Decolonisation purchases in 21/22 for teaching and for research

This post looks at titles bought from the new decolonisation fund set up in 21/22 for teaching collections and at a few sample decolonisation titles bought by our senior staff using our standard research-related collection development funds.

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The visitors’ album of María Luisa Aub : a hidden treasure

The visitors’ album of María Luisa Aub came to the University Library in 2018. María Luisa (1927-2013), affectionally called “Mimín” by family and friends, was the eldest daughter of Mexican-Spanish writer Max Aub. She had close links to Cambridge, having lived in the city for over 25 years, but she also lived in exile in Mexico for many years. 

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Ukraine and films in the Klassiki database : the August 2022 Slavonic items of the month

Last year, Cambridge University Libraries started providing access to the Klassiki database of films from Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.  The subscription was started specifically to support courses taught under the auspices of Film Studies and/or Slavonic Studies.  In its own words: “Klassiki hosts a highly curated permanent collection of films that represent the best of classic filmmaking from the region. We also offer a brand new ‘Pick of the Week’ contemporary title, selected by the curatorial team. Each of our films are accompanied by programme notes, journal essays, newly commissioned subtitles and online interviews with the best filmmakers from the region.”

In terms of Ukraine, the Klassiki database currently has 6 films in its Ukraine section.  It did have a 7th – the documentary film Mariupolis (2016) directed by Mantas Kvedaravičius.  As readers will probably already know, that film was about the experience of Mariupolʹ under fire from Russian-backed separatists, and its director was tragically murdered there this year in March, a victim of the 2022 full-scale war.  He had been in the city to make a sequel.  The 2016 film is no longer on Klassiki, since ARTE.tv have been able to license it to make it fully and freely available on YouTube here.  Kvedaravičius’ 2013 Cambridge PhD thesis, Knots of absence : death, dreams, and disappearances at the limits of law in the counter-terrorism zone of Chechnya, is at the Haddon Library and in the Library Storage Facility, and here is his home department’s tribute to him.

The Ukrainian films on Klassiki were made in Ukraine and chiefly by Ukrainian directors, with one in Ukrainian (and Hutsul), two silent, and three in Russian.  They include two films by Kira Muratova, two by Oleksandr Dovz︠h︡enko, one by Serhiĭ Paradz︠h︡anov (Sergei Parajanov here), and one by Marlen Khut︠s︡iev (who Cambridge was fortunate enough to host in a 2014 visit).  The films’ descriptions from Klassiki follow. Continue reading

Interned German artists (1): John Heartfield and Kurt Schwitters

Cover of 1940 edition (1941.7.3074)

British wartime internment of foreign nationals seems to have been a recurring theme for me this year. I already knew about World War Two internment camps on the Isle of Man (see my earlier blog post on Franz Hildebrandt) but was not aware that this had also happened during World War One until, on a visit to Liverpool, I came across the story of Carl Bartels, designer of the famous Liver Birds on the Royal Liver Building. Shortly afterwards I read a review of Simon Parkin’s new book The Island of Extraordinary Captives (e-Legal Deposit) about the interned artist Peter Midgley. Then I happened to unearth a cutting from the Observer that I had been sent in September 1988 in which Neal Ascherson wrote engagingly about a reissue (539:1.c.805.63) of François Lafitte’s 1940 book The internment of aliens, a contemporary criticism of government policy (the article can be viewed online if you have Raven access). And as the current government’s Rwanda deportation plan was announced it was easy to be reminded of wartime deportations and the tragedy of the Arandora Star

In this blog post I will look in more detail at two German artists who share the internment experience, both of whom I have mentioned before in previous blog posts: John Heartfield (see German theatre premières in 1922) and Kurt Schwitters (see On the fringes of Dada in Berlin). A later post will consider some less well-known German artists who also endured internment. Continue reading