Greene & Greene in Context

The newly installed permanent exhibition of Greene & Greene architecture and design in the Dorothy Collis Brown Wing. A black walnut and ebony chiffonier and matching chair from the master bedroom of the 1908 Gamble House take center stage.

The newly installed permanent exhibition of Greene & Greene architecture and design in the Dorothy Collis Brown Wing. A black walnut and ebony chiffonier and matching chair from the master bedroom of the 1908 Gamble House take center stage.

Some people may remember the exquisite furniture in The Huntington’s permanent exhibition about Arts and Crafts masters Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene. The space was just reinstalled and the take-home message is clear: The Greenes did much more than simply produce gorgeous furniture.

Arriving in Pasadena, Calif., in 1893, the brothers designed residential projects of incomparable beauty (the most famous one being the 1908 Gamble House in Pasadena), which forged a new path for American architecture. And as they refined their vision and collaborated with highly skilled craftspeople and artists, they increasingly designed entire environments—including landscapes, furnishings, lighting fixtures, and windows.

“We want to present the great breadth of the Greenes’ work,” says architect Kelly Sutherlin McLeod, FAIA, who conserved the Gamble House and other Greene brother constructions over the past three decades. “They were master architects and brilliant artists who also designed landscapes, furniture, metalwork, textiles, and leaded glass,” she says. McLeod worked with architecture historian Edward R. Bosley, the James N. Gamble director of the Gamble House, to tell this broader story.

The dining room from the 1906 Robinson house now physically and visually connects with the Chandler Wing at the end of the hallway.

The dining room from the 1906 Robinson house now physically and visually connects with the Chandler Wing at the end of the hallway.

Visitors to the previous display may recall the re-created dining room of the 1906 Laurabelle A. Robinson house. The lovely table, chairs, two sideboards, and chandelier were the first results of a fruitful partnership between the Greenes and another pair of brothers, furniture makers Peter and John Hall. The Halls’ artistry boosted the sophistication of the Greenes’ furniture to new heights. That dining room is still on view in the new exhibition, along with the reassembled stairway from the 1905 Arthur A. Libby house.

But the rest of the large gallery has been transformed. The objects have been regrouped to give a better a sense of the Greenes’ artistic progression, and two scrims break up the space and frame the scene with large images by Leroy Hulbert, the photographer the Greenes hired to document their work. The first scrim shows the exterior of the Gamble House. In front of the photo are a few precious items borrowed from within the house itself.

 The sideboard and side chair from the 1909 Thorsen house in Berkeley, Calif. with above them two wall lanterns made for the 1902 James A. Culbertson house.


The sideboard and side chair from the 1909 Thorsen house in Berkeley, Calif. with above them two wall lanterns made for the 1902 James A. Culbertson house.

A 1909 chiffonier has been brought out from a dark corner of the Gamble’s master bedroom to The Huntington to better showcase its luminous black walnut and ebony finish, inlaid with fruitwood and semi-precious stones. This single piece set the Gambles back more than $850—a price that would have paid for a small cottage in 1909 dollars. (That figure appears on a list contained within the Greene & Greene Archives, which is housed at The Huntington and owned and administered by the Gamble House, USC.)

Curators chose to display the chiffonier, and a few other objects, at an angle—so that visitors could better examine the chiffonier’s superior craftsmanship from all sides. There is also a chair from the Gamble’s master bedroom with the same motif.

The other large photographic scrim shows the dining room of the 1909 William R. Thorsen house in Berkeley, Calif. A spectacular sideboard appears in the 1915 image, and the real object stands just a few feet away from it. Look closely to see the periwinkle design made from abalone, vermillion, and ebony. Vinca minor grows abundantly in Southern California, and Bosley imagines that Charles Greene pulled a piece of the vine out of his yard one day and placed it on his drafting table. Voilá—his new motif.

An image of the dining room of the Thorsen house appears on the left with examples of the Greene’s metalwork in front of it. In the background is the recreated fragment of a pergola from the 1903 Arturo and Helen Bandini house.

An image of the dining room of the Thorsen house appears on the left with examples of the Greene’s metalwork in front of it. In the background is the recreated fragment of a pergola from the 1903 Arturo and Helen Bandini house.

Another object of particular interest is a re-created fragment of a pergola from one of the Greenes’ earlier commissions, the Arturo and Helen Bandini house (1903). This was a pivotal moment in the architectural development of the Greenes, who had arrived in Pasadena 10 years before and, with this project, truly began designing for the California climate and lifestyle. (McLeod and Bosley created the pergola for the 2009 exhibition “A ‘New and Native’ Beauty: The Art and Craft of Greene & Greene” and brought it back for this installation.)

To give a sense of the breadth of the Greenes’ artistic vision, the installation displays stained- glass windows, lanterns, sconces, lamps, chandeliers, rugs, and andirons, as well as a treasure trove of furnishings, some brought out of storage and some on long-term loan from collectors. The objects hail from more than half a dozen homes (most in Southern California) that the Greenes designed for clients James Culbertson (1902), Jennie Reeve (1903), Adelaide Tichenor (1904), Freeman A. Ford (1906), William T. Bolton (1906), Robert R. Blacker (1907), and others.

The Greenes’ attention to detail is legendary. This table lamp, made for the den of the Laurabelle A. Robinson house, is crafted from red oak and silk.

The Greenes’ attention to detail is legendary. This table lamp, made for the den of the Laurabelle A. Robinson house, is crafted from red oak and silk.

Objects new to the installation include a dining room side chair from the Bolton house and a dazzling fire-screen from the Thorsen house made of steel and with repoussé detailing. An object prized both for its beauty and its provenance is a corner cabinet with glass panels that Charles Greene designed for his own house. It is filled with items from his collection of Japanese Imari ceramic ware.

The hallway between the Robinson dining room and the Libby staircase now offers additional display space. Curators will present more light-sensitive objects here, such as plans, prints, and photographs, on a temporary basis. On view now are two ink-on-linen drawings for the Charles Millard Pratt House in Ojai, Calif.

Curators are pleased about the reworked entrance to the installation. The recent reconfiguration of the American galleries created a long, wide hallway that visually and physically connects the Greene & Greene exhibition in the Dorothy Collis Brown Wing at one end with the Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing at the other. (Be sure to visit the Chandler Wing to see the exhibition “Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Bilingual Photography and the Architecture of Greene & Greene.”) You now enter the Greene & Greene exhibition through a foyer space made up of a bench built for the Freeman Ford house, a lantern from the front entry porch of the Jennie Reeve house, and three of five casement windows from the Adelaide Tichenor house. The once hidden Greene & Greene collection is now hard to miss.

A bench, art glass window, and porch lantern in the entry foyer make it hard to miss the Greene & Greene collection.

A bench, art glass window, and porch lantern in the entry foyer make it hard to miss the Greene & Greene collection.

Overall, the curators hope that they have succeeded in giving a feel for the Greenes’ artistic process over time. It was a progression that moved quickly, says McLeod. “The development between the simple rustic pergola from the 1903 Bandini house and the refined sophisticated design of the Gamble House, just five years later, is incredible,” she says.

In 1952, the American Institute of Architects honored the Greenes for their “contributions to the design of the American home.” If you want to better understand this accolade, then The Huntington’s new Greene & Greene exhibition is a great place to start.

“Greene & Greene” is on permanent display in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. Just down the hall is “Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Bilingual Photography and the Architecture of Greene & Greene,” on view through Oct. 3, 2016.

In the Fall/Winter 2008 issue of Huntington Frontiers, you can read an article by Ann Scheid about the images photographer William Current took of Greene & Greene works, which are part of the Greene & Greene Archives. (Click here for pdf.)

Related content on Verso:
Found in Translation (June 16, 2016)

Diana W. Thompson is senior writer in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

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Decoding the Civil War

Today The Huntington announces the launch of a crowdsourcing project to transcribe and decode U.S. Civil War telegrams from its collection. What follows is the text of the press release about the project’s launch.

Crowdsourcing project "Decoding the Civil War" launches today.

Crowdsourcing project “Decoding the Civil War” launches today.

In a move to gain new insights into the U.S. Civil War, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens announced today the public launch of an innovative crowdsourcing project to transcribe and decipher a collection of nearly 16,000 Civil War telegrams between Abraham Lincoln, his Cabinet, and officers of the Union Army. Roughly one-third of the messages were written in code.

The Huntington is collaborating on the “Decoding the Civil War” project with Zooniverse (the largest online platform for collaborative volunteer research), North Carolina State University’s Digital History and Pedagogy Project, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

“The Huntington and its partners are delighted to make this historic collection accessible to the public in a way that will help improve our understanding of this critically important period in our nation’s history,” said David Zeidberg, Avery Director of the Library at The Huntington. “This is a digital humanities project that holds the potential to transform our engagement with the past, inspire further research, and help students everywhere gain a better understanding of U.S. history, digital literacy, and the power of collaboration.”

Example of a coded telegram, Thomas T. Eckert Papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Example of a coded telegram, Thomas T. Eckert Papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The Huntington acquired the exceptionally rare collection of telegrams in 2012, composed of a nearly complete archive of Thomas T. Eckert, the head of the military telegraph office of the War Department under Lincoln. The archive was thought to have been destroyed after the war and includes crucial correspondence that has never been published. Among the materials are 35 manuscript ledger books of telegrams sent and received by the War Department, including more than 100 communiques from Lincoln himself. Also included are top-secret cipher books revealing the complex coding system used to encrypt and decipher messages. The Confederate Army never cracked the Union Army’s code.

The “Decoding the Civil War” project provides public access to digitized images of the telegrams and code books through the Huntington Digital Library. In addition, the project’s crowdsourcing website on Zooniverse engages “citizen archivists” in the deciphering of the telegrams with greater efficiency and accuracy than could be accomplished by staff members at the partnering institutions.

“Crowdsourced digital projects involving transcription have begun to provide a tremendous opportunity for both institutions and interested citizens,” said Dan Lewis, chief curator of manuscripts at The Huntington. “The Smithsonian and the Library of Congress both have implemented projects that let ‘digital volunteers’ help make historical documents more accessible, to the benefit of the world beyond their walls. We expect this project to be similarly engaging for anyone interested in the history of the Civil War—and it’s accessible through just a few computer clicks.”

Title page of “Cipher for Telegraphic Correspondence,” Anson Stager, Washington, D.C., 1861–62, Thomas T. Eckert Papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Title page of “Cipher for Telegraphic Correspondence,” Anson Stager, Washington, D.C., 1861–62, Thomas T. Eckert Papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The project also provides a decoding activity for classroom students and museum-goers that is connected to Civil War milestones and provides inquiry-based educational modules that can be used to bring history alive. Through The Huntington’s partnerships with multiple Los Angeles area school districts and with North Carolina State University’s Digital History and Pedagogy Project, the educational modules will be integrated into teacher workshops reaching more than 1,000 teachers of at-risk students.

Built and managed by the University of Minnesota’s Zooniverse team, the crowdsourcing project itself has three phases. “In the first phase, underway now, interested volunteers go online to transcribe the nearly 16,000 telegrams line by line, creating an extraordinarily rich database,” said Mario Einaudi, Kemble Digital Projects Librarian at The Huntington. In the second phase, volunteers will comb the database to identify significant people, dates, and times, enabling the creation of a robust search function. In the final phase, code books in the archive will be used to decipher the encoded telegrams, potentially providing fresh insights into the history of the Civil War.

There are nearly 16,000 telegrams for volunteers to decode, line by line, on the "Decoding the Civil War" site on Zooniverse.

There are nearly 16,000 telegrams for volunteers to decode, line by line, on the “Decoding the Civil War” site on Zooniverse.

People interested in participating in the project can go to its Zooniverse website, “Decoding the Civil War,” take a brief tutorial that explains the process for transcribing a telegram, and find further information on the project. If participants are interested in joining discussions on particular telegrams, then they will need to create a user name and password by registering with Zooniverse.

The transcribed telegrams will be openly available to scholars and others interested in telegraphy, cryptography, wartime communications, technology, civilian-military relations, and many other aspects of the U.S. Civil War or American history more generally.

The project is partially funded by a two-year federal grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Read more about the project on the “Decoding the Civil War” blog.

Kevin Durkin is editor of Verso and managing editor in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Found in Translation

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Stepping-stones from the Imperial Carriage Stop to the Gepparo, Katsura Imperial Villa, 1954, gelatin silver print © Kochi Prefecture, Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Stepping-stones from the Imperial Carriage Stop to the Gepparo, Katsura Imperial Villa, 1954, gelatin silver print © Kochi Prefecture, Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center.

What does the 20th-century Arts and Crafts architecture of Americans Charles and Henry Greene have to do with the 17th-century Katsura Imperial Villa outside of Kyoto, Japan? For admirers of the work of Japanese-American photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto (1921–2012), it turns out, quite a bit.

