In memoriam: Nicanor Parra (1914-2018)

The news of the death of Nicanor Parra of Chile-the antipoet of the masses forced me to reflect on the lifecycle of poetry and its material manifestation-the book. In the era of changing digital environments, the book in its analog form is oftentimes examined through the lens of its utility to the user. Like every material object, the book has its origins, its life-cycle, and its end. However, as a librarian who deeply cares about the preservation of such artifacts in the era of proclaimed digitization efforts, I thought that it might be a good idea to visit our library’s stacks to examine what is sitting on the shelves for a user to grab and read. And yes, Ranganathan is pretty much alive in my memories, and there it was Nicanor Parra’s 1937 edition (the first edition) of “Cancinero sin nombre“, sitting in our “open-stacks.”. This title was published in Santiago de Chile by Nascimento.  The first thought that came to my mind is perhaps as a recent curator, I have failed to protect it and guard it against the ravages of time. The second thought that came to my mind was -what might be some of the ways, I could protect it? Should I transfer it to Bancroft for custodial reasons? But then the original binding was what should I do next! Thus came the decision to request a transfer of this title to Doe’s protected medium-rare cage! I was able to walk it over in person to our stacks supervisor who was more than helpful in this matter. Thank you, my colleagues, for allow me to protect the common heritage object of our humanity! RIP Nicanor Parra, I, El Indio (as I was called by one of my Latin Americal relatives) from India, remains committed to the preservation of Parra’s contribution to the literature of Chile, Latin America, and the World!

Author Parra, Nicanor, 1914- Title Cancionero sin nombre / Nicanor Parra. Published Santiago de Chile : Nascimento, 1937. Location Call No. Status Main (Gardner) Stacks PQ8097.P32 C3 AVAILABLE PRINTED MATERIAL Description 87 p. ; 20 cm. Direct Link And here one can hear the poet’s voice (courtesy of the Library of Congress) –Chilean poet Nicanor Parra reading from his work. His poem- Jazmin de muerte, made me really think of life, flowers and death! I want to share an excerpt of it with you here.

Below is the site that our colleague Ms. Claudia Cuevas from Chile shared so generously with us!


La règle du jour

Next week’s screenings (January 14 and 19) of French filmmaker Jean Renoir’s masterpiece The Rules of the Game (La règle du jeu) at BAMPFA provide a rare opportunity to enjoy the 35mm print of this film on the big screen in its state of the art facilities. The screenings of the 1939 film, regarded by many as one of the best films ever made, also provide an opportunity to inform you of library resources like Kanopy – an on-demand streaming video service which provides access to more than 26,000 films – allowing the UCB community to watch movies on anywhere in lieu of the viewing stations in Moffitt Library’s Media Resources Center. An online database of BAMPFA’s extensive collection of film documentation called CineFiles makes it easy to pull up reviews and other information on major filmmakers. Article databases such as FIAF, Film and Television Literature Index, and the MLA International Bibliography can help you locate scholarly articles on Jean Renoir and other figures of world cinema. For readers of French, – an online collection of more than 400 French and Belgian journals – is a quick way to retrieve full-text articles instantly. And lastly, if you’re just looking for good old-fashioned paper books, the Library has more than 183 of those in OskiCat on Jean Renoir alone.

Watch: Rare book gets vibrant new life with help from Library

How can the UC Berkeley Library help breathe new life into old materials?

Just ask Jonathan Zwicker.

Over the course of the fall semester, Zwicker and students from his Seminar in Classical Japanese Texts worked on translating and historically annotating a rare book from the Library’s collections.

The goal? To make a factually enriched translation of the book available online, where it can be used by scholars across the world.

The original book, digitized in Moffitt Library, is a travelogue by Japanese author Kyokutei Bakin, chronicling the people he met and the strange things he saw on his travels from Edo — modern Tokyo — to Osaka and Kyoto in the early 1800s. (One interesting thing he encountered? A robotlike mechanical crab that holds a sake cup, made to deliver rice wine to guests. Bottoms up!)

Employee demonstrates digitizing a Japanese travelogue from the 1800s
Macayli Hausmann, an imaging specialist, demonstrates the digitization of a rare Japanese book from the 1800s in Moffitt Library. An enhanced version of the book will be available to scholars worldwide. (Photo by Jami Smith for the University Library)

In researching and annotating the text, Zwicker and his students tied the book to other Library materials, such as 19th-century maps, to bring the work to life and provide historical and geographic context.

This project marks the first time the book has ever been translated and historically annotated.

“I didn’t actually have a definite idea of what I wanted to come out of (the project) other than that it would be somehow available online in some way — to leverage these new technologies to make what we were doing both open to people but also to show the interconnections between the different materials,” said Zwicker, associate professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. “That’s, to me, the most interesting part of the book.”

Zwicker’s project is just one part of a broader collaborative effort guided by the Library that offers grants to help make educational resources openly available to students at UC Berkeley — and to scholars everywhere.

“Our program has a dual focus — first, on the creation of open textbooks to yield cost savings for students,” said Rachael Samberg, scholarly communication officer at the UC Berkeley Library, who is directing the effort, “and second, for other courses, it’s more about how incentivizing the creation of open books encourages pedagogically and scholarly innovative projects that benefit not just Berkeley students, but also researchers around the world.”

Zwicker said he hopes that going through the process of creating a new text will help provide a model for others who are pursuing similar projects. He’s already planning to pursue more projects like this one in the future.

And, he said, he couldn’t have done it without the support he received from the Library.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to feel that there’s this much enthusiasm for this kind of work and institutional support, and people are really — they’re not just providing help, but they’re also providing moral support,” he said. “And that’s invaluable.”

New Book from Professor Gregory Levine: “Long Strange Journey: On Modern Zen, Zen Art, and Other Predicaments”

Congratulations to History of Art Department Professor Gregory Levine on his new publication, Long Strange Journey: On Modern Zen, Zen Art, and Other Predicaments, with the University of Hawaii Press.


ISBN: 9780824858056


From the publisher website:

“Long Strange Journey presents the first critical analysis of visual objects and discourses that animate Zen art modernism and its legacies, with particular emphasis on the postwar “Zen boom.” Since the late nineteenth century, Zen and Zen art have emerged as globally familiar terms associated with a spectrum of practices, beliefs, works of visual art, aesthetic concepts, commercial products, and modes of self-fashioning. They have also been at the center of fiery public disputes that have erupted along national, denominational, racial-ethnic, class, and intellectual lines. Neither stable nor strictly a matter of euphoric religious or intercultural exchange, Zen and Zen art are best approached as productive predicaments in the study of religion, spirituality, art, and consumer culture, especially within the frame of Buddhist modernism.

Long Strange Journey’s modern-contemporary emphasis sets it off from most writing on Zen art, which focuses on masterworks by premodern Chinese and Japanese artists, gushes over “timeless” visual qualities as indicative of metaphysical states, or promotes with ahistorical, trend-spotting flair Zen art’s design appeal and therapeutic values. In contrast, the present work plots a methodological through line distinguished by “discourse analysis,” moving from the first contacts between Europe and Japanese Zen in the sixteenth century to late nineteenth–early twentieth-century transnational exchanges driven by Japanese Buddhists and intellectuals and the formation of a Zen art canon; to postwar Zen transformations of practice and avant-garde expressions; to popular embodiments of our “Zenny zeitgeist,” such as Zen cartoons. The book presents an alternative history of modern-contemporary Zen and Zen art that emphasizes their unruly and polythetic-prototypical natures, taking into consideration serious religious practice and spiritual and creative discovery as well as conflicts over Zen’s value amid the convolutions of global modernity, squabbles over authenticity, resistance against the notion of “Zen influence,” and competing claims to speak for Zen art made by monastics, lay advocates, artists, and others.”


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The Cuban Poster Collection 1960-2000 of UC Berkeley Digitized!

Our library’s Cuban Poster Collection was developed over time by my former colleague Dr. Carlos Delgado who was our librarian for the Latin American Studies. These posters as a group are unique markers of the time and milieu that had created them. These posters highlight different aspects of societal changes within Socialist Cuba and give voice to the silent yet interesting narratives through the images that are displayed. In order to make this collection broadly available to various researchers and scholar who cannot physically visit our campus, our library made a decision to digitize them. There are 482 different items within this collection.
I am glad to report that this digitization has been completed. The California Digital Library is working on some issues with the display of thumbnails. However, I wanted to share this exciting project with you as we approach our holiday season!

The finding aid can be accessed here.

Exhibit: Love across the Global South


Love across the Global South: Popular Cinema Cultures of India and Senegal explores interconnections between South Asian and African popular cultures through film posters, footage, and memorabilia. Focusing on the circulation of Bombay cinema, South Asia’s largest film industry, in Senegal, West Africa, the exhibition foregrounds the role of transnational film cultures and fan clubs in shaping affinities across the Global South. Highlighting archival material held by UC Berkeley—including a collection of twentieth-century popular film magazines and films housed at the Media Resources Center—the exhibition harnesses library holdings to nuance campus debates on race, globalization, and visual representation while experimenting with new curatorial practices that emphasize Afro-Asian connections in an expanded Indian Ocean imaginary. The exhibition is curated by Sugata Ray (Assistant Professor, History of Art), Ivy Mills (Lecturer, History of Art), Liladhar Pendse (Librarian, Central Asian and Eastern European Studies), and Adnan Malik (Curator for South Asian Collections, South/Southeast Asia Library). The Mellon Curatorial Preparedness Initiative funded Curatorial Assistantships for History of Art Department graduate students Shivani Sud and Randip Bakshi.


brown gallery exhibit            ivy exhibit


The exhibit runs from October 6, 2017–March 1, 2018 in the Bernice L. Brown Gallery, Doe Library.


