SEXTANT The Journal of Salem State Universityâ€ƒ
Volume XXII, No. 1
A B O U T S E X T A N T
Sextant: The Journal of Salem State University Volume XXII, No. 1: Fall 2014 Editor Gayle V. Fischer, History Associate Editors Board Theresa M. DeFrancis, English Alexandros K. Kyrou, History Arthur Riss, English Stefan Schindler, Philosophy Carol A. Zoppel, Library and Academic Support Editorial Advisory Board Marc Boots-Ebenfield, Center for Teaching Innovation Cleti A. Cervoni, Childhood Education Heidi A. Fuller, Sport and Movement Science James P. Gubbins, Interdisciplinary Studies Krishna Mallick, Philosophy Mark Malloy, Art + Design Shannon A. Mokoro, School of Social Work Leah E. Ritchie, Management Jeffrey S. Theis, English, Center for Research and Creative Activities Keja Valens, English Graduate Research Assistant Elizabeth Melillo Intern Meg Barnes Design and Production Susan McCarthy, Creative Services Photography Kim Mimnaugh, Art + Design Administrative Advisor Michele Sweeney, Interim Dean, COAS
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Sextant: The Journal of Salem State University is published once a year by the faculty and librarians of Salem State University. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies of Sextant: The Journal of Salem State University or Salem State University. Copyright © 2014 Sextant encourages readers to submit letters or comments to: Sextant, c/o Editor Salem State University History Department 352 Lafayette Street, Salem, MA 01970-5353 Letters may be published and edited according to space. Articles may be reprinted with permission of the editor.
On the cover: Untitled by Peter Urkowitz
Volume XXII, No. 1
A Closer Look at the Bibliotheca Alexandria
This piece reveals what the public has long suspected— scholars are nerds. But, are academics the only ones who get excited about libraries? After reading about the Bibliotheca Alexandria, you will never look at a library in the same way.
By Zachary Newell
A pair of silver cups . . . and an ancient past is unearthed. If you were going to conquer the world, how would you do it? This article provides a glimpse into one the strategies the Ancient Romans used to expand their empire.
By Erick Jensen
From the Archives
Salem State Geography Professor Mildred Berman (19262000) wrote about the lack of female visibility in the field of geography. Focusing on the “superstar” geographer Ellen Churchill Semple, Berman argued that societal sex discrimination was replicated in professions.
By Mildred Berman
In Newfoundland Untitled A journey begins and ends. Between the beginning and ending stuff happens. A simple short story reveals the complexity of a long-lived relationship.
Sometimes an artist eschews words entirely; this visual interpretation of musicians will make you feel like dancing.
Call Me Cat
This tale of courage can be read as a story for children or an allegory for adults. No matter which perspective you take, you will be moved by the bravery of the young heroine.
Does power corrupt? Does one’s name shape one’s destiny? Can we learn from the past? A deeply disturbing story that leaves the reader asking questions.
Judith Parker Kent
Also see: From the Editor, page 2; Sextant by the Numbers, inside back cover. 1
F R O M T H E E D I T O R
Different Voices Gayle V. Fischer, William E. Mahaney and Elizabeth Melillo
ears ago, I read an article about cluelessness; apparently, studies found that people who seem clueless really are clueless—they just don’t know they are clueless. I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself a member of the clueless population. Not until my midthirties did I become aware of my hearing impairment. Until that significant moment in my life, I thought the world filled with people who mumbled, who failed to enunciate their words. Consequently (to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau) I hear a different drummer and I “step to the music” I hear, which may make me appear clueless rather than unique.
At the beginning of each semester when I reveal to my students that I am hearing-impaired, I put the phrase: “a maiden’s grave” on the white board and tell the class that sometimes this is what I hear. But it is not what has been said. They spend a few minutes trying to figure out the spoken words. I tell them “Amazing Grace.” A look of comprehension appears on most faces as they practice saying the words one after the other and hearing how the sounds might confuse. I hear different voices. Conversations are a daily challenge. Listening is an intense intellectual exercise that can exhaust the mind and the body. Perhaps this explains, in part, why I appreciate the written word (in all its intricacies) and the visual (in all its complexities) featured in Sextant. Alone in a quiet moment with my copy of Sextant open, I can read, ponder, and appreciate the distinctive voices of the scholars and artists who, when united in print, enhance the community of Salem State. The distinctive voices heard on these pages and around Salem State’s campuses are not always convivial as I discovered, in April 2014, when Professor Emeritus William E. Mahaney suggested an alternative view of events described in an article in Sextant 2013. Initially I thought, “Sextant is not the place for faculty, staff, or administrators to air their grievances,” and hesitated about whether or not to publish Bill Mahaney’s letter. However, 2
his emphasis on interpretation and life experience resonated with me as a reader, an editor, a writer, a historian, and a hearer of different voices. Listen to what Bill has to say (his letter is reproduced here in its entirety): The Fall 2013 issue of Sextant included G. Elsa Wiersma’s essay, “The Theater of Power at Salem State University: A Case History with Interpretation,” with her version of what she considered a “struggle for power…between the administration and the faculty union.” The events surrounding the difficulties within a troubled academic department and the conduct of a tenure removal hearing are recounted from her position as “Neutral.” Although Wiersma briefly narrates her early days at Salem State, she neglects to point out her lack of experience in an academic affairs office, in contract negotiations and contract administration, and in union affairs. Reading “Theater of Power” made me reflect on the others, like myself, who were involved in the episodes depicted in the article. Each of the “actors” in this “drama” brought unique knowledge and a variety of educational and administrative experiences to their “roles.” Each of us, I am certain, would tell a dramatically different story than the one published in Sextant. I read “Theater of Power” from the perspective of a faculty member with over thirty years experience at Salem State, including twelve years as an academic administrator (most of them as Academic Vice President) and ten years as a union official and grievance officer. Consequently, my initial response to the essay was exasperation with what was said and what was left unsaid. Unlike the editor of Sextant and most of Sextant’s readers, I knew that essential material had not been included in the essay. One glaring omission was Wiersma’s failure to comment on the extensive and cooperative attempts by the union and the administration to assist a very troubled department before and after the creation of the departmental “agreement.” Further, her description of the procedures at the tenure removal hearing was egregiously inaccurate, including her failure to understand the role of the Hearing Committee as “ judge.” Nor does she adequately acknowledge the complexity of the task of separating facts from confusing, contradictory allegations while at the same time maintaining due process. The tenure removal hearing and
the events preceding and following it took a heavy personal toll on many of us—administrators and union members. “Theater of Power” omitted the dedication of the administration and union and their determination to work together to meet contractual responsibilities and to be fair to all parties. The point of this essay is not to make a laundry list of omissions and errors. Rather, I want to remind Sextant readers that not only is “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but that events are also seen from “the mind of the participant.” We all bring our past experiences with us when we recall events in which we participated and each of us will remember and understand the events differently from our limited perspectives. Furthermore, memories are fragile and subject to change over time. Thus, where Wiersma sees “a struggle for power,” I see the administration and the union working together in good faith to implement the collective bargaining agreement fully and fairly. Wiersma’s “tension of dispute” is my “spirit of cooperation.” The voices speaking to you from the pages of Sextant are not raised in a single harmonious chorus for the purpose of university branding or to promote the university’s image or to supplement the capital campaign. Sometimes the voices speaking to you from the pages of Sextant grow loud and discordant. And that’s okay. Part of the university experience is listening to different voices, conflicting ideas, and controversial opinions, as well as heeding uplifting sentiments, amusing tales, and objective reports. When the scholarship and creative endeavors of our colleagues are chosen for publication an important criterion is that the work is a “good read.” If you don’t read what is printed here, how can you be inspired, angered, entertained, challenged (the list goes on)? I am a hearing-impaired, mid-career academic who hears different voices and who edits Sextant. A promise I made to the Associate Editors Board was that Sextant would actively seek out new voices and circulate the work of Salem State colleagues who had never appeared between our covers before. This issue is comprised almost entirely of first-timers—faculty and staff. The one exception is Rod Kessler, who retired this year. Rod’s voice reminds us that we all have something to contribute no matter the stage of our careers. This issue contains three short stories, a small sketchbook of drawings, a portfolio-essay, a scholarly article, and an article from the archives. This issue features two staff members, a librarian, faculty of varying ranks, and my graduate assistant (I bent the rules a bit and asked Elizabeth Melillo to add her voice): When the graduate office at Salem State contacted me to share that I would be working for Sextant: The Journal of Salem State University, the first thing I did was quickly google “sextant.” This eighteenth-century navigational technology wasn’t part of my vocabulary, and using it wasn’t in my skill-set. Fortunately for me, I didn’t need to know how to operate one to work with the journal.
For the past two years I’ve worked with Gayle Fischer during her fledgling years as the editor of Sextant, a period of transition and growth for both the journal, and myself. During this time I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the world of university research and journal editing. As a graduate student in the Industrial Organizational Psychology program at Salem State, understanding how an organization, even small ones such as Sextant, transition through change periods interests me greatly. I guess you could say I thrive on a little turmoil. Watching how people reinterpret roles and enrich job descriptions to fit their own skills and the goals of a project has complemented my textbook learning. I’ve seen life breathed into dry and dusty case studies and furthered my understanding of strategy, marketing, and project management. I’ve discussed with Gayle the unique niche of Sextant as a research magazine, designed for a lay audience, yet faculty produced and edited. Our conversations about her vision for Sextant, and what it can mean to the university community to invest and display the research and creative work of contributors, has shown me both her passion, and the depth of work at Salem State. Talking strategy with her and being able to contribute some of my own learning on the topic reinforced my commitment to studying business and psychology and their influence on work. As with any large scale project, working on Sextant also meant completing administrative and routine tasks such as mailing lists, scheduling meetings, submission forms, filing, and updating social media sites—check out Sextant on Facebook, as well as the fullcolor past issues on Issuu. Ultimately, being present through two (almost three!) issues has been an experience full of suspense, surprises, and rewards. Rarely will you hear a range of voices to rival the medley that make Sextant unlike any other university publication. Sextant identifies itself as a “journal;” in the world of academe, journal usually connotes a specialized scholarly publication limited by professional field. (It may be worth noting, or maybe not, that a number of newspapers use journal in their titles; possibly to reinforce the idea that professional journalists helm the periodical.) In appearance and content, Sextant more closely resembles a magazine with its illustrations, multiple authors, and mix of fiction, non-fiction, and other creative forms. Both labels—magazine and journal—carry different connotations and neither are really accurate labels for the things they name. A journal suggests a text-heavy, light-on-illustrations, heavy-on-footnotes, intellectual, and objective publication. A magazine, depending on its focus, might have as many, often more, advertisements as it does articles. Furthermore, these paid promotions often directly influence or determine the material featured throughout the pages as anyone who has read a bride or a fashion magazine knows well. Is Sextant a journal or a magazine? In flouting the common definition of journal, Sextant allows numerous voices to be heard. 3
S H O R T S T O R Y
In Newfoundland Rod Kessler
hen the Americans pulled up outside the Tourist Information Center in Gander, the husband wanted just two things: to use what the locals called the “washroom” (did anyone go inside only to wash?) and to flee his wife’s complaining. But no sooner had his wife switched off the ignition than a stranger walking past stopped midstride, looked down, and waved. His gesture wasn’t meant as an hello. The couple left the car and joined the fellow—a man about their age, in his forties—who was now pointing to the ugly orange fluid pooling on the roadway. “Someting’s gone wrong with the motor, eh,” he said. “You’ll want a look under ‘er bonnet.” The Americans understood him to mean the hood. The woman returned to the driver’s seat and released the latch. “It’s her car,” the husband explained; “she prefers to take the wheel.” The men exchanged a glance that was both knowing and sympathetic.