With the opening of the exhibition “Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Bilingual Photography and the Architecture of Greene & Greene,” visitors will be able to see how the photographer captured similar elements in both. The exhibition features 40 sumptuous black-and-white photographs of houses designed by Greene & Greene and another six of Katsura, an imperial palace considered one of the greatest achievements of Japanese architecture.

Ishimoto was born in San Francisco in 1921, lived in his parents’ native Japan as a child, and then returned to the United States in 1938. He ultimately became a naturalized citizen of Japan, where he enjoyed a successful career as an architectural photographer.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, David B. Gamble house, kitchen yard gate and stepping-stones, 1974, gelatin silver print, © Kochi Prefecture, Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, David B. Gamble house, kitchen yard gate and stepping-stones, 1974, gelatin silver print, © Kochi Prefecture, Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center.

In 1954, Ishimoto shot hundreds of images of Katsura Imperial Villa, founded by Prince Hachijō Toshihito in the 17th century. As his images reveal, Ishimoto was captivated by the spare post-and-beam structure of the buildings and their thoughtful integration with the landscape. He also explored the juxtaposition of textures and materials—training his lens on a row of stepping-stones or carefully framing details of the villa’s exterior to highlight pattern versus structure.

And 20 years later, he would elevate these same themes when he photographed the work of Charles and Henry Greene for the Japanese design magazine Approach. He took nearly 1,000 photographs of 12 houses designed by the Greene brothers. Most of them were of the Gamble House, a building the Greenes constructed in 1908 for David B. Gamble of the Procter and Gamble Co. Ishimoto snapped more than 600 photographs of the Gamble House alone—more than he had taken of Katsura.

Comparing the two sets of photos makes clear the influence of Japanese architecture on the design aesthetic of the Greene brothers. One can also see how, in both cases, Ishimoto’s photographs honor the intentions of the original craftsmen.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, The New Palace and the veranda of the Music Room from the Middle Shoin, Katsura Imperial Villa, 1954, gelatin silver print, © Kochi Prefecture, Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, The New Palace and the veranda of the Music Room from the Middle Shoin, Katsura Imperial Villa, 1954, gelatin silver print, © Kochi Prefecture, Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center.

“Ishimoto’s images don’t set the works of architecture apart from the viewer, nor do they put them on a pedestal,” says Anne E. Mallek, former curator of the Gamble House, who curated the photography exhibition along with Edward R. “Ted” Bosley, the current Gamble House director. “One is pulled in,” she says, “as if to observe the details that only the architects and craftsmen may have cared about.”

In the postwar period in both the United States and Japan, architects were examining the past as a resource for a national style. Ishimoto’s photos became key illustrations for a new approach to architecture in Japan in the 1950s and 60s. Likewise, the Greene brothers forged a new American style, going on to receive a special citation from the American Institute of Architects for a “new and native architecture.”

Down the hall from the Ishimoto exhibition is a refreshed installation of The Huntington’s permanent display of Greene & Greene architecture and design. Some of their finest examples of hand-crafted furniture are on view, reinstalled to provide greater context. There are also several new pieces on display that were brought out of dimly lit corners of the Gamble House so that they could be given the visual prominence they deserve. The showstopper is a 1909 chiffonier made from walnut, oak, and ebony, and inlaid with lapis lazuli, turquoise, and malachite.

Thanks to a recent reconfiguration of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, these two exhibitions now sit at opposite ends of a single, long hallway. The works by Ishimoto look out toward those of the Greene brothers and vice versa, as if acknowledging how two very different cultures continue to inform each other, illustrated through the lenses of architecture, design, and photography.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, David B. Gamble house, west elevation detail, 1974, gelatin silver print, © Kochi Prefecture, Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, David B. Gamble house, west elevation detail, 1974, gelatin silver print, © Kochi Prefecture, Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center.

“Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Bilingual Photography and the Architecture of Greene & Greene” is on view June 18–Oct. 3, 2016, in the Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. Reopening at the same time is The Huntington’s permanent display of Greene & Greene architecture and design, organized in collaboration with the Gamble House/USC.

Diana W. Thompson is senior writer for the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Society and Solitude in Concord

Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ca. 1860, photo by Allen & Rowell. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ca. 1860, photo by Allen & Rowell. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

In the middle of the 19th century, the small town of Concord, Mass., had an outsized reputation as New England’s intellectual center. This was in large part thanks to the fame of four writers who called the place home: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau.

A recent talk at The Huntington explored how these four authors (and a fifth if you count Alcott’s father, educator and philosopher Bronson Alcott) navigated a challenge that many writers face: how to strike a balance between the solitude they need for contemplation and the social interaction they seek for inspiration.

Alice Fahs—professor of history at UC Irvine and the 2015–16 Rogers Distinguished Fellow in 19th-Century American History at The Huntington—delivered the lecture, titled “The Creative Life in 19th-Century America.”

Letter from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Sophia Amelia (Peabody) Hawthorne, 1839. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Letter from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Sophia Amelia (Peabody) Hawthorne, 1839. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

She started by quoting from “Society and Solitude,” an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote of self-reliance and individualism. He stated: “Now and then a man exquisitely made can live alone, and must; but coop up most men and you undo them.” Yet, he went on to say, “… people are to be taken in very small doses.”

In Emerson’s case, the small village life of Concord, with its high concentration of thinkers, suited him perfectly. His favored walking partner was Bronson Alcott, better known today as the father of Louisa May Alcott, author of the novel Little Women.

For Alcott’s part, it is said that he so thrived on the company of people that it was something of a village sport to observe him lying in wait to intercept the famously private Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of the novel The Scarlet Letter. Indeed, Hawthorne was a notably silent attendee at Emerson’s regular gatherings. Oddly, in the days before his success, Hawthorne joined Brook Farm, an experiment in communal living inspired by the ideals of the Transcendentalists. He may have done it for financial reasons, said Fahs, in anticipation of his marriage to Sophia Peabody. The Huntington possesses a love letter Hawthorne wrote to her in which he described his time at the farm. While there were moments of excitement—“Thy husband has milked a cow!”—it’s clear the experiment was not working: “I have not the sense of perfect seclusion which has always been essential to my power of producing anything.”

