Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Medal: Death of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 22 March 1832

March 22 is the death anniversary of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, generally regarded as the greatest German author: culturally, for Germans, the equivalent of Shakespeare for the English or Dante for the Italians.

Goethe lived much later (1749-1832) and thus did not play quite the comparable role in the formative development of the vernacular (that role fell to Luther, though it was only in the 18th century that German, in the words of Eric Blackall's pioneering study, truly emerged as a "literary" language), but his influence was immense and his erudition far more wide-ranging. His work ranged from poetry, drama, and the novel to art criticism and prescient scientific speculation on paleontology, geology, and evolution. Along with his collaborator and best friend Friedrich Schiller, he came to embody "Classical" German literature and aesthetics that set the ideal for the middle classes well into the twentieth century.

Although Goethe came to surpass Schiller in reputation (as well as outlive him by a generation), it was Schiller who became the true cult figure and idol of the educated bourgeoisie as well as large elements of the lower and working class.

When the American numismatist Horatio Storer of Newport attempted an inventory of commemorative pieces in the 1880s, he found "that the medals of Goethe are intrinsically, and as compared with others of a similar character, those of Schiller, for instance, extraordinarily rare." Undertaking such a survey at that time, without benefit of easy international communication and shipment (much less, the internet), and basing his conclusions on the (not always reliable) reports and reproductions  of others was a daunting task, but his generalization stands. Another difference, though he did not note it, is that all Schiller medals are posthumous.

This is one of the rare medals that he listed, issued on the occasion of Goethe's death. Storer was interested in medals involving figures who had some ties to medicine and science, and he notes that this one was "in the Lee collection, at the U. S. Surgeon-General's Office in Washington." The image below is from my own copy.

Engraver: Anton Friedrich König (1794-1844)
Produced by the famous Loos mint: in this period run by Gottfried Bernhard Loos (1773-1843) in Berlin.

Bronze. Diameter: c. 42 mm. (It was also issued in a silver version).


Portrait bust of Goethe in late life, crowned with laurel, facing left.


[i.e. JO[hann]. W[OLFAGANG] VON GOETHE, BORN 28 AUGUST 1749]

Inscription in the shoulder: F. KÖNIG F.
Beneath that: G. LOOS DIR.


In Storer's description:

"A swan raising Goethe, laureated and in antique garb, with his lyre, to the skies, which are typified by an arch of nine stars. His breast is partially bare, his right hand upraised, and he looks upward, seated upon the back of the swan."

The aesthetic may not be entirely our own, but Storer notes that "Rollet considers the reverse to have been 'nobly conceived and executed.'"

[i.e. he attained the stars 22 March 1832]

It was not unusual that an announcement of the medal appeared in The London Literary Gazette no. 817 of 15 September 1832:

It is perhaps more significant that the same basic text appeared here in our region of the northeastern American hinterlands, in The Rochester Gem: A Semi-Monthly Literary and Miscellaneous Journal..., 5 no. 4 (9 Feb. 1833):

One of my research projects is to begin to trace these patterns of communication involving numismatic commemoration of literary figures. Already I can see that the paths do not always run in straight, direct lines, and that our instinctive assumptions may be wrong. For example, the above two examples, from two different continents, separated by some five months, are virtually identical, apart from the spelling of the poet's name (a not uncommon issue in German as well as in English for some time) and punctuation. By contrast, earlier pieces published in New York City were clearly not the model for the Rochester notice.

Should any further proof be needed for the emergence of what Goethe called "world literature"--that is, a universal possession of all humankind, transcending national boundaries and appeal--of which he himself had now become a part? I think his shade would have smiled at the notice in the provincial New York paper.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Trees and Forests on Ex Libris woodcuts by Jaroslav Dobrovolský

"To build a sustainable, climate-resilient future for all, we must invest in our world's forests. That will take political commitment at the highest levels, smart policies, effective law enforcement, innovative partnerships and funding."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

March 21 is the International Day of Forests.

