Category Archives: Literature

Censorship Friday: Why many banned books deal with diversity and minorities

alexieThere are books that address the experiences of marginalized groups in the US, books that bring to light the stories of immigrants, of the LGBTQ community, of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and other non-white race/ethnicities that make up a significant part of our country. Many of these books, especially YA and children’s’ books, unsettle those who don’t affiliate with these groups. In the article below, the author uses statistics from other recent studies to highlight the fact that diverse books are often targeted for censorship. She points to novels such as Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which the library has in the collection (find it on the second floor, PS3551.L35774 A27 2009).

Banned Books Are Often Diverse Books. Check the Stats.

This year’s Banned Books Week theme, diverse books, has been on my mind for some time.  As Jamie LaRue, director of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, has noted, defining diversity is difficult.  However, the definition used by the organization We Need Diverse Books is succinct and inclusive: “We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.”

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US & UK literature archives online: Ransom Center’s Project REVEAL

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Oscar Wilde, Irish Poet and Playright

A fantastic new archive was launched just last week. Harry Ransom Center’s Project REVEAL (UT Austin) is an open-access manuscript and archival collection of 25 authors from America and the UK. Among the authors represented in Project REVEAL are Joseph Conrad, Hart Crane, Thomas Hardy, Vachel Lindsay, Jack LondonKatherine Mansfield, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sara Teasdale. Browse personal letters, notes and drafts from your favorite authors online.

From Hyperallergic :

Around 22,000 images from collections on 25 authors are now available through the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. Called Project REVEAL (Read and View English and American Literature), the year-long initiative launched last week in conjunction with the center’s new open access policy for public domain materials. From Jack London’s letters to Thomas Hardy’s obscure architectural drawings, with manuscripts and correspondence by figures like Joseph Conrad, Katherine Mansfield, L. Frank Baum, Oscar Wilde, Henry David Thoreau, and Robert Louis Stevenson, Project REVEAL is an impressive rabbit hole of rarely seen archives.

“Part of the Ransom Center’s mission is to encourage discovery and inspire creativity by sharing its incredible collections,” Liz Gushee, head of Digital Collections Services who oversaw the project, told Hyperallergic. “The adoption of an open access policy, which removes permission and fees, is a concrete way we can facilitate that creativity and use of our collection materials, by anyone, for any purpose.”

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007….now appearing in a theater near you and in a library whenever you want

I got to see the new James Bond movie this past weekend, Skyfall and I have to say it was great. Of course, it would have to be really bad for me to not like it since I have been a lover of Bond since I was a teenager but I have been a fan of the Bond creator, novelist Ian Fleming, much longer. Many don’t realize that in addition to Bond, Fleming wrote the children’s classic: Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang – one of my favorite books and movies — who can forget the scary child catcher?

Back to Bond: according to Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism (a reference source that is found in one of the library’s databases: Literature Criticisms Online) Fleming wrote thirteen James Bond novels plus additional short stories and screenplays based on the secret agent. Maybe you recognize some of the titles: Casino Royale, Dr. No, From Russia, With Love, and The Man With the Golden Gun. All of these titles are found at the MacDonald-Kelce Library – you can  search for them using the online catalog.

I know many students are deep into writing term papers this week since many have stopped by the reference desk appearing quite desperate and many are trying to get everything done before Thanksgiving. If you are still struggling don’t fret too much, all of your librarians are here to help you. AND if you are facing a conundrum when it comes to what to write about for a literature paper maybe Bond, James Bond is the way to go….Happy researching and writing!

Reference Question of the Week: Where can I find information about works of literature?

When I’m trying to find information about a work of literature, or about an author, my first stop is to see what books by or about the author we have in the library collection. Since someone told me recently to read James Dickey, I’ll use him for my example. All I know about this author is that the movie Deliverance (1972) was based on one of his novels.

The best book source would be a collection of critical essays about the particular work I’m researching (in this case, the novel Deliverance). But I also want to take a look at other critical works, because they may address certain themes that appear over and over in his work. Using the online catalog I’ll search for the author’s name, and then do another search for the work of literature I’m researching. Using James Dickey as my search terms I see that we carry the book James Dickey by Richard James Calhoun. This is definitely a book I want to get for my research. Even if I can’t tell from the record online if this is a book that will help, I’ll still locate it on the shelf, because there may be a book next to it that I can use in my research.

