Monthly Archives: August 2013

Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here – Exhibit in Butler Library July 16 – Sept. 21st, 2013

The exhibition is part of an international project by book artists to respond to the tragic bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad on March 5, 2007. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibition is a tribute to those killed and wounded that day and reflects on the intellectual freedom, human rights and violence in a time of war. It will be held in five New York City cultural venues from mid-June until late September 2013. Information about other exhibition sites can be found on the exhibition page.

Al-Mutanabbi Street is the centuries-old center of book selling in Baghdad, known for bookstores, cafes and outdoor book vendors. It was named after a 10th century classical Arab poet and has long been the historic heart of the Baghdad intellectual community.

The exhibition was created by Beau Beausoleil, the Founder of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition, and Sara Bodman and features book arts created by international artists from 26 countries. It was organized in NYC by the Center for Book Arts. A complete set of all the books on display in NYC has recently been donated to the Iraq National Library in Baghdad.

The exhibit was facilitated by the Global Studies Division, The Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Public Program: Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here – conversation with the artists. Opening remarks by Muhsin al-Musawi, Professor of Arabic Literature, Columbia University.
Sept. 17, 2013, 6-8 pm, Butler Library.

The event starts at 6:00 pm on the 3rd Floor of Butler Library and will be followed by reception and conversation with the artists: Holly Anderson, Oded Halahmy and Ellen Wallenstein in room 523 in Butler Library.

2014 NEH Summer Institute Award Announced: “America’s East Central Europeans.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced that it will support yet another prestigious Summer Institute for College & University Teachers, this entitled “America’s East Central Europeans: Migration & Memory” which will run from June 9-29, 2014.  Principal Investigator Alan Timberlake, Director of Columbia’s East Central European Center, will be assisted by Co-Directors Edward Kasinec (Harriman Institute) and Robert Davis (Global Studies, Columbia University Libraries). 


During the Institute, the twenty-five NEH Summer Scholars selected, together with an array of some fifty master teachers, scholars, and social services and community representatives will address three core questions: First, what are some of the methodological and conceptual issues (e.g., ethnic identity maintenance, inter-generational and inter-ethnic relations) to consider in any approach to the study of the East Central European emigrations?  Second, what were some of the particular characteristics, motivations, and experiences of these immigrants?  Finally, can we create a sophisticated narrative synthesis of the “East Central European Experience” in America that could be integrated into broader courses on American politics and immigration, sociology, and ethnic studies, or that could constitute “stand alone” courses in teaching curricula?  


East Central Europe is large and diverse, and so the Co-Directors have chosen to examine only a selection of ethnic categories.  Specific institute units are devoted to Baltic (Estonian & Latvian), Western Slavic (Czech/Polish/Slovak), South Slavic (Croatian & Serbian), Hungarian, and East Central European Jewish immigration to the United States following World War I, during the interwar period, after World War II, and in the post-Communist period.  In addition to discussing the core questions noted above, the institute also looks at and discusses topics ranging from community organization, political influence, and everyday life of people of East Central European backgrounds in the U.S. over the course of the last century. 


The 2014 Institute continues the Co-Directors’ cycle of NEH Summer Institutes emphasizing curricular enhancement and enrichment of syllabi in a number of disciplines.   As in previous institutes, it is expected that while the specific focus is on East Central European migration, the issues addressed will resonate for those studying other immigrant groups.  Therefore, the Co-Directors will strive to reach out to other area studies specialties—Latin Americanists, Asianists, Islamicists, Africanists, etc.—for potential Summer Scholar applicants.  Our essential goal is to enrich the historical narrative of immigration to America by identifying both unique aspects and commonalities among the diverse groups studied, and to strategize how to better weave these strands into the warp and weft of American immigration and global history. 


This will be the third Summer Institute awarded to Harriman, the previous taking place in June 2011 and June 2013.   It will be the sixth co-directed by Messrs. Kasinec & Davis.


College & university teachers, researchers, independent scholars, museum curators and libraries are encouraged to apply for this competitive program.  Successful applications are notified by April 1.   In the fall of 2013, full information as to application procedures, requirements, daily schedule, and on-campus housing will be disseminated via the Institute website at 


Information on, and video from previous Summer Institutes are archived at the URL above.

New E-Resources for Slavic & East European Studies

A number of major electronic resources were purchased for Columbia students and faculty in June, at the close of the FY:


  • The “Iskusstvo Kino Digital Archive” captures the complete run (1931-2012) of this esteemed monthly publication in a complete online archive, in full-image and fully searchable text.
  • The “Slavic Humanities Index Database” indexes some 150 major scholarly and cultural journals and series produced in Eastern Europe (most especially Ukraine) from 1994 to the present. The Database contains more than 165,000 records and is continuously updated.


The URL of the resource itself is found at:,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=e5h

  • The “Jewish Theater Under Stalinism” database contains digitized documents from the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI) in Moscow concerning the Moscow State Jewish Theater and the affiliated Moscow State Jewish Theater School (MGETU).


  • “The Stalin Digital Archive” database is the result of many years of collaboration between Yale University Press and the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI).   RGASPI documents from Stalin’s personal papers will eventually number over 400,000 pages.  The SDA also includes access to the complete Annals of Communism series, with twenty-five volumes of scholarly commentary, annotation, and interpretation of documents from state and party archives selected by teams of Western and Russian editors.

 If you have questions, contact Rob Davis in Global Studies.

Recent Slavic & East European Antiquarian Acquisitions

In recent months, the 2CUL Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies made a number of significant antiquarian purchases for library partners Cornell & Columbia.

  • Cornell purchased two stunningly illustrated Hungarian artist books by Tibor Galle (1896-1944).   Linoleumok.  Masodik konyv. (Budapest, [1925]), an extremely rare portfolio of striking expressionist prints.  No other copy is recorded in any public collection.

The other Galle title, 11 Eredeti linoleum-merszete (Budapest: Juventus: 1923), limited to an edition of 100 copies, contains eleven images combining modernist impulses with romantic nationalism.

Both titles are available in the Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections at the Carl A. Kroch Library.

  • This past May, Columbia acquired a remarkable collection of 160 examples of Russian sheet music, with illustrated covers, dating principally from the 1920s.  Among the artists represented are Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) and Iliazd (Ilia Zdanevich, 1894-1975), as well as virtually all of the major sheet music illustrators of the period.  Composers represented include Emmerich Kálmán (1882-1953), the Hungarian-born composer who would later immigrate to the United States, fleeing post-Anschluss Vienna; Nikolai Roslavets (1881-1944), the Ukrainian Modernist composer whose works were subsequently banned in 1930s Soviet Russia; and “father of the Blues” W.C. Handy (1873-1958), to name but a few.



Top, “Ekstentrik” with music by Maiman; bottom, “I would See You Often,” with music by Mervol’f.

  • In June, Columbia purchased Vlastislav Hofman’s (1884-1964) F.M. Dostojevskij: Cyklus třiceti kreseb. (Praha: F. Borovy, 1917).  Containing thirty full-page plates, the title is a great rarity, made unique by the presence of  two of Hofman’s original sketches tipped in.  Hofman was trained as an architect, but was a talented graphic artist and set designer as well, strongly

influenced by Cubism.   This item was purchased in honor of Robert Belknap, Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages, former Director of the Russian Institute, and former Director of University Seminars, in recognition of his contributions to Dostoyevsky scholarship, his many kindnesses to generations of students, and his exemplary service to Columbia University.

Top, illustration to “The Double,”; below, “Dostoyevsky in Siberia.”

  • From dealers and collectors in New York, Columbia acquired a woodblock-illustrated Church Slavic Menaion (Moscow: Pechatnyi Dvor.1646), previously lent to the Bakhmeteff Archive’s exhibition Quatercentenary of the House of Romanov, as well as nine Russian and Czech titles dating primarily from the 1920s, including Aleksei Kruchenyk’s (1886-1968) Chornaia taina Esenina (M., 1926), and a beautifully illustrated copy of August Strindberg’s Královna Kristýna ([Prague], 1922) coincidentally also illustrated by Vlastislav Hofman.


Both Columbia and Cornell have also benefited from a number of significant donations:

  • More than 3,000 Romanian imprints, as well as some 2,000 Classical Music LPs from Eastern Europe were donated to Cornell by Professor Mircea Pitici.  The collection, from his family home in Sibiu, was packed and transshipped (1.5 tons of material!) to Ithaca in August 2013.  Included are complete collections of historical documents, works by important Romanian authors, and art albums.
  • Burton Miller donated to Columbia a collection of microfilms from the collections of the Russian State Library, including (among other titles) all fifteen District volumes of the household census of the rural population of Kursk guberniia (1882-1887) carried out by the provincial zemstvo, the sixteenth summary volume, several issues of the survey of the state of the province published annually by the governor’s chancellery (1892-1907), and all the numbers of a short-lived agricultural journal, also put out under the zemstvo‘s auspices between 1898 and 1906.
  • David Mortimer, President of the American Assembly, donated thirty titles from the Library of his mother, Kathleen Harriman Mortimer (1917-2011), some dating from her residency in Moscow from 1943-45, and including many inscribed to her father, Ambassador W. Averell Harriman (1891-1986).  Among the items donated are Charl’z Spenser Chaplin (M.: Goskinoizdat, 1945) and D.U. Griffit (M.: Goskinoizdat, 1944); Kartinnyia gallerei Evropy : sobranie zamiechatel’nykh proizvedenii shkol Evropy(St.Pb: Vol’f, 1862-1864), all great rarities in North American collections, as well as one curiosity–Brezhnev’s Malaia zemlia (M.: Politizdat, 1978) inscribed by the author to Ambassador Harriman.