The orange fluid was frothing out of the thick-plastic radiator fluid reservoir, the contents of which were roiling and boiling. “Oh, she’s hot there,” the man said. “I’d let her cool down, right.” The woman scowled and asked was he a mechanic. He wasn’t.
the driver’s seat. From the window she hissed, “And for God’s sake straighten your back.” With that, she sped off. He made a mental note to remember to have his wallet the next time she pulled a stunt like this. His wallet and his passport. Fifteen minutes later, happy to have solved his problem in the washroom and with some glossy brochures in hand, he hoofed his way to the filling station and the car. “Can you believe it,” she said. “No mechanic until tomorrow.”
“Have you got a good one in your town?” “Oh plenty, but you won’t find one today. It’s Canada Day.” The husband surveyed the scene, as though for confirmation. The broad roadway was part of the Trans-Canada Highway, theirs since they’d driven off the Blue Puttees in Port au Basques weeks earlier—with time off for side trips to see icebergs, Beothuk artifacts, and National Parks. Here, the two wide lanes bisected Gander’s commercial strip, with its three motels and filling stations. Sure, the Red Maple Leaf flapped here and there in the afternoon breeze, but hadn’t they been seeing Canadian flags everywhere since they’d crossed into St. Stephens, that border town back in New Brunswick where they’d traded thirty crisp American hundred-dollar bills for Canadian play money? How many miles had they traveled from Manhattan? 1600? And miles—miles weren’t even how they measured distance in Canada, not in New Brunswick, not in Cape Breton, not here. The Canadian was sure they could find a garage (he pronounced it “grage,” just the one syllable) tomorrow. Then he walked off, but not before the husband called out a thank-you. The wife, still eyeing the motor, announced that the orange fluid had stopped boiling. “Let’s let it cool off,” the husband said. He gestured toward the tourist information building. “I’ve got business inside, and we might find a map and a lead on a repair shop.” “Suit yourself,” she said, “but I’m driving to the Irving station. It’s open. You can see so from here.” She secured the bonnet with a resounding thump and returned to
The husband wished that he could repair engines, but even locating a dipstick challenged him. Yes, he could tweak a twenty-yearold programmer’s illconceived algorithms and was paid well enough for doing so, but he wondered if working with things, working with his hands, might feel more fulfilling. “Well,” he said, looking down the road. “We’re lucky to have motels to choose from.” “You think I’m staying here?” she asked. “Gander is for airplanes. We’ve just three days left to reach Argentia, and I’m not leaving Newfoundland without at least a night in St. John’s.” She had a way of looking at him and shaking her head that he could live without.” I booked our berth on that overnight ferry months ago, and even then half the crossings were sold out. If you want to miss the boat, you stay here.” “But,” he said, “the engine—” “I bought this,” she said, cutting him off. She held up a lurid green three-liter container of coolant. “If the thing overheats again, we’ll add more.” Forty minutes later, they stood stranded on the side of the highway, the bonnet up, the radiator fluid reservoir reduced to so much melted and twisted plastic. They watched the parade of heavy trucks groaning up the long climb, their grills protected by thick iron pipes—anti-moose devices? It was only because the sun stayed in the sky so late that darkness didn’t fall until after they’d been towed 5
to Glovertown, where one of the two repair shops was evidently willing to work on a Fiat (“We don’t get many a those this way, right” they heard. “It’ll take a day or two to get parts from St. John’s, if they have them.” The wife sniffed at the town’s hot chicken restaurant and autosupply store (“obviously under-stocked”). She consulted the tourist brochures the man had procured in Gander and announced, “We’re not staying here.”
pies in a glass display included one with the exotic name Partridgeberry. When, the husband, pointing said, “That would make a good start,” their young and sunny blond waitress agreed, but the wife shook her head. “You’re on a diet.” So he ordered what he usually ate and was gratified to learn that fruit cups weren’t on the menu. Partridgeberries, it turned out, were what they had in Newfoundland instead of cranberries, that same sweet bitterness.
The taxi ride to the seaside motel in Eastport cost $25, evidently one Canadian dollar per kilometer. The driver told them that not everyone in Newfoundland They being the only was equally happy to celebrate customers, the waitress, with Canada Day. “All the oil revenues little else to do, attended to How many miles had they from the new fields out here? The their water glasses. The wife money flows to Ottowa, right. Do travelled from Manhattan? discouraged not only his weak you think we see much flowing posture but his “flirting” (he back?” He pronounced “think” thought of it as kindness), but as though it had no “h” but added what could he do when she asked if they were Americans? a strong one to his “hour.” It would be a happy hour if the province were independent again. The Americans “You probably don’t see many here,” he guessed. He weren’t sure if anyone tipped in the provinces, but the felt his wife’s impatient eyes on him. husband supplied an extra five. “We do,” she told him, “some.” She told them about The next morning they overslept, waking to a sunthe owner of the Seaside shop out by Sandy Cove, the high view of what the map told them was island-studded fellow who supplied their coffee—had they noticed how Newman Sound, part of Bonavista Bay. The husband good it was? He grinds it himself, she explained. He was hoped to spy a spouting finback or an ice floe, but at born in Massachusetts. least the skimming, diving terns were inspiring. The night before, arriving so late, they’d missed their shot “And then there’s Alvie,” she said, her going dreamy. at dinner. Now, on foot, they followed a road with no “He’s an odd one.” She went on and on about a reclusive sidewalk (but also no traffic) and reached Downhome man who’d appeared years before and who seemingly Delights, an eatery at a crossroads where, inside, the lived off the land. “He even eats seaweed,” she swore.
“You’ll see him rowing his rodney, buckets full of caplin. He’s no money. He’s happy to trade.” An American as well, she said, and rumored to lack the residency papers to stay on legally. “A convict on the lam, probably,” the wife observed. It was the young waitress’s turn to shake her head. “No, it was the drowning of his wife that broke his heart and turned him from his old life.” The wife gave the man one of her looks, then announced that she was ready to settle the bill. She’d arranged for the taxi to shuttle them back to Glovertown where she intended to hurry the mechanics along. They didn’t have all day. “Give me a minute,” the husband said to her. “I want to hear more about this guy.” “Suit yourself,” she said, “but I’m leaving.” She stood. “Be back at the motel before the taxi arrives or you’ll have to hire one of your own.” The man and the waitress watched her stride off. The man ordered another dark, strong coffee and the two talked on about the land, the people, and especially the kelp-eating American. No one would have thought that he was in any rush. Then the man stood to settle the bill. He had his wallet in his back pocket, and in it he’d secured half of what remained of their Canadian play money. Half was fair. He also had his passport. “And if I wanted to find this man?” he asked. “This Alvie?” Kim Mimnaugh
In a moment he was sauntering off in the direction that waitress had steered him, what his wife would call the wrong direction. Seeing him go, no one would have thought to correct his posture.
Rod Kessler, who joined the faculty of the English department in the fall of 1983, retired last May. He served as editor of this magazine from 1991 to 1998. His collection of short stories, Off in Zimbabwe, was published by the University of Missouri Press. His essay about the literary magazine Soundings East at its fortieth anniversary appeared in the Salem Statement in 2013. He lives in Salem in view of both Cat Cove and Juniper Cove.
E S S A Y
What a Pair of Silver Cups in Denmark Tells Us About Roman Diplomacy
Nationalmuseet/The National Museum of Denmark.
And, So It Begins
n 1920, farmers plowing their fields in the Danish village of Hoby uncovered an ancient burial. When gold, silver, and bronze artifacts began to emerge from the earth, they knew they had come across something important. Archaeologists from the National Museum in Copenhagen excavated the site, uncovering the riches of a powerful chieftain who had ruled Hoby some 2,000 years before. This chieftain’s treasures did not come from Denmark alone but included a trove of valuable objects from the Roman empire. Roman artifacts had turned up in Scandinavia before, but this find was unlike any other. All of the Roman objects in the Hoby grave were of high quality and had been well cared for, but most remarkable of all was a pair of silver drinking cups decorated with scenes from Greek myth. Silverwork of such beauty and craftsmanship would be a rare find even in the heart of the Roman empire. Nothing like these cups had ever turned up so deep in “barbarian” territory. Who was the Hoby chieftain? How did he come to possess such an extraordinary assortment of Roman treasure? What did these objects mean to him and why did he take them to his grave? Answering these questions helps us challenge the old idea of the northern “barbarians” as violent, savage brutes lurking at the frontiers and waiting for their chance to tear Roman civilization apart. Hoby shows us that Romans and barbarians had as much reason to be allies as to be enemies and leaders on both sides of the frontier saw as good cause to make friends as to make war. The history of the Roman frontier in northern Europe is as much a story of diplomacy as it is a story of war.
Hoby: Roman Silver for a Danish Chieftain
he Hoby grave contained the skeleton of an adult man and an assortment of grave goods. We have no way of identifying exactly who was buried at Hoby, but the objects that he was buried with tell us important things about him. Some of these objects were of local manufacture, including bronze and pottery vessels, knives, and personal adornments of silver and gold. Only a man of wealth and prestige would have been buried with such a rich collection of goods. He was likely a tribal chieftain, a warrior, and a man of political influence in his corner of the world. It is this fact that makes the rest of the finds so interesting. Left: The most remarkable pieces from the Hoby grave are a pair of silver cups, shown here from the front and the back. These exquisite pieces bear the maker’s mark of Cheirisophos, a silversmith who probably had his workshop in southern Italy. Each cup shows a scene from Homer’s Iliad. At the top left we see the physician Podalirius healing the hero Philoctetes’ wound. At bottom left the Trojan king Priam kneels before the Greek hero Achilles.
In addition to the locally-made goods, the Hoby grave contained an impressive set of Roman objects as well. These Roman goods included a bronze basin and platter, a pitcher, a distinctive type of bronze pot called a patera, a bronze bucket, and, most interestingly, a pair of fine silver drinking cups. All of the Roman metalwork in the Hoby grave is high quality, but the drinking cups are exceptional even by Roman standards. They would not have been out of place on the emperor’s own table. This set of dishes is not unlike what a wealthy Roman household flaunted when receiving guests. The bronze bucket was of a type used for mixing wine and water, measures of which would be heated in the patera over a fire or a charcoal brazier. The warmed, and sometimes spiced, wine would then be poured out of the pitcher into the cups. The platter held food and the basin provided water for hand-washing before and after the meal. The multiplicity of dishes and the various customs that went with their use gave Roman service an air of ritual and sophistication something akin to the Japanese tea ceremony or a formal dinner with its resplendent table settings and utensils for different courses. The peoples of ancient Scandinavia had different customs for serving food and drink from the Romans and so required different types of vessels. Hosts and guests in a Danish household shared food out of a large cauldron and drank from a horn passed around from one person to another until it was empty. The sharing of dishes reinforced the sense of communal solidarity, more like a family Thanksgiving or church supper. To the Romans, the northern customs must have seemed crude and provincial while northerners probably found the Roman style of service fussy and impersonal. Nevertheless, the man buried at Hoby was well equipped for serving guests in either style. In addition to their role in Roman-style dining, the pair of silver cups is even more interesting for the artwork they carry. Each cup is decorated with a depiction of an incident from the legendary Trojan war. On one cup, the Trojan king Priam is pictured kneeling before the Greek hero Achilles. The scene is a famous one described at the end of Homer’s Iliad. Achilles had killed the Trojan prince Hector, Priam’s son, but in his anger Achilles refused to let the Trojans take the body back for burial. Priam came to Achilles’s tent in the night and begged him, as a father, to let him take Hector’s body home. Achilles’s rage was finally broken as he felt compassion for the sufferings of an old man and allowed Priam to take his son’s body. The other cup shows Odysseus visiting the hero Philoctetes. Though less well known, this is also a story from the mythic cycle of the Trojan war. Philoctetes carried a magical bow, but he had fallen ill from a festering wound and been left behind, resentful, when 9
The Hoby Grave Find The grave at Hoby contained: – The skeleton of a man in his late twenties to early thirties Locally-made goods: – Two gold rings – Five silver brooches and two bronze brooches – A bronze buckle – A bone pin – Bronze fittings from a wooden box – A bronze knife and an iron knife – Bronze fittings from a drinking horn – Three intact pottery vessels and fragments of broken pottery – A sheet of unworked iron and a sheet of unworked bronze Roman-made goods: – A pair of decorated silver cups and a third undecorated cup with a locally-made handle added to it – A bronze basin – A bronze patera (used for heating and mulling wine) – A bronze jug – A bronze platter – A bronze situla (used for mixing wine and water) 10
the other Greek warriors sailed to Troy. After long and fruitless years of war, however, the Greeks received a prophecy that they would only succeed in capturing Troy when Philoctetes’s bow was brought to the battle. Odysseus led a deputation to retrieve the bow and bring it to the Greek camp at Troy. Surprised to find Philoctetes still alive and still angry at his fellow Greeks, the other heroes finally persuaded him to be reconciled with the rest of the Greek army and join them at Troy. There Philoctetes was finally cured of his wound and the city of Troy fell to the Greeks. Besides the mythological decoration, one further detail makes these cups important. The bottom of one of the cups has the name Silius scratched onto it. It was not uncommon for Roman soldiers to scratch their names onto their gear to stop things from getting lost or stolen in the bustle of moving from camp to camp, but cups like these could hardly have belonged to an ordinary soldier. To find this Silius, we must look to the highest levels of military command. As it happens, we can in fact identify an important Silius who was with the Roman army near Denmark in the early years of the first century. Who was Silius and how did his tableware end up in a Danish chieftain’s grave? What did these objects mean to Silius, what did they mean to the Hoby chieftain, and how did they change hands? To answer these questions we must start on the Roman side of the frontier and consider why Denmark would have been such an interesting place to the Roman elite at the early days of the empire.
