Notes from the Backlog: Education of the Sun King

By Randal Brandt

This is the first entry in an occasional series (perhaps very occasional) of articles describing Bancroft Library materials that have recently been made available for research.

Cartes des rois de France
Cartes des rois de France, t DC36.6 .D47 1645  

Playing cards can be used for many purposes other than recreation. Three decks of playing cards designed for a very specific purpose–to further the education of a young monarch–have been cataloged at The Bancroft Library.

France’s Louis XIV (1638-1718), known as the Sun King, ruled for 72 years, longer than any other European sovereign. Born on September 5, 1638, to King Louis XIII of France (1601-1643) and Anne of Austria (1601-1666), the future Louis XIV was his parents’ first child. When his father died on May 14, 1643, young Louis ascended to the throne at the tender age of four under the regency of his mother, who was assisted by her chief minister, the Italian-born Cardinal Jules Mazarin (1602-1661).  

One of Cardinal Mazarin’s duties was to supervise the education of the young king. To that end, he commissioned Jean Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin (1595-1676), a member of the Académie Française, to devise a series of card games, which were in vogue at court, to interest Louis in his studies. The series comprises four sets of educational cards, each bearing a full-length figure, designed and engraved by the noted Florentine engraver Stefano della Bella (1610-1664), with descriptive text and a number. In 1644, Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin published an explanation of them with the title Les jeux de cartes, des roys de France, des reines renommées, de la géographie, et des fables, cy devant dediez à la reine régente, pour l’instruction du roi (“The Card Decks [or Sets] of the Kings of France, Renowned Queens, Geography, and Fables, Previously Dedicated to the Queen Regent, for the Instruction of the King.”)

Bancroft holds three of the four sets of cards. The Cartes des rois de France (“Cards of the Kings of France”) set contains 39 biographical cards, beginning with Pharamond and ending with young Louis himself, who is depicted as a boy riding in a triumphal chariot with his mother, Anne, holding the reins. The descriptive texts recount the territorial gains and losses, marriage alliances, royal character, and political and military adventures of the kings of France. Jeu des reynes renommées (“Deck [or Set] of Renowned Queens”) has 52 biographical cards ranging from Martesie, Queen of the Amazons, to Anne of Austria. The set comprises four series of 13 cards each, with descriptive legends and a single descriptive adjective (pious, clever, cruel, saintly, wise, brave, etc.) at one of the upper corners. Jeu de la géographie (“Deck [or Set] of Geography”) also has 52 cards, with figures emblematic of the country and text recording the nation’s size, borders, natural resources, principal cities, etc. Thirteen of the cards relate to America.

The cards are known to exist in four states, with later versions having numbers and suits added, and some of the images modified or replaced (for example, the image of the young Louis XIV was later substituted with a depiction of a statue of the king as a grown man). Bancroft’s sets, which were purchased in 2013, are all in the second state. Each card has been cut out and mounted on a separate leaf. The three sets are bound together as a single volume in a contemporary vellum binding. These cards, which were later reprinted twice, first in 1664 and again in 1698, are well-known in the literature documenting the history of playing cards. However, very few examples survive in libraries. With three complete sets, Bancroft’s volume represents one of the most comprehensive collections available for research.

Cartes des rois de France (“Cards of the Kings of France”)

Jeu des reynes renommées (“Deck [or Set] of Renowned Queens”)

Jeu de la géographie (“Deck [or Set] of Geography”)


December New Books in Art History

You can find these and other new art history acquisitions on the New Books shelf in the Art History / Classics Library.

They Drew as they Pleased                                   La Vie Parisienne                                     Course of Empire

The Sculptures of Atauro Island                          The Printed Image                              Sites Unseen

Faberge: His Masters and Artisans                         Behdjat Sadr                                        Kyffin Williams


New Books in Literature: December 2018

With winter break coming up, it’s a perfect time to get some reading done. The books we recently received have something for everyone—whether you’re looking for poetry, prose, or criticism.

Check out the rest of the new acquisitions!

Want a book that we don’t have in the library? Request it here.



