Welcome to ReMix, News for Library Donors and Friends
|October 17, 2008|
What's in a Name?
Had we but known that the brilliant intellectual property attorney and Stanford professor Larry Lessig was busy writing a book entitled Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (click here to order), we might have named this newsletter differently. But there's no going backwards; the world will just have to "disambiguate" our ReMix from his. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education (click here for review), the book, which was released yesterday, "argues that the legal system is making criminals out of young people who produce entertaining or informative videos, music, and other art works through piecing together parts of others’ works." Lessig's book reinforces his founding of the Creative Commons in drawing needed attention to an intellectual property regime that many of us believe to have grown unwieldy and antithetical both to the public interest and to the Constitutional basis for copyright, which is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." If you haven't contemplated this little paragraph from the Constitution lately, I recommend you do so now. To say this is important for the future of libraries and information services is a major understatement, and we applaud Lessig for his efforts in this area.
At least Lessig's title puts to rest any lingering suspicion that "remix" is not a proper word (per the Oxford English Dictionary, its first occurrence in print is 301 years older than that for "disambiguate," though it then had a slightly different meaning than Lessig and we intend). The OED itself has a strong connection to Stanford: its current, online, continually-updated edition is supported technically by our HighWire Press division. If you haven't had the pleasure of using it, it would be worth a visit to one of the Stanford libraries to try it at any of our public terminals (it’s a subscription-based service). Warning: it can be hard to tear oneself away from the online OED; it is definitely habit-forming.
Open House, 2008
At the Libraries’ annual Open House on October 2, hundreds of students (and a considerable number of new faculty and staff) viewed exhibits and met representatives of Green Library and its branches. Four independently-run coordinate libraries also participated: Jackson Business, Lane Medical, Crown Law, and Hoover Library and Archives. Demonstrations of The Stanford Libraries in Second Life (a virtual world), How They Got Game (history and culture of interactive simulations and video games), The Future of the Stanford Science Libraries, Google Book Search and Google Scholar, and the Robotic Book Scanner were especially well attended, as was the tour led by University Librarian Michael Keller.
A Notable Acquisition
The Libraries recently acquired a manuscript, signed and dated by its scribe in Lyon on 1 September 1468, of the Legenda Aurea. It represents the important period of transition after the printing of the Gutenberg Bible, but before the first printed edition of the Golden Legend in 1470, and shares many features with early printed books. This is also the period of transition, for both books and manuscripts, from vellum to paper. Our manuscript is written on fine watermarked paper in a workmanlike Gothic cursive bookhand, but pays homage to the earlier tradition by using a decorated vellum bifolium for the opening and twelfth pages. The reader is struck by the manuscript's accessibility: the simple Latin of its author is arranged in two columns with generous word, line and margin spacing (for readers’ notes, which were added later). The script is neither highly compressed nor overly abbreviated, as it is in many fifteenth-century manuscripts on paper. The scribe was self-conscious of working in the manuscript tradition; nonetheless, he intended to make a practical and economical book.
When Dominican friar and hagiographer Jacobus de Voragine completed his Legenda Sanctorum around 1266, he intended it as an encyclopedic preaching aid of saintly biographies for clerics. It became one of the most widely read and copied books of the Middle Ages, when it became known to laymen as Legenda Aurea, being worth its weight in gold. Few books have had such a meteoric rise and fall. At least 200 editions of the Golden Legend were published between 1470 and 1530 alone, including nine of Caxton’s famous English translation. The work’s popularity diminished later in the sixteenth century, to the point that, after 1613, only one edition was published in the next 230 years.
Today, the Golden Legend is once again the object of scholarly attention, as a work of devotion, and especially for its lively and vivid storytelling techniques. Most of its lives begin with a speculative etymology of the saint’s name, and then enliven the canonical biographical details with miraculous and supernatural events, many of them bloody and violent. Commonplace episodes, such as women forced to marry against their wills, can be studied as part of the continuum of Latin prose narrative from ancient Roman histories to the high points of medieval literature and even to the birth of the modern novel. The manuscript will be an integral and frequently used resource of both our teaching and research collections. Donors past and present, to whom we are indeed grateful, made possible the Libraries' first acquistion of a complete and substantial medieval manuscript in many years.
Works of eleven contemporary, prize-winning Korean calligraphers are on display through October 31 in the East Asia Library on the 4th floor of Meyer Library. The exhibit highlights Hangul, the native alphabet of the Korean language, an alphabet praised by the prestigious Department of Linguistics at the University of Oxford for its originality, rationality, and scientific features. Each of the calligraphers interprets gungche, or “courtly style,” known as the flower of Hangul calligraphy and originally used primarily by women of the royal court. Gungche itself can be written in a printed style, or in semi-cursive, cursive, or radically cursive variations. The exhibited works have been donated by the artists for inclusion in Stanford’s permanent collections. For additional information and for the East Asia Library’s hours, click here.
Currently on Exhibit
American Primers & Readers: Featuring the Words and Collection
Photobooks: Inspiration and Process, Art & Architecture Library
Special Exhibition of Hangul (Korean Alphabet) Calligraphy, October 9-31 in the East Asia Library (Meyer Library, 4th Floor).
-The Judith L. Davis Memorial Book Fund
Upcoming Events & Exhibitions
Professor Gordon Chang and Mark Johnson will discuss the new Stanford University Press publication of Asian American Art: A History 1850-1970, in conjunction with an exhibition at the de Young Museum. Bender Room, Thursday, November 6, 7 PM
SULAIR in the News
Forthcoming from the Stanford University Press: