“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”
–Bram Stoker, Dracula
Yes. It’s that time of year, again. In a couple of days ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night will be traipsing through our neighborhoods, prowling our streets in search of the sweet sustaining nectar of chocolate, caramel, and assorted goodies.
Looking for ways to wind yourself into the witching hour? The University of Houston Special Collections has just the thing (or two) to do the, ahem, trick.
We recently acquired a 1902 printing of the definitive vampire novel, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. While it is still in the process of being cataloged, interested students of the Victorian period can encourage their professors to bring their classes to the Evans Room to study it or students may view this iconic novel themselves in the Special Collections Reading Room. This printing features stunning cover art sure to curdle the blood. Initially published in 1897, Dracula, with its narrative of an insidious interloper threatening and tainting English society (and its women), fit the mold of the popular “invasion literature” genre taking hold in England at the turn of the century and prior to the Great War.
And while Dracula may be the definitive vampire novel, the character itself may owe a nod elsewhere.
In the 1816 summer following the eruption of Mount Tambora, Lord Byron invited a number of writer-artist types to his Lake Geneva estate for a season of diversion. Plagued by the dreary weather found in the wake of a literal atmospheric change and volcanic winter, the friends tended to stay indoors, talking and swapping stories–the stuff of writing. Legend has it that from this peculiar summer spent in the gloom of a world without a sun, blotted out by ash, Mary Shelley, as she phrases it, “then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea,” a Modern Prometheus. We think of it today as simply Frankenstein.
However, ironically overshadowed from this summer and its lore is her husband’s work during this same period that helped give rise to another monstrosity–an elegant and aristocratic vampire that, alas, he just could not seem to make work in fiction. But, as the idea bounced around that summer, John Polidori (also present amongst these fast friends) completed it as the novella The Vampyre (Spoiler alert, the vampire is a member of elite society and a bit of a lothario. Sound familiar?). Nearly 100 years later, this character, coupled with the English xenophobia of the century’s turn gave rise to an archetype that now defines a genre, thrilling and chilling us ever since.
Halloween owes quite a bit to that one peculiar year without a summer.
Dracula and Frankenstein are both favorites this time of year and whether you prefer supernatural monsters or the darkness of the human soul, UH Special Collections has you covered. As luck would have it, in addition to the recent Dracula acquisition, we also have available for study an 1839 printing of Shelley’s labor from that bewitching summer. This edition of Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus is printed and bound alongside Friedrich Schiller’s The Ghost-Seer, so you get two tales for the price of one with your visit!
Whether this week or any week of the year, visit us in Special Collections for timeless thrills and chills.
Hispanic Heritage Month came to an end last week, but we would be remiss if we did not mention the recent honor bestowed upon Dr. Nicolas Kanellos, Director of Arte Público Press, by Mayor Annise Parker. As part of the City of Houston’s observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, Kanellos received the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award for Education in recognition for his work with the “Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage” research program.
In the early 1970s Dr. Kanellos founded Revista Chicana-Riqueña, later renamed The Americas Review, and this labor evolved into Arte Público Press which found a home at the University of Houston when he accepted a position here in 1980. Beginning in 1992, Arte Público began the formal work for the “Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage” program. The 2013 catalog of complete titles can be found here.
The University of Houston Special Collections congratulates Dr. Kanellos and his team of scholars whose efforts progress the work of this research program. For those interested in learning more about the nation’s largest and most vibrant Latino publishing house, we remind you how pleased we are to offer the Arte Público Manuscripts Collection and U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Records for study as part of our Hispanic Collections and invite you to visit us at your next opportunity.
An engaging talk by author Maco Faniel plus a showing of Houston hip hop pioneers made for an enjoyable evening hosted by the University of Houston Bookstore and the UH Libraries. The event, a book talk and signing for Hip-Hop in Houston: The Origin and The Legacy on History Press, drew a crowd of students, librarians, and hip hop artists to the Honors Commons in M.D. Anderson Library on October 17th. The event also served to announce the donations of the DJ Steve Fournier Papers and the Carlos “DJ Styles” Garza Papers to Special Collections, where they will become part of the Houston Hip Hop collecting area.
The University of Houston campus is in the midst of celebration. All this week students have been revving up for homecoming, participating in a number of celebratory events that culminate in Family Weekend and Saturday’s football game versus another group of Cougars from Brigham Young University. Homecoming celebrations and college campuses need no introductions to one another. Festivities and celebrations vary little, save the bright colors accompanying the pageantry, from state to state and town to town. This year, however, homecoming and Family Weekend coincide in one tremendous Cougar Family celebration.
Family Weekend has traditionally presented an opportunity to invite the families of our students to campus and allow a look into the collegiate experience that is uniquely Houston. This year, a growing schedule of events (including tours of our own M.D. Anderson Library), will give family members of UH students a first-hand view of student life on and off campus. Events will also include various campus tours, a Family BBQ Celebration, and the Family Game Day Tailgate on Saturday preceding the big game against BYU at 2:30pm at Reliant Stadium.
All of the homecoming fervor, though, has piqued my interest. A quick search of “homecoming” in our archival finding aids returns a number of interesting results. Our UH Photographs Collection holds plenty of photographs related to homecoming celebrations throughout the years. The Athletics Department Records boast programs from homecoming games dating back to 1950. Even the President’s Office Records contain an entire folder dedicated to communications and various documents related to homecoming.
Here at the University of Houston Special Collections we are happy to welcome all of the Cougar Family back to campus and encourage you to visit us as part of your celebrations. Eat ‘Em Up, Coogs!
A new exhibit is now open for viewing on the first and second floors of the M.D. Anderson Library. Last night, “Collective HER-story, A Mosaic Masterpiece: Exploring the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archives” was unveiled to the public in conjunction with the Barbara Karkabi Living Archives Series, “Women’s Activism Then & Now.”
An ambitious exhibition curated by our own Vince Lee and Pat Bozeman, this multimedia Mosaic Masterpiece pulls together over 100 items and artifacts, across the wide scope of the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archives, showcased via a dozen exhibit cases, an interactive and edifying touchscreen component, the exhibit website and accompanying videos, as well as an online mosaic featuring some items that could not make it into the physical exhibit, linked to the archival finding aids from which they originate. In addition to providing an introduction for further and deeper study, the exhibition lends insight and context to the history of preserving history and the critical necessity of the work–the stories behind the origins of Shuart Women’s Archive and Women’s Studies here at the University of Houston as told by Carey C. Shuart, Dr. Elizabeth Gregory, Dr. Cynthia Freeland, and Mayor Annise Parker.
The exhibit will run now through March 2, 2014 and is available for viewing during normal library hours. Archival collections are available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room during our normal hours of operation.
Please take a moment and view Mayor Parker’s welcome message for Collective HER-story below: