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Video Now Available — Life With Books: Collecting, Reading, and Teaching LGBTQI Literature

Department News, Events, Exhibits, Rare Books

This fall semester UH Special Collections hosted Edward Lukasek and Dr. Natalie Houston in a panel discussion, “Life With Books: Collecting, Reading, and Teaching LGBTQI Literature.”  If you could not make the event or if you would like to remember that very special conversation, please enjoy the recently published video below courtesy of University of Houston Libraries.

Welcome Sara Craig

Department News, University Archives
At work in the stacks.  We welcome Sara Craig to the University of Houston Special Collections, University Archives team.

At work in the stacks.
We welcome Sara Craig to the University of Houston Special Collections, University Archives team.

This fall semester the University of Houston Special Collections added a new member, Sara Craig, to our team.

In the role of University Archives Student Assistant, Sara works part-time supporting the needs of the University Archives as well as other archival collections, assisting with reference questions, updating finding aids, assisting with collection management and shelving, accessioning materials, and helping to arrange and describe new collections.

Originally from South Carolina, Sara has studied engineering at the University of Southern California, and holds an Associate Degree in Library Information Technology.  An art major here at the University of Houston, Sara enjoys working with her hands and looks forward to pursuing further education that will allow her to pursue a career in book repair and conservation.  It may be in her genes.

With a horticulturist mother and a father working in cabinetry and furniture-making, Sara remembers, “I was the only four-year old girl I knew with a toolbox and a garden plot.”  With that upbringing and a hands-on-DIY ethos, Sara meets the day-to-day surprises and challenges of working in the archives with aplomb.  In her brief time here, she has already contributed to the publication of several finding aids such as the Minnie Fisher Cunningham: McArthur-Smith Research Papers, assisted with a collections shift in the archival stacks, rehoused oversized historical materials from the KUHF Collection, and co-curated the “UH Homecoming Through the Years” online exhibition.

We look forward to Sara’s continued expertise, insight, and support as the University Archives and Special Collections seek new ways to assist our patrons in their day-to-day research.

Lukasek and Houston Talk About LGBTQI Books

Department News, Events, Exhibits, Rare Books
Edward Lukasek, donor of the Edward Lukasek Gay Studies Collection

Edward Lukasek, donor of the Edward Lukasek Gay Studies Collection

Dr. Natalie Houston, Associate Professor in the English Dept. at UH

Dr. Natalie Houston, Associate Professor in the English Dept. at UH

On Tuesday, September 16th, Special Collections welcomed Edward Lukasek and Dr. Natalie Houston for a panel discussion titled “Life with Books: Collecting, Reading, and Teaching LGBTQI Literature.” Cosponsored by the UH Libraries and the LGBT Resource Center, the event was intended to complement the exhibit LGBTQI Literature: Celebrated Classics and Contemporary Works, which closes on Friday, September 26th.

A rapt audience of faculty, librarians, staff, and visitors enjoyed learning about the role that books played in the lives of the two panelists – Edward Lukasek, a book collector whose private collection was donated to the UH Libraries as the Edward Lukasek Gay Studies Collection, and Natalie Houston, an Associate Professor in the English Department at UH who has taught a number of courses on LGBT literature.

Lukasek described collecting books at his favorite thrift shop while living in the Castro district of San Francisco for 17 years. Asked to recommend his favorite work of LGBTQI literature, he chose the trilogy of autobiographical novels by Edmund White: A Boy’s Own Story, The Beautiful Room is Empty, and The Farewell Symphony. He praised White’s ability to put the reader in the moment, and said that he appreciated reading about the experiences of a gay man from an earlier generation. Lukasek also described the flowering of literature that followed the early years of the AIDS epidemic, recommending Heaven’s Coast by Mark Doty as a particularly poignant memoir.

Houston has always been a voracious reader. While her major field of interest is Victorian literature, she enjoyed studying with queer studies pioneer Eve Sedgwick as a PhD student at Duke. Arguing that it was unfair to ask an English professor to pick only one favorite LGBTQI book, Houston recommended three favorite authors and works – Michael Cunningham’s A Home at the End of the World, a beautifully written novel about friendship; Carol Anshaw’s Aquamarine, the story of a woman’s three possible lives; and Emma Donoghue’s Hood, which centers on the death of the protagonist’s lover. Houston also talked about her rewarding experiences teaching LGBT literature to UH students.

The panel discussion made for a very special conversation; please enjoy a video from the event below.


See the Exhibit, Read the Book, Watch the Film!

Department News, Exhibits, Rare Books

Many of the books featured in our current exhibition LGBTQI Literature: Celebrated Classics and Contemporary Works have been adapted into acclaimed movies and TV miniseries. From eighties costume drama Brideshead Revisited to this spring’s HBO film The Normal Heart, the stories of people who identify as LGBTQI have made for compelling drama on the big and small screen.

With the dog days of summer upon us, we recommend that you come view the exhibition, stop off for lunch or dinner at Eric’s Restaurant on campus, and then unwind at home with one of the following:

Those who are suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawal might enjoy the British miniseries Brideshead Revisited (1981), the tale of a friendship that develops between two young men at Oxford in the decade following WWI. Based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead… made a star of Jeremy Irons.

Desert Hearts (1985), directed by Donna Deitch and based on the novel Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule, is considered a classic of lesbian film. It centers on the realistic romance between divorcing housewife Vivian and casino worker Cay in Reno, Nevada.

Steven Spielberg directed The Color Purple (1985), an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker. In it, main character Celie (played by Whoopi Goldberg) finds her life changed by an affair with the beautiful blues singer Shug.

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City (1993) was the first of three miniseries based on the writer’s popular books about life in a San Francisco apartment building in the 1970s. It starred a less well-known Laura Linney as the naive new tenant Mary Ann, and Olympia Dukakis as landlady Mrs. Madrigal. Various straight and gay neighbors with their own stories rounded out the characters.

The script for the two-part HBO production of Angels in America (2003) was adapted by Tony Kushner from his play about the AIDS epidemic in Reagan’s America. Angels… won 11 Emmy Awards including acting nods for Al Pacino as closeted conservative attorney Roy Cohn, and Jeffrey Wright as the compassionate nurse Belize.

Brokeback Mountain (2005) started out as a story by Annie Proulx in her 1999 collection Close Range: Wyoming Stories. The tale of two ranch hands who fall in love was adapted into a full-length screenplay by Larry McMurtry and his writing partner Diana Ossana. The Ang Lee-directed film starred Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger as the star-crossed Western lovers.

In May 2014, miniseries The Normal Heart debuted on HBO. Based on Larry Kramer’s 1985 play about activism during the early years of the AIDS crisis, it starred Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts, and will be released on DVD later this month.

LGBTQI Literature: Celebrated Classics and Contemporary Works will be on view on the 1st floor of MD Anderson Library through Sept. 26, 2014.

Photographs from the Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers

Department News, Digitization, Hispanic Collections
Leonor Villegas de Magnón and Aracelito Garcia with flag of La Cruz Blanca (Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers, 1914)

Leonor Villegas de Magnón and Aracelito Garcia with flag of La Cruz Blanca (Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers, 1914)

Another on the list of recently published digital collections–Photographs from the Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers.

Previously, we have written about the larger Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers and how pleased we are that our partnership with Arte Público has made available for study the papers of such a trailblazing, radical Latina.  The recent publication of this digital collection, featuring select photographs, will provide prospective researchers a new window into a figure much obscured from our predominant Texana narrative.

Born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in 1876, Leonor Villegas de Magnón would lead a life that, for a woman of her time, place, and disposition, found her pushing headlong into a fierce, at times unfriendly current of history in the American Southwest.  Educated in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, Magnón would take up permanent residence in Laredo and is remembered today as an educator, journalist, activist, and the founder of La Cruz Blanca (The White Cross) during the Mexican Revolution in 1913 (following in the tradition of other voluntary relief organizations being established to nurse the wounded of war).  Her remarkable life is documented in her autobiography, La Rebelde (the Lady Rebel).

Included in this new digital collection are portraits, landscapes, and photographs showcasing her work in the Mexican Revolution as well as candid photographs featuring her family and friends.  Notable figures like Porfirio Díaz, Jovita Idar, and Pancho Villa, can be found throughout the collection.

We hope you enjoy this new digital collection of photographs and invite you to visit the Special Collections Reading Room should you wish to further explore the Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers.

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