I also see there is a memoir by the author’s son. I’ll probably check in the index of this book to see if he writes specifically about the book or movie Deliverance. This might be helpful, perhaps giving me some insight to how the author felt about his work. I also see that there’s a collection of interviews and essays about Dickey (James Dickey: splintered sunlight: interview, essays, and bibliography). I’ll spend some time looking over this book as well. I’ll also look to see if we have a copy of the novel and check to see if it has any introductory matter that may help with my essay. I’ll check to see if the library carries the DVD because there may be a documentary, or some commentary on the movie that can give me insight into the work.

Once I’ve looked through the library’s collection of books, then I’ll turn to the databases. (Ubiquitous reminder: log in to Esearch before using the databases.)

One of my first stops for finding information on works of literature is the Literary Resource Center. When I search for James Dickey I get hundreds of results, so I then restrict my search to just peer-reviewed articles (by checking the box ‘peer-reviewed’ underneath the tabs). Then, on the left-hand side I have more options to restrict my search again, this time I choose the link for Deliverance. Now I have 3 papers, two of which are on-target, and one about the parallels between the writing of James Dickey and Coleridge. (This last paper I’ll skim, but I probably won’t read the whole thing since I don’t enough about Coleridge to include references to him in my paper. On the other hand, I’ll skim it because there may be some insight that can help me with my paper.)

The next place I look is Literature Criticism Online. Here I get some substantial information that addresses themes, symbolism, and critical reception.

I’ll also check LION (Literature Online). Here I got a lot of results, but not much full-text.

Three other databases I’ll search are JSTOR, Academic Search Complete, and ProQuest.

At this point I have found quite a few articles, so I need to focus my essay. Do I want to write about the role of nature in Deliverance? Rusticity? Gender? By looking at the criticism that’s been written I can get a good idea of which of these themes are significant to the critics. Then, once I’ve chosen my theme, I re-read Deliverance looking for that theme and thinking about my interpretation of that theme in this work.

Good luck with this assignment! It’s always fun to read a work of literature with a particular theme or idea in mind, and notice how it plays out over the course of the work. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to stop by and talk to one of our reference librarians.

Fiction Friday: In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

George Saunders is a four-time winner of the National Magazine Award, and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (aka MacArthur Genius Grant) in 2007. Primarily a short-story writer, Saunders has been compared to Kurt Vonnegut for his masterful blending of tragedy and comedy.

George Saunders helped the University of Tampa launch its MFA-Creative Writing program in January 2012 by visiting campus and staying here for a week as a writer in residence. He is currently a professor of creative writing at Syracuse University.

Braindead megaphone : essays / George Saunders. 2007
Library Location: MAIN Call Number: PS3569.A7897 B73 2007 Status: Shelved in the New Books Area

Brief and frightening reign of Phil / George Saunders. 2005
Library Location: MAIN Call Number: PS3569.A7897 B75 2005 Status: Shelved in the New Books Area

In persuasion nation : stories / by George Saunders. 2007
Library Location: MAIN Call Number: PS3569.A7897 I5 2007 Status: Shelved in the New Books Area

Pastoralia : stories / by George Saunders. 2001
Library Location: MAIN Call Number: PS3569.A7897 E53 2001 Status: Checked out

Very persistent gappers of Frip / George Saunders ; illustrated by Lane Smith. 2005
Library Location: MAIN Call Number: PS3569.A7897 V47 2005 Status: Shelved in the New Books Area

Fiction Friday: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Today’s recommendation comes from our Nursing/Education/Criminology librarian Elizabeth Barron.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver tells the story of a missionary family who moves from Georgia to the village of Kilanga in the Belgian Congo in 1959. The mother and four daughters each adapt differently to their new world.

From Barbara Kingsolver’s official site:

“The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

“The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy. Against this backdrop, Orleanna Price reconstructs the story of her evangelist husband’s part in the Western assault on Africa, a tale indelibly darkened by her own losses and unanswerable questions about her own culpability. Also narrating the story, by turns, are her four daughters—the self-centered, teenaged Rachel; shrewd adolescent twins Leah and Adah; and Ruth May, a prescient five-year-old. These sharply observant girls, who arrive in the Congo with racial preconceptions forged in 1950s Georgia, will be marked in surprisingly different ways by their father’s intractable mission, and by Africa itself. Ultimately each must strike her own separate path to salvation. Their passionately intertwined stories become a compelling exploration of moral risk and personal responsibility.”

