Archive for August, 2008

Image of the Week: Athanasius Kircher & His Singing Chickens

Taken from Athanasii Kircheri … Musurgia universalis, sive Ars magna consoni et dissoni in X libros digest (Romae : ex typographia hæredum F. Corbelletti, 1650); Beinecke call number: Vi2 013, vols 1&2.

From the Reading Room: Jack the Giant-Killer

John Newbery’s A Little Pretty Pocket-Book (1744), is one of the first books published in English explicitly for the diversion and moral education of children. Of particular interest to my dissertation research at the Beinecke are the textual and material innovations devised by early children’s book publishers to instruct their impressionable readers.

As one example, the publisher sold “A Ball and Pincushion; The Use of which will infallibly make Tommy a good Boy, and Polly a good Girl” along with the Pocket-Book for an additional two pence. The directions for use of the toy, laid out in a letter from the fictional “Jack the Giant-Killer,” are simple: one side of the ball or pincushion is red and the other is black, the ball/pincushion is to be displayed in a highly visible location, and ten pins are to be inserted into it based on the child’s behavior (for “every good Action…a Pin shall be stuck on the Red Side, and for every bad Action a Pin shall be stuck on the Black Side”). Thus, each pin becomes both a remembrance of a past good or wicked action and a unit of measurement in the calculation of the child’s character. Far from mere child’s play, this book and others found in the Betsy Beinecke Shirley Collection are animated by contemporary empirical thought.

Pictured here is the first American edition of A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, published by Isaiah Thomas in Worcester, Massachusetts [1787].  Beinecke Call Number: Shirley 4242.

Heather Klemann is a graduate student in Yale’s Comparative Literature department, and was a Graduate Student Fellow in the Beinecke Library this summer.  Her project is entitled “Literary Souvenirs: Didactic Materialism in Late 18th- and Early 19th-Century Fiction.”

Welcome to the 2008-2009 Osborn Fellows

The Beinecke is very happy to welcome the two James M. Osborn Post-Doctoral Fellows in British Studies for the 2008-2009 academic year.

James M. Osborn Post-doctoral Fellows in British Studies, Junior Scholar, July 2008 – June 2009
Rachel Teukolsky, Vanderbilt University
Project title: Aesthetics and Medium: Material Histories of Word and Image in the Long Nineteenth Century

Rachel Teukolsky will be an assistant professor of English at Vanderbilt University in fall 2008. She previously taught for four years in the English department at the Pennsylvania State University. Her book on Victorian aesthetics and art writing is forthcoming from Oxford University Press; in a new project, she will explore the relationship between high art cultures and material cultures in the long nineteenth century, juxtaposing aesthetic history with the rise of modern media. Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in PMLA, English Literary History, and in edited collections on Victorian studies. She has taught courses on Victorian literature and culture, word and image, literary theory, and the literature of travel, among others.

James M. Osborn Post-doctoral Fellow in British Studies, Junior Scholar, July 2008 – June 2009 Charles-Edouard Levillain, Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study
Project title: Louis XIV’s Grand Strategy and its Impact on Anglo-Dutch Politics

Charles-Edouard Levillain was educated at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de la rue d’Ulm, in Paris, where he specialized in English history and literature (1992-1998). He also holds a degree in Public Law and Administration from Sciences Po Paris (1997). He spent a year at King’s College London as Visiting Fellow (1999-2000) and successfully defended his doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne in 2003. He was teaching assistant at the Sorbonne (1998-2001), Fondation Thiers scholar (2001-2002), teaching assistant in Amiens (2002-2004), before being appointed Lecturer in British Studies at Sciences Po Lille – Université de Lille 2. In 2007-2008, he was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study (Wassenaar). His work concentrates on Anglo-Franco-Dutch relations in the early part of the long eighteenth-century (c.1650 – c.1720), with a special interest in the interaction between diplomatic and political history. He has written articles on William III (1650-1702), the Glorious Revolution (1688), Andrew Marvell, Dutch propaganda against Louis XIV on the eve of the guerre de Hollande (1669-1672) and the role of Tacitism in the Anglo-Dutch Republic of Letters (1651-1698). He is now busy completing a book on the impact of Louis XIV’s foreign policy on Anglo-Dutch politics (1668-1688). The French version will be out in 2009 or 2010. A slightly different English version is in the making. Charles-Edouard Levillain is also co-editing with Koen Stapelbroek a conference volume on Dutch Decline in the Eighteenth Century. The volume will include a substantial article on Montesquieu’s trip to Holland (1729).

Bombarding the Barbary Pirates

From the Bombardamento d’Algeri del 1783 (Florence: Per Anton-Giuseppe Pagani, 1784), an anonymous pamphlet offering reports of both sides of the battle, from “Giornale Spagnolo” and the “Giornale Algerino.”

Excerpt of view of bombardment, under General Antonio Barcello

Excerpt of view of bombardment, under General Antonio Barcello

Early 19th-century Note-Taking

“Sunday 17th April 1803 I received this Pocket Book from Mr. G. Zecks. who called on his way to Shelton, at the same time he brought me a Letter from George also received one by the Post from Sarah.”

This early nineteenth century pocket book contains a small notebook (with erasable writing sheets) and silver-capped pencil, along with scissors, a pen-knife, and sewing set.

Erasable writing sheets with pencil

Notebook and pencil