New Book from Art History Faculty Member, Lisa Trever

Assistant Professor Lisa Trever in the History of Art department has published The Archaeology of Mural Painting at Pañamarca, Peru, with Harvard University Press as part of the Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology Studies Series.

Trever Panamarca


From the publisher website:

The archaeological site of Pañamarca was once a vibrant center of religious performance and artistic practice within the ancient Moche world. During the seventh and eighth centuries CE, architects and mural painters created lofty temples and broad-walled plazas that were brilliantly arrayed with images of mythological heroes, monstrous creatures, winged warriors in combat, ritual processions, and sacrificial offerings.

This richly illustrated volume offers a nuanced account of the modern history of exploration, archaeology, and image making at Pañamarca; it also offers detailed documentation of the new fieldwork carried out by the authors at the site. That fieldwork led to the discoveries of 1,200-year-old mural paintings, presented here in detail for the first time. Created in a cultural context a thousand years before the use of written scripts, the art and architecture of Pañamarca cannot be studied via ancient histories or commentaries, but only through layers of physical evidence from archaeological excavations and documentation. This volume will serve as a definitive reference work on mural painting at Pañamarca, as well as a new primary resource for Pre-Columbian studies and for studies in global ancient art, architecture, and archaeology more broadly.


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An upcoming book talk by Professor Tom McEnaney

I wanted our readers to be aware of an upcoming event- a book talk by Professor Tom McEnaney that is scheduled in Morrison Library on Monday, December 4, 2017, at 5 pm. Professor Tom McEnaney and Professor Natalia Brizuela were instrumental with all their help in our organizing of this event at the library.

Professor McEnaney will read from his book- Acoustic Properties: Radio, Narrative, and the New Neighborhood of the Americas.

Please see the blog post below that contains more information about the book talk. 

This is one of the first events that I was able to organize in my capacity as the librarian for Latin American Studies with a generous support and help from the faculty and the Center for Latin American Studies.  I want to thank Professors Tom MnEnaney, Natalia Brizuela and Harley Shaiken for encouraging me to grow as a new librarian for Latin American Studies on our campus and for their acceptance.

Net neutrality, Trump’s tweets, and the rise of wireless culture: UC Berkeley professor’s new book illuminates modern issues by exploring the past

Tom McEnaney
Tom McEnaney, an assistant professor in the Comparative Literature and Spanish and Portuguese departments, teaches a class in the Valley Life Sciences Building on Nov. 20, 2017. This year, he released a book, called “Acoustic Properties: Radio, Narrative, and the New Neighborhood of the Americas.” (Photo by Jami Smith for the University Library)

“Sound is really important in the history of literature, technology, and culture,” Tom McEnaney said. “It’s not merely a metaphor.”

And McEnaney knows a thing or two about sound.

The UC Berkeley professor, who earned his Ph.D. from Berkeley in 2011 and returned this year to teach in the Comparative Literature and Spanish and Portuguese departments after six years at Cornell University, has researched and written extensively on the subject.

He has a forthcoming piece about how This American Life has set a new standard for voices on the radio. (The vocal fry and uptalk you hear on NPR? That wasn’t always so common.)

And he has taught classes on punk rock, co-curated an exhibit about punk history, and has made noise in many punk bands over the past 20 years.

So it’s fitting that sound factors heavily into McEnaney’s new book, Acoustic Properties: Radio, Narrative, and the New Neighborhood of the Americas.

On Dec. 4, Morrison Library is hosting an event — a conversation with McEnaney, Emory University’s José Quiroga, and UC Riverside’s Freya Schiwy (“two really wonderful scholars whose work I admire,” he said) — that celebrates the book.

McEnaney’s book explores the “coevolution” of the radio and the novel amid influential movements in populist politics in three countries in the mid-20th century: the New Deal in America; Peronism in Argentina, and the Cuban Revolution. The book illustrates how governments, activists, and artists have struggled for control to represent the voice of the people within a changing media landscape.

“This is really the intersection of a turn to populism on the left” — liberalism in the United States, socialism in Argentina, and communism in Cuba — “with wireless (technologies) that open the possibility, not always actualized, of giving power to the people,” McEnaney said.

His book talk will shine a light on the “unknown and unrecognized history of the hand-in-hand development of two strong media of public discourse” — radio and the novel — during pivotal moments for these three countries, said Liladhar Pendse, a librarian who is helping organize the event, along with Natalia Brizuela, a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

McEnaney wears many hats. In addition to his research and teaching, he founded the Latin American Journals Project, established through a grant he received while at Cornell, which, in part, aims to provide scholars and the general public with free and open access to Latin American journals, many of which are otherwise be difficult to find.

McEnaney’s work on Acoustic Properties was bookended by two major political groundswells in the United States. He started the book, which evolved from his dissertation, in 2008, the year that Barack Obama was elected to his first term as president. The book came out in 2017, the year Donald Trump took office.

McEnaney’s book is timely, given today’s climate, and provides context for the current discussion about net neutrality. “The debates of how to regulate radio are the same debates we’re having with the internet,” he said.

“It’s about many things,” McEnaney said of his book. “It’s attempting to understand our present moment through histories of technology, literature, and politics.”

The book covers Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “fireside chats,” which saw the president embracing the relatively new platform of radio to convey his message. It’s not unlike the way Trump has embraced Twitter — setting aside the differences in tone.

“(It’s) a different type of politics but very much connected to the way the president of the United States uses wireless technology to create the illusion he’s speaking directly to the people,” he said.

While Trump is known for his shoot-from-the-hip candor, Roosevelt’s style was intimate and controlled. (Roosevelt and his advisers were so concerned with the president’s tone, as the book notes, that they had him use a dental bridge to close a gap in his teeth to prevent the whistle in his voice during his radio addresses.)

With his knowledge of populist movements of the past, did McEnaney foresee the upswell that ultimately catapulted Trump into the White House?

“Did I predict it? No,” he said. “It’s a new, troubling twist in the story.”

The book talk, called “Sound, Media, and Literature in the Americas,” will be held in Morrison Library on Dec. 4, and it starts at 5 p.m.

Year 4 of funding for materials in less commonly taught European languages


Three years ago, the Institute of European Studies established a special fund to support the UC Berkeley Library in acquiring scholarly resources in or about less commonly taught European languages (LCTLs). Students, both undergraduate and graduate, lecturers and faculty who wish to use library materials (books, ebooks, graphic novels, dissertations, DVDs, etc.) in a European LCTL and published in Europe that are currently not available on the Berkeley campus, are encouraged to fill out the Library Recommendation Form and mention “IES LCTL Support” in the Comments section.

This support only applies to LCTLs that are still spoken today in Western, Northern, or Southern Europe (i.e. all European languages with the exception of German, French, Italian and Spanish); no support will be given for classical or extinct languages nor for Slavic and other Eastern European languages supported by the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

A few examples of titles acquired last year include:

Barcino by Maria Carme Roca.

Chrēstiko lexiko tēs neoellēnikēs glōssas / syntaxē-epimeleia by Christophoros G. Charalampakēs ; vasikoi synergates Stauroula Zapheirē [and 7 others].

Description de l’occitan parlé à Sénaillac-Lauzès (Lot) et dans les communes voisines by Jean Sibille

La langue d’oc telle qu’on la parle: atlas linguistique de la Provence by Jean-Claude Bouvier, Claude Martel cartographie et mise en page par Guylaine Brun-Trigaud.

Lexiko tōn dyskoliōn kai tōn lathōn stē chrēsē tēs Hellēnikēs: glōssikos symvoulos: gia na miloume kai na graphoume sōsta Hellēnika by Geōrgiou D. Bampiniōtē

El nen que volia matar by Lolita Bosch

Ramon Llull essencial: retrar d’un pare d’Europa by Pere Villalba

La societat valenciana en l’espill lingüístic : què diuen les llengües quan parlen de nosaltres? by Juli Martínez Amorós

The Syntax of old Romanian edited by Gabriela Pană Dindelegan; consultant editor, Martin Maiden

Taal en identiteit in de Rand: een analyse van de taalsituatie in de Rand rond Brussel op basis van de Brio-taalbarometer by Rudi Janssens

Thermē kai phōs: aphierōmatikos tomos stē mnēmē tou A.-Ph. Christidē = Licht und wärme : in memory of A.F. Christidis / epistemonikē epimeleia Maria Theodōropoulou

Tragèdies silenciades : repressió franquista i maquis a les comarques del nord del País Valencià by Raül González Devís

La visita by Enric Virgili

Van mij valt niks te leren by Peter Buwalda

Vic-Bilh: une langue, un pays: ethnolinguistique du Vic-Bilh by Jan Bonnemason

Vrouwen van de wereld by Tommy Wieringa

Waarom iedereen altijd gelijk heeft by Ruben Mersch