Go North, Young Man
he last century BCE was a time of turmoil and civil war in Rome. One man eventually emerged as the victor and secured himself as sole ruler: Augustus, adopted son of Julius Caesar and the first man to rule Rome as emperor. His ability to clear away the wreckage of generations of civil war and convince the Roman people that he had brought back the good old days when Rome was a name of pride and power contributed to Augustus’s success as emperor. An important part of that program included pointing the army outward to conquer new lands, which would bring a new stream of booty into the Roman economy and shower glory on the emperor. Easy opportunities for conquest were limited. In the west, Roman power had run right up to the shores of the Atlantic, and in the south up to the edge of the Sahara desert. In the east, Rome shared an uneasy border with the Parthian empire, a match for Rome in military and economic might. Augustus wisely avoided antagonizing the Parthians, although he did his best to present his diplomatic accomplishments in the east to the Roman people as if they were military victories. Only the north seemed to provide opportunities for new conquest and expansion. But where in the north? Roman armies had some success in central Europe, but the landscape made it difficult to maintain supply lines and the local tribes were restless and difficult to control. Thus, central Europe could not deliver the kind of sweeping new conquest that the people of Rome anticipated. Britain, easily within reach across the Channel from Gaul (modern-day France, previously conquered by Julius Caesar), signified bad luck, for Caesar himself had made a couple of unprofitable forays there. A victory over Britain, a land already familiar to Roman armies, would not achieve the accolades sought by Right: The grave goods from the Hoby burial, a mix of Roman and local Danish luxury goods. The Roman objects were all made around the birth of Christ. The Danish goods are more difficult to date, but probably come from around the same time.
Nationalmuseet/The National Museum of Denmark.
Augustus. For propaganda purposes, Romans needed to boldly go where no Roman had gone before— Germany. Caesar had brought the Roman frontier up to the river Rhine. Augustus ordered a new push forward that advanced Roman power eastwards up to the river Elbe, taking in what is today the Netherlands and the western part of Germany. Ships sailing along the coast from Gaul and up the many little rivers that empty into the North Sea easily kept the army supplied. By the early years of the first century CE, Rome’s grip on the territory between the Rhine and the Elbe seemed secure. The time for another push forward had arrived.
army preferred to maintain secure supply lines, which depended on accurate knowledge of the local terrain and routes of travel. Lacking modern technology for communications, transport, and reconnaissance, an invading Roman army was blind to threats and slow to respond when threats became clear. Successful conquest led to maintaining control of the conquered, which placed a great drain on troop numbers. To overcome all these disadvantages, the Romans relied on local allies.
One of the less well-known secrets of the Roman army’s success was diplomacy. As conquerors, the Romans suffered many disadvantages. The Roman
As much as the Romans had incentives to make friends in the lands they intended to conquer, the local leaders they engaged with also had incentives to side with the
Nationalmuseet/The National Museum of Denmark.
The Roman army began planning another campaign by following the North Sea coast. This would keep them in contact with their fleet and supply lines and focus the fighting on the coastal plain where the Roman army could be most effective. The mountains and forests of the interior would more troublesome, but isolating them and establishing secure Roman bases on all sides would make them easier to mop up later. Following this plan would lead the Romans to look to Denmark as the next logical step in their campaign of conquest.
The pattern established early in Roman history continued throughout the lifetime of the empire. Before the first soldier set his boots in hostile territory, leading men of the Roman state reached out and made friends with select local leaders. These friendships became diplomatic channels through which the Romans gained intelligence on the physical and political landscape of their target. As the Roman army advanced, these local allies helped them secure supplies and routes of travel and undermine resistance. After conquest, friends of Rome could be trusted to help organize the new province, smooth the introduction of Roman political and social institutions, and suppress rebellion.
A Roman cup with a Danish-made handle. This cup probably got broken and was repaired by a local artisan who added a decorative animal head. 12
Nationalmuseet/The National Museum of Denmark.
Basins like this served for handwashing. The decorative bottom, appropriately, shows a goddess bathing.
Romans. Those who had been on the losing side in local power struggles or who felt themselves under threat from other forces eagerly pursued powerful friends. The Roman army was a very big stick that these men could wield against their own enemies while connections with the Romans offered opportunities for wealth, prestige, and power. How did Hoby figure into Romeâ€™s plans for northern expansion? The finds in the burial suggest that the local chieftain was one of the friends Rome had cultivated in the north. Hoby is not alone. Other burial sites help us see how Roman advance diplomacy worked in practice.
How to Win Friends and Influence Barbarians
n the context of Roman expansion in the north, the importance of the Hoby grave becomes clearer. The name Silius, scratched on one of the silver cups, points us to Gaius Silius, a regional commander of Roman forces on the German frontier. As a man of high rank in the Roman aristocracy and a loyal follower of Augustus, Gaius Silius epitomized the sort of man
entrusted with advance diplomacy ahead of a new campaign of conquest. The presence of such a complete set of tableware in the burial, including the matched pair of silver drinking cups, is strong evidence that the vessels were given as a gift and not, as once thought, taken as booty in a raid on the Roman frontier. Hoby must have been a site of political importance at the time to have been the target of such a diplomatic campaign, but it was not the only one. Similar burials from the same time period are also found in nine other sites in Denmark. None of these finds are quite as rich as Hoby, but the Roman goods found in them follow the same pattern: all have basins, many have pateras or jugs, and one, Byrsted, even boasts another pair of silver cups, though not as fine as the Hoby set. We may in fact be seeing in these graves the remnants of a standard â€œpackageâ€? of diplomatic gifts similar to that preserved intact at Hoby. All of these sites are near the coast and they trace a route that goes up along the western shore of the Jutland peninsula and down the eastern shore, making some short jumps to the nearby islands. This is precisely the route we can picture a Roman exploratory mission following, cautiously moving through unfamiliar waters. 13
Hoby Over Time 58-50 BCE: Julius Caesar conquers Gaul, bringing the Roman frontier up to the Rhine river 31 BCE: Augustus becomes sole ruler of Rome 12-6 BCE: Roman troops under Augustus’ orders conquer western Germany and bring the Roman frontier up to the Elbe river 5 CE (?): The Roman North Sea fleet scouts Denmark and strikes up local alliances 9 CE: 20,00 Roman soldiers killed in the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest 14-16 CE: The Roman army launches punitive expeditions against the Germanic tribes who fought at Teutoberg, but ultimately pull the frontier back to the Rhine 19 CE: Augustus dies, succeeded as emperor by his stepson Tiberius Between 10 and 40 CE (?): The Hoby chieftain is buried with his Roman treasures 1920: The Hoby grave is discovered by farmers and excavated by archaeologists from the Danish National Museum
Along this route, the burial sites with Roman finds are roughly a day’s sail apart. We can imagine a Roman expedition tentatively exploring the Danish coast and making regular stops to make contact with the locals and look for potential allies. The expedition must have carried crates full of bronze and silver tableware ready to be polished up and presented as a gift to promising candidates. Why would Danish warrior chieftains have been impressed by a set of Roman tableware which was unsuited for their own local dining customs? The answer lies in the nature of gift-giving itself. A gift, particularly in so charged an atmosphere as a diplomatic negotiation, is more than a token of friendship. The act of giving a gift creates a social obligation to reciprocate with a gift of comparable value. The reciprocation strengthens the social bond and lays the basis for future exchanges. In its role as a gift, the very foreignness of the Roman table service was an asset, not a detriment. It was something the chieftain who received it could display, long after the Roman ambassadors had left, as proof of his connection with them. Much like the East Asian export art brought back to New England by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century traders, the very exoticness of the Roman goods enhanced their value, even among people whose way of life had no practical use for them. We even have a clue as to the return gift that the Roman delegation brought home with them. A handful of Roman sources mention some kind of diplomatic contact with Denmark in Augustus’ reign. The emperor himself referenced the event in his public autobiography, known as the Res Gestae. The geographer Strabo also refers to the mission and adds the detail that one of the peoples of the area sent a sacred cauldron to Augustus as a gift. An exchange of one valuable vessel for a set of others may have been an appropriate diplomatic move. The gift of Roman tableware could also serve as an invitation to take part in Roman-style social customs. Eating and drinking in the Roman manner were habits that the Hoby chieftain would have done well to learn if Rome intended to make Denmark a new province. The ability to follow Roman social customs helped provincial leaders move up the social ladder into the higher orbits of politics and power under Roman rule. Having both the equipment and the knowledge to entertain powerful Romans in the manner they preferred would have facilitated the Hoby chieftain’s political advancement. The silver cups from Hoby represent another kind of invitation into Roman society. The stories depicted on the cups—Priam before Achilles and Odysseus with Philoctetes—are diplomatic. They portray negotiations between enemies or estranged allies. The stories illustrate the value of coming together for mutual benefit or in common purpose. A standard part of education for the Roman elite included Classical Greek mythology and any Roman rich enough to afford such fine silver cups would have been able to identify the myths and their significance at a glance; a Danish chieftain would have to be told the story in order to appreciate the import of the gift. Telling these “diplomatic” stories provided an opportunity for the Roman emissary to expound upon the advantages of an alliance with Rome. Locally-made Danish metalwork is sometimes decorated with images of armed warriors and fantastic beasts, so the idea of depicting mythical stories on fine tableware would not have been strange to anyone in Hoby. We may also look to Germanic myth for examples of legendary tales used as a means of communicating important political or diplomatic messages. Although it comes from a later time, the epic of Beowulf suggests how storytelling could be used to send significant signals. In the epic, after the foreign hero Beowulf slaughters the monsters plaguing Denmark, the Danish king Hrothgar offers to make Beowulf
Nationalmuseet/The National Museum of Denmark.