In celebration of that event, some tree- and forest-themed bookplates.

Czechoslovakia produced many outstanding makers of ex libris plates. There was a vibrant bibliophile and collecting culture, and production of these small graphics also offered artists an appealing opportunity to develop a clientele and steady income.

One of my favorites among these ex libris artists is Jaroslav Dobrovolský.

Born into a working-class family in 1895 in Lužice u Hodonína, South Moravia, he both taught and produced art. He also became involved in civic affairs, serving as district school inspector from 1935 to 1939 and mayor of Hodonin from 1935 to 1940. Because he was active in the leading military resistance group under the German occupation, the Nazis arrested him in 1940 and deported him to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he died of starvation and other maltreatment in 1942.

Ex libris plates, primarily in woodcut and linoleum cuts, featured prominently in his artistic activity. He produced plates for many major collectors and exhibited his work in numerous international shows. In 1936, he led the Czechoslovak delegation to the international ex libris exhibition in Los Angeles.

His ex libris work is still represented in collections ranging from the Museums of Fine Arts in San Francisco to the art gallery of New South Wales, Australia. He worked in a number of styles, including Czech symbolism, but he is equally well known for his naturalistic woodcuts depicting buildings and landscapes. Trees and forests figure prominently among the latter.

The sampling here provides one with a good sense of his characteristic style: for example, the combination of two variants of the same color.

F. Navrátilová, 1927 (89 Xx 115 mm)
two-colored woodcut for Marie Řezníčková, 1930 (75 x 115 mm)

two-colored woodcut for Karel Kocian, 1931 (86 x 136 mm)

atelier stamp on the reverse of the above plate listing, describing it as "Woodcut 1931" (date corrected in artist's hand)

2-colored woodcut for Marie Sehnalová, 1931 (79 x 131 mm)

2-colored woodcut for Heřma Kořinková, 1931 (64 x 106 mm)
2-colored woodcut for B. Kučera, 1931 (71 x 110 mm)
2-colored woodcut for V. and J. Kratký, 1932 (99 x 130 mm)

back of preceding: artist's stamp and stamp of famed Moravian 
book collector Ctibor Šťastný, for whom Dobrovolský also worked

2-colored woodcut for István Réthy, 1937 (93 x 124 mm)
As in other cases, Dobrovolský produced versions in several colors. 
(I have one in another, yellower shade of green, as well.)

Dr. K. Leischner, 1937 (97 x 137 mm)
Jaroslav Mrázek, 1937 (93 x 124)

Monday, September 1, 2014

A German Popular Rural Calendar of the Early Nineteenth Century

In our information-saturated world, we take the ability to read for granted, and so, when we consider previous eras of history, many of us operate with simplistic assumptions about literacy and illiteracy, e.g. assuming that the world was largely illiterate until and because, well . . . .

I always tell students: reading is a skill that takes some effort on the part of the would-be reader, and in addition, the effort of someone willing to inculcate that skill. One may therefore apply the legal phrase , "cui bono": to whose benefit? In other words, people generally learn to read only when it is useful and/or when society as a whole considers it useful. It is not surprising that US plantation owners forbade their slaves to learn to read. It is likewise no coincidence that (1) already in the late fourteenth century, Florence--a center of commerce and politics--had basic public education (for both boys and girls) and an army of notaries, lawyers, and civil servants, whereas (2) in largely rural Central and East Central Europe, illiteracy is generally said to have remained at about 70 percent at the end of the eighteenth century. In fact, as late as 1881, in the backwaters of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, illiteracy apparently ranged from 57 to 83 percent (though not among my ancestors).

In 1776, the Prussian landowner and pedagogue Friedrich Eberhard von Rochow described the goal of education for the common people as: "to form good Christians, obedient subjects, and capable farmers." Scholars continue to debate the developments in this threshold era between the popular Enlightenment and the beginnings of a modern popular education movement--circa 1770-1830--precisely because it was so crucial but the evidence is so limited or laconic. Among the issues are both the motives of the reformers and the agency of the peasants. As far as we know, traditional rural reading consisted primarily of religious texts; works of a sentimental, escapist, or sensationalistic character; and above all, calendars or almanacs. Still, even if we have some idea of what the peasants read, or what others wanted them to read, it is much more difficult to know how they read.

