One of the most celebrated objects in the history of photography is featured in a permanent exhibition just inside the main entrance to the Harry Ransom Center. The untitled photograph—the earliest known surviving photograph made with the aid of the camera obscura—was produced in 1827 by the French scientist and inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce using a process he called héliographie. Permanent exhibitions are never really “permanent,” however; objects may remain in place, but their meanings are always evolving, and exhibitions are periodically revised to reflect those advances. [Read more…] about Introducing ‘The Niépce Heliograph’
“Pray forgive my frankness when I say that two of them are not only not by A.B. [Aubrey Beardsley], but are not in the least like him! It is astonishing to me how many people are taken in. Is it not perhaps because they buy a name and not a work of art? I hope that is your excuse. But you are in good company.”
— R. A. Walker (1944)
Walt Whitman was born on this day in 1819, and amid a panoply of planned festivities, his bicentennial has renewed popular interest in Whitman’s legacy. What has Whitman left us in our twenty-first century? Whatever he has bequeathed to us culturally, what’s certain is that 200 years after his birth, his textual legacy continues to grow.
When Johann Gutenberg and his team published their Bible in the mid-1450s, what they were selling to buyers were sets of sheets, sheets of either paper or parchment that had text printed on them. What they were not selling were books—not, at least, if we take “book,” as we usually do, to imply a codex that is ready to read by turning a series of leaves held together at one edge. As I have written before, when a monastery, church, or private individual bought a Bible from Gutenberg, they had to find a scribe to add red text to spaces that the printers had left blank. Gutenberg’s customers had to find bookbinders, too.
The Ransom Center has awarded 51 fellowships for the upcoming year to postdoctoral, dissertation and independent researchers studying such diverse topics as civil liberties, nineteenth-century Latinx arts and literature, cookbooks, and more.
Ian Burney, a former Ransom Center fellow, was recently awarded a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. [Read more…] about The ‘Court of Last Resort’