Your Portals Syllabus

We’re hard at work on our spring exhibition and event series, “Portals: The History of the Future,” and in the process we’ve been coming across books, movies, and other stuff that gets us in the Portals spirit. So we decided to share some suggested reading (and listening, and watching…) here. We’re also going to post this (and update it) on the Portals website, which should be live soon.

Portals: Recommended Reading (And Watching, and Listening)

Short Reads

  • William Gibson, “The Gernsback Continuum” (1981). Available in the collection Burning Chrome. Ocean State Libraries (Text can also be found online.)
  • Wikipedia entry for Charles Piazzi Smyth, particularly the “Pyramidological researches” section. For a sense of the range of schemes proposed during the debate over unified time.
  • Edmund Arthur Engler, “Time-Keeping in Paris,” Popular Science Monthly, vol. 20 (1882). Online

Long Reads

  • Paul J. Nahin, Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1999). For the nitty-gritty details of how to keep your time machine in working order. WorldCat
  • I.F. Clarke, The Pattern of Expectation, 1644-2001 (New York: Basic Books, 1979). WorldCat
  • Joseph J. Corn & Brian Horrigan, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). Ocean State Libraries
  • Peter Galison, Einstein’s Clocks, Poincare’s Maps: Empires of Time (New York: W.W. Norton: 2003). PPL
  • Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014). PPL

Podcasts

Music

  • Sun Ra Arkestra – The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra
  • Joseph Haydn – Il Mondo della Luna
  • Joe Meek – I Hear a New World
  • Bjork – Biophilia

Film & Television

Updike Prize 2016

This is just a quick note to help you plan your calendar for the upcoming year, especially if you’re someone who plans way ahead. We just crowned our first Updike Prize winner this past February (congrats, Sandra!), and it was a great event, with a terrific lecture by Tobias Frere-Jones. But one thing we learned in the process is that February in New England is a month best left to hunkering down with warm beverages and hoping for spring.

That’s why we’re moving the Updike celebration to October from now on. Not this October, though: October 2016 will be our next date. That also means that students working on their typefaces have a bit of extra time to do their work. The new deadline is now September 16th.

And there’s one more change: We’re now doubling the size of first prize to $500! So get to work and plan your visits to use the collection. (As a reminder, we have open hours, no appointment needed, on Tuesdays from 10-1pm and Wednesdays from 3-7pm.)

And now, for no particular reason, here’s a picture of some folks from an 1886 German type specimen book:

20151014_210540166_iOS

Valerie Lester discusses Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World

Remember this guy?:

Bodoni-giambattista

It’s been a year and a half since we celebrated Giambattista Bodoni and the 200th anniversary of his death. In all those years, no one has written a full-length English biography of the great printer and type designer – until now.

Join us at 6:00pm on Wednesday, October 7th for a lecture by Valerie Lester, whose biography of Bodoni is being published this month. Copies of the book will be available for purchase, and refreshments will be served. We’ll also have a selection of items from our collections of Bodoniana on display.

Congratulations to Sandra Carrera and our other Updike Prize finalists

It’s a pleasure to announce that Sandra Carrera is the first ever winner of the Updike Prize for Student Type Design!

Updike Prize Trophy

You may have noticed that the trophy is also a fully-functional composing stick. We had a great evening with a lecture from Tobias Frere-Jones last Thursday, but if you missed it you can still visit the level 3 gallery cases to take a look at the type specimens of our four finalists:

Sandra Carrera, Picara (First Prize)
Chae Hun Kim, Hodoo
Prin Limphongpand, Rizvele (Runner-Up)
Yeon Hak Ryoo, Tranche

The specimens will be on display, with items from the Updike Collection that influenced the type design, until March 19th. Kudos to all four finalists who did a great job!

Picara, the winning typeface, was influenced by a type specimen published sometime in the 1770s by Antonio Espinosa, and we’re happy to announce that we’ve made the book available in its entirety online:

espinosa

 

If you’re a student interested in type design, don’t forget that the 2016 competition starts now! Stop in to work with the collection or just learn more about it and the rules for the prize.

And if you want to be notified about next year’s Updike Prize ceremony, stay tuned to this blog, or send us your email address to be added to our mailing list.

Tobias Frere-Jones & the Updike Award

We’re now just under two weeks away from our big type event of the year, when Tobias Frere-Jones will be our guest speaker at an event to award our first ever Updike Prize for Student Type Design.

Frere-Jones poster

It should be a fantastic night, so put it on your calendar now: Thursday, February 19th at 6pm. You can get a sense of Tobias Frere-Jones’s engaging take on typographic history by visiting his terrific blog.

At 5:30 we’ll be offering a short tour of our latest exhibition, “Inhabited Alphabets,” which highlights some typographic oddities from our Updike Collection as well as our other collections including children’s books, Civil War items and more. The Washington Street entrance will be open starting at 5:15. The event is free and open to the public, but you’re welcome to RSVP on the Library’s website.

And that’s not all! If you’re a proper typographic enthusiast, you need a great typographic t-shirt, and we’ve got one for you:

Tee shirt

Visit our Teespring campaign and order a t-shirt now. We’ve taken one of our favorite images from the current exhibition (from an 1838 Austin Letter Foundry specimen book) and turned it into a t-shirt that proclaims your typographic allegiance. Not only do you get a great shirt, but you also support Special Collections. The campaign runs through February 25th, so don’t delay. After that, they’re gone.

Thanks to Michael McDermott for once again designing the event poster featured at the top of this post. And thanks also to our event sponsor, Paperworks!

Paperworks Logo

SaltWaterColors

A newly-opened exhibition in our Providence Journal Rhode Island Room draws on our Nicholson Whaling Collection to highlight artistic creations by whalemen during the age of offshore whaling. You can view the exhibition now through the month of December. But in case you can’t make it to the exhibition, here are a selection of images (including quite a few not on display):