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Posts by Jay Barksdale

Shakespeare Week at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building - April 23 to 27

It's here again, featuring the one and only Robert Armitage, Humanities Bibliographer and Blogger Extraordinaire, and 4 cracker-jack scholars from the Wertheim Study.

Full disclosure is here, but in short - (each at 1:15 

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The Future, the 1960s, and the Allen Room

Though there’s very little chance, apparently, of accurately predicting the future, it seems we’re hardwired to try.  History, reason, and desire seem to be the main tools in this quixotic venture. It helps if you don’t go too far, as The Economist does. But for longer visions, the results are often, in hindsight, hilarious.

I don’t think that will accurately describe tomorrow’s lecture,

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Skyscrapers and the Wertheim Study

Who doesn't like a skyscraper? Acrophobists. But who else can resist those clean (usually) lines, impressive (always) feats of engineering, massive symbols of power (the jury's out on that one)?  New Yorkers are lucky that we have, still have, so very many admirable ones about. Perhaps my favorite is one close to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building — the Springs Building.

It's deceptively simple, with as clean a line 

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A Symposium on Frankenstein, or, Everybody Loves the Monster!

To get ready for the upcoming Symposium on Frankenstein, or, Everybody Loves the Creature, I’ve been re-reading (yes, re-reading thank you) Shelley’s The Last Man.  Sometimes it is billed as science fiction, because in 2056 the world is ravished by plague and we get down to, yes, the last man.  But besides being spared 

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Shakespeare - Day 1 (+ 2)

We're off and running.  Today was fascinating.  Professor Matt spoke convincingly about the various solutions, or non-solutions, to the end of the sonnets.  At each sonnet's end, at the end of the 'young man' sonnets, or the 'dark lady's' sonnets, or the end of the set, or the end with "A Lover's Complaint" to follow?  All indeterminate, false and tricksy.  The sonnets seem to invite that.  But what was really fun was John Benson (no, not Ben Jonson - one can't make these things up) and his re-ordering and regrouping of the sonnets into a 

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Shakespeare Week at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Five Dayes! Beginning Monday!  Abandon thine drabbe chores aynd Come ye too heare the Great One explained.

Orations and Presentations by Writers and Scholar lads and lassies of thy Library's Research Studie Roomes, a Masterclassy for younge actors, a fair chance to see

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Can One Person Change History? A Soldier's Dream

William Doyle, a writer in residence in the Library's Allen Room, thinks so.  His new book A Soldier's Dream explores the question of whether one young American soldier helped change the course of the Iraq War? 

For six months in 2006, a charismatic U.S. Army captain and Arabic linguist named Travis Patriquin unleashed a diplomatic and cultural charm offensive upon the Sunni sheiks of Anbar province, the heart of darkness of the Iraqi insurgency. Through his striking personality and passion 

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Photography, the Allen Room and the Wertheim Study

photo by Deepak John Mathew, used with permissionWho hasn't had a fascination with a camera?  Mine was long ago with an Olympus when I was young and snobbish and only snapped black and white.  Perhaps the most successful series was Medicine Cabinets, sometimes taken surreptiously.  My two favorites were those of my friend F___ , whose didn't change, at all, from year to year, and that of a cataloger.  I don't even remember her name, but aspirin was in the upper left and Zantac in the lower right.  

But enough of puerile musings.  

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Charlotte Moorman meets the Wertheim Study

Nam June Paik, 'Robot K-456' and Charlotte Moorman (1964). Photo by Peter Moore @ Estate of Peter Moore/VAGA.NYNew York in the 1970s, without cellphones, the internet, globalization, etc., was a very different place and arguably more vibrant (though I'm glad Central Park isn't like it used to be.)  Photographer extraordinaire Peter Moore tirelessly went about the City capturing just about everyone and everything, and became particularly known 

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More Radical Women in the Wertheim Study

Food is a Feminist IssueTuesday is the second of the Wertheim Study scholars' lecture series: Singular and Collective: Radical Women Artists [in NYC during the 1970s].  This one, by Dr. Aseel Sawalha, is the collective part.  She's going to examine the scene from the perspective of anthropology, focusing on two women's arts collectives: The

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Mary Beth Edelson - artist extraordinaire and Radical Woman Artist

Mary Beth EdelsonI'm looking forward to Tuesday.  Wouldn't you like to meet an artist who draws herself with bunny ears?