Site of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, where visitors placed stones in remembrance, ca. 1860. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Site of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, where visitors placed stones in remembrance, ca. 1860. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Meanwhile, Henry David Thoreau convinced generations of readers of the virtues of “a life in the woods” in his memoir, Walden. Yet even Thoreau needed social interaction, said Fahs. Far from being a remote outpost, it turns out that Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond was a mere mile and a half from Concord, where his family resided. Thoreau was known to go home from time to time for meals and to do laundry. He would also visit local farmers to learn about flora and fauna, and he collaborated with Emerson on The Dial magazine. Bravo, said Fahs. Thoreau’s alternating rhythm of society and solitude, Fah noted, added up to a well-constructed writer’s life that should be celebrated, not criticized.

While the balance between society and solitude may challenge even today’s writers, Fahs did point out how times have changed, especially for women. Louisa May Alcott, for instance, didn’t have the freedom to go to the woods. Walks and conversation groups were the province of men. She was saddled with the drudgery of domestic duties, epitomized by bottomless piles of sewing, and had to steal time away to write. Unlike Emerson, she hated Concord, finding it “dull, boring and small-minded.” Eventually she escaped to a townhouse in Boston, where she could live anonymously, free from surveillance.

‘“Louise Alcott” the children’s friend,’ color lithograph by Elizabeth B. Comins, ca. 1888. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

‘“Louise Alcott” the children’s friend,’ color lithograph by Elizabeth B. Comins, ca. 1888. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

So given the frenetic pace of contemporary life, how do writers of today balance society and solitude? It turns out that some of the long-term research fellows at The Huntington discovered a remarkably effective strategy involving a kitchen timer. As Fahs explained at the end of her lecture, the “Pomodoro method” comes in handy when fellows gather on the café terrace each morning before public hours. The Italian-made, tomato-shaped timer is set at intervals: 25 minutes for writing and then five minutes for talking. Those who’ve tried it say it’s the perfect mix for getting work done.

You can listen to Alice Fahs’ Distinguished Fellow lecture, “The Creative Life in 19th-Century America,” below. She is the author of several books, including Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space and The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South, 1861-1865.

 

Linda Chiavaroli is a volunteer in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Mentoring in the Afterlife

(Left to right): Writers Lynell George, Fred Moten, Tisa Bryant, and Robin Coste Lewis crafted new works based on The Huntington’s Octavia E. Butler archive. Photo by Gina Clyne, courtesy of Clockshop.

(Left to right): Writers Lynell George, Fred Moten, Tisa Bryant, and Robin Coste Lewis crafted new works based on The Huntington’s Octavia E. Butler archive. Photo by Gina Clyne, courtesy of Clockshop.

When it came to finding the confidence to publish her writing, science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) could count on herself for a pep talk. “I shall be a bestselling writer,” she wrote in one of the notebooks contained in her papers. “I will find the way to do this. So be it! See to it!” she wrote. It worked. She published a dozen novels, including the bestselling Kindred, and won numerous awards—such as a MacArthur “genius” grant in 1995. Sadly, she died, unexpectedly, at the age of 58. Fortunately, she’d already decided to bequeath her papers to The Huntington.

To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Butler’s death, Clockshop, a Los Angeles non-profit arts organization, is partnering with The Huntington and several other institutions to celebrate her life and work during a yearlong series of literary, film, art, and cultural events. The program is called “Radio Imagination” and centers on 10 contemporary art and literary commissions that explore Butler’s archive at The Huntington. One recent event involved four writers who met at Clockshop’s headquarters to read from new works in progress. The mood was one of somber memorial, awe, celebration, and reverence. A full decade after Butler’s passing, the writers and audience members still felt Butler’s presence and support as a mentor, role model, and teacher.

Page of handwritten notes on the inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1987. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Page of handwritten notes on the inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1987. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Each writer had a different approach to processing what they found in the Butler papers. Robin Coste Lewis, winner of the 2015 National Book Award for poetry, was struck by the solitary nature of the photographs of Butler. In image after image, noted Coste Lewis, Butler was often the only black woman, the only science fiction writer, the only woman, or the only person from the West Coast. And yet, she persevered, undaunted. Coste Lewis’s work, “Fall in Love? Black Genius, Loneliness, and an Ocean Named Peace” spoke to the determination of black literary achievement. “It’s a meditation on black genius, aloneness, and location,” said Coste Lewis.

Despite her success, Butler’s papers reveal ongoing struggles with self-doubt, insecurity, and uncertainty. To make sense of this tension, Los Angeles-based journalist and essayist Lynell George assembled a posthumous interview constructed of Butler’s own words. Entitled “Free and Clear, George used Butler’s published fiction—as well as her lists, research, and other notes in the margins—to produce a series of questions and answers. “Butler was a dreamer, fighter, genius, and muse,” said George. “She took the utmost care to chronicle every corner of her against-all-odds life, perhaps because she worried that no one would get it right or assemble it better than she might.”

Octavia E. Butler (center) with Harlan Ellison (right) and unidentified man at the Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, photographer unknown, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Octavia E. Butler (center) with Harlan Ellison (right) and unidentified man at the Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, photographer unknown, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Author Tisa Bryant explored Butler’s influences in a work called “The Teacher’s Hand.” Bryant remarked on the ways Butler found unlikely mentors—such as the white male, self-help authors she read—even though she knew they weren’t writing with her in mind. Bryant said Butler had to nurture herself into the writer she became. “Octavia Butler’s mind, from childhood, was certainly a place of such conjure,” said Bryant.

Scholar and poet Fred Moten expressed his admiration through a critical poem looking at Butler’s notebooks, with a focus on the notes she wrote to herself in the margins. Called “The Common Place (Flaw,” it followed Butler’s writing process as she worked through her thoughts to arrive at the final versions of her manuscripts.

Notecard of handwritten notes by Octavia E. Butler for a speech related to her novel Parable of the Sower, ca. 1995. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Notecard of handwritten notes by Octavia E. Butler for a speech related to her novel Parable of the Sower, ca. 1995. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The gathering of these four writers was one event in the “Radio Imagination” program. The program’s name comes from a quote Butler made during a 2001 interview: “I have the kind of imagination that hears. I think of it as radio imagination.” Upcoming events are listed on Clockshop’s “Radio Imagination” webpage.

For Clockshop director Julia Meltzer, recognition of Butler’s contribution to the Los Angeles cultural landscape is long overdue. “Our hope is that ‘Radio Imagination’ will bridge Butler’s groundbreaking fiction with contemporary conversations about the future of Los Angeles,” said Meltzer.

Octavia E. Butler would have turned 69 on June 22, 2016. All this month, Clockshop invites you to share how Butler has inspired you by posting on any of your social media channels with the hashtag #BecauseOfOctavia.

