Reading Room's blog

Following the American Expansion through Martin Egan's Eyes

Browned newspaper clipping with printed text and headline that says "Twelve Years from Dewey's Coming"

This is a guest post by Dr. Laura Diaz-Esteve, a historian of imperialism in Southeast Asia during the 19th and 20th centuries, with a focus on the American occupation of the Philippines.

Veteran historians had told me about the satisfaction of visiting an archive with preconceived ideas of your potential findings and discovering an unexpected line of inquiry even more interesting than what you had imagined. My visit to the Martin Egan Collection was my first practical encounter with such an experience.

Belle da Costa Greene: Collecting Chinoiserie

This is a guest post by Araceli Bremauntz-Enriquez (she/her), Morgan Library & Museum Summer Graduate Fellow, CUNY, The Graduate Center.

Belle da Costa Greene, the Morgan Library & Museum’s first director, worked devotedly to expand, organize, and research the museum’s collection. Outside of her role at the Morgan, she acquired works of art and curated a substantial personal collection of works on paper, sculpture, and paintings.

Not A Long Life, But A Happy One: Researching and Cataloging the Letters of Maria Tunno

This is a guest post by Madeleine Barnes, a writer, visual artist, and doctoral candidate in English Literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

This summer, I was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to research and write detailed catalog descriptions of nineteenth-century women’s letters during a summer fellowship at the Morgan Library & Museum.

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.