The calendars ranged from minimalist types containing the days of the year and meteorological or other concise practical information to more expansive ones that also contained a wide range of other content, from anecdotes to superstition and fantastic tales. Collectively, they were the equivalents of the well-known US Old Farmer's Almanac and Farmer's Almanac (founded 1792 and 1818, respectively, and both still published today). Reformers sought to adapt the form as a vehicle for their ends, and during the French occupation, there were even revolutionary calendars.

One example of the minimalist variety of calendar in my personal library is:

Allgemeiner Kalender auf das Jahr Christi 1828, welches ein Schalt-Jahr von 366 Tagen ist. (Universal Calendar for A.D. 1828 [literally: the Year of Christ 1828], which is a leap year of 366 days.). Steyr, printed by Joesph Greis.
87 x 112 mm

The booklet contains the more or less obligatory array of features.

The woodcut cover illustration was a stock piece, reused year after year, part of the "branding" of the product. It can be tempting to overinterpret such images, about whose origins and intent we know far too little: temptation is often a thing best resisted. Against the backdrop of a rural landscape--castle- or church-like structure at left, and large, comfortable dwelling at right, a middle-class man, identifiable by his garb, observes the heavens with a telescope--emblem of science and erudition. Next to him, a peasant with a spade stands and extends a free hand: in greeting? explanation? We cannot tell.

Still, at the least, the image clearly serves to locate the calendar and its intended purpose in the social and intellectual world of the day, between learned and popular culture.  Taken together, the two figures encompass the standard content of the book: calendars for each month, along with meteorological information and folk wisdom.

As the location--Steyr is in Upper Austria--indicates, the calendar is aimed at a Catholic audience in the Habsburg Empire. Accordingly, the first pages of the calendar are devoted to crown and church.

At left: the birthdays of the members of the royal family of Austria.

At right:
top: the Numerus aureus, solar and lunar cycles, and the like, necessary for the calculation of religious holidays in the Gregorian calendar  (these would have required the use of additional tables or other information), as well as the time from Christmas to Ash Wednesday.

middle: moveable feast days, according to the Roman Missal.

bottom: the Ember Days.

Each monthly opening began with the names in both the modern and traditional Germanic form, and a woodcut emblem of the month including the zodiacal sign and characteristic activities of the season--here, for January: Virgo, a domestic meal, and warming oneself by the fire.

Additional information included length of the day, phases of the moon, sunrise, and general weather conditions. Reflecting the defining role of the Catholic Church, each day is marked by its saint's name, and the weeks, by a relevant Scriptural passage.

On the relevant days, as the previous opening explained, obligatory fast days were marked with a red cross.

The pages following the monthly calendars provided additional information on phases of the moon and length of daylight, as well as traditional folk wisdom.

E.g. for January:
When on S. Vincent's there's sunshine, one therefore hopes for good wine.
And for February:
When it rains after the new moon, then it will rain for a full month.
In this case, we even know something about the printer-publisher, Greis.

He occupied a historic Gothic house located at Grünmarkt 7. The original structure burned in 1552 and was rebuilt and then occupied by many generations of owners--from 1732 into the twentieth century, exclusively printers, who passed the property along to others in the trade through marriage (as was not infrequently the custom in that day) or sale. Joseph Greis (b. 1773) began as a compositor (typesetter) in the shop and acquired it from Franz Joseph Medter in 1804. 1827 was evidently a banner year for him: he married (for the second time) in January, and on 26 September, he also opened the town's first bookshop (Stadtplatz 23). In fact, it would have been just about this time that he issued the calendar that is our subject here: calendars and almanacs generally appeared at the start of the autumn season so that customers could purchase them conveniently in advance of the new year. (This was in particular important in the case of the more elegant literary or other Taschenbücher or almanacs--in the US, we would call them annual "gift books"--which sometimes had to go through several printings, depending on demand.)