Danish gold finger rings, showing the level of skill among native craftsmen. A chieftain who appreciated fine metalwork like this would have known the value of the Roman silver he received.
heir to his kingdom. Hrothgar’s wife, whose own sons would be displaced by such a move, has a bard recount a story about another prince displaced in favor of a foreign leader. The prince in the story eventually takes up arms to reclaim his birthright and the tale ends in bloodshed and disaster. Beowulf takes the hint and declines Hrothgar’s offer. The Hoby chieftain would probably have been equally alert to the messages conveyed in the stories on the silver cups that his Roman guests presented to him. If they were indeed intended as diplomatic gifts, these cups must have been ordered well in advance. Such fine silverwork could not be made in a hurry, nor would it have come cheap. The pair of cups at Hoby is the best of the early Roman finds in Denmark, but as a whole the finds are of quite high quality. Clearly the Romans did not view their diplomatic outreach beyond the frontiers as an afterthought, nor were they trying to buy off the barbarians with cheap trinkets. The richness of the objects at Hoby in particular may indicate that the Romans considered the local chieftain to be an especially promising potential ally. The ground was prepared. The Roman North Sea fleet had explored the coast of Denmark and scouted the supply routes that would support an advancing army. No expense
had been spared in trying to draw potentially useful local leaders into Rome’s orbit. The exchange of valuable gifts at a very high level created strong relationships for the future. In his autobiography, Augustus even refers to some of the Danish tribes as “friends of the Roman people,” the term customarily reserved for Rome’s allies among foreign peoples. And yet, despite this extensive advance diplomatic work, there was no invasion. The Roman army never marched into Denmark, no new province was ever organized, and the islands and peninsulas of the north remained part of the “barbarian” world. Why did the Roman diplomacy in the north come to nothing?
Teutoberg: The End of the Northern Dream
n the early days of fall in 9 CE, a messenger arrived in Rome bearing news from the German frontier. The news was so shocking that Augustus ordered the city watch to patrol the streets on guard against rioting. Augustus himself went into mourning for months, letting his hair and beard grow as a mark of grief, and was sometimes seen beating his head against a door and crying out in anguish and frustration. 15
Courtesy of Thor Holmboe, Museum Lolland-Falster.
The Hoby dig.
The regional general, Varus, allowed his army of three legions (around 20,000 men) to be led into an ambush by local Germanic tribes. The Germans surprised and surrounded the Romans, trapped them in a dense and swampy forest, and harassed them with missiles and hit-and-run raids wherever a weak point showed. After a battle that lasted more than two days, the legions had been almost completely obliterated and Varus committed suicide when it became clear that their position was hopeless. The loss of three legions, about an eighth of the entire Roman army, left the German frontier mostly undefended. The Romans had no name for the place where this battle was fought. Modern archaeological work has identified the battlefield in the Teutoberg forest in western Germany and so that is the name we have given it. The loss of so many men in the Teutoberg forest devastated the people of Rome, but the identity of their adversary made this battle a turning point in Roman foreign relations. The leader of the Germanic forces who defeated Varus is known in the Roman sources as Arminius. This is probably a Latinized version of his original Germanic name, which may have been Hermann. By whatever name we call him, Arminius was not simply a local resistance fighter. He had been a friend of Rome. He was a chieftain of one of the local tribes who had allied himself with Rome in the period of Augustus’s expansion into western 16
Germany. For a decade, he had fought alongside Roman soldiers, advised Roman generals, and eaten at Varus’s table. His Germanic followers devastated the Romans because they knew the Roman army’s tactics inside and out. The Roman legions were led into the perfect ambush precisely because Varus trusted Arminius’s intelligence on the local tribes more than he trusted some of his more cautious Roman advisers. The Battle of the Teutoberg Forest did more than set back the Roman conquest of Germany, it exposed the dangers inherent in the diplomatic approach to the frontier. Most friends of Rome remained friends of Rome. The benefits of allying with Rome were considerable and Rome’s retaliation against those who turned against it could be ruinous. Nevertheless, Arminius was not the only former ally to turn around and become an enemy, and these enemies could do considerable harm. The Numidian king Jugurtha had been friendly to Rome before starting a war that threatened Roman interests in North Africa. In later years, the British queen Boudica would be a Roman ally before rallying her people in resistance and striking at the heart of Roman rule in Britain. Arminius was neither the first ally to turn against Rome nor the last, but the effect he had on the Roman world was more powerful than most. The Roman advance in the north halted. In the following years, the Roman army launched a series of
punitive strikes that succeeded in breaking up Arminius’s alliance of Germanic tribes and recovering the captured standards of the defeated legions, but the project of conquest in the north collapsed. Rome pulled back from its conquests in western Germany and the border was settled once again at the old line of the Rhine River. Never again did Rome make any serious attempt at expanding beyond the Rhine frontier. Arminius was ultimately betrayed and killed by the local tribes he had once united against Rome. All of this turmoil erupted in the midst of the preparations for the invasion of Denmark. The advance diplomacy that had been so carefully conducted came to nothing as the Roman encroachment in the north halted and Augustus soured on the idea of trusting in foreign allies. When Augustus died, not many years later, his last advice to his successor Tiberius was to keep the empire within its boundaries and avoid foreign adventures. In time, later emperors would warm again to the idea of expansion and return to the diplomatic methods of their ancestors. Augustus’s step-grandson, Claudius, secured his place as emperor by organizing the conquest of Britain, helped by a friendly local chieftain whose Roman-style palace in south Britain clearly proclaims his affiliation with the new regime. But it took two generations for the idea of foreign allies in the north to be appealing again. The scars of Teutoberg ran deep. In Denmark as well, the shift in Roman policy had consequences. The rich assemblage of Roman goods found at Hoby testifies to its importance as a center of power in the early years of the first century, but after the Romans pulled back to the Rhine Hoby declined. The local chieftain may have been counting on Roman support to back him up against nearby rivals, only to discover that he had hitched his wagon to the wrong star. With no invasion coming, the Romans had no use for their Danish allies and no interest in holding to any deals.
Nearly The End
he Hoby grave is important because it gives us a clearer picture of Roman frontier policy than almost anywhere else. Most of the places that Rome set out to conquer were conquered and it is hard to distinguish the evidence of what came before the conquest from what came after it. Denmark is a rare example where Rome prepared the way for expansion but then did not follow through, and so what is left shows us the effects of Roman advance diplomacy in practice. At Hoby we see that diplomacy was important to the Roman empire and that the peoples of northern Europe were open to the possibilities that friendly relations with Rome opened up. The conventional stereotype of northern Europeans in the Roman age is of malodorous, violent barbarians slowly gathering at the borders until they finally broke through and wiped away Roman civilization to leave Europe in the Dark Ages. Hoby and sites like it show us a different perspective on northern Europeans and their relations with Rome. Rather than uncouth barbarians who wanted to destroy Roman civilization, we can see the people of Hoby as shrewd political actors who viewed Rome as a useful ally in a growing struggle for power in Scandinavia. Meanwhile, the Romans saw Hoby as a potential ally in the ever-widening expansion of the empire. Rome had good uses for friendly barbarians, and barbarians had equally good uses for friendly Romans.
Indeed, the very richness of the Hoby grave may be a sign of desperation as the promise of Roman backing faded. We are accustomed to thinking of the objects deposited in graves as being there for the benefit of the deceased, but it is an inescapable fact that it is the living, not the dead, who hold funerals. The people of Hoby may have chosen to bury their dead chieftain with the whole set of old Roman diplomatic gifts not because he especially valued them but because they urgently needed to make a statement. Such a lavish funeral would have been a great public spectacle and a good way of reminding anyone watching that Hoby had once been an important place. By disposing of such a treasure, they may also have hoped to bluff their rivals into thinking that there was more where that came from and that anyone who wanted to oppose Hoby had better think twice about it.
If that was the plan behind the Hoby burial, it failed. However important Hoby may have been when Silius’s ships first pulled up on the beach, it was never important again. Today, Hoby remains a small farming hamlet. In later centuries, other centers of power rose to prominence in Denmark, some of them not far from Hoby. Some of these may have been the rivals that the Hoby chieftain hoped to defeat when he struck up an alliance with Rome. The chieftains of these new power centers were interested in Rome themselves. They traded for Roman luxuries, helped to supply leather and cloth to the Roman troops on the Rhine, and some may even have signed on as mercenaries in the Roman army. But none would ever be a “friend of the Roman people” in the traditional way. Rome never again went looking for that sort of ally beyond the Rhine.
Erik Jensen is a professor of ancient Mediterranean history in the History department at Salem State University. His research focuses on the interactions among different cultures in the ancient world. Dr. Jensen also serves as adviser to the Salem State Historical Association. Outside the classroom, Erik home-brews beer inspired by historical recipes and creates the webcomic Tabula Candida at tabulacandida.wordpress.com/.
S K E T C H E S
Peter Urkowitz is a library assistant at the Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons at Salem State University. These drawings were made of the band Brekekekexkoaxkoax during a performance in Somerville, MA, in May 2013. Kim Mimnaugh
E S S A Y
A Closer Look at the Zachary Newell
Bibliotheca Alexandrina from across the Mediterranean.
A New Library in Egypt
worked as a Fulbright Scholar at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, for six months during the winter/spring of 2012. When I explain that I was teaching at this world-renowned cultural center, I either get puzzled looks or an affirmative acknowledgement of the splendor of the ancient library. Few people I encounter realize that the library in Alexandria is, in fact, new. Although the building is new, the library itself continues to evoke the mythology, mission, and purpose of the ancient wonder. Uncertainty about the fate of the Ancient Library of Alexandria persists; many believe it was destroyed in 48 BCE.1 Dr. Ismail Serageldin, the current director of the Bibliotheca and a scholar, expends a great deal of energy celebrating the history of the library and extolling the identity of the new facility. At the same time, he endeavors to debunk stories that the demise of the ancient library came at the hands of Muslim conquerors. Using a bit of irony and lingering over details, Serageldin revels in narrating the events leading to a new age of the Alexandrian Library. Remnants of the old paved the way to a dramatic new library. Snøhetta, a Norwegian Architectural firm, designed the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina, which officially opened in 2002 at a cost of over $220 million. Snøhetta’s design resurrected the idea of the Ancient Library of Alexandria and pointed to a rich history and legacy in ancient Egypt.2 Most recently, during the Arab Spring, the library symbolized the hopes of many Egyptians in ushering in a new democratic era. The mythology of the ancient library facilitated a building of the new; popular opinion embraces the theory that the new library is built on the site of the ancient. While ancient Egyptian sites have suffered the worst of fates during the Arab Spring—lack of tourist interest and disrepair—the library, also subject to a similar slight, has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance to the people of the region. The library, not merely a curiosity or a ceremonial link to the past, acts as a functional, regional unifier. It is a place where students, scholars, and guests routinely gather to safely interact. It is the place where the vision of Egypt as an informational and cultural leader seems possible and probable. Little history of librarianship or libraries in Egypt exists outside of the ancient library. Although the function of a library may seem obvious and simple: a library is a place that houses books and users check out books to read at home; modern libraries often have missions beyond providing the latest bestsellers to patrons. The Bibliotheca is not the local public library; it is a national library, a world-renowned cultural center 26
encompassing a research facility, a digitization center, a conference center, a planetarium and science museum, and an exhibit hall. The size and magnificence of the Bibliotheca can intimidate, so it is not surprising that the public, with little practical knowledge in using libraries, would need to learn how this library functions and how it can meet their needs. Projects, such as the digitization of materials important to the history of modern Egypt, rival similar initiatives currently underway in prestigious libraries around the world.3 In contrast to this twentyfirst century innovative use of the Bibliotheca, the rather modest children’s library prohibits children under the age of six, even if accompanied by an adult.4 Restrictions may limit the value of the library for the youngest of school children, university students, however, flood the stacks of the Bibliotheca daily to study and socialize. As a university librarian at Salem State, I know firsthand how students value access to the Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons and that library hours are tinkered with in efforts to best accommodate our users. I was surprised to discover that the whole Bibliotheca facility closed daily at 4:00P.M.; a movement to extend the library hours until 7:00P.M. was recently rejected.