Library Prize Exhibit 2018 about Frankenstein Now on View

Photo of whole exhibit
Photo by J. Pierre Carrillo for the UC Berkeley Library

“A king is always a king –and a woman is always a woman: his authority and her sex ever stand between them and rational converse.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

Recent Berkeley graduate Julia Burke begins her essay, “Over Mary’s Dead Body: Frankenstein, Sexism & Socialism,” a historiography and cultural critique of Shelley’s Frankenstein, with the above epigraph from Mary Wollstonecraft, the great political philosopher and Mary Shelley’s mother. Burke’s research into the reception of Frankenstein and in its possible influence on socialist radicals of the 1840s earned her the prestigious 2018 Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research, an annual prize awarded to students who have done exceptional research and made significant use of the Library’s resources.

Burke’s paper is the subject of this semester’s rotating Library Prize Exhibit, located on the second floor of Doe between the Heyns Reading Room and Reference Hall. Drawing on the Library and the Bancroft’s broad collections, the exhibit outlines Burke’s arguments in visual form with digitized replicas of the original 1818 edition of Frankenstein, an early copy of The Communist Manifesto, letters, contemporary reviews, and more. The exhibition of Burke’s project coincides with the bicentennial of Frankenstein’s publication. Originally published anonymously, Frankenstein’s true author was greatly contested, as Burke explores. Today it is one of the most important works of the literary canon and the most read novel in undergraduate courses nationwide. The exhibit was curated by Stacy Reardon, the Literature and Digital Humanities Librarian, and designed by Aisha Hamilton, the Exhibits and Environmental Graphics Coordinator. The exhibit will be up until April 2019.

The Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research is awarded annually, and submissions are now open to all undergraduates until April 18, 2019.  Any project from a credit course at U.C. Berkeley from Spring 2018 to Spring 2019 (lower division) or Summer 2018 to Spring 2019 (upper division) is eligible. The project can be in progress as of the due date of the application. In addition to a monetary award of $750 for lower-division winners and $1000 for upper-division winners, the recipients of the Library Prize publish their work in eScholarship, and two will be featured in an exhibit in the Library. Find out more information here.

You can see the rest of this year’s winners and honorable mentions here. Don’t forget to stop by the exhibit to see Burke’s work in person. More books related to Frankenstein in honor of the bicentennial can be found here.



Lampooning Presidents through Words, Images and Scholarship

Zef, Kak, and Degreff. Macron, L'an I: pardon de vous le dire. Paris: Florent Massot, 2018.

As two of the oldest modern democracies, France and the United States share a long tradition of freedom of speech and of the press (and at times governmental censorship). The two societies have found catharsis in the mockery of their highest elected officials through caricatures, cartoons, and critical writings. Here are a few recent library acquisitions, in English and in French, from both sides of the Atlantic in this category of political critique:

Baldwin, Alec and Kurt Andersen. You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year As President Donald J. Trump (a So-Called Parody). New York: Penguin Press, 2017.

Bourhis, Hervé and Rudy Spiessert. Trump de A à Z. Bruxelles: Casterman, 2017.

Burrell, Ginger R. Un[Hood]ed. Morgan Hill, CA: Midnight Moon Press, 2017.

Cole, David, and Melanie W. Stinnett. Rules for Resistance: Advice from Around the Globe for the Age of Trump. New York: The New Press, 2017.

Connolly, William E. Aspirational Fascism: The Struggle for Multifaceted Democracy Under Trumpism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

Daniel, Jean-Marc. Macron: La valse folle de Jupiter. Paris: l’Archipel, 2018.

Être postmoderne / Michel Maffesoli; postface de Hélène Strohl: Emmanuel Macron, icône ou fake de la postmodernité? Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 2018.

Filoche, Gérard. Macron, ou, la casse sociale. Paris: l’Archipel, 2018.

Merchet, Jean-Dominique. Macron Bonaparte: Essai. Paris: Stock, 2017.Fottorino, Éric and Joep Bertrams. Détrumpez-vous!, Paris: Gallimard, 2017.

Fourquet, Jérôme. Le nouveau clivage: mondialisation, libre-échange, métropolisation, flux migratoires : état des démocraties occidentales. Paris: Les éditions du Cerf, 2018.

Giroux, Henry A. The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism. New York, NY: Routledge, 2018.

Johnston, David C. It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018.

