19 th century

2

Chateau hunting in Belgium.

A rainy day in Belgium meant only one thing to us, and that was to find and photograph some of the famous abandoned mansions that clutter the vast, open countryside here. We’d been researching these for several months, getting increasingly excited about the prospect of finding some in a relatively good condition. Unfortunately for us, this was not the case. We spent a few days seeking out the places we’d been researching and almost all of them were completely dilapidated upon arrival. It’s always a shame to see such majestic buildings that once held so many memories, stories and history laying in a state of disrepair.

This particular building was the only one we felt safe enough to enter and although the top levels were impassable, we felt it still had something rousing about its nature.

Built in the late 19th century and known as Chateau Rouge, this grand building had been laying abandoned since 2006. It’s been used as a children’s rehabilitation centre, a hotel and its grounds are currently used as a paintball zone.


Follow the hashtag #Fromrusttoroadtrip to follow our van conversion project and our travels around Europe! 🌍 

Barbara Bodichon (1827-1891) was a leading feminist and activist in 19th-century England. She was the founder of the group called “The Ladies of Langham Place”, one of the first organized women’s movements in Britain.

The group met regularly, and pursued the resolution of issues such as the Married Women’s Property Act, or the extension of university education to women. She founded the English Women’s Journal in 1858, focusing on matters of employment opportunities and gender equality, among others.

Thomas’ Malory’s King Arthur

Special Collections welcomed Will Rhodes’ ENGLIT1125 Masterpieces of Renaissance Literature on Wednesday, March 15th. Students had the opportunity to examine facsimiles of Renaissance literature and poetry; fine press and private press editions of literature and poetry; and historical texts dating back to the Renaissance. Students worked closely with these materials and completed an in-class assignment to create a short essay.  Professor Rhodes selected a handful of these essays for us to feature on the Special Collections Tumblr.  We hope that you enjoy!

This edition of Sir Thomas’ Malory’s King Arthur is a combination of work from both the 15th and 19th centuries. The book immediately caught my eye as part of the Fine Press/ Private Press Editions station; it had an evident luxurious quality, bound in ¾ Morocco leather with bright gold floral detailing. The binding of the book itself conveys a fairy-tale like quality, which fits its classic and well-loved contents.

The content of the book itself combines Malory’s original content with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898), a major pioneer of the Art Nouveau movement. It is said that Beardsley was only twenty years old when he was commissioned by J.M Dent to collaborate on the text in 1892. Beardsley’s work was heavily influenced by Japanese woodcuts – apparent in his use of line, tone and intricate detail – and the result is a beautiful array of illustrations combining ornate block lettering and detailed depictions of flowers, foliage, damsels and knights. His style, which appears to combine gothic, medieval and modern influences, makes Beardsley the ideal illustrator for this text, which is a modern edition of the classic story of the adventures of King Arthur and his knights.

The fact that the text is written “in modern style” suggests it is actually supposed to be read and not simply owned as a decorative or collectable piece. However, the book certainly has a rare and collectable quality to it. Some illustrations take up whole pages (which are made of Dutch handmade paper) while others are dispersed through the body of text itself, and their richness adds to the decadent feel of the volume. The printing advancements of the 19th century certainly allow for this element of decadence that the printing technology of the 15th century would not have allowed. This means that this reworked edition enhances Malory’s original text in a way that he wouldn’t have been able to carry out himself. However, the stylised nature of Beardsley’s figures and the thick, jagged lines he uses may also be seen to add a sinister quality to the work that Malory may not have intended in his writing. However, I think the beauty and intricacy of this book certainly makes it a valuable reworking of his original tale.

-Amy Buckle, University of Pittsburgh undergraduate

422: The Day the Earth Froze

The Kalevala is sort of the Iliad of Finland.  As the opening narration of The Day the Earth Froze explains, in the middle of the 19th century a philologist named Elias Lönnrot compiled a collection of folklore and oral poetry into a single epic, which went on to become a major cornerstone of Finnish national identity.  There’s a Lemminkäinen Construction Group and a Sampo National Bank, towns called Kalevala and Pohjola, and things like Ilmarinen Streets all over the place.  February 28th is Kalevala Day.  It’s a big damn deal.

Keep reading

Professor Sreemoyee Dasgupta recently brought her Adolescent Literature class to Special Collections.  Students worked with 19th and 20th Century periodicals catering toward children and young adults; early 20th Century dime novels; comic books featuring teenage characters; texts on etiquette from the late 19th and early 20th Century; school stories; and versions of novels to demonstrate changes over time of cover art and presentation.  Some of the students submitted Tumblr posts as extra credit which we will feature throughout the week:

Peggy, by Laura E Richards, appears on the surface to be a novel similar to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The cover itself portrays a thoughtful girl appearing to ponder life in a garden. Most interesting to me is the drama of the chapter titles; “The Terror by Night,” “By Moonlight,” and “What was the Matter with Lobelia Perkins”, which all seem as though they could be the titles of murder mysteries.

-Bradley Petyak, University of Pittsburgh undergraduate

speaking of dandyism, here’s (if anybody cares) a little synthèse I wrote for my qualifying exams last year. Both non-exhaustive and extremely…weird, but that’s kind of the fun isn’t it. Take all the ideas herein with a grain of salt

Keep reading

Professor Sreemoyee Dasgupta recently brought her Adolescent Literature class to Special Collections.  Students worked with 19th and 20th Century periodicals catering toward children and young adults; early 20th Century dime novels; comic books featuring teenage characters; texts on etiquette from the late 19th and early 20th Century; school stories; and versions of novels to demonstrate changes over time of cover art and presentation. Some of the students submitted Tumblr posts as extra credit which we will feature throughout the week:

“Pretty hair can always overcome the handicap of a not-so-pretty face.”

“In order to be a success in this world, you have to be pretty as well as look pretty.”

“Even if the boy is awful, he might have a friend who is divine.”

Analyzing Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide: Introduction to a New You was a treat. Written and published in 1951, this guide to popularity reflects the bandwagon of the times: little women who are happy to keep his dinner warm, who are agreeable, docile, and above all things, pretty. This book illuminates the paradox expected of women in our society: to be “peppy, but not persistent,”“informal, but not uninhibited,” “enthusiastic, but brief”.

Woman are scripted to be fragile and feminine. We are advised to make ourselves look appealing with the help of makeup and certain clothing in order to attract men and to achieve a certain ideal of beauty and grace. Two hundred years ago, society supported the Victorian Ideals of Domesticity which stated that women should be “soft”, “weak”, and “needing of protection”. Even more recent, these ideals were still clearly valued in the 1950s as exemplified by this book. One of my favorite passages from the guide reads:

Lesson one in “How to Handle College Men” is: college men are conservatives. They like their women to be pretty, but not movie queens; to be intelligent, but not quiz kids; peppy but not persistent. In other words, a college man wants a girl who knows what the score is.

The desire for women to be attractive but not stunning, intelligent but not brilliant, and to know ‘her place’ is all reflective of the ideals of the time as well. The 1950s are notorious for conformity - nothing was to be extraordinary; simply average and complacent.

Although gender equality has progressed immensely since then, these ideals are still present in our culture today. Women are expected to be weak and emotional, yet strong for our men when they need us to be. Despite all of our achievements and efforts, we are expected to allow the man to “drive” or maintain control. This paradox still exists, which made reading this so - almost chilling. 

Regardless, I believe it is important to explode ourselves to such outdated texts in order to acknowledge how ideals and expectations change and in this case, for the best.

-Eliza Luxbacher, University of Pittsburgh Undergraduate