An American Librarian
he library of Alexandria, the Arab Spring, and me on my Fulbright—I cannot discuss one of these topics without also including the others. The Arab Spring intruded on my Fulbright work at the library of Alexandria before my first day on the job. I arrived in January, 2012, ready to work. Protests taking place outside the entrance of the library delayed my start date. Not accustomed to noisy crowds gathered in protest on library grounds, I found the commotion somewhat unnerving. “Ignore them,” said new, and embarrassed, colleagues. “Egyptians like an opportunity to be loud,” they said, while they worried about how the rest of the world perceived Egypt that Spring of 2012. The protests disrupted the lives of local residents, many of whom wanted “normal” life to return. Finding my way through the instability rocking the country while participating in the culture of Egypt often proved challenging. Coincidentally, my first weeks in Alexandria coincided with a talk, “Achieving Women’s Equality,” given by The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and sponsored by the American Cultural Center, a Diplomatic arm of the US Embassy in Cairo. Focusing on the drafting of a new constitution, Ginsburg stressed the importance of overcoming obstacles in moving forward in an evolving and uncertain Egypt. Right: Conference Center near the entrance of the bibliotheca.
Above: View of the planetarium from above. Right: Approaching the library entrance.
Amidst the turmoil in Egypt that Spring, it became clear to me that the new library elicited great pride and satisfaction among Egyptians. The Bibliotheca is among the main attractions of Egypt, drawing interest and pilgrimages nearly equal to the interest of the pyramids of Giza and the tombs of Upper Egypt. As an American librarian working in a foreign land, I discovered the new library to be an instant ice-breaker that allowed conversation to flow. Not wanting to appear to be a runof-the-mill tourist, I made a point of telling people that I worked at the Bibliotheca (Maktaba al-Iskandereya). My connection to the library was received with accolades and I was welcomed as though a native Egyptian. A well-known story tells the following tale: When revolution contested Hosni Mubarek’s rule in January, 2011, protesters threatened the library. Many wondered, would these protesters loot national treasures? Alexandrians feared that the library would be stripped of its books. How could the library contents be protected? In an heroic maneuver, the library director and other champions of the library stood arm-in-arm to create a human chain around the perimeter of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Protesters, who called for the resignation of Mubarek, stood in solidarity when it came to safeguarding the intellectual treasures of Egypt. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s stature grew in this climate until it became a symbol of democratic reason, a cultural icon for protest, and an endorsement of the spirit of freedom.5 Workers seeking pay raises and better living conditions used the library plaza as a rallying ground for demonstrations. Again and again, the Bibliotheca
Alexandrina’s plaza provided a space for public marches. The library, a symbol of protest and freedom, also became a camping ground for protests against Bashar al Assad as Syria began to fall apart amidst Civil War in the spring of 2012. Again, during the first freely democratic elections in Egypt, the library square became a rallying ground for fair elections. The Bibliotheca and its relatively small plaza became to Alexandria what Tahrir Square is to Cairo.6 In January of 2012, the library closed its doors for over a week as protesters called for the director, Dr. Ismail Serageldin, to step down from his post. Serageldin, an appointee during the Mubarek era, was, as the revolution progressed, falsely seen as a close ally of Mubarek. Educated with a Ph.D. from Harvard, Serageldin’s tenure did not sit well with many Egyptians. I tried to get an interview with Serageldin for nearly five months. Serageldin had been under much criticism during my work with the Bibliotheca and as a result was rarely available. Almost daily, I read reports that accused the director of embezzling funds; this accusation resulted in a travel embargo on the director. The lack of political stability in Egypt and the Bibliotheca’s vulnerable administration galvanized many staff members to use Serageldin and the accusations hurled at him as a platform demanding pay raises or job-title changes. The week before I left the Bibliotheca, two colleagues arranged a meeting with Serageldin. The meeting could not have come at a more interesting time. The day before our meeting, Hosni Mubarek was sentenced to life in prison. Hysteria filled the streets, which rang with calls 29
for Mubarek’s death. Serageldin, the target of much criticism, put the Mubarek trial and death demands in perspective for me. In referencing a need for patience and understanding in the midst of so much upheaval, perhaps he was thinking of the calls for his own resignation. In addition, he noted that whatever happens with the revolution or the newly-elected president, the experience will pave the way for a stronger, more efficient, Egypt. The Mubarek trial and the months long wait to meet with the Bibliotheca’s director seemed to symbolize the pace and challenges of working in a country in a state of change.
The Ancient and The Modern
hen people think of Egypt, the pyramids first come to mind. Many tourists acknowledge an interest in witnessing the fertile world of ancient Egypt under the rule of the Pharaohs. The ancient library draws a distinctly different parallel, not to the ancient Egypt of Tutankhamen, but to a civilization steeped in the tradition of learning, humanity and enlightenment—a world more closely aligned to the ancient Greeks and the Romans. The new library— the Bibliotheca Alexandrina—resurrects this radical notion of a center for regional scholarship and culture.7 A contradiction exists between the library and the rest of Egypt. The library recalls a rich history while giving the nod to a remarkable future for Egypt. It is situated next to the rich tides and civilizations of the Mediterranean and a contemporary Egypt, a developing country that races along the congested Corniche. The Corniche, the ten-lane roadway that hugs the Mediterranean and the thick swarm of residential buildings, is filled with the traffic and pollution of aging cars. The traffic, of course, leads to side streets that belie a poverty lost in the grandeur of the library.
Detail of the bibliotheca wall.
The library ascends at a sixteen degree angle, purposely designed to replicate the rising of the sun, a symbolic gesture signaling the library as a center of learning, looking back to the legacy of the Ancient Library of Alexandria. The library (the sun) rises over the city and ordains learning and intellectual pursuit as that which lights all of humanity. There is an Arabic term, Manara Althaqafa, which is used to refer to the Bibliotheca, which translates as “The Light of Culture.” The word Manara refers more specifically to a lighthouse or beacon. There was an old lighthouse of Alexandria that was once marked as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (now destroyed). The library supplants the old lighthouse as the new beacon, adorning the shores of the great metropolis, signaling culture and learning to the rest of Egypt, the Mediterranean and the world. The main library, the planetarium, and the conference center comprise a dignified complex that is more than a mere repository for books, reinforcing the library as a center for scholarly and cultural engagement. The conference center is home to some of the most prestigious programs in the region. An artist-inresidence program initiated by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and hosted by the Bibliotheca has resulted in a plaza that is punctuated with sculptures by artists from around the world. The artistic legacy of the complex extends to the library itself, which houses a museum and several exhibition halls. Artifacts and sculptures that recall Alexandria’s place in the Greaco-Roman Empire are housed in the Antiquities Museum. The museum charts Alexandria’s lineage from ancient history through the early Byzantine (Coptic) years through the rich contributions of early Islam. The exhibition hall acts as a continuous motif, a reminder of the heritage and lineage of the new library. Special exhibitions extend to the halls and cases of nearly every corner of the library, including the Manuscript museum and the Arts and Multimedia library housed in the third floor basement.
here are a number of different scripts and scribbles on the side of the stone facade that are individually meaningless but together symbolize the languages from all over the world. Carefully scrutinizing the varied drawings and markings reveals resemblances to hieroglyphs and Chinese characters. The gray granite from Aswan (Upper Egypt) displays the letters (not words) from the alphabets of some 120 languages. The library complex features a pedestrian bridge that cuts across—actually, pierces—the main facade of the building. Pedestrians “participate” in the structure from above and are encouraged to ruminate on the origins of a system they participated in creating and utilizing. The windows, seen on the “slant” of the library, are interpreted in a number of meaningful ways. The windows symbolize eyes. The windows act as a window to the rest of the world. The windows wake with the rising of the sun. The windows allow light on the spirit of humankind in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.8 Inside, these same windows, covered in blue and green glass, evoke the natural light from the sky; at the same time, these interior windows limit the penetration of natural light. The interior windows provide a relaxing ambiance even as they speak to larger-than-life ideas:
the sky and the sea; a meeting of the heavens and the earth; heaven and earth colliding as the sun rises and retreats. For those who pursue the Bibliotheca’s riches the windows open and close. An area for water surrounds the library building. This is for natural rainwater, but also for regularly running fountains. The library, encircled by water, further emphasizes the effect of the sun rising from the sea (as in looking across the Mediterranean to a sunrise). The water also creates a “floating” impression and the building appears to be beyond the reach of its surroundings. The library becomes a sort of paradise within the earthly realm. Reality intrudes on this bibliophiles’ utopia; diminishing funds have eliminated the continuous flow of water. If the library is the sun, rising along the coast of the Mediterranean, the Planetarium, then, is the moon, which rotates around the sun. The orb has an entrance accessible via a stairway that leads underground, giving the impression of entering a catacomb. The otherworldly feel is strengthened by the interior space; the showcases and performances enhance the sensation of being transported to another world. The mobility and interaction of the complex is achieved with the placement 31
of the planetarium within proximity to the conference center and the rising library. In other words, the complex is interactive and invites visitors to “negotiate” the space. The impressive library and its sister structures exist in a world that intrudes negatively, at times, and adversely alters the Bibliotheca Alexandrina experience. Perhaps, nowhere is this more keenly seen than at night. Lit at night, the whole complex looked like a vast solar system rising from land and sea.9 Budgetary constraints stopped this spectacle and the buildings are no longer lit. Instead, a void on the horizon has replaced the glowing ethereal blue light.
sculpture and architecture, including the use of different types of stone from the region in producing a desired affect inside the library. Some of the thin concrete columns that flower outward near the top recall the hypostyle temples of Luxor, but also recall the “flowering” of knowledge while paying tribute to the papyrus theme evident in ancient Egyptian architecture. The thin columns also appear to blossom into Islamiclike arches. Pharaonic columns and Islamic arches are architectural features evident throughout the library. The simple forms merge the past, the present, and the future.
The black granite on the walls surrounding the staircases is a special granite imported from Zimbabwe; it is said to be of The Interior particularly strong he real glory character. Also of the library noteworthy is an complex can oxidized brass paneling be appreciated by that naturally reduces walking through the noise. In some locations understated main there is a green wall entrance. In A Landmark covering, a plastic made Building: Reflections on in Austria, that gives a the Architecture of the sheen, finished granite/ Bibliotheca Alexandrina, marble appearance in Ismail Serageldin line with the finished notes that even the look of the rest of the modest entrance of the interior. The green Bibliotheca recalls the plastic is strategically traditions of Cairo of the placed to offer additional Mamluks and the Mamluk coloring, mimicking architectural tradition of the green light in the entering of large and “eyelash” design of beautiful buildings the ceiling windows. through discreet and/ The green walls or broken entrances recall the water of the that hide the full size Mediterranean, which or splendor of the Above: Maps and periodical room. Right: Inside main entrance. most days appears to be architecture.10 the color of absinthe. Reality and fantasy or the earthly and the heavenly One of my favorite spaces in the Bibliotheca is the collide periodically such as with the security system and Arts and Multimedia library. It merges the best of the checkpoint that greet visitors before they enter a large library in one space and signifies the cultural impact of foyer. Tour guides are available to usher an explanation the Bibliotheca. Much of the interior space of the Arts of the operations of the facility between the complex library is filled with university students, punctuated by digital projects touting Egypt’s national identity, to posters and fliers advertising lectures, film programs programs and exhibits that explore the cultural roots and and workshops. There are a number of glass cases the future of a changing Egypt. The future: an Espresso that showcase art exhibits. To the side of the Arts and Book Machine (EBM) that prints books on demand; the Multimedia reference desk is a poster of Oum Kalthum, past: a permanent exhibit of antique printing presses. the legendary Egyptian singer that in national identity and lore has become synonymous with the Arts library: Though the library slants up at an angle, most of the a cultural force for change. library is housed underground. The interior levels create a tiered effect that seems to replicate the exterior of the As a librarian who can appreciate the splendor of Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Many of the architectural the building and complex, which earned a wellfeatures play on the traditions of Ancient Egyptian deserved 2004 Aga Khan architectural award, I also
Periodical reading room.
