The current spotlight exhibits are Libros de Lectura: Literacy and Education after the Mexican Revolution / Alfabetismo y Educación después de la Revolución Mexicana (June – August 2019) and Art in a 19th-Century Household in Ireland: The Edgeworth Family Album (August – September 2019).
RBSC will be closed Monday, September 2nd,
for Labor Day.
Earlier this year, Mexico celebrated the 60th anniversary of the creation of its National Free Textbook Commission (Comisión Nacional de Libros de Textos Gratuitos, CONALITEG). This program began in 1959 under the auspices of minister of public education, Jaime Torres Bodet. Today, the commission prints some 200 million free textbooks for more than 25 million Mexican students every year. Mexican administrations continue to tout the duration and scope of this program and scholars highlight it among systematic efforts toward free, secular education that began in earnest in Mexico after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920).
“Libros de Lectura: Education and Literacy after the Mexican Revolution / Educación y Alfabetismo despues de la Revolución Mexicana”, a spotlight exhibit in Rare Books and Special Collections, highlights our growing collection of textbooks from the first half of the twentieth century in Mexico and examines literacy efforts in the decades before and after the formation of the National Free Textbook Commission. The exhibit showcases literacy-related materials sponsored, approved, or produced by Mexico’s Ministry of Public Education including textbooks for children and books promoting literacy among adults, whether workers or indigenous Popoloca-speakers.
Among the materials on display are Libro de lectura para el uso de las escuelas nocturnas para trabajadores (1938) and Cartilla, Campaña nacional contral el analfabetismo (1965). Both of these titles were produced by Mexico’s Ministry of Public Education.
Libro de lectura para el uso de las escuelas nocturnas para trabajadores is one in a series of three literacy textbooks created by Mexico’s League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists (LEAR) and was intended for workers enrolled in night classes. It was produced during the presidency of one of the country’s best-known leaders, Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940), an era when socialist ideals contributed explicitly to the development of national identity and also became explicit in literacy texts.
The book includes striking unsigned illustrations from prints by known Mexican artists. Heavy woodcut or linocut styles and strong imagery are characteristic of Mexico’s revolutionary art. The text begins by introducing the alphabet, vowels, and basic pronunciation. Later entries address aspects of daily life, familiar socialist themes, and even deliver public service announcements regarding, for example, the need for childhood vaccinations.
Cartilla, Campaña nacional contral el analfabetismo is evidence of a major literacy campaign undertaken by Mexico’s Ministry of Public Education in 1965. The National Free Textbook Commission (CONALITEG) printed an impressive 1,000,000 copies of this literacy primer as part of the nationwide effort. The text is meant to be used by any literate person to teach another person how to read. It provides lessons as well as instructions for use. The teacher is directed never to discourage a learner and instead to make her feel capable and successful. Helping a person learn to read, the primer states, helps to elevate the culture of the Mexican people.
Much like the earlier Libro de lectura para el uso de las escuelas nocturnas para trabajadores, this primer begins with pronunciation exercises and introduces more complex passages, including some clear government messaging, as appears on pp. 72-73 of this title. In this passage, entitled “They work and they study,” the family of Don Pepe works to educate laborers. When they encounter difficulty with part of the literacy text, Don Pepe consults the director of the local school, who tells him that the laborers need to practice a series of exercises to overcome their difficulty. In this way, the text promotes literacy among peasants and workers, facilitated by literate individuals, and offers a solution to challenges that might be encountered in the learning process.
Other titles on display as part of the spotlight exhibit “Libros de Lectura: Education and Literacy after the Mexican Revolution/Educación y Alfabetismo despues de la Revolución Mexicana” are:
The Hugo Achugar Papers have been recently described and are open to students and researchers.
Hugo Achugar (1944-) is a Uruguayan literary critic and prolific writer of poetry and essays. He has held teaching positions at universities in both Latin America and the United States, including Universidad de la República, Uruguay; Universidad Católica, Venezuela; Northwestern University; and Dartmouth College. He currently serves as a member of the Emeritus Faculty at the University of Miami. Some of Achugar’s better-known works include Ideologías y estructuras narrativas en José Donoso, 1950-1970, a literary essay on the works of José Donoso; Hueso Quevrado (cuaderno de la Bahía), a collection of poetry; and Falsas Memorias: Blanca Luz Brum, a fictionalized account of the life of Blanca Luz Brum.
