Thursday, November 16, 2017

Play Like a Girl: A History of Athletics at Rosemont College, 1960-1990

Play Like a Girl: A History of Athletics at Rosemont College, 1960 - 1990

IMG_7327.JPGThis is the second of what I hope will be 3 exhibits on athletics at Rosemont. Archives Assistant, Emily Siegel, ‘14, curated the first part of this exhibit, which portrayed Rosemont athletics from 1923 - 1960. It showed that women’s colleges were places where women could be athletic, in a safe, accepting environment, during a time when this may have been frowned upon in other places.This was eye-opening to me.

I had a similar realization over the summer, when I saw the movie Wonder Woman. I was moved by its portrayal of strong, athletic women, which was not salacious. I hadn’t realized the novelty of this image until I saw it there. Diana and her sisters enjoyed their athleticism and physical strength. They were confident in it. I wanted to select photos of Rosemont students who were enjoying themselves, strong and proud and excelling in sports; who displayed the same attributes as those fictional women.

The 60’s saw many advances in women’s rights. Title IX was enacted in 1972. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but women still strive to be taken seriously in the sports arena (and in others). I hope that this series of exhibits will encourage further thought and discussion on that subject within the Rosemont community.

Elena Sisti

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dr. Gold's Connelly Lecture

Pierce Connelly lecture 001.JPGOn Wednesday, November 1, we had the distinct pleasure of hosting Dr. Susanna Gold at the Gertrude Kistler Memorial Library at Rosemont College. She gave an informative lecture on the works of Pierce Francis “Frank” Connelly, son of Cornelia Connelly who was the foundress of the Society of the Holy Child of Jesus.

Dr. Gold laid out Frank’s journey through the arts in Italy as well as his entrance into the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, PA in 1876. She discussed his works of art that were on display prominently at the Exhibition. The piece that drew the most interest was very different from the rest of Frank Connelly’s work. Most of his sculptures were neoclassical style, women sculptures, while the piece that was the focus of the talk was much different.  "Honor Arresting the Triumph of Death," is a group composition that features six different figures:  Death, Death’s horse, Strength, Courage, Perseverance and Hope. Dr. Gold discusses how this piece, unlike others at the exhibit that portrayed aspects of the Civil War in the United States of America, touched everyone and allowed for the focus on the sacrifice of human life rather than the sides of the war. Most of Connelly’s work was sold at this exhibition Dr. Gold noted, except for this one piece.  

An article in The Rambler relays the story of how the sculpture came to Rosemont college. In the summer of 1939, Rev. Mother Provincial and Rev Mother Ignatius traveled to Rome where the meet Frank's daughter, Mariana who later became Princess Borghese. She felt that the sculpture should be in the hands of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus and gifted it to Rosemont College. The sculpture has been in various places on the campus and is currently close to the science building.

If you would like to learn more about Frank Connelly or his work, schedule an appointment with our archives department or you can check out Dr. Gold's book The unfinished exhibition: Visualizing myth, memory and the Civil War in centennial America from the Gertrude Kistler Memorial Library.

Unknown. (1939, October 13). Princess Borghese presents statue: Group was executed by F.P.

Connelly. The Rambler.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

In the Spotlight: Archives Presents at CIC Conference in Washington, D.C.

IMG_2115.JPGIn September, Archives Assistant,  Emily Siegel, '14 presented a poster at The National Workshop of the Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research in Washington, D.C. During the last three years, the Rosemont College Archives has worked with the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) through a grant provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to digitize the archival records pertaining to the college's Immaculate Conception Chapel. The Immaculate Conception Chapel is significant to Rosemont College’s history because it is one of a very few across the United States that features specifically female saints. We want to get that information out to the world!

