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2 posts from March 2014

25 March 2014

Early American science

Inoculation of the Smallpox (1174 d 46) (2)
William Douglass, Boston, 1730. BL shelfmark: 1174.d.46 (3)  Public Domain Mark  

By the early 18th century the American colonies were well established along the eastern seaboard; indeed, their political, economic and cultural development had been remarkable. Yet without the libraries, universities and endowed institutions of Europe their capacity to participate in the new scientific thinking was distinctly disadvantaged. Nevertheless, the ideas of the Enlightenment enthused many throughout the colonies, and their observations and descriptions of natural phenomena – including earthquakes, meteors, comets and the 1761 and 1769 transits of Venus – supported the greater scientific community.

The cause, prevention (for example, by inoculation) and cure of a wide variety of diseases also received much attention in colonial and early American scientific tracts, particularly the Boston smallpox epidemic in 1721 and the Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic in 1793. Other topics of special interest included the climate and the natural environment, with observations about the unfamiliar weather and the challenging landscape appearing in the earliest colonial writings and being frequently linked to implications for human health and the ability to develop the land.

  Voyage from Boston to Newfoundland (8561 bb 19) (2)
Boston, 1761. BL shelfmark:  Public Domain Mark  

 A bibliography of our holdings of early American scientific writing on these and other topics may be found here.




18 March 2014

Comics Unmasked vs Capt. America

160324_standard_comics poster Tony Ant pic std

Comics Unmasked exhibition artwork by Jamie Hewlett (photo by Tony Antoniou CC BY NC)

Comics Unmasked: art and anarchy in the UK opens at the British Library on 2 May: the Entrance Hall is already dominated by a giant poster by Jamie 'Gorillaz' Hewlett, featuring an as-yet-unnamed comic book character (above). She is introduced thusly: 'a sultry, caped female, equipped with hipflask and knuckle duster, in an alley way after vanquishing a generic super hero, shown dazed on the floor'. Should we fear for Capt. America? Probably not. Despite the subtitle we expect a few US publications to appear in the exhibition: we'll report back and see if we can beat the Robert Crumb item that we snuck into our Americas Treasures gallery exhibition a few years ago.

As well as the physical collection of comics, students of the format (and its various genres) can make use of some online resources, which can be accessed in the reading room. The first, shown above, are various collections of comics and graphic novels included in the Biblioboard collection.

We have also recently added to the Underground and Independent Comics collection, 'alongside interviews, criticism, and journal articles that document the continual growth and evolution of this artform'. It includes a run of The Comics Journal.

Biblioboard screen grab

Biblioboard Comics & Graphic Novels collection

Elsewhere in the collection (and this is sparked by a discussion of the Hawkeye Initiative) we hold Marleen S. Barr, Future females, the next generation: new voices and velocities in feminist science fiction criticism (2000), which includes the chapter, Elyce Rae Helford, 'Postfeminism and the Female Action-Adventure Hero: Positioning Tank Girl'.


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