Related content on Verso:
Celebrating Octavia Butler (Jan. 27, 2016)
Writing Herself In (June 22, 2015)

Ayana A. H. Jamieson is the founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network and a reader at The Huntington.

China Rose

Bird on flowering rose branch by unidentified artist, Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting 十竹齋書畫譜, Ming dynasty, Chongzhen period to early Qing dynasty, ca. 1633–1703, compiled and edited by Hu Zhengyan 胡正言 (1584/5–1673/4). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Bird on flowering rose branch by unidentified artist, Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting 十竹齋書畫譜, Ming dynasty, Chongzhen period to early Qing dynasty, ca. 1633–1703, compiled and edited by Hu Zhengyan 胡正言 (1584/5–1673/4). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

It’s easy to imagine that heritage roses—with names such as ‘Archduke Charles’, ‘William R. Smith’, and ‘Maman Cochet’—originated in England or France. But every repeat-blooming rose today traces its history back to the China rose, Rosa chinensis, says Tom Carruth, The Huntington’s E. L. and Ruth B. Shannon Curator of the Rose Collections.

About 1,300 years ago, a plant lover in China discovered a rose that didn’t just bloom once a year, in spring or summer, but repeatedly throughout the year. Chinese hybridizers crossed that rose, Rosa chinensis or ‘Yue Yue Hong’ (“every month red” in Chinese) with Rosa gigantea to produce the large, repeat-blooming roses that took Europe by storm in the 19th century, arriving with the tea trade and referred to as ‘tea’ roses.

Guoliang Wang, the foremost authority on the ancient roses of China, will speak at two upcoming talks, including the 2016 Great Rosarians of the World lecture on June 11. Photo courtesy of Guoliang Wang.

Guoliang Wang, the foremost authority on the ancient roses of China, will speak at two upcoming talks, including the 2016 Great Rosarians of the World lecture on June 11. Photo courtesy of Guoliang Wang.

The history of rose cultivation in China will be the topic of discussion at two upcoming talks by Guoliang Wang, author of Old Roses of China (currently available only in Chinese). A free lecture takes place in Rothenberg Hall on Thurs., June 9, at 7:30 p.m., as part of the East Asian Garden Lecture Series. Called “Explorations in the History of the Rose in China,” it will focus on the research Wang conducted in field investigations throughout China to uncover the development of the rose, which reaches back to the Song dynasty (960–1279) and the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Wang will also deliver the 2016 Great Rosarians of the World Lecture on Sat., June 11, at 2 p.m., preceded by a Fri., June 10, evening reception in the Chinese Garden, The Garden of Flowing Fragrance (Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園).

Wang is a professor of horticulture with the Jiangsu Provincial Commission of Agriculture and a lecturer at Nanjing University and the Nanjing Agricultural University. He is considered the foremost authority on the ancient roses of China.

If you’re thinking of attending one or both talks—or even if you’re not—you might want to visit the Tea and China rose section of The Huntington’s Rose Garden. You’ll find examples of the first China rose to reach Europe, ‘Old Blush’, as well as the Tea roses that came from it, such as ‘Amazone’ and ‘Mademoiselle Franziska Krüger’. This section comprises beds 32 and 33 in the Rose Garden, located on either side of a concrete path just east of the Tea Room and north of the white trellis that lines the Rose Garden.

The ‘Lady Hillingdon’ Tea rose is prized for its apricot yellow blooms and long buds. Photo by Tom Carruth.

The ‘Lady Hillingdon’ Tea rose is prized for its apricot yellow blooms and long buds. Photo by Tom Carruth.

Tea roses are taller and wispier than other types. These are the roses that gave us what is today considered the ideal flower form—a tall stem with long, elegant buds that unfurl their petals, says Carruth. But don’t expect a huge technicolor profusion of blooms in this section. (Later hybridizers would introduce roses with more robust forms and a wider range of color.) “These have a unique style that some rose lovers adore. They also hold tremendous historical value,” says Carruth.

On a practical note, if you happen to have China or Tea roses (pure Tea roses, not Hybrid Teas) in your yard, be aware that they have particular pruning needs and a pruning schedule different from those of other roses. At The Huntington, China and Tea roses are the last plants to be pruned—in mid-February, as opposed to early January. Also, The Huntington’s famed volunteer corps, the Grateful Deadheaders, know to prune lightly—taking off about a quarter of the plant’s size, not the 50–60 percent that hybrids (including Hybrid Teas) want and need to look their best.

Carruth looks forward to showing Professor Wang around the Rose Garden. He’s also eager to hear what Wang thinks of our Chinese Garden. Might the Chinese rose authority be able to suggest the right type of rose for our scholar’s garden? Carruth is betting he’ll have an idea or two.

Introduced sometime before 1840, the ‘Hermosa’ China rose became popular in Europe for its compact shape and lavender-pink blooms. Photo by Tom Carruth.

Introduced sometime before 1840, the ‘Hermosa’ China rose became popular in Europe for its compact shape and lavender-pink blooms. Photo by Tom Carruth.

Another rose-related event this month is a two-day painting class, “Botanical Watercolor: Roses,” taught by artist Lisa Pompelli from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 11 and 12.

Diana W. Thompson is senior writer in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

LISTEN>> Japanese Tea Ceremony

In a suite of audio posts, visiting journalist Corinne DeWitt heads into our three collecting areas—Library, Art, and Botanical—and meets up with staff to explore facets of the vast collections that are the core of The Huntington. First up: Botanical.

 

 

CORINNE DEWITT: It’s a warm and quiet Tuesday, and we’re in the botanical gardens at The Huntington.

Walk with me up the winding path through the Japanese Garden to the Seifu-an teahouse, where gardens cultural curator Robert Hori performs a traditional Japanese tea ceremony for myself, my producer Kate Lain, and garden curator Andrew Mitchell.

The breeze is cool, the birds are chirping, and the kettle is on. Here we go.

ROBERT HORI: I’m Robert Hori, and I’m the cultural curator for the botanical gardens. Gardens are not just a park-like setting, but they’re really social spaces. [To be] a cultural curator implies that a lot of activities that happen in the garden that [are] associated with the garden which help to enliven, activate the garden, but also give people a deeper understanding of their appreciation of that garden.

We’ve now arrived at the Seifu-an teahouse, and we encounter a giant stone, which is probably one ton, one and a half tons. This is an important stone because it’s a threshold which marks the entry from the outside world into the inside world of tea. So let’s cross over.

