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Guest Post: A Pithy Reflection of Spec Coll, Riots, and Gratitude (with a splash of humor)

Department News, Guest Posts, Instruction

Today we have a goodbye post from Bryan Bishop ’14, the department’s first Instruction Support Student Worker. During his year in the position, he prepared rare materials for class visits, maintained the Evans Room (our classroom and function space), input student learning assessment data, digitized materials requested by patrons, and created descriptive metadata for a collection of World War II photographs.

A graduate of the UH Honors College in History and Political Science, Bryan is heading to Fonville Middle School in H.I.S.D. to teach U.S. History for the 2014-15 school year. He has also been accepted into the John W. Draper Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought at NYU with a deferred start date. All of us will miss Bryan’s intellectual curiousity, “can do” attitude, and sense of humor. Heeeeeere’s Bryan!

Student worker Bryan Bishop working in the stacks

Student worker Bryan Bishop working in the stacks

When I happened upon the Instruction Support position available in Special Collections last August, I had no idea what “instruction support” was, or that it would be the best job I ever had. As an older student worker I had had a few jobs prior to arriving at UH. But those jobs levied tremendous pressure, rarely yielding pleasure. This job was different. All that would be asked of me was to show up ready to work, complete thoroughly what was asked of me, and display passion for my projects, most of which involved research relating to my studies and interests: humanities and social sciences. Strange as it may sound, in 20 years of working this was the first time I was unconditionally happy.

Performing tasks around the department was a riot. True, I too have never associated riots with libraries. If anything, life surrounding a library is the complete opposite, serene. So how was working in Special Collections a riot? It was a riot in the sense of how I felt while and after performing my duties; that everything I did was significant for our university community and a team I hold in the highest regard—my co-workers, my friends. This, admittedly, is a peculiar illustration; however, I find that the more idiosyncratic a description is, the more unique, and in this case, special, the experience was.

I could utilize more space than the Interwebs have allotted to express my gratitude vis-à-vis the projects on which I was allowed to work. Ergo, I must devote my closing thoughts to my peers and managers in the department.

Okay, done.

High School Students Explore the Wonder of Larry McMurtry’s Writing

Contemporary Literature, Department News, Instruction
Martin & students

Zach Martin of Wonderworks shows manuscript to Houston high school students

Some high school students spend their summer vacations soaking up the sun or playing computer games. But Houston-area students enrolled in the Wonderworks academic enrichment program spend five weeks of their summer intensively studying art, architecture, film, or literature. In early July, Wonderworks students in a class called Story Lines visited Special Collections to get up close and personal with one of author Larry McMurtry’s manuscripts.

The students had already read McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show, a coming-of-age story set in a small Texas town, and viewed the classic film of the same name. But their instructors Zachary Martin and Daniel Wallace, PhD students in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, also wanted them to see first-hand the process McMurtry used in shaping his novel.

Larry McMurtry's typed notes and outline for The Last Picture Show (from the Larry McMurtry Papers)

Larry McMurtry’s typed notes and outline for The Last Picture Show (from the Larry McMurtry Papers)

Students examined the original typewritten first draft, noting McMurtry’s handwritten word changes and replacements of characters’ names. (Would the beautiful Jaycee have been as alluring if she were still named Lavetta?) Martin led the class through a typed outline of the plot points McMurtry originally intended his story to follow, encouraging them to identify which ones stayed in the novel and which ones were discarded by the author.

Martin used McMurtry’s draft as a springboard to talk to the students about their own writing, and the necessity of building up their prose and ruthlessly editing it into something stronger. Perhaps viewing the original words of one Houston-related writer has inspired the next generation of Houston writers.

To be inspired yourself, please visit the Special Collections reading room Our summer hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Art History Students Survey Newly Acquired Posters and Prints

Hispanic Collections, Instruction
Dr. Castillo (left) and his students survey the new additions to our Hispanic Collections

Dr. Castillo (left) and his students survey the new additions to our Hispanic Collections

On Monday afternoon, students from Dr. Eric Castillo’s “Mexican American Art and Social Change” course visited Special Collections and were the first patrons to view two newly acquired collections of art prints and posters now residing in our Hispanic Collections.

Hispanic Collections Archivist Lisa Cruces and Coordinator for Digital Projects and Instruction Julie Grob facilitated Dr. Castillo’s students in a survey of Migration Now, a limited-edition portfolio of 37 handmade prints addressing migrant issues created by Justseeds and CultureStrike as well as Con papeles o sin papeles todos tenemos derechos (With papers or without papers we all have rights), 15 posters designed to remind immigrants of their legal rights and protections by La Escuela de Cultura Popular Revolucionaria Martires del 68.  Students completed an analysis of the use of specific images and text in the posters as they related to viewpoints expressed therein.

To assist in their study, Cruces compiled a list of Primary Resources for Mexican American Art and Humanities Research.  In addition, in her role as the Hispanic Collections Archivist, Ms. Cruces completed a brief Q&A with the class regarding the status of the Hispanic Collections here at UH, the research potential they represent, and plans for growing the archives in the future.

a sampling from the new collections

a sampling from the new collections

We thank Dr. Castillo and his students for visiting Special Collections and look forward to their continued research in our Hispanic Collections and beyond.

Hip Hop History and Culture

Houston Hip Hop, Instruction
AAS 3301 students peruse items from the Houston Hip Hop Collection

AAS 3301 students peruse items from the Houston Hip Hop Collection

The following comes to us via Julie Grob, Coordinator for Digital Projects & Instruction here at the University of Houston Special Collections.

Undergraduate students from the course African American Studies 3301, Hip Hop History and Culture taught by Professor John Chiles, visited Special Collections Thursday night. Students viewed materials from the DJ Screw Papers and the newly acquired Carlos “DJ Styles” Papers, as well as items related to Houston artists such as Geto Boys, K-Rino, and UGK. Students teamed up in pairs to analyze individual items, and reconvened to discuss as a group how these items shed light on issues such as identity, gender, entrepreneurship, and Afrocentrism. The students enjoyed the chance to see original hip hop artifacts in person.

Items from the newly acquired Carlos “DJ Styles” Papers

Items from the newly acquired Carlos “DJ Styles” Papers

A reminder to faculty that you may make arrangements to bring a class to use Special Collections materials on a variety of topics by contacting Julie Grob.

Fine Press and Artists’ Books in Special Collections

Department News, Instruction, Rare Books
Sanctae Hildegardis Circulus Sapientiae =: Circle of Wisdom by Claire Van Vliet and others for Janus Press.

Sanctae Hildegardis Circulus Sapientiae =: Circle of Wisdom by Claire Van Vliet and others for Janus Press.

Among our visitors to Special Collections are students from the School of Art, who are particularly interested in the design and structure of books. These students enjoy exploring our collections of fine press books and artists’ books.

Fine press books are created with a strong emphasis on design and materials. They often involve a collaboration between a writer, printer, and visual artist. The books are usually printed on handmade paper with a carefully selected typeface using an old-fashioned letterpress printer. Visual harmony exists between the text, the illustrations, and the binding. Fine press books are highly sought by collectors and libraries.

Artists’ books explore the line between a book and a work of art. Less traditional than fine press books, they often have unusual bindings resembling structures such as an accordion, a tunnel, or a star. Although they are usually made from paper, artists’ books may be constructed with wood, plastic, or even rock. Artists’ books are often as whimsical as they are beautiful, and may be found in libraries, museums, and private collections.

Both fine press books and artists’ books are usually published in small runs by independent presses.

Special Collections holds numerous books from the following fine press printers. These books can be located in the UH Libraries’ catalog by typing the name of the press in the Author field or following the links below.

In the Morning by Mei-Ling Hom for Women's Studio Workshop.

In the Morning by Mei-Ling Hom for Women’s Studio Workshop.

Arion Press

Cheloniidae Press

Foolscap Press

Janus Press

Pennyroyal Press

Press of Appletree Alley

Sutton Hoo Press

Artists’ books may be located in the UH Libraries’ catalog by entering the subject heading Artists’ books. The subgenre known as pop-up books may be located by entering the subject heading Toy and movable books — Specimens.

Special Collections is particularly strong in artists’ books from the following presses and artists’ collectives.

Circle Press

Peter & Donna Thomas or Thomas Peter (Peter R.)

Artists Book Works

Women’s Studio Workshop

Art students or those who are simply curious may wish to view artists’ books by structure. Special Collections holds the following examples of particular book structures:

Accordion Binding

Barton, Carol J. Loom. Bethesda, Md.?: Carol June Barton?, 1989.

King, Ronald. Hick, Hack, Hock. London: Circle Press, 1995.

Rowe, Sandra. Snake. Rosendale, N.Y.: Women’s Studio Workshop, 1991.

Pop-Up Book

Hildegard, Vliet C. Van, Katie MacGregor, Robert Mealy, and Na’ama Lion. Sanctae Hildegardis Circulus Sapientiae =: Circle of Wisdom. Newark, Vt: Janus Press, 2001.

Tunnel Book

Barton, Carol J. Tunnel Map. Bethesda, Md: C.J. Barton, 1988.

Sculptural Book

Hom, Mei-ling. In the Morning. Rosendale, N.Y: Women’s Studio Workshop, 1990.

Jacob’s Ladder

Morrison, Lois. Water/fish. Rosendale, N.Y.: Women’s Studio Workshop, 1988.

Please visit us in Special Collections the next time you’re feeling arty!

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