Main Author: Kingsolver, Barbara.
Title: The poisonwood Bible : a novel /
Location: MAIN
Call Number: PS3561.I496 P65 2005
Status: On shelf

Fiction Friday: Nobel Prize Winners

If you want to read some literature, but you’re not sure where to start, you might begin with authors who have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Macdonald Kelce Library carries representative works of most, probably all, of the Nobel Prize winners in literature.

For example, you might want to check out Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1988. Midaq Alley is about life on the back streets of Cairo in the 1940s.

Or, you might want to check out the most recent winner, Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. The half-finished heaven: The best poems of Tomas Tranströmer might be a good place to start.

You can find a list of all the Nobel Prizes awarded in literature here.

Did you know that The Pinter Review, a scholarly publication about 2005 Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter is published annually at The University of Tampa in conjunction with The Harold Pinter Society? It’s edited by UT Professor Frank Gillen.

Fiction Friday: Connie May Fowler

This week’s Fiction Friday recommendation is University of Tampa graduate Connie May Fowler.

Her third book, Before Women Had Wings, was made into a TV movie produced by and starring Oprah Winfrey in 1997.

Connie graduated from UT in 1982. She published her first book Sugar Cage in 1992. Her work is often set in Florida, and Before Women Had Wings takes place in Tampa. Her most recent book How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly was published in 2010.

This year she gave a talk to UT’s inaugural MFA Creative Writing class.

In addition to being a successful novelist Connie also works closely with organizations that help abused women as well as teaching (online) for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.

How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly by Connie May Fowler
Location: MAIN
Call Number: PS3556.O8265 H69 2010
Status: On shelf

Fiction Friday: Drown by Junot Diaz

I’m a huge fan of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. It was published in 2007 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008. And so today, when I went to the New Book shelf and saw Diaz’s collection of short stories I immediately knew that Drown by Junot Diaz would be today’s Fiction Friday selection. (The New Book shelf is for books new to the Library, not necessarily books newly released.)

Drown collects ten stories by Diaz. Published in 1996 it precedes Wondrous Life by a decade. Many of Junot’s characters share his background of being born in the Dominican Republic and growing up in New Jersey. To get a sense of Diaz’s style of writing check out his 2010 story “The Pura Principle” in The New Yorker. (Note that Diaz uses mature language and deals with mature themes.)

You can hear Diaz reading from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao here.

If you’re not familiar with the New Book Shelf, check it out the next time you’re in the Library. It’s on your right as you enter, behind the chairs and lamps across from the Reference Desk. You can browse New Books at the Online Catalog by selecting the New Books tab.

Drown by Junot Diaz
Call Number: PS3554.I259 D76 1997
Status: Shelved at NEW BOOK SHELF until 01-22-12

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Call Number: PS3554.I259 B75 2008
Status: On shelf

George Orwell’s Animal Farm & 1984: Watch the Films Online

Open Culture is a tremendous site that collects free educational and cultural online media. Check out their 400 Free Online Courses from Top Universities or just watch one of the 450 free movies they have online.

Here’s George Orwell’s classic allegory Animal Farm.

“Animal Farm is a British animated film by Halas and Batchelor, based on the book of the same name by George Orwell. It was the first British animated feature released worldwide, which, despite the title and Disney-esque animal animation, is in fact a no-holds-barred adaptation of George Orwell’s classic satire on Stalinism, with the animals taking over their farm by means of a revolutionary coup, but then discovering that although all animals are supposed to be equal, some are more equal than others.”

About Open Culture:

“Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community. Web 2.0 has given us great amounts of intelligent audio and video. It’s all free. It’s all enriching. But it’s also scattered across the web, and not easy to find. Our whole mission is to centralize this content, curate it, and give you access to this high quality content whenever and wherever you want it. Free audio books, free online courses, free movies, free language lessons, free ebooks and other enriching content — it’s all here. Open Culture was founded in 2006.”