This project came about after a group of students participating in a Digital Humanities class in the Spring of 2014 began researching the construction of the Chapel. This class focused on building a website based on the construction of the College’s Chapel by collaborating with the Archive staff and using the archival materials that were a part of the Chapel Collection. During this process, the Archive staff realized that there was a need to have these items digitally preserved to aid in preservation and make them accessible online so that students didn’t necessarily have to be in the Archives in order to complete their research. Digitization is a big part of preservation in any archive. It ensures that duplicates of photos, documents, and other items are being saved so that if anything ever happened to the original copy we have a backup file to support the collection. Digitization projects also help us to see what in the collection might need extra attention in terms of preservation. Also, with the students building a website there was the desire to display some of the photos and documents online.

The goal of this project was to allow greater access to the documents without researchers having to handle some of the more delicate items. The documents have been scanned into a program called Shared Shelf and are now accessible to anyone who has interest in viewing them without having to make an appointment with an archivist at Rosemont. The Archives plans to continue uploading into Shared Shelf and is currently working on adding the oral histories that students took from SHCJ Sisters for the Sisters Story Project. If you would like to take a look at the Immaculate Conception Chapel documents, please go to:|collections|7731675||Rosemont20College20Archives3A20Chapel20of20Immaculate20Conception|||

Check out the poster on the main floor of the Kistler Library by the Archives Exhibit near the front reading room. Our Archive staff is also ready to answer any questions that you have about the Archives collection at:  or for questions about the Archives at SHCJ:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Review: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

In honor of Banned Books Week, Elena Sisti (Reference Librarian) has written a review of the book Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. This is just one of the many books that has been challenged during the last few years and Elena shares her thoughts on the book and how it compares to the movie.

Twilight, Stephanie Meyer, FIC MEY
reviewed by Elena Sisti

The cover of Twilight is stunning and evocative. Against a black backdrop, a pair of pale, graceful hands cradles a ruby red apple. The title is subtly emblazoned between strong forearms in silver script. This is a depiction from an actual scene in the book and movie. Adroit Edward catches an apple fumbled by bumbling Bella.  The image is also heavily metaphoric. An apple is easily bruised and battered, just like Bella. Not so while cradled in Edward’s marble arms. And let us not forget that an apple is the age-old symbol of the forbidden fruit, of temptation. Here, it stands not only for the temptation of first love and lust, but also for the temptations that the central characters are to each other. Edward must constantly resist his desire to make Bella at the very least, his most satisfying meal, or ultimately, to turn her so that she’ll join him in eternity. Bella avoids joining the Cullens, her strongest temptation, not through any effort on her part, but through the willpower of Edward and the rest of his preternaturally beautiful clan.

Never judge a book by its cover.

With classic themes similar to those in Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and the Beast, and Peter Pan,  and an ethereal, human-friendly family of vampires  as main characters (a trend in YA lit that won’t die, haha), this book had the potential for greatness. Unfortunately, it falls short of this potential. The writing is simultaneously awkward and overwrought. I found myself rolling my eyes and muttering “oh, please…” at Bella’s descriptions of Edward’s beauty, or at the happy couple’s proclamations of love. Bella’s emotional and physical ups and downs didn’t move me much. I found Edward and his family a bit more interesting, perhaps because they’re drop-dead gorgeous (haha) vampires.

I also found the book somewhat predictable, but this could have been because I saw the movie before reading it. This is one instance where the movie is slightly better than the book, probably because I enjoyed looking at the beautiful Pacific Northwest scenery. There is one stand-out scene in the movie: the baseball scene. I admit to exclaiming, “That is awesome!” when I first saw it. I love the music behind it and the whimsy of vampires playing baseball but only able to do so in a thunderstorm. I was eager to see how it was handled in the book. It was disappointing.

I don’t plan on reading the other books in this series, but there are two spinoffs I’d love to see: a book on Carlisle’s human history and early life as a vampire, authored by Anne Rice. I’d read a similar book on Alice, especially if it were written by Joe Hill.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Review: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Hello Readers! Summer is right around the corner and you know what that means: Summer reading! Before you leave campus for the summer, the Library staff will offer you their own reviews of some of Kistler Library's newest books. If they sound good, add them to your own summer reading list!

