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Harry Ransom Center eNews November 2011 eNews
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Photo by Marsha Miller

Nobel Prize-winning writer J. M. Coetzee's archive acquired

The Ransom Center has acquired the archive of Nobel Prize-winning writer and University of Texas at Austin alumnus J. M. Coetzee. Spanning more than 50 years, the archive traces the author's life and career from 1956 through the present. Coetzee is an acclaimed novelist, academic, and literary critic. Influenced by his personal history growing up in South Africa, he writes with strong anti-imperialist feelings. His novels Life & Times of Michael K (1983) and Disgrace (1999) both received the Man Booker Prize, making Coetzee the first author to receive the award twice. LEARN MORE.


Fleur Cowles archive donated to the Ransom Center

The personal archive of publisher, author, and artist Fleur Cowles (1908–2009) has been donated to the Ransom Center. Cowles published Flair magazine, a work known for its provocative design, enlightened articles, and sophisticated advertising layouts. Published from February 1950 to January 1951, the magazine’s one-year run left an indelible mark on publishing history. The archive contains Cowles’s correspondence, manuscripts, galleys, research material, albums, books, press clippings, and photographs. LEARN MORE.


Filmmaker Nicholas Ray's archive opens for research

The archive of film director Nicholas Ray (1911–1979), best known for his film Rebel Without a Cause (1955), is now open for research. Spanning more than 35 years, materials in the collection include original treatments, annotated scripts, photographs, journals, notes, audio reels, video recordings, and film that provide an account of Ray's working methods and ideas. VIEW FINDING AID and READ an article about the collection in The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Archive of actor and writer Spalding Gray opens for research

The archive of writer and actor Spalding Gray (1941–2004) is now open for research. Spanning more than 40 years, the archive traces the author's career since the late 1970s, when Gray helped define a new era in theater where public and private life became an indivisible part of each new performance. Writer Nell Casey had access to the archive before it arrived at the Ransom Center, and her book The Journals of Spalding Gray was published by Knopf last month. LEARN MORE about her work in the archive and the surprises she found in Gray's journals.


Share the treasures of the Ransom Center: Gift memberships available

Give the gifts of literature, art, photography, film, and the performing arts with a Ransom Center membership. Specially packaged for the holidays, a gift membership is a wonderful way to introduce friends and family to the Ransom Center's treasures. Members receive a year of benefits, including invitations to biannual opening parties; subscriptions to the print newsletter, Ransom Edition; and opportunities for behind-the-scenes access to the collections. LEARN MORE.



The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 19
Through January 22, 2012

The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920-1925

As early as 1921, noteworthy visitors to Frank Shay's bookshop, located at 4 Christopher Street in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City, began signing the narrow door that opened onto the store's back room. When the shop closed in 1925, manager Juliette Koenig preserved the door and, with it, a revelatory slice of cultural history. Signed by 240 writers, artists, actors, publishers, and other community members, this unusual artifact presents a unique opportunity to reconsider the intersecting communities that made the Village an epicenter of American modernism and literary commerce.


The gallery exhibition is complemented by a web exhibition of the same name. LEARN MORE.


Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored

How did hundreds of thousands of books, pictures, plays, and magazines come to be banned, burned, seized, and censored in the span of less than 30 years? This exhibition reveals the rarely seen "machinery" of censorship in the United States between the two world wars. Using tactics from extra-legal intimidation to federal prosecution, censors from the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, New England's Watch and Ward Society, the Post Office Department, and the Treasury Department waged war on "objectionable" literature. Larger-than-life personalities battled publicly over obscenity, "clean books," and freedom of expression while writers, agents, and publishers attempted to navigate the increasingly complex world of American censorship. LEARN MORE.


Enjoy a public tour of the exhibitions on Tuesdays at noon and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.



Poetry on the Plaza

READING Poetry on the Plaza: Bohemian Rhapsodies: Poems of Greenwich Village


Dionysium presents its November program “Censorship” at the Ransom Center. Attendees will enjoy an evening of debate, lecture, declamation, a theatrical presentation, and music in a salon-like atmosphere. The event will begin with docent-led tours of the Center’s exhibitions: Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored and The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920–1925. An intellectual debate, a toast to Dionysus, and musical interludes by Graham Reynolds follow. Wine graciously provided by Rex-Goliath. Although the event is free, the suggested donation for the evening is $8. LEARN MORE.


PERFORMANCE Isaiah Sheffer of Selected Shorts, heard on public radio stations across America, hosts an evening of readings from works featured in the exhibition Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored. "A 'Smut' Sampler: A Light-Hearted Reading of Selections from Some Notorious Banned Books" features actors René Auberjonois and Kristen Vangsness. They will read from works including Lady Chatterley's Lover, Ulysses, Jurgen, and Tropic of Cancer.


Explore art, history, the humanities, and science while enjoying a casual bike ride of the museums that are part of Austin's Cultural Campus. Co-hosted by Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop and the Austin Cycling Association, this no-drop, co-ed group ride is perfect for cyclists of all levels and riding abilities. Meet at Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop (400 Nueces). Ride size is limited, so please RSVP to eileen@mellowjohnnys.com. LEARN MORE.


MEMBER TOUR Cathy Henderson, Associate Director of Exhibitions and Education, leads an exclusive tour of the building’s restricted areas, including collection storage and the cataloging, technology, and conservation departments. Open to Guild level members and above; limited capacity; RSVP required. Join, upgrade, or renew at www.hrc.utexas.edu/memevents.


MEMBER EVENT Enjoy a night of special access to the Ransom Center at this insiders’ open house and reception for new members. Invitation-only; RSVP required. Become a member today at www.hrc.utexas.edu/memevents.


DISCUSSION Steve Bercu of BookPeople, Susan Post of BookWoman, and Russell Etchen of Domy Books discuss the future of independent bookstores in Austin and beyond.


PERFORMANCE The New Music Ensemble performs pieces including Edith Sitwell and William Walton's Façade (1922), with an introduction by Robert Freeman, Susan Menefee Ragan Regents Professor of Fine Arts. The Edith Sitwell collection, including material from Façade, is housed at the Ransom Center.


Visit the Ransom Center as part of Austin’s Cultural Campus “Holiday Museum Crawl.” Enjoy the exhibitions with your family, friends, and guests, and join us at 2 p.m. for a docent-led tour. Kick off your holiday shopping with one-day discounts on Ransom Center merchandise, including postcards, totebags, and books. Purchase a gift membership and receive a free set of postcards ($10 value). Complimentary beverages will warm you on your walk to your next Austin’s Cultural Campus destination.


READING Poetry on the Plaza: Winter


Photo by Pete Smith

A glimpse into J. M. Coetzee's bound drafts: Life & Times of Michael K

The archive of J. M. Coetzee won't be open for research until it has been cataloged. In the meantime, the Ransom Center offers an inside peek into the manuscript drafts of Coetzee's Booker Prize-winning novel Life & Times of Michael K (1983), exploring how early drafts, recorded in notebooks constructed of cardboard and stacks of exam "blue books," show roads not taken in the novel's final version. LEARN MORE.


November 2011


Masthead image:
(Detail) Photo of Fleur Cowles by unknown photographer.
News image:
Photo of J. M. Coetzee by Marsha Miller.
Exhibitions image:
Graphic identity for The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920-1925.
Public Programs image:
An impromptu performance on a Provincetown wharf, undated. Unidentified photographer.
Insider's Perspective image:
Manuscript from Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee. Photo by Pete Smith.

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