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Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres: Influencias literarias en la obra de Gabriel García Márquez

By Megan Barnard

Alguna vez  Gabriel García Márquez comentó que creía que la principal razón por la cual los escritores leen las novelas de otros, era para aprender cómo las escribieron.  Para el laureado con este Premio Nobel los libros tenían una importancia tremenda, y con frecuencia escribía o hablaba de los autores que más habían influido en él. Read more

Social Media: Nothing New? Commonplace Books As Predecessor to Pinterest

By Kelsey McKinney

The Ransom Center’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland exhibition includes a commonplace book kept by Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) with information about ciphers, anagrams, stenography, and labyrinths. As Kelsey McKinney, a former public affairs intern, writes, these “personal anthologies” functioned as “literary scrapbooks”. While these scrapbooks were “commonplace” in Victorian culture, modern means of communication fulfill the same desire for people to record and share their life experiences.

The exhibition—and Dodgson’s commonplace book—are on view at the Ransom Center through July 6, 2015.

Before the affordability of personal libraries, and before people were able to access the world’s knowledge through the Internet, readers and writers had to find reasonable ways to consolidate and store information that could be useful to them. There were no social media to help them aggregate and share stories, quotes, recipes, or images. That doesn’t mean they didn’t do exactly that. They created personal anthologies called commonplace books. Read more

Texas insect ID flashcards go global

By Mary Baughman

When boxes of collection materials arrive at the Ransom Center, conservators and archivists gather at the tables in the quarantine room in the basement to inspect the contents, looking for insects and the telltale signs of them—as well as for mold, another great enemy of archives. Leading the effort is Ransom Center Book Conservator Mary Baughman, who trains personnel to recognize signs of insect infestation. Below, Mary shares a recent department undertaking that may humanize the insects but will also make them more recognizable during inspections.


Upon the arrival of collection materials at the Ransom Center, the first order of business is for staff to inspect the collection carefully—under the diligent leadership of one of our conservators—for signs of insects or mold, or any other damage that could jeopardize our collections. These inspections are important affairs, for it’s critical that we not introduce pests or mold into our stacks.


In looking for instructional materials to educate and identify insects, I turned to, a comprehensive international resource for collection managers. Every institution has insect challenges of some sort. In fact, is the result of the efforts of the Integrated Pest Management Working Group, a group of collection managers, conservators, entomologists, and other professionals interested in issues surrounding the implementation of integrated pest management in museums and other collection-holding institutions.


While exploring the website, I located a set of amusing and informative insect identification flashcards created by students of Sir Sanford Fleming College’s Museum Management and Curatorship Program in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.


Inspired, conservation department volunteer Meaghan Perry and I decided Texas should have its own flashcards depicting insects in the state that attack collection materials. I penned the text, and Meaghan created the images; entomologists vetted both.


Identifying and understanding these insects is the first step in preserving our collections. We’re pleased to depict these Texas insects during Preservation Week.


The flashcards can be downloaded from the Ransom Center’s website and


Read related Preservation Week 2015 posts.


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Click on thumbnails to view larger images.

Drama in the Archives: Undergraduate Research at the Ransom Center

By Jennifer Tisdale

After discussing his own work in the Harry Ransom Center’s archives with students in his Humanities classes, Dr. Elon Lang realized that despite his students’ interest in what he suggested could be learned from archival materials, very few had actually visited the Ransom Center and even fewer had contemplated doing research here.


Lang made it his mission to design a course that would show how the Ransom Center could serve as a valuable and approachable research tool for all interested users—especially The University of Texas at Austin’s undergraduates—and to show how much students could gain from working with archival materials.


With these goals in mind, Lang developed “Drama in the Archives,” a Humanities Honors course he taught in fall 2014.


During the semester, Lang brought students from his class to the Ransom Center at least once per week to learn about the Center and to learn how to conduct original primary research in the Center’s theater and performing arts collections.


He chose important plays as the subject matter for the class partly because of the Ransom Center’s impressive collections and partly because the consequences of creative choices that can be revealed in an archive become clear very quickly when analyzing dramatic texts.


After several weeks of guided readings and archival work, Lang had students develop their own research projects that involved close attention to an item in the Ransom Center’s collections and its historical and critical contexts.


Below, undergraduates describe the research they conducted and the discoveries they made while working with collections at the Ransom Center. They show how, with creativity and a bit of support, they were able to create a singular experience for themselves at the Ransom Center that greatly enhanced their undergraduate education.


Maureen Clark’s “Notes from the Undergrad: Student uses archival materials to explore Nietzschean nihilistic reading of Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’”


Colin McLaughlin’s “Notes from the Undergrad: Archive, cultural consciousness, and a semester in the reading room”


Lily Pipkin’s “Notes from the Undergrad: Feeling Samuel Beckett’s pain and ‘Godot’ in German”


Emily Robinson’s “Notes from the Undergrad: Investigating the ending in David Mamet’s ‘Oleanna’”


Haley Williams’s “Notes from the Undergrad: An alternate ending for ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’”


Kenneth Williams’s “Notes from the Undergrad: Reviving Linda Loman in ‘Death of a Salesman’”



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