Curator Talks: Spring 2019

Join the Special Collections Library for fascinating talks this semester led by faculty, librarians, archivists, and curators. Topics this fall will range from Thomas Hobbs’ Leviathan to Cuneiform Tablets. The talks take place weekly in the Special Collections Reading Room on the second floor of the Central & Divinity Libraries building on Wednesday mornings from 11:10 a.m. – 12:00 pm.  All events are free and open to the public.


23rd    Rachel Lavenda / Bear with Me: The Case of  Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan

Special Collections’ copy of Hobbes’ Leviathan appears, at first glance, to be a first edition.  However, despite the date on the title page proclaiming a 1651 publication year, the reality is not that straight forward.  Rachel Lavenda, curator of Special Collections, will tell the story about tracing the publication history of Leviathan, make it an engaging one, and in doing so reveal a look into the equally frustrating and satisfying reality of working with old books.

30th     Mona Frederick / Getting Women in Vanderbilt’s Game:  The Trailblazing Career of Stella Scott Vaughn

Stella Scott Vaughn graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1896 and was then hired by the university to serve as a women’s physical education instructor.  Her story captures much of the early history of the university and especially the role of women on campus during that time period.  Join Director of the Robert Penn Warren Center Mona Frederick as she guides us through the life and times of this remarkable woman.


6th       Kathy Smith / Why Did You Save That?

Things end up in the archives that sometimes make one ponder the reasoning behind why the object was saved.  Vanderbilt University and George Peabody College memorabilia can tell you interesting stories about the students, faculty and staff who have lived and worked on campus since the beginning of the institutions.  Join Associate Director of Special Collections Kathy Smith for an entertaining trip through time using objects found in the University Archives.

13th     Jim Duran / Zero Hour: The 2003 invasion of Iraq

The Vanderbilt Television News Archive recorded over 4600 hours of television news coverage of the start of major combat operations in Iraq, March 19 to April 18, 2003.  The invasion of Iraq offers a significant insight into a watershed moment for U.S. domestic and foreign policy as the country wrestled with the ramifications of the 9/11 terrorist attack.  Curator Jim Duran will present new methods of interacting with this content including an introduction to sentiment analysis, comparing the languages of news networks

20th     Rachel Lavenda / An Exhibit Talk: African American Writers of the 20th-Century

Throughout the 20th century, African American writers consistently gave voice to their experiences through powerful poetry and prose. From the bold voices that came out of the Harlem Renaissance, the courageous words from the Civil Rights Movement, to the unapologetic stories of everyday strife, this outpouring of African American literary talent has left a lasting impact on the landscape of American literature.  Join Curator of Special Collections Rachel Lavenda, as she guides you through the stories of the men and women featured in the current Special Collections exhibit celebrating the works of 20th century African American writers.


27th     Teresa Gray / The Vanderbilt Photographic Archive: Visual Timeline of the University

When the University Archives was founded in 1964, records and photographs of the early history of the university were concentrated in faculty and administrative offices scattered across the length and breadth of campus.  Join Special Collections Librarian Teresa Gray as she explores the early history of the University Archives and the development of its photographic collections.  This presentation will include rare, early photographs of the university, student life on campus, and faculty and staff who helped shape the course of the university.


13th     Paula Covington / (Mis)understanding the New World: Conquerors, Travelers, and Explorers in Latin America

Exploration and travel through Latin America was highly documented by the men and women who ventured into these unknown territories.  Learn how these misguided understandings of Latin American culture, geography and history skewed the Anglo-European concepts of these lands as Paula Covington, librarian for Latin American Studies, Spanish and Portuguese and Latin American Anthropology takes us on a tour of Special Collections’ Latin American travel literature.


Jim Thweatt / The Life of Dr. Paul F. Eve

University of Nashville and Vanderbilt professor Dr. Paul Fitzsimmons Eve was one of the most well-known surgeons of the 19th century, introducing 14 surgical procedures to America and publishing over 500 articles.  However, his colorful life and legacy of service is largely forgotten.  Join Medical Historical Collections Archivist James Thweatt as he describes the life and times of this amazing physician.



Annalisa Azzoni / Bringing the Vanderbilt Divinity Library Cuneiform Tablets Collection into the Light

Did you know that the Divinity Library has a collection of cuneiform tablets?  See these amazing forms of an ancient writing system and learn about how these tablets ended up at Vanderbilt.  Join Senior Lecturer in the Divinity School Annalisa Azzoni as she discusses the  collaborative effort to catalog, identify, and make known the cuneiform tablets of the James Stevenson Collection, and how the “Cultures in Clay” exhibit came together to document these artifacts dating up to four millennia ago.


 3rd      Yvonne Boyer / Les Fleurs du Printemps: Selections from the French Collections

From romance to revolution, flowers flourish as an important part of French culture.  The grape and the flower are two of the most significant symbols of France and the representation of wine and its cultivation or the delights of an aromatic bouquet can be found throughout literature.  During the Spring semester, it is the season to cultivate the library collections for their significant blossoms–a rite of spring.   Yvonne Boyer, Librarian for Art, French, & Italian; Librarian for WT Bandy Center for Baudelaire & Modern French will highlight floral selections from the French collections, from poetry to artists’ books.

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