In the mid-1790s, in the context of the French Revolution, Austria and Prussia restricted circulation of some foreign "calendars," so some publishers of almanacs or gift books simply deleted the calendar texts in editions destined for those regions.

This copy bears a revenue stamp, for 3 Kreutzer. Under the revised stamp tax regulation of 1819, Austrian calendars were taxed at either 2 or 3 kreutzer--whereas the more elegant almanacs that contained a calendar required a far higher tax of 12 kreutzer: as clear a sign as any of the economic and cultural hierarchy at work here.

Precisely because the more humble publications such as that of Greis were ephemeral--intended for practical use of limited duration--most have disappeared. They wore out and were thrown out. This hardy survivor shows his wounds.

A complete copy (here, the 1823 volume via GoogleBooks) ran to 20 leaves (40 pages), but my copy has only 30 complete pages and a fragment of 31-32. Still, it somehow survived.

In fact, the three large notches on the left, or binding, edge, indicate that it must have been part of a larger volume. (They are too large for what would be required to stitch together a work of this slim size, and if that had been the only purpose--that is, if it stood alone--they would not have been removed.) Owners sometimes bound together multiple issues of the same serial, and sometimes combined publications of different titles within the same volume. We may assume--but not be certain--that the former was the case.

But the question remains: why would one have kept a work designed to be ephemeral? We know a good deal about some of these publications as texts, material objects, and objects of commerce--but still far too little about how they were actually used.

The Un-Bomb (2): Ballet, Not Bombs

Ever since Isaiah had a vision of men beating their swords into ploughshares, it has been pleasant to imagine or witness other examples of the tools or symbols of war being converted into those of peace. I've posted a few examples over on the Tumblr.

Full set of images: Ballet Bomb

The Un-Bomb (1): Former Baroque Armoury Turned Library

Ever since Isaiah had a vision of men beating their swords into ploughshares, it has been pleasant to imagine or witness other examples of the tools or symbols of war being converted into those of peace. I've posted a few examples over on the Tumblr.

Full series of images plus commentary: Books, Not Bombs

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Artifact of the Moment: Reflections on Nativity Scenes in Two Eighteenth-Century German Bibles

I am more behind than usual in sending traditional paper/print holiday greetings. For a variety of reasons, I didn't manage to get out any Christmas cards, as such, in time for the holiday. But I did at least manage to reflect briefly on some of the iconography associated with the occasion.

Here is an image that I've customarily used on one of the greeting cards that I send. It comes from my research into German book history.

The Nativity: Vignette from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew


The unsigned copper engraving (approximately 10 x 19.5 cm) is from my battered but treasured copy of: Biblia, Das ist: Die gantze Heilige Schrifft Alten und Neuen Testaments : nach der Übersetzung und mit den Vorreden und Randglossen D. Martin Luthers ... / ausgefertiget unter der Aufsicht und Direction Christoph Matthäi Pfaffen, der Heil. Schrifft Doctorn, Professorn, Cantzlern und Probsten zu Tübingen, auch Abbten des Closters Lorch. - Mit Censur des Hochfürstl. Würtemberg. Consistorii und Löbl. Theologischer Facultät zu Tübingen, auch Allergnädigsten Privilegiis (Tübingen: Verlegt und gedruckt von Johann Georg und Christian Gottfried Cotta. Im Jahr Christi 1729).

The massive folio volume, illustrated, and edited with commentary by Professor Christoph Matthäus Pfaff (1686-1760) of the University of Tübingen, was at once a bibliophile production, thus a representative declaration of Christian faith (simply owning such a large and expensive work was a statement of sorts), and a pragmatic attempt to bridge theological differences in an age in which Lutheran orthodoxy contended with pietist challenges in the Duchy of Württemberg, which remained a bastion of hard-core Evangelical Protestantism in the otherwise largely Catholic German south.