Endnotes know that libraries need to be practical.11 I wonder if 1 Mostafa El-Abbadi, and Omnia Mounir Fathallah, What Happened design and splendor took precedence over function; to the Ancient Library of Alexandria? (Boston: Brill, 2008). some aesthetically pleasing design elements make for The dates of the destruction of the Ancient Library vary. impractical library use. The wood floor throughout Some believe Caesar destroyed it in 48BCE. Others claim the Bibliotheca is not conducive to the type of quiet that Emperor Theodosius, by edict making illegal all Pagan comfort one might expect from a library. Because of temples (the library being a Pagan temple), destroyed the the building’s disk structure, everything is created in library. There is widespread agreement that it was not destroyed by a Muslim army in a hierarchical scheme that 642CE as a result of conflict with expands or eliminates space the Qur’an. based on the floor in which the collection presides. This 2 Hana Alamuddin, 2004 Onsite means that if the structure Review Report: Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Aga Khan were not built on a 16-degree Development Network. http:// angle, the space on each www.akdn.org/architecture/ floor would be equal, and pdf/2725_Egy.pdf. allow for a more appropriate 3 The Bibliotheca has digitized the apportioning of space for papers of Gamal Abdel Nasser, expanding collections. The Anwar Sadat and a collection four basement floors created on the Suez Canal. For more by the submerged design, on the digital collections visit eliminates windows, thus, the http://www.bibalex.org connection with nature and 4 I was told by colleagues who were the natural world heralded sent to Sweden specifically to by much of the exterior is study librarianship that literacy nonexistent. Anyone who has does not start until after the worked in a windowless space age of six. for long hours might wonder 5 Susan L. Roth, and Karen Leggett Two floating seminar rooms linked by bridges. at the reasons behind this Abouraya, Hands Around the decision. Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books (New York: Dial Books for
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a wonder to behold. I am quite fortunate to have entered the library nearly everyday for almost six months. The Bibliotheca resembles a living museum of scholars actively interacting with the wealth of resources and exhibits and creating a dialogue that continues beyond its walls. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina seems to represent stability and hope that obstacles can be overcome. Like the mythical phoenix, the legendary Ancient Library of Alexandria has risen again—as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Let’s hope this time it will not be lost to the world.
Zachary Newell is currently an Arts Librarian and Library Program Area Chair at Salem State University. He was a recent Fulbright Scholar in Alexandria, Egypt, teaching at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina on “The Art of Engagement: Regional Identity, Global Perspective.” Zach has long been interested in the importance of a library’s physical space in relation to a community’s cultural identity and future livelihood, especially as libraries continue to transform, adapt and thrive within a digital culture. Zach continues to facilitate cross-cultural dialog on the shared values between the United States and the Arab Islamic world, most recently through an NEH/ALA grant entitled “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys.”
Young Readers, 2012). 6
This did not stay that way. While the plaza at the library was and still is a place of protest, it is seen as a more reserved location for organized demonstrations. Many of the mass protests now take place downtown outside of the train station (Sidi Gaber Station) or along the Corniche, both symbolic of the crossroads of Egypt. Public space around the library was spared graffiti that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring in locations such as Tahrir Square.
I say radical notion as Dr. Serageldin continues to reference that the notion of sharing books (scrolls) as part of an intellectual crossroad in the ancient world is unprecedented.
Much of my technical information from the library comes from discussions with staff and from my work with colleagues.
I cannot help but wonder if this is naturally a nod to the enlightenment, suggesting the library’s dedication to Truth and for the support of scholars such as Coeprnicus or Galileo.
Ismail Serageldin, A Landmark Building: Reflections on the Architecture of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2006).
Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). http://www.akdn. org/akaa_award9_awards_detail1.asp.
S H O R T S T O R Y
Analena Judith Parker Kent
oftly blow the breezes through the gently swaying trees as the sun reflects its song of life at the break of day,” crooned Ancient Mother to the child she held. As she sang this song of love to the child cradled in her arms, other children gathered around her trying to get her attention. Finally Emil, in the bold posture of a five year old, approached her and said, “Why are you wasting your time on her? Analena doesn’t understand anything anyway. She is just an idiot!” Ancient Mother ignored Emil and continued to sing to Analena. Again Emil approached her, “Why are you wasting your time! We are better than her. We can run and jump and play and sing and all she can do is sit there or rock. She can’t speak or think or anything.” With that Ancient Mother handed Analena to her mother who was quietly sitting by, and said, “Thank you for being in my life Little Warrior. I honor your presence in my life to teach me so many lessons.” With that Emil snorted, “What can she possibly teach anyone? She can’t even learn anything!” “Come here my child,” said Ancient Mother to Emil. “It is time for me to tell you a story, a story of a great and noble warrior and one of the greatest teachers of all.”
t the beginning of time all was of light and magic and wonder. All was as it should be and could be. All things were possible. And to guide all that was as it should be was a group of special beings who watched over all things. These were the Light Warriors. They were the protectors of all, and one of the most special things they protected was the Child of Light. The Child of Light was more than special for she could see the beauty in all things and loved all of the world. Her love was so special that with it the world grew more and more wonderful. Far away in another world lived the Lord of Darkness. Now he was angry that the Light Child existed. He wanted all of the world to be dark. So he sent his messengers to try and take the light away from the Child of Light. They tried to make her angry. They tried to steal things from her. The tried finally to go after the Light Warriors and nothing seemed to work. Finally in desperation the messengers returned to the Lord of Darkness and began to whimper, “We cannot do anything to her. No matter what we do the light continues.” The Lord of Darkness became angry and said, “If you cannot put out the light then put her in prison. Lock her up!”
No matter what we do the light continues. With that the children gathered around Ancient Mother in anticipation, for her stories were always of magic and wonder. Ancient Mother adjusted herself on her stool and pulled out from under the pile of blankets she had woven, one of wondrous colors, and it shone in the sun like a spider’s web wet with dew. “Look at this my child and tell me what you see,” she said. After a moment Emil replied, “I’m not sure what I see. I see lots of colors and lights and it makes me feel good to look at it and the more I look at it the more it reminds me of different things, like flowers, and sunlight and dusk and you know what even the Great Spirit! That’s what I see—the Great spirit!” Ancient Mother nodded approvingly and with that she began.
With that the messengers left the Lord of Darkness and returned to their dwellings to plan out how they would trap the Child of Light. They thought and they thought and they thought until finally Emu came up with a plan. He excitedly explained it to his partners in darkness, and they all agreed that it was the best that could be. So they began to work on the plan. For forty days and forty nights they slaved over their plan to create the perfect prison for the Child of Light. They worked on it deep in their world of darkness. Where no one of the light would find them or try to stop them. All of the world was calm while they worked 37
deep in their world and a sense of peace prevailed. The Child of Light and the Universe began to forget about the darkness and what it had done. They felt safe and secure in their world. All the Light Warriors began to relax and enjoy themselves and to play in the light. All that is, except the littlest warrior. She felt uncertain about what was going on. She remembered the Lord of Darkness and how he had tried to control the world and she could not imagine him giving up. So she patiently kept vigil over the Child of Light.
with this perfect crystal room should belong to the Child of Light. All except the littlest Light Warrior. She felt uneasy about this new creation and began to walk around it. She know it was beautiful and was indeed too beautiful for all but the Child of Light, but she felt that something was indeed wrong and as she continued to walk around she suddenly realized what it was! The crystal mountain did not have a shadow! All that was of the light cast a shadow in the light of the sun. Only that which was of darkness had no shadow.
On the forty-first day the messengers slowly brought up their secret weapon to the surface and placed it in the center of a beautiful clearing full of wild flowers and sunlight. The secret weapon was finally unveiled. It stood forty feet high and glistened in the noontime sunlight like a thousand diamonds. The massive crystal mountain shone brightly and soon attracted the beast of the field and all the animals in the forests. Soon, all of the world knew of the wondrous magical crystal mountain. They all stood in awe of its beauty.
The littlest Light Warrior quickly began to run the tell the Child of Light to stay away from the crystal mountain, but at that moment the Child of Light was walking toward the crystal room. Quickly the littlest Light Warrior darted in front of her to prevent her from entering the room. As she did so the mountain suddenly began to shake and crack and with the crack the door on the crystal room closed, locking the littlest Light Warrior inside it. Others could see her as she stood within the crystal walls. The other Light Warriors gathered around the Child of Light to protect her and then watched in horror as the mountain slowly began to shrink capturing the littlest Light Warrior within its walls. Soon it became as a second skin trapping her in a world in which she could watch all around her and yet she could not be a part of. She was able to rock, as the crystal mountain had done, and all that she had to communicate with was her eyes.
The Lord of Darkness wanted to trap the Child of Light.
Soon the Child of Light was told of the crystal tower and she came to see it. She laughed and loved it and smiled at its beauty. The Light Warriors stood beside her as she looked upon the shining tower of light. As they looked on, a small door opened in the crystal mountain to reveal a crystal room with a beautiful bed and table. A cheer rang up among the crowd as that had gathered and all felt that this perfect crystal mountain 38
The Child of Light looked on in sadness and said, “I cannot undo what the Lord of Darkness has done with his messengers, but I can allow the Littlest Warrior to be a carrier of hope and to be honored by all. She has unselfishly given up her freedom so that the light can continue in this world and to remind us that we must all watch out for the power of darkness. It can come into our lives in different ways, even in the beauty of a crystal mountain and pretend that it is of the light.” To this day the littlest warrior is honored by all who are in the light and in each lifetime she is brought back to remind us of the power of darkness and of her giving up her freedom so that the light can continue in this world. “And so my children, my little Analena is such a warrior of the light. With her great courage she shows us with her eyes true love and unselfishness and the gift of the loss of her freedom so that all others might value theirs. And so you can now understand why Analena is so special.”
A carrier of hope. . . The children quietly sat for a moment and then with tears in his eyes Emil approached Analena. “Thank you for your presence in our lives Analena and for giving up your freedom that the rest of us might be free. Thank you for the lessons you are teaching us.” Kim Mimnaugh
With that all eyes turned to Analena and all noticed the smile on her face and the tear that escaped the corner of her right eye. They all looked in wonderment, for where the tear landed a beautiful white flower appeared: A flower of hope and of true love. Such is the inner beauty of Analena.
Judith Parker Kent joined the Salem State University community two years ago as an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy, bringing over 35 years of experience as a clinician, educator, mentor and consultant. Her areas of expertise include Pediatrics, Mental Health and Complementary Care. She has been recognized by the American Occupational Therapy Association with a Recognition of Achievement Award and has been appointed to the Roster of Fellows for her work as an educator, innovator, leader and pioneer in complementary care. Story telling has been a tool she has used extensively in teaching and in working with children, families and communities.
Carlos Juliao, Riscos illuminados de figurinhos de broncos e negros dos uzos do Rio de Janeiro e Serro do Frio (Rio de Janeiro, 1960).
Universidade Federal do Paraná, Setor de Ciências Humanas, Letras e Artes, Departamento de História.
S H O R T S T O R Y
Call Me Cat Sherard Robbins
ot many people will ever have the sense of self to know power like I know power. Not many things will ever have the opportunity to know power like I know power. I don’t mean how much you could lift or how explosive you are when you run… I mean real power; fear, control, death. I have multiple names, some good, some bad, but you can just call me Cat.
Dreaded be the day, however, when that door to your home opens. Slowly but surely, the figure, from the ground up, of a man without a soul begins to form. Dreaded be that moment when he steps foot over the threshold of the doorway, your only sense of security, only to reiterate your worth by subjecting you to a selection. Priority choosing; what happens outside determines who leaves from inside. I’ll be honest, I never saw myself as much of an option. Never saw myself comparable to some of my other companions at home but… oh how wrong I was.
Imagine yourself in a paralytic state. You cannot move, you cannot speak, you can only remain in place— lie in wait. But your mind works. You can think, you can mentally articulate—but you cannot speak. Now, picture someone taking control of you, of your life, your presence, your being. Developing you into what they want you to be and writing your story as to how they see fit. Your life is not your own. Your one chance at glory, at fame, at pious action is no longer an option; in fact, it never really was. “Your legacy is what I say it is.” Immobile but still able to think you look around you at those who you considered friends; comrades of sorts with whom you shared quarters and even sleeping space. Some of whom you’ve watched from inception birthed into a life where they, just like you, have no jurisdiction.
Image Reference JCB_69-1068-3, www.slaveryimages.org, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and theUniversity of Virginia Library.