Today, Elena Sisti, Reference Librarian at Kistler Library, has written her review for The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, Call Number: PS3561 .I496 L33 2009. Hope you enjoy!

This is a story about words, spoken and unspoken, written and unwritten. This is a story about Harrison Shepherd, a private man of many talents who ends up in a rather public profession; he’s a best-selling novelist. One of the most compelling themes of this book is that what’s most important about a person is what you don’t know about him. At first these unknowns add to Shepherd’s allure and appeal. Later in the book, his blanks are filled in with perversions and untruths that devastate every part of his already agoraphobic life. 

Lacunae feature prominently in this story, both literally and figuratively. Shepherd would dive into a lacuna between rocks in the sea during for respite during his childhood in Mexico. The life Shepherd presents to the public is filled with lacunae. A journal kept during his young adulthood conveniently goes missing, a convenient excuse to avoid writing his memoirs, despite his beloved Mrs. Brown’s insistence that he do so anyway.

This book is a critique of the media. Newspaper and radio reports feed off of themselves, repeating and sensationalizing, filling in any lacunae with unverified facts until they become “truth.” This is reminiscent of the image in the book’s opening paragraphs. Shepherd and his mother cringe in fear of the sound of the howler monkeys’ dawn vocalizations outside the hacienda where they first lived in Mexico. One howler would set off the next. Even after it was explained to them that the monkeys were establishing their hunting territories, boy and mother remain uneasy. 

“Their food might be us, mother and son agreed. You had better write all this in your notebook… So when nothing is left of us but bones, someone will know where we went.”

Ironically, American newspapers and radio may only howl within a very limited range. The last third of the book takes place during the Red Scare and the time of McCarthy’s ominous Un-American Activities Committee. A narrow line separated “appropriate” expression from accusations of Communism. This line is especially narrow in the art world.

Such a myopic point of view angers Violet Brown. She argues that it is as if the powers that be believe America to be finished and perfect. Any hints that it could be improved or suggestions for progress are considered un-American. Any appreciation of different ideologies, behaviors or cultures is anti-American, therefore Communist, and therefore cause for investigation and legal persecution. This monster of an idea sometimes still rears its ugly head today.

I love that Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and their friend Lev Trotsky are major characters in this novel. The Riveras were Communist supporters, which didn’t affect them too much in Mexico, but did determine how and if their work was viewed in the United States.

Vivacious, vibrant, and often ill, Kahlo presents one of the novel’s most thought-provoking ideas: that the ancient Aztecs seem heroic to us moderns because they didn’t have written language. We don’t have any accounts of their quotidian struggles. All they left were their grand monuments, so we believe the that people themselves to be monumental; an example of the lacuna working in a culture’s favor.

Approximately 2/3 of this book takes place in Mexico. These are the parts that I love best. This setting allows Kingsolver to work her lyrical magic, describing the colors of the women’s clothes, the smells of the food and the flowers, raucous parties, and the light on the Aztec’s pyramids. For a time, Shepherd is employed as a cook and enjoys the task throughout his life. Kingsolver’s writing shines in her descriptions of food and belies her love of the topic.

I also enjoyed Shepherd’s first few years in Asheville, N.C. It seems very Arts and Craftsian and cozy. Despite WWII, America seems a hopeful place where everyone is united in doing their part for the war effort, as opposed to a few years later when there is much divisive finger-pointing as everyone is encouraged to rout out the Communists in their midst.

The passage entitled "On Your Leaving" are some of the most beautiful paragraphs I’ve ever read in a novel, a love letter that anyone should be delighted to receive.

The horticultural, special collections librarian and the Philadelphian in me were thrilled that Shepherd goes to the library with Romulus, the neighbor boy, to identify a wildflower using Bartram’s Flora of the Carolinas, which “had full-color plates of the specimen in question.” Romulus was disappointed to learn the true identity of said specimen.

I do think the book could have been a few dozen pages shorter, but overall, Kingsolver rightly maintains her position as Stephen King’s band- and shelf mate with this deep and rich novel.