The iconic scene of the Holy Family in the stable stands at the beginning of the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, thus introducing the New Testament as a whole (the other Gospels are not similarly graced with vignettes).

The Gospel of Matthew, as such, of course, mentions none of this. Instead, after a long genealogy establishing Jesus' necessary descent from King David, and the story of the Annunciation, it leaps right to the birth of Jesus. But there is no mention of the details, or of a location more specific than the messianically mandated Bethlehem. Instead, we suddenly read of Herod's concern over the birth of the King of the Jews when the three Wise Men, having followed their star, arrive in Jerusalem. Only after Herod interrogates the "chief priests and scribes" do he and the Magi learn that the goal of the latter should be Bethlehem. And even then, the gospel refers only to "the house" in which they find "the young child with Mary his mother." That's all. They present their gifts. Then warned in dreams by God and an angel, respectively, the Wise Men and the Holy Family flee the wrath of Herod.

Our cozy and canonical image of the Nativity, as depicted in many a work of art, comes from the Gospel according to Saint Luke, (The Gospels of Mark and John do not even deal with the Nativity and instead leap right into the career of the mature Jesus.)

And even then, there are no details. Luke contains the familiar assertion that Mary "brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn" and that the shepherds, having heard the message of an angel and the heavenly host, "came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." That's it. And a manger, contrary to popular opinion and my childhood impressions, is not a stable, and rather, as the etymology implies, something that one finds inside a stable: a trough or feeder for livestock, thus suitable to act as a sort of ersatz crib for the baby Jesus. (For that matter, the whole Nativity narrative is historically problematic; most recently, archaeologists have suggested that the actual birthplace was Bethlehem in Galilee rather than Judea.)

The rest, with its familiar regiment of barnyard fauna, is the accretion of tradition, though quite understandable as something that would appeal to the lifeworld and sensibilities of a largely agrarian Europe in the coming two millennia and to us now conveys a kind of nostalgic Gemütlichkeit.

The image in this Bible therefore embellishes the scene in that vein. Within the Baroque frame of sinuous and symmetrically curving curling acanthus leaves is a barn or stable, though a rather artificially neat and clean one. And, although there are hay racks for the livestock all around the perimeter of the structure, the little manger holding the baby Jesus stands at the center: unrealistic and out of place in a practical sense but theologically exactly where it needs to be. To the left are Mary and Joseph (the latter depicted, according  to tradition, as elderly—perhaps in order to downplay any suggestion of sexuality). To the right are the shepherds (identifiable by their staves) in their customary poses of obeisance, from kneeling to respectfully standing in contrapposto. In a sense, they pull our attention to the right, and in emphasizing the miracle and message that brought them hither, seem to violate the symmetry, but the presence of the larger livestock in the left foreground (those at the right are depicted as smaller and in the background) exercises a countervailing weigh so that visual balance seems to be maintained in the aggregate.

Embodying as it does the most popular conception of the Nativity, the scene from Luke thus serves as a visual introduction to the New Testament as a whole. Emphasizing this, the frame bears in its corners the traditional iconographic representations of each of the four Gospels, reflecting the chief attribute of each book: the bull (Luke), the lion (Mark), the angel (Matthew), and the eagle (John).

The sophistication of this image, from its complex composition to the refinement of the figures and the elegant cross-hatching, is all the more apparent when we compare it with a later and and more humble counterpart. The 1729 Cotta Bible, as noted, was a luxury work, for the theologian and scholar, or for the patrician elite. The ordinary folk purchased something a good deal simpler and cheaper.

Both the Cotta firm and its competitors also published budget Bibles in the more common octavo format. (Think of a book with covers whose dimensions are akin to those of a typical modern paperback, or somewhat smaller than those of a Kindle, but which in this case is, of course, a good deal thicker: some two to three inches/5 to 7.5 cm.) In 1793, the young Johann Friedrich Cotta (1764-1832), who would become the greatest scion of the family, earning it world renown as the publisher of the German Classicists and Europe's leading liberal newspaper, brought out out 5,000 copies of one such volume (by contrast, new titles in his catalogue at that time typically appeared in pressruns of only 500-1000 copies). It contained no illustrations, as such, only a few modest standard printers' ornaments or vignettes to mark the transitions between sections.

Meanwhile the Tübingen printer and notorious pirate publisher Wilhelm Heinrich Schramm (who also worked for Cotta on other projects ) had brought out a revised version of his own cheap edition of the Holy Scriptures:

BIBLIA, Das ist: Die ganze Heil. Schrift Alten und Neuen Testaments, nach der Teutschen Uebersetzung D. Martin Luthers ... (Tübingen, drukts und verlegts Wilhelm Heinrich Schramm, 1791

The common title page for both Testaments in my copy is dated 1791, but the separate title page for the New Testament bears the year 1794:

Das neue Testament unsers HErrn und Heylands JEsu Christi, verdeutschet durch D. Martin Luther... 
 (Tübingen, drukts und verlegts Wilhelm Heinrich Schramm, 1794)

The illustrations in this volume are fewer and simpler (and of course smaller) than in the Cotta folio Bible. To begin with, they are woodcuts rather than copper engravings, and thus allow for less detail. Even taking that into account, though, they are cruder in composition as well as line.

The elaborate Baroque frame of the engraving in the 1729 folio gave the scene an almost theatrical appearance, so that we had the sense of being privileged observers, looking in on a scene in which the holy actors go about their sacred business unaware of us.  (Not for nothing did nineteenth-century critics liken the proscenium stage, with its sharp separation of audience and players, to the Guckkasten—peep show, or peep box—of the village fair.) It was thus at once realistic and unrealistic.

Nativity Scene: c. 3.5 x 1.25 inches/ 9 x 3 cm

Here the frame has been reduced to a bare minimum, and the effect also differs in other ways from that of its more elegant counterpart. Indeed, the four Evangelists seem imprisoned rather than framed by the stark black border. (St. Matthew, at upper left, looks absolutely desperate to escape its confines, which in the meantime seem to be crushing poor St. Luke at lower right.) Within the frame, there is no attempt to produce a realistic perspectival architectural setting: instead, the background consists mainly of an undifferentiated series of vertical lines. There is a sort of flatness to the whole. The human forms are similarly simplified and flattened. It is tempting to call them cartoonish. Certainly, they are not particularly elegant or accomplished. From the standpoint of both composition and execution, then, the Schramm woodcut may seem clumsy. The frame is simple, the background is simple, the figures are crude.

That said, there is a kind of naive charm and rustic vitality to the whole.

Mary's devotion is apparent, even though the head of the baby Jesus looks like one of those schematic skulls on a Puritan gravestone. Although somewhat obscured by the forequarters of the horse or donkey in the background, the bull at left turns his head to the right, captivated by the array of figures paying homage to the infant. Further drawing our attention to the mother and child is the outstretched arm of Joseph (for we assume that the commanding gesture identifies him, even though the staff might otherwise suggest one of the shepherds) above, despite (or because of?) his lobster claw of a hand.

And even the compositional clumsiness may ironically work to the artist's and reader's advantage: although the figures awkwardly fill the space to the extent that we fear they will bump their heads on the solid black border, there is somehow a sense of immediacy lacking in the more polished engraving of the 1729 folio. As a result, we feel ourselves to be not voyeurs, but participant-observers in the miraculous scene.

Upon reflection, then, one might just conclude that this print brings us closer to that presumed stable and the lifeworld of Judean peasants some two thousand years ago than does its more elegant Baroque counterpart. In any case, it was by means of simple images such as these that the average Christian in Central Europe formed a picture of the Nativity some two centuries ago.