This story... is not about my opportunity to gloat— it is about you listening to what I have to say, because far too often, history goes unheard. Figure 1 Enslaved woman and driver, British West Indies, 1826. From Female Society for Birmingham,West-Bromwich...and Their Respective Neighborhoods, for the Relief of British Negro Slaves... (Birmingham, 1826).
I want to share with you today my story; one that I never actually got to write, yet, one I know better than anyone or anything ever will. You see, I have done an unbelievable amount of wrong during my time on this earth; none of which I had any control over, so none of which I apologize for. This story is not about your forgiveness, it is not about my opportunity to gloat—it is about you listening to what I have to say, because far too often, history goes unheard.
You huddle close when the opportunity presents itself in hopes of finding support. You don’t move, you don’t speak to one another, but you interact mentally. A sense of family amongst the group of you is what keeps you going for one more day.
As day slept and night fell, my comrades and I grew further and further apart, both physically and emotionally. Upon returning home, a few of the comrades would be dripping, sometimes saturated in blood. Broken parts and damaged feelings left a few of us in disbelief. To have the blood of another on you without a care was something that I did not want to become accustomed to. When it came time for lights out, some of my friends would be designated different sleeping areas; the worst was when they decided to move on their own—it was difficult to watch. In a time where we needed each other the most, we began to fall apart—they who I called friends. As I stated earlier, I never considered myself useful. I wasn’t the biggest, I wasn’t the strongest, I wasn’t even the fastest; but what I came to learn after years and years of subjugation, is that I was the most effective and above 41
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Isaac Cruikshank (1756?-1811?). [London]: Pubd. by S.W Fores, 1792 April 10, etching.
have been broken to the point where, whether or not I returned home, or they returned home, did not matter. When I returned home later that night, I was assigned a different sleeping area. What was strange about my sleeping area specifically was that, it was away from everyone else completely. Before being returned, too, I would be given a bath. None of my other friends received this treatment and I could not understand why. Image Reference: moore01, www.slaveryimages.org, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and theUniversity of Virginia Library.
The day finally came where I was taken out of my home—against my will, against my consent. The most painful memory I have about this moment is looking back to see my comrades showing no emotion. They
Richard Hildreth, Archy Moore, the white slave; or, Memoirs of a Fugitive (New York, 1857), p. 95.
all else, the most iconic of us all. I had the ability to strike fear into the hearts of men who otherwise laughed in the face of it. I learned that, unlike my comrades, I could not break, nor could I falter—I only got better with time; and as my purpose grew, so too did I. As I consider in hindsight, Darwin’s theory of evolution is conveyed ever so eloquently vicariously through my time here on earth.
Day in and day out, I found myself being chosen again and again. My comrades would look at me with hate and disgust
The Lash, by Henry Louis Stephens (1824 - 1882), c1863. lithograph.
Eventually, the thing that frightened me the most became a reality. Over time, I became desensitized to everything and everyone around me. The look that my comrades had when they would return home is the same one I had, only one hundred fold. I preferred sleeping in my own area. It reiterated to me how different I was from everyone else and how I was valued. After a while, my quarters, as a whole, were changed and I now moved to the place where the food was.
in place. At first, I would scream as loud as I could in an attempt to scream louder than them, but once I evolved, it did not matter— my screams could no longer match theirs.
I bet you are probably thinking, “Yes, finally, a move where something positive can occur!” Well if you are, stop. The only thing positive that came from any of this was this opportunity I have been given to tell this story. I digress:
For years and years I would cause pain and suffering to anyone who thought they knew better. I would rip people apart and open them up, as they remained docile
My name is Cat and I am a whip. I was birthed into a life that was not my own and has never been my own. I struggled for a few years trying to figure out just what my purpose in life was, but now as I write to you, I understand. My sole purpose was to make a statement. That, if wrong, there will be consequences; but wrong is not the opposite of right where I come from, wrong “Is what I say it is.”
Sometimes I want to believe that, if placed in the hands of somebody else, I could actually do some good. That I could have been idolized, not ostracized, and my comrades from home would still speak to me today. But then I think about my history. I think about my actions and what I’ve done. What I’ve taken from people and those I’ve hurt—and how good I was at it… I was the best. I then realize that, no, there is no good in me, only evil… pure evil. I write this story not as an apology, not for your forgiveness and not as an opportunity for me to gloat. I write this story for you to listen to what I have to say; because far too often, history goes unheard.
Once stationed in the place where the food was, I was given a new look and a name—Cat. I finally had something I could own. But…this was also the beginning of what I learned to be fear. The mere whisper of my name sent any man or woman trembling, dropping to his or her knees in fear of the outcome. I watched as men turned into objects and children turn into men. I watched as women looked at me with so much fear that their eyes would swell at the sight of me. I watched, no, I helped. I was the executioner, I was your best and your worst outcome. I was pain. I was hurt. I was death. I was your outcome if you felt like running. I was your outcome if you felt like talking. I was your outcome at any point felt like being… a human.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
as I was now the outcast, the sell out. But I did not ask for this, nor did I want it; it just happened and was just happening. But I felt powerful. For once, I felt like I was not as bad as my life was made to seem. Like I had purpose. And I’ll be honest, I was not ready to give that up—no way, no how.
Sherard Robbins is an assistant resident director in Marsh Hall—Salem State’s Sophomore Year Experience. He oversees a building of over 500 students including 15 resident assistants and five academic mentors. Sherard was recognized by the First Year Experience Office and nominated for the Outstanding First Year Advocate Award. He is currently in his final year of his Masters program, graduating in May with an MEd in Higher Education in Student Affairs. 43
A R C H I V E S
Sex Discrimination and Geography: The Case of Ellen Churchill Semple* Mildred Berman
here is very little which is mysterious about the lack of female visibility in the ancient and honorable field of geography. The role of women within our society, combined with the various forms of discrimination existing on our campuses today, have been very largely responsible for this state of affairs. The paired articles by Wilbur Zelinsky in the May, 1973 issue of The Professional Geographer articulate the problem sensitively, rationally, and all too accurately. It is these offerings which have prompted me to put on record for the Association an overt instance of sex discrimination experienced by one of our most talented members— Ellen Churchill Semple. Additionally, I wish to comment on present-day aspects of this same problem, and to suggest some courses of action to those most directly affected in the hope that genuine equality may yet be achieved. 44
One of the most obvious inequities experienced by the privileged few geographers who hold academic rank lies in the realm of salary. Studies in individual colleges and universities underscore the fact that women do not get equal pay for equal work. (1) To prove this point permit me to cite the shocking circumstances surround the case of Ellen Churchill Semple, the one female “superstar” of our profession, a woman who gave “…three and a half decades of distinguished service to geography… [who was] … one of the most widely known and beloved personalities in American Geography and had become the greatest anthropogeographer in the world.” (2) In spite of her superior achievements and fulsome recognition by her peers, Semple was apparently not immune to the economic discrimination experienced by her sisters in the workaday world. Allow her to speak for herself in the words of the third codicil to her will, dated March 17, 1932:
“Oxbridge.” Sixteen years earlier Semple had lectured at “Owing to the heavy expenses of two and a half years of Oxford. Would that these two remarkable women might extreme illness, owing also to heavy financial losses resulting from have compared views in one of the Oxbridge libraries the present economic depression, my capital and income have been perhaps. But no, they would have had to meet outside seriously depleted. For this reason I wish to revoke the promised the library since women were gift of one thousand dollars to Clark not admitted unless they were University, because the residue of accompanied by a Fellow of the my estate makes meagre provision College, or were armed with a for certain members of my family letter of introduction. who need the money. I do this with less regret because the trustees of At present writing, appeals Clark University fixed my salary to logic and reason have been on a basis of five hundred dollars a insufficient to improve the status year less than that of the full-time of women in our colleges and professors, though I worked longer universities. As with the civil hours and made a larger scientificrights issues affecting the black literary output every year than the population in this country, the men professors in my department, fight for the achievement of while my national and international equal status and representation reputation equalled and surpassed of women will have to be won theirs. The reason assigned by the through political or legal action Trustees was that I was a woman or both. The legislation which a midand without dependents,— has been written and passed Victorian argument from a group must be enforced. It will not be of modern capitalists. In the ten enforced, however, unless those half-years I was professor at Clark women who have been denied University, the Treasury of that equal accessibility to professional institution made a saving of two opportunities articulate their thousand five hundred ($2,500.00) Graduation portrait of Professor Ellen Churchill Semple, dissatisfaction in their colleges dollars on my salary.” (3) Vassar BA, 1882, MA, 1891 and universities and file their It is instructive to compare the remarks of Virgina grievances with the appropriate federal agencies, i.e., Woolf, Britain’s outstanding modern woman of letters, the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Health, whose lifespan (1882-1941) overlapped with that of Education, and Welfare, the Wages and Hours Division Semple (1863-1931). Woolf’s observations are written of the Department of Labor, and the Equal Employment from a different vantage point; nevertheless they dwell Opportunities Commission. The types of cases which on the essential importance of financial security to should be filed by both individuals and groups are those the creative process. She writes that on the same night in which women have been denied admission to a college women were given the vote in England, she received news or a university (at either undergraduate or graduate of a legacy from her aunt in the amount of five hundred level) when their grades and entrance test scores have pounds a year forever. been as high as or higher than male applicants; when their applications for financial aid, assistantships, and “Of the two—the vote and the money-the money, I own, fellowships are refused because “a man needs it more” seemed infinitely the more important. Before that I had made regardless of qualifications involved; when they are my living by cadging odd jobs from newspapers, by reporting hired at a lower academic rank and salary than a man a donkey show here or a wedding there; I had earned a few with substantially equivalent credentials; when they are pounds by addressing envelopes, reading to old ladies, making promoted and gain tenure more slowly than men whose artificial flowers, teaching the alphabet to small children in a work is either the same or inferior to theirs; or when kindergarten. Such were the chief occupations that were open to they are fired for obviously spurious reasons. The legal women before 1918. I need not . . . describe in any detail the provisions are clearly set forth in the HEW publication hardness of the work . . . nor the difficulty of living on the money Higher Education Guidelines, Executive Order 11246. . . . But what still remains with me as a worse infliction than either was the poison of fear and bitterness which those days bred To date professional women geographers have spoken in me.” (4) inaudibly or not at all in regard to grass roots reform of sex-differentiated policies in graduate school admission Woolf’s remarks are part of two papers read in 1928 requirements, employment, promotion, and salary. at Cambridge, an institution to which she refers to as Neither our national nor regional association is equipped 45
There is nothing inherently male about the study of geography... Repository University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center
to deal with these Desired reforms problems. Where will be achieved gross discrimination only at great exists, as in the case personal sacrifice, of Semple, one no for as Zelinsky longer need wait says, change will to correct this in be “slow, noisy, one’s will—should and painful.” this option be open. For those of us Affirmative action willing to accept policies outlined these realities the in the Guidelines time has come mentioned above are to marshal our not the product of ideas and not radical leftists out to inconsiderable destroy the system. strength, bind The plan proposes up old wounds, restructuring in line and start shaking with the reordering up our academic of social priorities departments and Faculty of the Geology, Geography and Paleontology departments at the University of Chicago. Ellen Churchill Semple is the only woman pictured. Circa 1912/1913. set in motion by administrations the liberation through onmovements of the sixties and codified by the legislation campus women’s caucuses and appropriate local and of the seventies. Carefully outlined systems and channels national agencies. In mid-1973 the Equal Employment of action are provided, since administrative procedures Opportunities Commission listed a backlog of 60,000 in most of our institutions of higher learning vis-a-vis sex-bias cases. Complaints in other agencies are being nepotism, recruitment, hiring, promotion, tenure, and processed so slowly that a number of women are going firing have changed little, in effect, since the time of directly to court. Professional women have rarely had Semple and Woolf. Chairpersons and administrators the temerity to call their administrators to account when would do well to study this document, if they are to be in they have been unjustly treated. To do so is considered compliance with the law. Geography BA/BS Degrees Conferred in the United States since 1960
unladylike or simply not “nice.” Ignoring discrimination, however, is not only not “nice”—it is illegal. Minorities, men, and women must be prepared to speak out. Imposed social and economic inferiority can be eliminated now that the law stands squarely behind it. There is nothing inherently male about the study of geography— or most disciplines for that matter, although the overwhelmingly large number of men in our Association would tend to create just such an impression. It is a wonder that women with so few role models and so little encouragement actually enter the field at all. Fortunate indeed is the woman whose male professorial mentor provides the interest and inspiration so necessary to her as a person and as a geographer. The psychological barriers thrust in front of women in graduate school may be subtle or blatant. More frequently they are demeaning and offensive. The following are just a few of the comments heard on so many campuses. Others are simply unprintable. “Why does a woman want to do graduate work anyhow?” “We know you’re competent, but are you really serious about your work?” “Who, us, unfair? Why we once hired a woman.” “Women have no job stability.” [An Office of Economic Opportunity study has shown that 85 percent of women with doctorates earned between 1958-1963 are working full time.] Geography today has begun to channel more and more research toward aspects of social and cultural responsibility in the “outside” world, while remaining blissfully and willfully ignorant of the shameful treatment accorded women in their own departments. Women faculty in graduate departments of geography, and those of the related “concerned” social sciences, are few in number. Invariably the percentage of women graduate students is higher than that of the women faculty. This results in the lopsided picture of male faculties being paid for training women for professions in which they are unwilling to hire these same women as colleagues. They are forced to accept positions in less prestigious institutions than their male counterparts, or to work in other fields where they have no professional visibility and eventually disappear into the woodwork. It is reasonable to assume that new legislation and a heightened social conscience might have achieved some improvement. There has been change—for the worse. One university with a prestigious graduate school of geography has been cited as having had a very good record in awarding doctorates to women, except for the past eight years. Between 1965 and 1973 only one woman received a Ph.D. in geography there. (5) In another large private university, a geography department which had never employed a woman as a full-time staff member hired one in 1966, and another in 1969— seemingly a salutary development. Both women had excellent credentials and publications records. One was cited for superior teaching. When the time came for promotion one was told that she did not fit “neatly” into the department’s future plans and was forced out. Two years later the same fate befell the other woman. Such incidents are neither isolated nor coincidental. They stem from the same type of attitude which granted Semple inferior compensation for superior achievement.