The collection consists of manuscripts, photographs, clippings, and journals, all forming a record of Achugar’s professional career. Included are correspondence, notes and research files, lecture and conference materials, and poetry. The collection also includes Achugar’s personal library, which will soon be cataloged.
The highlight of the collection is the series of articles and drafts, comprised of drafts of both published and unpublished essays, poetry, and fiction. For some works, there are multiple drafts written at different points in time, allowing researchers to follow Achugar’s writing process. For example, in the series exist various drafts, notes, and preparatory materials for Hueso Quevrado, representing Achugar’s process from research to draft to revision.
We join the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Also in recognition of the anniversary of Hurricane María and Puerto Rico’s ongoing recovery struggle, this post highlights the island’s artistic heritage.
Puerto Rican artists Félix Rodríguez Báez, José A. Torres Martinó, Lorenzo Homar, and Rafael Tufiño (members of the Generation of ’50) formally established the Centro de Arte Puertorriqueño in 1950. This studio, art school, and gallery was influenced by the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico and its mission of educating the public through art. At the same time, the member artists of the CAP used their work to express and assert a uniquely Puerto Rican identity.
This portfolio of 8 prints, published in the late 1960s by the Centro de Artes Gráficas Nacionales, includes two works by each of four key members of the Generation of ’50, Lorenzo Homar, Carlos Raquel Rivera, Rafael Tufiño, and J.A. Torres Martino. The pieces are reproduced from original prints and were chosen to portray the development in aesthetic of each artist since 1951, when the CAP issued its first portfolio.
Carlos Raquel Rivera’s first print, “Marea Alta,” owes much to the influence of the Taller de Gráfica Popular in both the social commentary made through its content and in its style. His second print, “El Pegao,” reflects what had become Rivera’s signature style, driven by a strong black/white contrast.
The contrast between the two prints submitted by Lorenzo Homar is striking also. “La Tormenta” a depiction of a man peering over his shoulder at an oncoming storm is poetic and suggestive while “La Vitrina,” a critical depiction of tourism in Puerto Rico is bold and aggressive in style.
As a whole, this collection attests to the strength and evolution of print-making as an activist art form in mid-century Puerto Rico.
Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:
Friday, October 12 at 3:00pm | Frankenstein and Medical Ethics: A Panel with Faculty from Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend (IUSM-SB).
• Mark Fox, MD PhD MPH (IUSM-SB), Modern Day Re-animation: Revisiting the Moral History of Transplantation
• Joseph Kotva, PhD (IUSM-SB), Frankenstein and an Ethics of Virtue
• Gary Fromm, MD (IUSM-SB), Frankenstein, Film, and Medical Education
• Kathleen Eggleson, PhD (IUSM-SB), Teaching Frankenstein Today: The Moral Imperative to Reform the Education of Medical Scientists
• Chair, Eileen Hunt Botting, Professor of Political Science (Notre Dame)
This event is part of Operation Frankenstein, a semester-long series of interdisciplinary events taking place at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s novel.
Tuesday, October 23 at 4:00pm | Public Lecture: “La primera entrada al Río de la Plata: Maldonado y su historia” / “The First Entry to the Rio de la Plata: Maldonado and Its History” by Silvia Guerra (Uruguayan poet and scholar).
Wednesday, October 24 at 4:00pm |Un mar en madrugada / A Sea at Dawn: Bilingual Reading by Silvia Guerra and Jesse Lee Kercheval.
Wednesday, November 7 at 3:30pm | Black Catholic History Month public lecture by Fr. Clarence Williams, CPPS, Ph.D. Co-sponsored by the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism and Hesburgh Libraries/University Archives
Medina, a member of the Order of the Brothers of St. James of Mexico City, details Felipe’s birth, his initial affiliation with the discalced Franciscans in Puebla, his missionary work in Manila, the omens preceding his martyrdom, the martyrdom itself, and his beatification.
Felipe found himself in Japan when a storm pushed his ship, destined for Mexico, off course. He and companion friars and a number of Japanese Christians were taken prisoner on orders of Japanese regent, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. After weeks in prison, these men were crucified as an example to others who might consider conversion.