Friday, November 30, 2012

New Leaders at Hampshire College Library: Library Director Jennifer Gunter King and Archivist Jimi Jones

Good news really deserves full and proper coverage, but since I am (for a variety of reasons) unable to give it that at the moment, I'll take solace in the fact that it also speaks for itself:

In the interval since my first mention of our library search, Hampshire College has made not one, but two outstanding hires, the first for the position of Director of the Library, the second for College Archivist. I was a member of the search committee for the former and attended the candidate talks and offered feedback for the latter. As it happens, I was personally acquainted with the successful candidate in the former and was familiar with the work of the latter. I could not be happier.

Welcome, Jennifer Gunter King and Jimi Jones!

Our new Library Director is Jennifer Gunter King, whom I have known for five years, since we worked together on the "Bookmarks" events of Museums 10, the consortium of Pioneer Valley Museums. Arranging book-related exhibitions and programs engaging institutions from the Emily Dickinson Museum (obvious) and Five College art museums (logical enough) to the Amherst College geological museum (now, that was a tough one) was no mean trick, and it is no understatement to say that Jennifer's energy and creativity were a driving force behind the series, its intellectual conception, and its success. (program site here; I posted a few brief descriptive reports on the first half of the program here; Roger Mummert of the New York Times wrote about the exhibition and the general book culture of the area: "In the Valley of the Literate.")

Jennifer, until now head of Archives and Special Collections at Mount Holyoke College, has many talents. Trained to work in traditional rare print and manuscript sources, she is also passionately committed to doing the work of the present using the tools of the present, and geared to the distinctive needs of Hampshire College. For example, given that we do not have traditional "special collections" involving internationally famous rarities, and rather, documents mostly associated with the personae or general mission and values of the young college, she sees the need to highlight student and faculty work, to digitize and publicize our current cultural production.

I'll let her explain her approach herself in this profile, published at the time of her hiring in March. Among other things, it said, "At Hampshire, she believes it is essential to showcase the intellectual output of the Hampshire community past and present. Because of the preponderance of work done in new media, King wants to make sure that, from an archival and research perspective, work isn’t lost due to a lack of ability to preserve and showcase those materials."

This philosophy meshes perfectly with that of our new archivist, Jimi Jones. He comes to us fresh from a prestigious position at the Library of Congress, with equally impressive credentials and an equal commitment to both cutting-edge practices and the distinctive mission of the College. Although I had not met Jimi before his campus visit, I was familiar with his regular blog posts on "The Signal," the digital preservation blog of the Library of Congress. What impressed me was not just his expertise in these specialized (though today becoming the norm) areas, but also his historical perspective and breadth of vision. Like Jennifer, he understands the role of digital media.

Like Jennifer, he also has multiple talents and varied interests, extending, for example, to art, and in particular, the book arts, with which he was involved at the University of Utah. Book arts, perhaps because students have a new appreciation for the physical and the tangible in an increasingly "virtual" age, have become very popular since we founded the Center for the Book here at the end of the last century (sorry, can't help myself: just like to use that phrase). The two worlds came together recently just around the time of Jimi's arrival with our very successful "Pulp to Pixels" program and exhibit (blog here), funded by a Five College Mellon grant for digital humanities. Jimi hit the ground running, and his energy, approach, and talents can be appreciated from this report, which he posted on our Hampshire Media Tumblr.

Not only do these hires bring to us two talented leaders of their respective departments or domains. They will also be a wonderful stimulus to all aspects of our Center for the Book, which understands "the history of the book" as the study of the technologized word, thus embracing the entire sweep of development from the origins of writing to today's "new" media.

Obviously, great hires such as these are good for the College in a direct and practical sense. More generally and perhaps more important, though, the decision of these two highly qualified professionals to come here when they could be highly competitive and sought-after candidates anywhere, is a real vote of confidence for the accomplishments and prospects of the institution. These days, Hampshire College, under the leadership of new President Jonathan Lash, is feeling a new sense of energy and collective purpose as it continues to fulfill its mission of preparing students to learn and live in an ever more complex world in which the liberal arts must retain their value even as the nature of knowledge and information are changing at an unprecedented pace.