Ellen Churchhill Semple’s Publications Civilization Is at Bottom an Economic Fact. 1896 The Influence of the Appalachian Barrier upon Colonial History. 1897 The Anglo-Saxons of the Kentucky Mountains: A Study in Anthropogeography. 1901 The Badlands of Tillydrone. 1902 American History and Its Geographic Conditions. 1903 The North-Shore Villages of the Lower St. Lawrence. 1904 The Influence of the Watering Hole upon Hillhead Halls. 1904 Influences of Geographic Environment: On the Basis of Ratzel’s System of Anthropogeography. 1911 Barrier Boundary of the Mediterranean Basin and Its Northern Breaches as Factors in History. 1915 Pirate Coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. 1916 Texts of the Ukraine “Peace”: With Maps. 1918 The Ancient Piedmont Route of Northern Mesopotamia. 1919 The Barbarians of Balnagask. 1920 Geographic Factors in the Ancient Mediterranean Grain Trade. 1921 The Influence of Geographic Conditions upon Ancient Mediterranean StockRaising. 1922 The Templed Promontories of the Ancient Mediterranean. 1927 Ancient Mediterranean Agriculture. 1928 Ancient Mediterranean Pleasure Gardens. 1929 The Geography of the Mediterranean Region: Its Relation to Ancient History. 1931
Had Semple been a man, she would not have had to listen to Ratzel’s lectures in an adjoining room with the door ajar when she first went to Leipzig, where women were not permitted to matriculate. Had she been a man, a salary equal to that of her less-celebrated colleagues might have somehow eased the financial strain and discomfort of her last months on earth. Born into a family of means, intelligence, and high social position, she was able to achieve a place “among the handful of women the world over who are the peers of the foremost men of science.” (6) But real equality did not come in her lifetime. Indeed, it still has not arrived. Notes
* I wish to thank William A. Koelsch, Associate Professor of History and Geography and Archivist of Clark University, for calling the relevant contents of Ellen Churchill Semple’s will to my attention. This is a reprint of the article: Berman, M. (1974), Sex Discrimination and Geography: The Case of Ellen Churchill Semple. The Professional Geographer, 26: 8–11; copyright Taylor & Francis; The Professional Geographer is available online at www.tandfonline.com. (1) Blanche F. Fitzpatrick, “Report of the Task Force on Education,” Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women 1971-1972, State
Publication No. 6192 (Boston, Mass.: June, 1972), no pagination.
—“Ellen Churchill Semple.” Vassar Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. 11, Apr, 2014.
(3) Certified copy of the will and codicils of Ellen Churchill Semple, Will Book 46, page 45, May 25, 1932, Jefferson County Court House, Louisville, Kentucky. (4) A Room of One’s Own (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1929), pp. 37-38. (5) P.A. Lentz, “A Too Silent Majority,” The Monadnock, Vol. 47 (June, 1973), pp. 59-60. (6) The Nation, Dec. 21, 1911 as quoted in Notable American Women 1607-1950, Vol. 3 (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1971), p. 260.
Ellen Churchill Semple was born on January 8, 1863. After graduating from Vassar in 1882, Semple returned to her home in Louisville, Kentucky, where she taught geography at a school owned by one of her older sisters. It was during her time teaching and researching in Louisville that she began to construct a theory that would come to be known as Environmental Determinism. This theory states that a population’s culture is determined by the environment in which they live. Her first book, American History and Its Geographic Condition, became a classic, giving a scientific basis to explain the ways in which the migration of the pioneers formed the basis of American culture. Semple’s approach to geography was a unique blend of science and sociology that quickly received national attention. In 1921 Semple began teaching at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. She died in West Palm Beach on May 8, 1932.
(2) Charles C. Colby, “Ellen Churchill Semple,” Annals, Association of American Geographers, Vol. 23 (1933), p. 229.
Mildred (Millie) Berman (1926-2000) was a cultural/economic geographer with a focus on the Middle East. On graduating from high school, Berman enrolled at Salem State College; she graduated salutatorian of her class in 1948. On completion of her Ph.D. in 1963, Berman returned to Salem State to teach. In the early 1970s, she took leadership in documenting discrimination within the profession of geography, gave visibility to earlier women geographers, and worked with colleagues at Salem to introduce women’s studies into the curriculum. Berman retired in 1994.
SSU Intern Meg Barnes gathered much of the material used to supplement the original article.
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Imme in that they immediate victims hildren are often the consequences of war. directly experience years, over two million thirty and During the past armed conflicts, killed because of been injured. They children have been children have million ten arms and legs. more then and crippled, losing 2004; have been blinded2004; Christian Children’s Fund, (United Nations, Watch, 2004.) and Human Rights table to preven become sick due chilMillions more havemove in and out of communities, no s illnesses. As soldierto new diseases for which they have nal dren are exposed children live as refugees or in commu s increase. During immunity. When ns are communicable disease living situations, diarrhea, and pulmonary infectio s, wartime, measle EF, 2004) arly in 1943, the death of Mrs. Minnie Hanff Ayers rn the American common. (UNIC war-to caused advertising world to remember Many children in access toan ready briefly areas don’t have earlier. s event that had happened four decades supplieMaud waterMinnie Hanff, then a young free-lance writer, available food and to be transhad created them trade character Sunny Jim to advertise and must rely onForce, n are the depenthe first commercially successful wheat flake cereal. ported. When childre ment tocircles, the campaign In advertising govern the dent upon basic ne-of a costly failure, was remembered as a classic andexample one in which the adverprovide them food n of tisingchildre created great interest in the trade character but cessities, as aretothe failed ion disrupt sell the the product. At the time of Minnie Hanff Ayers’ nations like Iraq, has a death, byawar commentary in Printer’s Ink concluded: of services caused When ship. can bring back the name devastating effect., Perhaps today we they go hungry ments are delayed “Sunny s Jim” as a colloquial supplie expression. water When the food or Couldn’t it be said that optimistic advertisers, sick. become they d, are pollute who find their advertising getting public targets forbut not sales, have a “Sunny Girls are often attention Jim” waronduring hands? College’s seventh sexual domination s” their Meier became the may be raped, replacing Dr. Edward Dr. Frederick A. Advertising time. Girl “soldier military Steven Fox repeated the story office on April 1, The given to historian , the old Salem president. He took served as president since 1937. nial off the SunnyInJim or in someofcases, campaign in The Mirror Makers, his 1984 Teachers College Annihad as wives. many and its Centen tall n 1954,when Salem about to celebrate its 100th A. Sullivan who comprehensive commanders been study of the origins of American advertishave was Meier’s Inauguration hundred Saltons girls six marked nearby civilian than the es, Normal School, less in of College countri ing practices. All versions of consisted of the Sunny Jim story agree in 3, 4, and 5, 1954, have a as a form versary, the College the stately arched Normal School campus on June on Lafayette Street. It did not certainedbasic details: sexually mutilat called edifice, specifically sothat the campaign was wildly successn on campus. School gymnasium students and one in 1896 for about $250,000. Now it, fulraped torture, or in getting attention nt and for the trade character but failed to celebrate the occasio become pregna sufficient site to Building, erected g, the Salem Evening Observer called they will generate sales same Force cereal, and that this failure resulted in the are ofofthe floor of the Norn that the Sullivan Buildin appointed structure.” It was in the bear childre Sunny who reJim character s, a was on the second seek to being abandoned after a short well Dr. Meier’s office Its classrooms and corridors were “A splendid and Romanesque with Palladian window time.of those Once war ethnic stock buildand tion. Iraq, 1999. Building.Children’s Hospital l Greekmalnutri ng, classica mal Schoolgirl, design of a ruggedits strength, dignity, and utility. The te their country. displayi domina te Amarah and long-term work of Lafayet ngs, art Little result for and age—the , photo engravi with fancy Avenue milk. pleteIraq style adopted for their ntal scenery of fresh foods and appear small Sunny Jim dolls have been promoting Force cereal the exd parade intersection of Loring contine in d the supply motifs, since 1908. erizing some of have decimatecharact Roman ing stood at the thoroughfare featuring a splendi down-Many children economicofsanctions c r, thought War andplaster Paris bas-reliefs, their way to Street, a majesti world. Meier, howeve quietly marching presi22 the European The College to change. A new on cellence of of graceful elm trees needed a new image. things were about Salem Teachers College town Salem. But and blueprints for the school’s expansi , dent had arrived g board. 56 were on the drawin tive, from an adult perspec ar is usually viewed l strategies, economic istic with a focus on politica rightness, or militar consequences, moral effects of war, like think dwell upon the direct gains. We tend to And when we hear of deaths we most number of deaths.s. But the fact is: children are those of combat soldier injuries in war. likely to die or suffer n during war has zation of childre war itself. Today, of The increased victimi and of a shift in the nature occurred because es are more likely to occur in cities n. In the militaristic activiti are heavily populated by childre soldiers suburbs, areas that one civilian died for every eight nel y person militar one Second World War, ratio is reversed, killed. Today, the s. (Strong, 1993) civilian eight killed for every
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faculty members have edited Sextant between 1986 and 2014; they represent 4 different departments: English, Psychology, Art + Design and History. Also, the number of years when no issue of Sextant was published.
the number of years in which Sextant was published twice a year.
234 articles have been published in Sextant.
1 2012 average number of issues printed each year.
designer. Susan McCarthy has been Sextant’s graphic designer for more than
Sextant enters social media with a Facebook page: facebook.com/SalemStateSextant.
SEXTANT 352 Lafayet te Street Salem, Massachuset ts 01970 -5353
Sextant: The Journal of Salem State University Volume XXII, Fall 2014