Medina includes an image of the type of cross used in the crucifixions in his work. It was comprised of a crossbeam on top, one on the bottom, and a smaller piece of wood that the victims sat astride, as if riding a horse, in Medina’s words. A metal hoop encircled the neck and, in Felipe’s case, nearly choked him to death as his feet failed to reach the lower support. Executioners ran lances through the bodies of the Christians as they were suspended from the cross.
The title page is printed in red and black ink, but the highlight of this work is the engraved plate depicting San Felipe as he was crucified. The drawing depicts the martyr on a cross, pierced by lances, and with the ring of metal encircling his neck. Interestingly, the group of symbols representing the ancient Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan and later Mexico City—an eagle with a snake in its beak atop a nopal cactus—appears in front of the cross. An almost whimsical rendering of Mexico City including a cathedral, a bridge, and small human figures, decorates the bottom of the image.
This is the only copy of this work in the United States and one of the few copies anywhere containing the engraved plate.
Next week the university will confer the 2018 Rev. Paul J. Foik Award posthumously on David Dressing, who was Hesburgh Library’s Latin American Studies Librarian from 2011 through 2017. We’d like to mark the occasion by highlighting a remarkable collection David purchased jointly with the American History Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC). It is an assemblage of pen and ink caricature drawings and watercolor paintings that show scenes captured by travelers to Latin America and the United States during the middle decades of the nineteenth century.
John Bateman (b. 1839) was a young Englishman from a wealthy, landowning family in Staffordshire when he traveled to the United States and Latin America around 1860. He created a series of drawings in ink of scenes he observed along the way, to which he added wry descriptions. An example, shown here, from June 1860, depicts Bateman’s version of a vulgar American—a gun-toting, spitting, overly-familiar buffoon who complained about the new Republican Party’s opposition to slavery’s extension in the west. The young traveler created a funny and alarming image of American political affairs a few months before Lincoln’s election in 1860 and the start of southern secession. Bateman made caricatures like this one as he traveled through Central America and the Caribbean.
Even more intriguing, however, is the fact that Bateman’s collection includes a second group of visual works: a handful of watercolor paintings signed simply, “G.U.S.” They date from between 1838 and 1840 and depict Central and South American people and scenes.
Highlighted here are three vivid paintings of veiled women of Lima, Peru. One is depicted kneeling in church, another is shown from the back, and the third is in the typical tapada pose, her head veiled, mysteriously and coquettishly revealing a single eye. Each wears the traditional saya, an overskirt showing the feet and ankles, and manto, a thick veil secured at the waist and raised to cover the face. The latter was popularly used, even among married women of Lima, as a prop with which to flirt.
G.U.S.’s paintings are reminiscent of those by the famous mulato painter of Lima, Pancho Fierro. Albums of Fierro’s drawings were marketed to tourists in Lima from the 1840s to the 1860s, so G.U.S. could have known Fierro’s work and incorporated it into his own pieces.
The presence of G.U.S.’s paintings in the Bateman collection raises intriguing connections for further study of related items held in Special Collections. We hold a copy of the French painter, A. A. Bonnaffé’s “Recuerdos de Lima” album (1856), which he sold to tourists and which features the tapada of Lima. More elaborate and detailed than the small depictions by G.U.S., these wonderful images highlight even more flirtatious poses, including a woman (shown here) who intentionally drew the viewer’s attention to her exposed and slender ankle.
The Bateman collection and Bonnaffé album are just two examples of David Dressing’s thoughtful and expert acquisitions for RBSC over nearly a decade. His work has made an enduring contribution to research, teaching, and scholarship at Hesburgh Libraries and the field of Latin American Studies.
The main exhibit this spring is In a Civilized Nation: Newspapers, Magazines, and the Print Revolution in 19th-Century Peru. This exhibit is curated by Erika Hosselkus and draws on strengths of Rare Books and Special Collections’ José E. Durand Peruvian History collection. Together these items offer diverse perspectives on Peruvian political events and cultural and religious practices and preferences from the colonial era, through the country’s birth in 1825, and beyond the turn of the twentieth century.
The spotlight exhibits during early April are From Distant Waters: Whaling Manuscripts in Special Collections and Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, both curated by George Rugg. The baseball exhibit will end mid-month, with the exhibit Chaste, Choice and Chatty: Irish-American Periodicals of the Nineteenth Century, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, opening for the second half of the month and continuing through the summer.