We’ve now gone onto cobblestone, and the path gently curves. By gently curving and by having these changes in elevation, what we’re doing is slowing down. As we enter the roji, which is the dewy path that takes us to the teahouse, we hear the sounds of nature. We hear the leaves in front of us. It’s like we’ve just entered into a woodland setting.

There’s a beautiful filtered sunlight that’s coming through the trees, and as the path turns and we find stepping stones, this helps to slow us down even more and focus our attention.

When you’re invited to tea, the idea of purity is very important. It’s physical purity as well as spiritual purity. Before we go into the tea room, we wash our hands. Then we rinse our mouth with water, which is in the tsukubai, which is a rock basin found outside the tea room.

We’re coming to this junction, and we have to decide which path we’re going to take. Today we’re going to take the humble entrance, the crawling-in entrance.

The guest has entered into the tea room through a small door which is about three feet by three feet. In Japanese it’s called the nijiri-guchi, which means the crawling-in entrance. We have two entrances in the tea room: one is a standard door, and one is a small door. To remind us of our humility, the guest will take the humble door.

As soon as the guest enters the tea room, in front is an alcove. In that alcove there’s a piece of calligraphy. Today’s scroll has four Chinese characters on it, and the Chinese characters read wa kei sei jaku. These are the 4 principles of tea. Wa means harmony. Kei, respect. Sei means purity, and jaku means tranquility.

The sound of the water as it’s coming to a gentle boil is called “the sound of the wind in the pines.” It’s supposed to sound like a gentle breeze that is whispering through the pines. Part of the enjoyment of tea, when you’re invited to a tea gathering, is to listen to the different sounds of the kettle.

The utensils for tea have been laid out in the room. In front is a natsume which is a thin tea caddy, a lacquered container that has the powdered tea in it called matcha, and a raku, a red raku bowl.

With striking of the ladle on the futaoki ladle rest, that marks the beginning of the tea ceremony.

The host has taken two scoops of powdered tea from the natsume, the caddy, and then takes a scoop of hot water and pours about half into the bowl, then returns it to the kettle. Taking the tea whisk, [the host] whisks the tea and the hot water to make a very frothy brew.

The guest raises the bowl in appreciation first, and then will turn the bowl. There’s a front and a back to the bowl. By turning it, this is one way of showing her respect to that object so as not to drink from the most beautiful side of the bowl. It’s also one way of sharing the beauty of that bowl with the other guests who are in the room. So please have your tea.

Today’s sweet is a famous sweet from the Nagoya area. Nagoya is a sister city of Los Angeles in Japan, and the poetic name for this sweet is futari shizuka. Which means “the two lovers in quietude.” It’s a small ball, and half of it is red and the other half is white. And one is the woman, one is the man. They’re wrapped in a fine rice paper cloak.

ANDREW MITCHELL: You know, it’s powdery; it’s melting. It quickly melts in your mouth, and the flavor is a very subtle sweet.

ROBERT HORI: There’s basically only one type of tea, and that’s Camellia sinensis, and all types of tea are made from Camellia sinensis. It’s how it’s processed that makes it different. So if the tea has been fermented or left to dry out in the sun, it’ll turn brown or black. Matcha has been steamed. It’s picked, and then it’s steamed right after it’s picked. That preserves the greenness. Then it’s left to age for six months to deepen the flavors and bring out the volatile oils. Then it’s ground into a powder. What you have in matcha is the whole leaf. You’re tasting the entire plant. Some people may say that it tastes like wheat grass, or it may taste like spinach, but it has a very strong vegetal taste. It’s kind of the taste of green.

Once all the guests are served, the host will refill the kettle with cold water, and this will bring the boil to an end.

The teahouse here is about 50 years old. It’s been given a new life at The Huntington. It’s been renewed after 50 years. It’s an important reminder that we are here for really only a very short period of time. We never own something. We’re the stewards of that tradition. We’re the stewards of that object. What’s really important is to find a proper home and ensure its future. I think that that’s what we are doing with this teahouse and all the objects that are at The Huntington.

Corinne DeWitt is a visiting journalist with the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington. She earned her master’s degree in arts journalism this spring at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Maps that Scholars (and Goonies) Treasure

This chart includes one of the earliest depictions of the New World. King-Hamy portolan chart, Italy, ca. 1502 (HM 45). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

This chart includes one of the earliest depictions of the New World. King-Hamy portolan chart, Italy, ca. 1502 (HM 45). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

In the early 1980s, Mary Robertson, then chief curator of manuscripts, had an unusual meeting with a film production designer. Robertson was used to talking with people about the wonders and mysteries within The Huntington’s vast and renowned collections. But this man had an odd request—he wanted to see real pirate maps because he was designing one for a movie he was working on. The film’s working title sounded like gibberish: The Goonies.

Robertson spent much of the day with this man, showing him examples from The Huntington’s 16th- and 17th-century manuscript map collections. She talked about the aesthetics of early modern cartography to help give him a sense of what an old pirate map might look like. At one point, the designer described his vision of the pirate map’s exploding in a great “poof!” Robertson explained that old maps were drawn on parchment, which is made from animal skin, and that they would not explode. “Parchment melts,” she immediately responded. “It would never poof!” She even took him to The Huntington’s conservation laboratory to prove it with a modern parchment sample. There went that idea!

All the charts of the Vallard Atlas are oriented to the south. The large elongated body of water is the Red Sea. Follow the coastline to the right and you’ll see the Horn of Africa and then further on, the island of Zanzibar, across from present-day Tanzania. Vallard Atlas, France, 1547, Chart 4 (HM 29). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

All the charts of the Vallard Atlas are oriented to the south. The large elongated body of water is the Red Sea. Follow the coastline to the right and you’ll see the Horn of Africa and then further on, the island of Zanzibar, across from present-day Tanzania. Vallard Atlas, France, 1547, Chart 4 (HM 29). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The designer thanked Robertson for her time and headed back to Hollywood. The rest is film history, as The Goonies went on to become a cult classic. In the film, a treasure map once used by the mythical pirate One-Eyed Willy leads a band of kids on the adventure of a lifetime.

The Huntington’s manuscript map collections have led many scholars on equally thrilling adventures. The Huntington holds about 30 manuscript portolans—navigational charts and maps created primarily in the 16th century. The term “portolan” comes from porto, the Italian word for “harbor.” Portolans provided compass directions and estimated distances between one port and another. Most were made by Portuguese cartographers or are copies of their maps, as Portugal was the birthplace of the European maritime revolution.

