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Research Roundtable session with guest speaker, Maarten Van Gageldonk

Maarten Van GageldonkMaarten Van Gageldonk (Radboud University Nijmegen)
“The Changing Field of Periodical Studies: Grove Press and Evergreen Review as Transatlantic Cultural Mediators”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Scholar: Maarten van Gageldonk, Radboud University Nijmegen

Faculty Moderator: Jan Cohen-Cruz, Director of Imagining America

For the past several years, scholar Maarten van Gageldonk has visited Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center to conduct research in the records of the American publisher Grove Press and its in-house literary and cultural magazine, Evergreen Review. This November, SCRC will host a Research Roundtable for van Gageldonk to share his work with an intimate group of faculty and graduate students from across the humanities at Syracuse University.

One aspect of van Gageldonk’s project is to understand the role that Grove Press and Evergreen Review played in the introduction of the Theater of the Absurd to the United States. Born out of Cold War anxiety and strongly influenced by Existentialism in the 1950s and 1960s, authors such as Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Harold Pinter, and Fernando Arrabal devised a new form of theater that discarded traditional theatrical approaches. These authors produced plays that were ambiguous, illogical, and that profoundly questioned the human predicament. As Ionesco put it at the time, for these authors, the absurd is “that which is devoid of purpose. When man is cut off from his religious, metaphysical, and transcendental roots he is lost; all his actions become senseless, useless, absurd.”

It is no coincidence, van Gageldonk tells us, that the Absurd playwrights appeared in the pages of Evergreen Review and had their plays published by Grove Press. Drawing upon SCRC’s archival holdings, van Gageldonk will highlight some of the cultural strategies Grove Press employed in introducing the Absurd playwrights to the United States. While previous scholarship on Grove has often focused on the various censorship court cases in which the publisher was embroiled in the early 1960s, van Gageldonk intends to stress a different side to the publisher that heretofore has received little attention: the influence Grove exerted on the postwar cultural field by introducing a wide variety of European avant-garde writers into the United States. What is more, van Gageldonk suggests that, by studying periodicals as cultural mediators rather than as passive barometers, we might further explore their role as active shapers of the cultural field. Thus van Gageldonk’s project not only sheds light on the role of Grove Press and Evergreen Review in bringing avant-garde European culture to postwar America; it also offers a new approach to understanding the complicated relationship between publishing houses and literary magazines during this period, as well as the role magazines play in our society.

Line, Shade & Shadow: Fabrication and Preservation of Architectural Drawings, a lecture and workshop in the Brodsky Series

Friday, October 28th at 4 p.m.

The Brodsky Series for the Advancement of Library Conservation is pleased to present Lois Olcott Price from the Winterthur Museum of the University of Delaware as its speaker on Friday, October 28th at 4 p.m. Because architectural drawings are not created as an end in themselves, but as graphic documents to construct a building, sell a project or explore a design concept, the materials and techniques chosen by the drafter are particular to the function of the drawing as well as the period in which it was created. The interpretation and preservation of architectural drawings depends upon an understanding of their functions in architectural practice and on a working knowledge of drafting materials and techniques. This lecture will include tracing the use of supports, media and photo-reproductive processes used to create architectural drawings in the 18th to 20th centuries.


Research Roundtable session with guest speaker, Matthew Hedstrom

Matthew HedstromMatthew Hedstrom (University of Virginia)
March 4, 2011

Now an assistant professor of religious studies and American studies at the University of Virginia, Hedstrom held postdoctoral positions at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University and in the Lilly Fellows Program at Valparaiso University. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin and his B.A. in history from Haverford College. His main areas of teaching and research are religious liberalism, the cultures and politics of pluralism, religion and race, and print culture. Seeking a Spiritual Center: Books, Book Culture, and Liberal Religion in Modern America (Oxford University Press, 2011), his first book, offers new interpretations of the influence of religious liberalism on American culture in the 20th century, and of the place of consumer culture and print media in shaping spirituality. The book traces the rise of religious middlebrow culture in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s through an examination of key texts, reader reception, transformations in publishing, and a variety of public reading programs, and relates these developments to the production and propagation of liberal religious sensibilities and practices in the 20th century. This work draws on extensive research in archival collections around the country, including the Norman Vincent Peale and Frank Laubach collections at Syracuse.