I've been reading about Mary Beth Edelson.  In the early 1970s she gave up on painting, after 18 years, and began working with others—22 others exactly.  She invited them to suggest what she should create, and based on those suggestions out came an exhibition/installation/earthwork 

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Virginia Woolf, the Wertheim Study and the Berg Collection

Image: Virginia Woolf, ca. 1937. No information regarding photographer or date. The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature. "The photograph was a gift to the Berg by a Michael Brandon, Brooklyn, September 17, 1976.”Together at last!  Two Worthies from the Study, Jean Mills & Anne Fernald, and Isaac Gewirtz, Curator of NYPL's Berg Collection (and doctors 

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Booklist 10/10/09 – 10/10/10

Gentle Reader,

Every so often I keep a yearly log of what I read.  Why?  'Cuz it's fun, mama, 'cuz it's fun.  Besides, it's no big deal—you read, I read, everyone we know reads.  So here it is.  The titles in bold are by the wonderful folks of the Research Study Rooms (Allen Room and Wertheim Study).  If you keep a list, I would enjoy seeing it posted here, as a reply.  If not, why not start and get in touch this time next year.  If the Fates allow, I'll be 

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Wertheim Study and the Allen Room writers celebrate Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Free public lectures in the South Court Auditorium by the writers and scholars of the Research Study Rooms began last week, and with a bang.

Distinguished historian and biographer Susan Butler spoke about her forthcoming book, Roosevelt and Stalin: Winning the War: Shaping the Peace.  For it, she discovered 300 unpublished hot-war messages, researched the Tehran and Yalta conferences, and we learned all sorts of things - 

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A Forgotten Eccentric, Poetry and Spies: Great Reads from Wertheim Study and Allen Room Authors

I'm so jealous of my reading that when anyone recommends a book, even though I say thank you, in my dark heart I throw it to the ground and go back to the dead ones, usually Balzac, Dickens or Sylvia Townsend Warner (who?)

But lately, as factotum to the Research Study Rooms, i.e. Allen Room and Wertheim Study, I've had a change of reading habits and switched to LIVING AUTHORS!

Wertheim Study alumnus Mark Adams wrote a 

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Maurice Wertheim

The Wertheim Study is a hidden gem at The New York Public Library, though certainly treasured by the writers and scholars that use it.  But who was Maurice Wertheim?

Born in 1886 and a Harvard graduate, he wore many hats.  He began his career at the United Cigar Manufacturers Company, moving on to Hallgarten & Co., the Underwood Corporation, the Cuban Atlantic Sugar Company, the Hat Corporation of America, the Bond Stores Company, and his own company, Wertheim & Co.  During WWII he 

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The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

Enough of the oceanic understanding of Dickens, the truth and tragedy of Balzac, the flawless technique of Sylvia Townsend Warner (who?) - let's get some joy and light and ROMANCE into the mix.  The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper, a writer of The Wertheim Study at The New York Public Library does this perfettamente.  It's one of those reads where you take the bus to have more 

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The Orphan Game by Ann Darby

I read dead people - Dickens, Balzac, Sylvia Townsend Warner (who?), etc.  But once in a while I visit the quick. This time I'm glad I did, for The Orphan Game by Ann Darby is one mighty fine novel, written with great control and intensity. 

Set in California in the turbulent early 1960s, a daughter, mother and aunt are vividly and deftly drawn, each with her own voice, vision and sorrows.  Maggie is an unhappy and confused teenager, raging with hormonal 

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