#WorldBookDay 2019

Special Collections looks after a range of rare books and journals as well as our archive and object holdings. Did you know we have a small number of early printed books, dating from 1474 to 1799?

The subject matter of the books bears no relevance to anything taught at DMU or its predecessors – subjects like theology and classics were not our specialisms! But we did have a vibrant Printing Trades course which included subjects like bookbinding and printing. We believe that the books were purchased to be studied as objects rather than for their content. Some of them are in poor condition, which allows us to have an insight into their method of production and construction.

For more information about the collection, please see our catalogue here: https://de-montfort.epexio.com/records/EB

Happy #WorldBookDay !

Katharine

DMU Campus in 1923

DMU Campus in 1923

Following a tweet by Library and Learning Services, I couldn’t resist having a closer look at this fantastic aerial photograph of the campus site. The image is from the wonderful resource at Britain From Above, digitised aerial photographs from the Aerofilms collection.

Aerial view of campusThe development of the campus site is an aspect of university history that Special Collections have been focused on over the last few years, with the development of the Heritage Centre and the ‘Building DMU’ exhibition last year. Nevertheless I do not tire of poring over images that show just how much has changed – and how much has not – on our campus.

This photograph is Oxford Street and Environs, 1923, available here, and is copyright of Historic England.

#Brexitday: say au revoir but not goodbye

While many of today’s newspaper articles and reports will become the archives of the future, documenting the UK’s controversial and divisive exit from the European Union, for the sake of balance, we thought we would revisit our holdings for 1973, the year Britain joined the EU. This reminds us that Britain was not always a member of the EU and therefore there is hope, that one day, we will be reunited again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The articles in the Illustrated London News perfectly explain how the membership was not purely driven by economics but by a desire to unite Europe politically and peacefully.

Like our VC, Dominic Shellard, we hoped that #Brexitday would not become a reality, however, now it is here we have to stay positive and focus on nurturing our international relations. Since the referendum result last spring the campaign #LoveInternational to protect residency rights for international staff and students has made us proud to be a part of a university that takes action.

Today, in response to the triggering of Article 50, the VC has visited Poland to reach out to concerned students and communities to reassure us all that DMU remains an international and outward looking university.

Plaque commemorating the visit of Wojskowa Akademia Techniczna from Warsaw, Poland to De Montfort University, 18-22 April 1998.

Shakespeare Week 20th-26th March 2017

Alternative Shakespeare

While in the past we have done numerous posts and exhibitions showcasing some of the amazing Shakespeare-related materials we have in the archive, we could not resist posting something for Shakespeare Week

So, we set ourselves the challenge of trying to find some of the more unusual items in our collections that have not been used before. The following four items are a testament (as if we were ever in doubt) to the fact that Shakespearean culture and references can be found everywhere and in archival collections where you might not expect!

First up is this beautiful slide from the UNESCO World Art Series: Iran. The image shows the titular characters, Laila and Majnun, from the Persian love story written by poet, Nizami Ganjavi in the 10th century. Despite being written before Shakespeare’s play, the poem is often referred to as the Romeo and Juliet of the East.

 

Second, is an extract taken from a book that has only recently come to Special Collections with the acquisition of the Briggs-Blake-Zurbrugg Memorial Library. Eyewitnesses of Shakespeare: First Hand Accounts of Performances 1590-1890 is a fascinating collection of contemporaneous reactions to Shakespeare’s plays and how they were performed, with one nineteenth-century reviewer bewailing the tendency for Juliets to over-act their grief in a violent manner. For variety, the extract below is one of the earliest records of an audience report of Julius Caesar from 1599.

 

Third, is an image from our Vogue collection. In the 1940 August issue this fabulous image of Laurence Olivier (swoon) and Vivien Leigh celebrates their marriage as well as promoting their Broadway performance in Romeo and Juliet which took place during the same year.

The Vogue Collection spans from 1937-1997 and includes the British, French and Italian publications as well as L’uomo Vogue (Men’s Vogue).

 

And finally, we have a script taken from the Andrew Davies Collection, Rohan and Julie, sub-titled Romeo and Juliet Today in Northern Ireland. Here we have a contemporary setting and instead of the Capulets and Montagues our vying families are the Caffertys and Morrisons.

 

Rather unexpectedly, this post has developed a distinct Romeo and Juliet theme. If only I had started earlier in the week  – I could have done a play a day!

 

 

DMU Rugby Varsity!

De Montfort University Rugby Varsity

This evening the De Montfort University Rugby teams take on the University of Leicester’s in the last events of the annual Varsity games!

Faces shall be sufficiently planted into the mud at the famous Tiger’s Stadium! Good luck to both our Women’s and Men’s teams!!!

Looking back through some of De Montfort’s predecessor student magazines we came across the Men’s XV from 70 years ago. These smiling bruisers are noted for playing a full game on a flooded pitch on Vicky Park against the Leicester Thursday team resulting in a “very slippery, muddy game.”

Details of tonight’s fixtures can be found by following this link.

#LoveInternational March 2017

In anticipation of DMU’s latest #Loveinternational event scheduled for tomorrow, we thought we would show our support by highlighting how DMU and its predecessors has always had an international outlook that actively promotes tolerance and compassion.

On this day in 1980, the Leicester Mercury reported on how DMU and its students  took action to help refugees:

Tomorrow’s event will feature the unveiling of an installation created by art graduate, Marcus Dove, in the Vijay Patel Building. This will be followed by a speech from the Vice Chancellor, Dominic Shellard who will then lead a march to Welford Road for the inaugural men’s and women’s rugby fixtures.

Keep supporting #Loveinternational

International Women’s Day 2017

Today is International Women’s Day and as a way of showing our support for the campaign to make a more inclusive gender equal world we wanted to showcase one of our collections that we felt reflects this year’s theme #Beboldforchange: the Papers of Bryony Lavery.

Feminist playwright, Bryony Lavery was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts from DMU in 1998 and she donated her papers to the archive in 2011. Associated with feminist and socialist theatre groups such as Monstrous Regiment and  The Women’s Theatre Group she has also been artistic director for Gay Sweatshop and Female Trouble.

Lavery was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in 1947. To date, she has written over 60 plays, many of which have all-female casts and include feminist and queer themes. Some of her most well-known works include Origin of the Species (1984), Peter Pan (1991), and Frozen (1998). The latter won the TMA Best Play Award and was nominated for 4 Tony Awards when it appeared on Broadway.

Much of Lavery’s work can be considered from an adaptation perspective as she draws on historical events and well-known literary works and films for inspiration and as a means of challenging patriarchal and gender norms in narratives as well as in real life.

Examples include,Witchcraze (1985) , a masked play with only three actors that charts the history of witches and witchcraft across the centuries, encouraging us to consider how women who do not conform become societies’ scapegoats or “witches”:

 

Her Aching Heart (1992), a Gothic lesbian romance and pastiche of the Mills & Boon genre:

and Ophelia (1996), a retelling of Hamlet from the perspective of its traditionally tragic heroine:

The collection includes a diverse range of materials, including play scripts, sound recordings, reviews, playbills, proposals for radio and television dramas, and project files. As well as writing fictional works, Lavery has also been involved in many other creative projects, producing educational sketches and courses that raise awareness about gender issues and promote gender equality. Materials in the collection that refelct this work include drafts of plays and workbooks on family planning, ‘Developing Women Managers’, challenging the glass-ceiling, and sexual harassment in the work place.

Bringing humour and wit to some serious and challenging issues Lavery’s creative take invites us all to “be bold” and to strive for change to accelerate gender parity.

This has to be one of my favourite collections in the archive!