Reading Room's blog

Ballet Beneath the Morgan

Sepia tone photograph of a woman's head and shoulders. Her hair, or wig is blonde and she is wearing a small crown prop.

During my time as a Morgan fellow this summer, I felt as if I were behind the curtain of the Théâtre National de l'Opéra in Paris, surrounded by the many stories and artifacts of celebrated modernist ballets. The Robert Owen Lehman Collection held on deposit at the Morgan since 1972 possesses a wide variety of ballet scores, giving a comprehensive view of the early twentieth-century Parisian dance scene.

Textured Stories in Thoreau's Walden Pond Journals

This is a guest post by Joshua Calhoun, Associate Professor of English and Faculty Affiliate with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Stone, wood, paper, plants, fabric. These are the textured impressions I find in the memory that, recalled here, become a story about finding stories. One way to tell this story—one that feels all the more urgent after a year of relying almost entirely on digital archives—is to give weight to the materials that shape our memories of archival research.

A Journey into the World of the Ballets Russes

This is a guest post by Alexis Rodda, a classically-trained soprano and a Five-Year Fellowship recipient and doctoral candidate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

The Ballets Russes was a ballet company that performed between 1909 and 1929 throughout Europe, but particularly in Paris. The company was innovative in its collaborations with contemporary composers and its daring, often sensual performances. The more I immersed myself in this world through a CUNY Graduate Center/Morgan fellowship, the more I became fascinated not only with the artistic aspects of the Ballet Russes.

Theater of a Book: The Macrocosm of Extra-illustrated Memoirs of the life of John Philip Kemble, esq.

This is a guest post by Cen Liu, a PhD student in Theatre and Performance at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

This fall, I worked with the Department of Printed Books and Bindings to catalog the additional materials in an extra-illustrated version of James Boaden’s Memoirs of the life of John Philip Kemble, esq. (London, 1825; PML 9522-25). My own research is focused on the intersection of theater history and the history of visuality. I investigate how theater, as a concept and an artifact, exhibits and constructs the shifting paradigms of the relation between optical perception and knowledge.

Uncovering a Hidden John Ruskin at the Morgan

This is a guest post by Jarrett Moran, a doctoral candidate in History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Bring up the nineteenth century British critic of art and society John Ruskin and there are a few stock stories that get repeated: an art history student might think of J. M. Whistler suing him for libel after Ruskin described his Nocturne in Black and Gold as “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face,” while a literature student might think of the “pathetic fallacy,” Ruskin’s term for poetic writing that attributes human emotions to the natural world.

Art, Literature, and Bearing Witness: Richard Doyle’s Letters and Walt Whitman's War Diary

This is a guest post by Michael Healy, a doctoral candidate in comparative literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

As a student of the various strands of modernism in the early twentieth century, I found that an early version of one such strand was most prominent among the many nineteenth-century manuscripts I read through and cataloged in the summer of 2018 in the Reading Room at the Morgan: the sense that art and literature grow out of the vivid witness and keen observation of events happening around us all the time, some recorded in official histories and others not.

Time Traveling Through Eleven Centuries

After finishing my master’s thesis in the history of art and medieval history and working at and with different European museums, I wanted to gain more knowledge about other international collections, their history as well as how their art is handled. My interaction with the Morgan Collection started a few years ago in Germany.

Maria Knox in India

This is a guest post by Sam Bussan, a PhD student in the Department of History at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

I spent this summer at the Morgan working with the Literary & Historical Manuscripts Department to catalog the Maria Knox Letters. This collection of sixty-three letters, almost exactly two centuries old, records the life of a British family in India from 1816 to 1822.

Transforming The Buccaneers for the Stage

This is a guest post by Dawn-Elin Fraser, Associate Arts Professor, Head of Spoken Voice and Speech for the New Studio on Broadway at NYU.

As an Associate Arts Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, I teach in the New Studio on Broadway, where our students focus on both musical theater and heightened text. Our student body is talented, eager, and hungry for opportunity. It is also a student population that is overwhelmingly female identified, though the cannon of heightened text (particularly period centered) is primarily written by men with male characters at the heart of the narrative. I wanted to do something to shift that.

Mary, Duchess of Gloucester, the Baskett "Vinegar Bible," and the Forgotten Art of Extra-Illustration

This is a guest post by Sean Nortz, a PhD student in the Department of English at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

I was very pleased to be granted a CUNY Graduate Center fellowship this summer to work on the Morgan Library & Museum’s collection of extra-illustrated books from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.