Lee, Bandy X. The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.

Merchet, Jean-Dominique. Macron Bonaparte: Essai. Paris: Stock, 2017.

Nanos, Nik. The Age of Voter Rage. London: Eyewear Publishing, 2018.

Taguieff, Pierre-André. Macron: miracle ou mirage? Paris: Éditions de l’Observatoire, 2017.

Toulouse, Anne. Dans la tête de Donald Trump. Paris: Stock, 2016.

Trumpism: The Politics Of Gender in a Post-Propitious America / edited by Laura Finley and Matthew Johnson. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018.

Willem. Macron: L’amour fou. Bordeaux: Les Requins marteaux, 2018.

Zef, Kak and Degreff. Macron, L’an I: pardon de vous le dire. Paris: Florent Massot, 2018.

Zef, Kak, and Degreff. Macron, L'an I: pardon de vous le dire. Paris: Florent Massot, 2018.
Zef, Kak, and Degreff. Macron, L’an I: pardon de vous le dire. Paris: Florent Massot, 2018.

Julia Bryan-Wilson’s “Fray: Art and Textile Politics” Awarded ASAP Book Prize

FRAY JBW

 

Doris and Clarence Malo Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art Julia Bryan-Wilson has been awarded the 2018 Book Prize from the Association for the Study of Arts of the Present (ASAP) for her book FRAY: Art and Textile Politics.

 

From the ASAP website:

“Congratulations to Professor Julia Bryan-Wilson for winning the prize for Fray: Art + Textile PoliticsAmongst a very strong short list, the book prize committee recognized Fray for its inspiring mix of methodological innovation, sense of feminist and social engagement, and amazing re-articulation of contemporary art history around the material practices of textile art and craft in the United States and Chile from the 1970s to the present. Fray is a book that traces not only the emergence of an increasingly prominent artistic mode out of various craft and labor practices, but also shows how artists working with textiles–mainly women but also others operating on the margins of both the economy and the art-market–developed new material forms of expression and protest out of some of the most ancient technologies at our disposal as human beings–braiding, weaving, tying knots. Bryan-Wilson’s case studies explore the work of feminist knitting collectives, Chilean activists, emerging queer artists, and the vast numbers who contributed to the AIDS quilt. This is a book that provides a scrupulous examination of contemporary culture from the perspective of a medium whose materiality and immersion in bodily, physical labor challenge many of the stories we tell ourselves about art in an age of digital innovation and conceptual self-consciousness. At the same time, Fray assembles a picture of hemispheric contemporary art that offers scholars and critics in all the fields and area that ASAP embraces a chance to consider how female labor is valued, recognized, exploited, and made invisible. Bryan-Wilson’s work promises to change how scholars in various fields pay attention to craft-making practices and their representations in art, drama, literature, and everyday life.”


December 6: Lunch Poems with Mary Jo Bang

UPDATE: This event has been cancelled.

Mary Jo BangThursday, December 6
12:10 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.
Morrison Library in Doe Library
Admission Free

Mary Jo Bang is the author of eight books of poems—including A Doll For Throwing, Louise in Love, The Last Two Seconds, and Elegy, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award—and a translation of Dante’s Inferno, illustrated by Henrik Drescher. She has received a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy of Berlin. She teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis.


Beloved Books and PBS’s The Great American Read

Beloved Books at the Library

by Taylor Follett

Since May of 2018, PBS has been hosting an 8 part series designed to get people reading, talking about reading, and to generate excitement about books called the Great American Read. PBS conducted a survey to discover the top 100 novels that Americans love before hosting a nationwide vote for America’s most-loved book. They announced the winner on October 23rd, in the close of their program. The winner?

Continue reading “Beloved Books and PBS’s The Great American Read”


Successes from National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo 2018 Inspiration

NaNoWriMo cover
by Taylor Follett

Every November, a community of writers, professional and non-professional alike, embark on a challenge: to write at least 50,000 words of a novel, without starting prior and without going back and editing. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, encourages writers to push themselves to write an average of 1,666 words a day with the help of a virtual community, which also stages in-person meet-ups throughout the month, including at the UC Berkeley LibraryContinue reading “Successes from National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo 2018 Inspiration”