With the support of UTeach Liberal Arts and the Jefferson Center for Core Texts and Ideas, University of Texas at Austin professor Elon Lang led a one-week workshop at the Harry Ransom Center this summer called “Teaching from the Archives.” It gives educators first-hand experience with the resources of the Ransom Center so they can enhance their own middle and high school classes. About a dozen teachers and librarians met at the Ransom Center each morning to explore and learn from the archive. Read more
The Harry Ransom Center is pleased to provide current University of Texas at Austin graduate and undergraduate students with the opportunity to join playwright, writer, and director David Mamet on “A Journey Towards Meaning.”
The Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum, is home to David Mamet’s archive, which is open and available for use.
Mr. Mamet will meet with 10 students 1-4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9 and 1-4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10. Students must be available on both days in order to participate. The Ransom Center encourages students to consult with their professors before missing class to participate in this seminar.
Currently enrolled University of Texas at Austin students should submit no more than TWO LINES explaining why they should be chosen to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries longer than two lines will not be considered.
Entries must be received by March 2, 2010. Selected students will be notified by March 4, 2010.
The Ransom Center cannot offer further guidance about entries.
The Bieber collection’s copy of John Greenleaf Whittier’s Moll Pitcher, a poem, is an 1832 first edition. In the poem, Whittier presents an unflattering fictional account of the exploits of Moll Pitcher (1736–1813), who amassed both fame and income through her work as a fortune-teller in Lynn, Mass. (Moll Pitcher should not be confused with Molly Pitcher of Revolutionary War fame). Though her methods were not always scrupulous (for example, eavesdropping from a back room while her daughter chatted with clients before readings to obtain useful information), many followers put great stock in her clairvoyance and traveled from as far away as Europe for consultations.
As Bieber penciled on the title page of the poem, his copy is “illustrated curiously with pen + ink sketches of ‘Moll Pitcher’ and added verse.” Around the printed text, an unknown artist has filled the margins with depictions of the title character and other “curious” subjects. Commentary in verse at the beginning pokes fun at Whittier; in the margins the figure of Moll Pitcher adds her own cryptic remarks in conversation bubbles. Mysteriously, a Native American chief apparently unrelated to the text appears at the end of the first section.
Close examination of the drawings, executed in at least three different inks, make it possible to glean insight into the artist’s working process. In addition to the extensive annotations, this copy of the poem has seen trimming, mending and filling of the paper, binding and rebinding. It is currently housed in an acidic pamphlet binder likely dating from the days of Bieber, which itself has undergone repairs. All of these markings of the poem’s long life make it a promising object for future study, ripe with glimpses of its past and of the people with a hand in creating the object that exists today.
Please click the thumbnails below to view full-size images.