the depths of our desire for mammy and recognize its full racial implications.”

Scott Sandage, author of Born Losers: A History of Failure in America says, “McElya shows vividly how ‘mammy’ serves as a perfect archetype for analyzing cultural politics of race and gender and how they changed. She gives us parlor theatrics, courtroom drama, legislative debate and movement politics. This is a wonderfully expansive book.”

A small exhibition of materials that illuminate aspects of McElya's book, will be on display in the Hoole Library, curated by Portia Barker, graduate student in American Studies and intern at the Hoole Library, along with Mary Keeley McAllister, undergraduate student assistant who is majoring in Visual Journalism with a minor in American Studies. Jessica Lacher-Feldman is overseeing the exhibit project. Most of the materials for this exhibit are from the Wade Hall Collection of Southern History and Culture.

Dr. McElya will refer to the exhibit in her talk. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Jessica Lacher-Feldman at or at 205.348.0500. This event is sponsored by UA Libraries, and in part by the generous support of Dr. Lakey and Susan Tolbert.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dreams of Africa in Alabama -- Two Upcoming Lectures with Dr. Sylviane Diouf 11/12 and 11/13

The UA Libraries is co-sponsoring a visit with Dr. Sylviane Diouf, curator at the Schomburg Center for Black Culture in New York, and author of Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America (Oxford University Press, 2007). Dr. Diouf will be in Tuscaloosa for two talks -- the first on Monday 11/12 at 11 am in Gorgas Library room 205 where she will discuss and present a slide show on African Muslims in the Americas. This talk is based on her work, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas (NYU Press, 1999). It was named 1999 Outstanding Academic Book by the American Library Association.

Her second talk and book signing (Tuesday 11/13 @ 4 pm in Gorgas 205) is for her newest work, Dreams of Africa in Alabama which was just named co‐winner of the 2007 Wesley‐Logan prize in African Diaspora History of the American Historical Association. She will sign copies of her works after the talk and there will be a reception.

Dreams of Africa in Alabama is available at the Hoole Library as part of the Hoole Library's Alabama Collection, long recognized as the premiere collection of Alabama materials in the world. The collection strives to be a comprehensive collection of all books by Alabamians, about Alabama, and/or published in the state of Alabama. These materials document the unique cultural and historical experience of Alabama.

Both events are of course free and open to the public! Co-sponsors of Dr. Diouf's visit include: UA Libraries, New College, American Studies, African-American Studies, The Summersell Center for the Study of the South, Modern Languages and Classics, and Religious Studies and the generous support of Lakey and Susan Tolbert.

Please join us!!