Again orientated south, this section of the Vallard Atlas shows the island of Sumatra at the upper left and intricate scenes of indigenous people. Vallard Atlas, France, 1547, Chart 2 (HM 29). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Again orientated south, this section of the Vallard Atlas shows the island of Sumatra at the upper left and intricate scenes of indigenous people. Vallard Atlas, France, 1547, Chart 2 (HM 29). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

One of The Huntington’s most important examples is the King-Hamy portolan, consisting of a single folio and showing one of the earliest depictions of the New World. The 1502 document shows Greenland, Newfoundland, the northern coast of South America, and the east coast of Brazil. We see both America and Asia, but the relationship between the two continents remains ambiguous. This portolan was produced either in Portugal or in Italy from Portuguese sources, possibly by the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. (The portolan’s name refers to its provenance, as it was owned by Richard King and then Dr. Jules Théodore Ernest Hamy.)

While the primary function of a portolan was to guide European sailors, merchants, and buccaneers in their exploits on the high seas, the charts also provide critical insights into how Europeans viewed the world. They can be elaborately decorated, whimsical, and fantastical as they identify known port cities along continental coastlines. Their creators used lore, travel logs, and rumor to express Europeans’ beliefs about what lay in the continents’ interiors.

This part of the portolan depicts a stretch of the African coastline and a European view of what the people of Africa might look like. Vallard Atlas, France, 1547, Chart 7 (HM 29). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

This part of the portolan depicts a stretch of the African coastline and a European view of what the people of Africa might look like. Vallard Atlas, France, 1547, Chart 7 (HM 29). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Paintings revealed castles, religious houses, and exotic animals—such as elephants, lions, camels, and even sea monsters. They also depicted kings, merchants, soldiers, laborers, and fictional scenes of everyday interactions.

One of The Huntington’s most artistically celebrated portolans is the Vallard Atlas (named after its first owner, Nicolas Vallard), which dates from 1547. This elaborately decorated atlas was made in Dieppe, a town in northern France known for its cartographic school. It comprises 15 navigational charts, including some of the first European renderings of Australia, the East Indies, and parts of Africa and Asia.

The vibrant imagery in this portolan makes it an invaluable source for studying racial and ethnic perceptions in early modern Europe. One chart in the Vallard Atlas depicting “La Java” (the coast of Australia) displays intricate scenes of indigenous people.

Scholars will continue to explore portolans for their complex and dynamic insights into the early modern European mind. In The Goonies, the map led to treasure, but for scholars, these maps are the treasure!

The coastline shown here is referred to as “La Java.” In actuality, it is the coast of Australia, depicted 200 years before Captain Cook “discovered” it. Vallard Atlas, France, 1547, Chart 1 (HM 29). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The coastline shown here is referred to as “La Java.” In actuality, it is the coast of Australia, depicted 200 years before Captain Cook “discovered” it. Vallard Atlas, France, 1547, Chart 1 (HM 29). The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Related content on Verso:
Smoothing the Path (May 13, 2014)

Vanessa Wilkie is the William A. Moffett Curator of Medieval and British Historical Manuscripts.

Empowering the Earl of Leicester

Map of the British Isles, Heroica Eulogia, William Bowyer, 1567. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Map of the British Isles, Heroica Eulogia, William Bowyer, 1567. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The Huntington possesses an astonishing Elizabethan-era illuminated manuscript, dating from 1567, entitled Heroica Eulogia. Containing a series of vignettes of earls and kings, it is an exquisite volume that combines paintings, coats of arms, Latin poems, 14 distinctive styles of handwriting, and historical documents. Its author (although “producer” might be a better word) was William Bowyer, the Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London.

For years, the beauty of this manuscript captured the attention of calligraphers, who identified it as the work of French calligrapher John de Beauchesne, author of the first Elizabethan handwriting manual. Its rich heraldic representations also have caught many people’s eyes—including those of curators at the Folger Shakespeare Library, who borrowed it once for an exhibition. But the manuscript’s major claim to fame is its color map of Britain, one of the earliest accurate maps of the British Isles.

Recently, we decided to display and discuss Heroica Eulogia at a Huntington event and took a moment to reconsider this amazing volume. Putting aside for a moment its decidedly beautiful images, what was its purpose? Why was it produced, in what context was it prepared, and what did it mean?

Arms of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, with verses in the calligraphic script of John de Beauchesne, Heroica Eulogia, William Bowyer, 1567. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Arms of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, with verses in the calligraphic script of John de Beauchesne, Heroica Eulogia, William Bowyer, 1567. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

We had two significant clues. For one, Bowyer dedicates the volume to the newly created Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley (1532–88)—the favorite and suitor of Queen Elizabeth (1533–1603), the self-styled Virgin Queen. The second clue appears on the title page in the form of a riddle in Latin: “Venit veritas interdum in lucem non quaestia.” Or, in English: “Sometimes the truth comes to light unsought.” What truth was this manuscript teaching Leicester that he didn’t realize he needed to know?

The more we examined the volume, the more we felt convinced that Bowyer was teaching the new Earl of Leicester about his rights and powers, basing them on the histories of former earls of Leicester and on the properties Queen Elizabeth had granted him. That would explain the inclusion of the extents, deeds, parliamentary writs, and other documents that verified Leicester’s rights, as earl, to the powers of all previous earls.

It also seems that Bowyer was trying to prove Robert Dudley was worthy of marrying Elizabeth. The Queen had made it clear that, of the many suitors who pursued her, she favored Dudley, though he was already married. When Dudley’s wife died mysteriously, the path was seemingly cleared. But Elizabeth, wisely realizing that marrying a man assumed by many to have murdered his wife would undermine her authority, let the idea go. In Heroica Eulogia, Bowyer includes a poem lauding Dudley’s merit, including a line about his being unmarried and the Queen’s being a virgin, making the obvious suggestion.

Edward I seated in a triumphal car, Heroica Eulogia, William Bowyer, 1567. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Edward I seated in a triumphal car, Heroica Eulogia, William Bowyer, 1567. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Elizabeth went on to give Dudley Kenilworth Castle, the barony of Denbigh, and Chirk Castle—making him rich enough to be an earl, with huge power in the Midlands and North Wales. In the manuscript, Bowyer reproduced documents pertinent to previous possessors of these lands.

Prefacing these historical documents were symbolic portraits of English kings, each with a Latin poem recounting his life and fortunes. Of these, a particularly telling one shows Edward I (1239–1307) riding in a Roman triumphal car. Above him floats a banner declaring: “I fix my eyes on God, turning neither to the right nor to the left.” Edward stands over conquered Scotland and Wales, and the Pope falls off the back of the car. Surrounding Edward are the virtues of “necessary war,” “policy,” “magnanimity,” “just cause,” “clean conscience,” and “tireless work.” The message is clear: Edward was a righteous king who justly conquered England’s foes.

The volume also contains cartoons justifying the dissolution of monasteries and priories whose property and powers are being granted to Leicester. They declare their corruption, with titles such as “The Avaricious Monk,” “The Careless Bishop,” and “The Hypocritical Friar.” The images are accompanied by stern biblical passages about corruption being purged by divine wrath. Each image is accompanied by a Latin poem written in a mocking tone that imitates the work of the Goliards, medieval poets who satirized clergy and liturgy.

“De abbate ingluvioso,” Heroica Eulogia, William Bowyer, 1567. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

“De abbate ingluvioso,” Heroica Eulogia, William Bowyer, 1567. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

One image shows a gluttonous, ruby-cheeked abbot. His open hymnbook reveals that he’s worshiping the Pope. While he’s singing of “the body in the choir,” a roasted piglet sits beside him on a platter, labeled in Latin “Animus in patinis,” a pun on “paten,” the plate on which the bread—the body of Christ—rests during the mass. The label suggests that the abbot’s heart is fixed on pork, not on Christ.

In the end, we do not know if the Earl of Leicester ever received this volume. Parts of it are not finished, suggesting that it may never have been delivered. What we do know is that Bowyer had an imaginative and powerful multimedia technique of making the case for the earl’s powers. Using historical evidence, poetry, and painting, Bowyer had master craftsmen produce a unique manuscript that explored the powers of the earl. This magnificent volume provides a rich, lively, and detailed look at how history and art supported the hierarchies of power in Elizabethan England.

You can listen to Norman Jones’s Distinguished Fellow lecture, “Being Elizabethan: How Elizabethans Made Sense of Their World,” on SoundCloud or iTunes U.

Norman Jones, the 2015–16 Fletcher Jones Foundation Distinguished Fellow at The Huntington, is professor of history at Utah State University. Among his recent books are The English Reformation: Religion and Cultural Adaption and Governing by Virtue: Lord Burghley and the Management of Elizabethan England.

Advancing the Humanities

Front entrance to the Munger Research Center, where the first two fellows for the Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities, Alejandra Dubcovsky and Fuson Wang, will conduct research using The Huntington’s collections. Photograph by Kate Lain.

Front entrance to the Munger Research Center, where the first two fellows for the Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities, Alejandra Dubcovsky and Fuson Wang, will conduct research using The Huntington’s collections. Photograph by Kate Lain.

The Huntington and the University of California, Riverside, have selected the first two fellows for the highly competitive Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities, a partnership designed to boost the humanities at public universities. The program currently supports scholars whose research areas are focused on 18th-century studies and on the history and culture of science—collection areas that are among The Huntington’s greatest strengths.

Alejandra Dubcovsky, assistant professor of history at Yale University, and Fuson Wang, assistant professor of English at The City University of New York, will join the UC Riverside faculty and conduct independent research in The Huntington’s collections. Selected from a pool of more than 350 applicants, they will receive financial support from The Huntington for two full years of onsite research during their five years in the program.

Alejandra Dubcovsky, assistant professor of history at Yale University, will join the UC Riverside faculty and conduct independent research in The Huntington’s collections during her second and fourth years in the Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities.

Alejandra Dubcovsky, assistant professor of history at Yale University, will join the UC Riverside faculty and conduct independent research in The Huntington’s collections during her second and fourth years in the Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities.

Dubcovsky, whose scholarly interests center on the relations among the peoples of North America in the so-called long 18th-century (roughly 1680 to 1830), published her first book, Informed Power: Communication in the Early American South, with Harvard University Press in April. The book explores how people in the colonial world got news in a region that lacked a regular mail system or a printing press until the 1730s.

“The Huntington Library, or paradise as I call it, has a deep archive of 18th-century materials that will inform my future projects,” says Dubcovsky. “These include a collaborative investigation of the different roles of language in early colonial experiences and a book-length study of the long War of Spanish Succession (1680-1715), which was known as Queen Anne’s War in England’s North American colonies.”

Wang is currently working on a book project titled “Romantic Disease Discourse: A Radical Literary History of Smallpox Inoculation,” which tracks the literary, historical, and scientific uses of inoculation.

Fuson Wang, assistant professor of English at The City University of New York, will join the UC Riverside faculty and be a fellow at The Huntington during his first and fourth years of the Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities.

Fuson Wang, assistant professor of English at The City University of New York, will join the UC Riverside faculty and be a fellow at The Huntington during his first and fourth years of the Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities.

“I aim to tell the literary story of Edward Jenner’s 1796 discovery of the smallpox vaccine—a breakthrough that continues to reconfigure not only medical science, but also the canonical literature of the long 18th century,” says Wang. “The Huntington’s extensive collection of pro- and anti-vaccination literature will allow me to trace the history of this stubbornly persistent controversy. I also plan to make extensive use of The Huntington’s collections of works by poets, novelists, and amateur scientists—such as William Blake, Mary Shelley, and Erasmus Darwin—whose writings about the vaccination question helped make a once inconceivable idea available for scientific and medical experiment.”

Wang will be a fellow at The Huntington during his first and fourth years of the program. Dubcovsky will teach at UC Riverside during her first year and then serve as a Huntington fellow during her second and fourth years. In addition to having access to The Huntington’s collections, both scholars will be welcomed into The Huntington’s vibrant scholarly community.

Researchers at work in the Huntington Library’s Rothenberg Reading Room. Photograph by Martha Benedict.

Researchers at work in the Huntington Library’s Rothenberg Reading Room. Photograph by Martha Benedict.

“The day I signed the memorandum of understanding for this program was my happiest day on the job,” says Steve Hindle, The Huntington’s W. M. Keck Foundation Director of Research. “It made me feel that we are not only making a statement about the importance of the humanities, but also making a real difference for the future of humanistic studies. We hope the program will serve as a model for partnerships between The Huntington and other public research universities in Southern California.”

Milagros Peña, dean of UC Riverside’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, is also elated about the program. “Our students will greatly benefit from being taught by scholars conducting original research on The Huntington’s world-class collections,” says Peña. “This innovative partnership presents a major opportunity for UC Riverside to build on its already strong reputation for scholarship in the humanities.”

Kevin Durkin is editor of Verso and managing editor in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.