In Nuestra América (1891), Cuban poet and philosopher José Martí calls for a pan–Latin American identity that grounds itself in the need to value autochthonous knowledge: “Knowing is what counts. To know one’s country and govern it with that knowledge is the only way to free it from tyranny. The European university must bow to the American university. The history of America, from the Incas to the present, must be taught in clear detail and to the letter, even if the archons of Greece are overlooked. Our Greece must take priority over the Greece which is not ours. We need it more.”
A new online exhibition, A Hemisphere of Knowledge: A Benson Centennial Exhibit, accessible in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, explores the implications of Martí’s words across time and cultures, using a wealth of resources available at the Benson Latin American Collection.
“This exhibit, divided into six sub-themes, seeks to present different types of knowledge production from the Americas while recognizing that our universality comes from relations based upon diversity, and that these relations, like cultures themselves, are constantly changing,” said Daniel Arbino, head of collection development at the library and curator of the exhibit. In conceiving the exhibit, Arbino sought to examine “the diverse production of knowledge from the many cultures that make up what we now call the Americas.” He adds that “the exhibition considers this knowledge against the backdrop and legacies of hegemony, thereby situating it within the power dynamics of colonialism, imperialism, and neoliberalism. A Hemisphere of Knowledge is intentionally political because it values cultural beliefs that have been dismissed due to legacies of power.”
In honor of the centennial of the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, the library’s head of collection development, Daniel Arbino, has teamed up with Pilar Zazueta, historian and senior lecturer at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS), to create a bilingual podcast.
The Benson at 100 is an audio series designed for listeners interested in Latin American history and culture. Episodes will be released monthly, and explore the region through the Benson archives and books.
Now on view in the Scholars Commons at the Perry-Castañeda Library, a new display examines World War II-era indoctrination materials.
The exhibit, “Publicity and Propaganda: The Great Britain Ministry of Information – Daily Press Notices and Bulletins from World War II,” was curated by Gilbert Borrego, Digital Repository Specialist, and features items available in Texas ScholarWorks, including the Press Notices and Bulletins published by the MOI between 1939-1946. The Press Notices and Bulletins are among many publications and films issued by the agency during the war but UT Libraries is the only library in the world that owns this complete series.
By 1935, it was becoming apparent to the British government that war with Germany would be inevitable. To avoid public panic, the government secretly planned a new department that would control propaganda and publicity surrounding the coming war. From this work, the Ministry of Information (MOI) was born on September 4, 1939, the day after Britain’s declaration of war. The MOI was tasked with the handling of news censorship, national publicity, and international publicity in the Allied and neutral countries. Not only did the Ministry produce these daily bulletins, but they were also responsible for posters, films, radio broadcasts, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and advertisements. In March 1946, the MOI was dissolved as its mission to fight “a war of ideas,” had been completed with the end of World War II.
The Daily Press Notices and Bulletins were the main form of communication from the British Government to the public and press during World War II. These publications provided the information that the domestic and international press used to report on the war, from the British government’s point of view. Documents range from descriptions of rationing on the home front to the accounts of battles, to casualty counts and the names of those casualties amongst other information.
Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this series, librarians from UTL’s Arts, Humanities and Global Studies Engagement Team briefly present, explore and critique existing examples of digital scholarship. Our hope is that these monthly reviews will inspire critical reflection of and future creative contributions to the growing fields of digital scholarship.
Documenting Judeo-Spanish was launched in Spring 2020 under the leadership of Dr. Bryan Kirschen, a sociolinguist specializing in Hispanic languages at the Romance languages department at Binghamton University, NY (Twitter @LadinoLinguist).
“Ladino (also known as Judeo-Spanish or Judezmo) refers to the variety of Spanish that developed among Jewish populations who were expelled from Spain in 1492 and subsequently settled throughout Turkey and the Balkans, then of the Ottoman Empire. These Jews, known as Sephardim, preserved many features of Medieval Spanish, while incorporating linguistic elements from the languages spoken in their surroundings. As a Jewish language, Ladino has always been in contact with Hebrew. And while it may sound like other Romance languages, in writing, it would have traditionally appeared more similar to a Semitic language. This project deals with documents in Judeo-Spanish written in Solitreo. Solitreo refers to the Hebrew-based cursive script once used by Sephardim; it is the cursive variety of the Rashi (Rabbinic) script; it derived from Galician/Portuguese, meaning ‘to spell.’ This style of writing is distinct from the Ashkenazi-based alphabet used for cursive Hebrew today, making documents in Solitreo undecipherable to the untrained eye. Solitreo is now a nearly-extinct alphabet to an endangered language, as most writers of the language utilize Roman characters.”
The Documenting Judeo-Spanish project contains a range of documents from journal entries and ledgers, to personal correspondence, prayers, poetry, and community minutes. The project currently presents 25 selected documents (out of 150 already collected from around the world). Beyond these fascinating digitized texts, the most compelling tool is one that allows users to engage with the paleographic endeavor of deciphering the script. Hovering one’s mouse over a word in Solitreo will reveal its Latin-character equivalent form in Judeo-Spanish, while clicking on that word would show a tooltip with the literal translation of the lexical term. Below each digitized object there is also downloadable PDF file, containing the parallel text in Romanization of Judeo-Spanish as well as English translation. Metadata about both the content of the item and its digital file is included as well. Some items include a short recording of the text (in WAV format) being read in Judeo-Spanish. See for example this postcard: https://documentingjudeospanish.com/explore/postcards/djs0075/
Additional tools are expected to be launched soon, including a fully-developed font in Solitreo which would include individual and final forms of letters, ligatures, numbers, punctuation, and diacritical marks.
Kirschen’s project could be used both within and outside of academia. Its audience are educators, students, scholars, and the public. While it could be used as a pedagogical tool, introducing students to an extinct script, it could also be used by the community, allowing users to learn how to read personal items and re-connect to their heritage. What I really like about this project is that all 150 items that were processed for it were gathered from the public. As opposed to other projects that use existing collections, Documenting Judeo-Spanish is serving like an ‘aid force,’ connecting the academia with the community.
Related resources (with annotations):
Aki Yerushalayim : revista de las emisiones de Israel en djudeo-espaniol. Jerusalem: s.n., 1979.
The UT Libraries hold a full run of this Ladino language journal, published in print 1979 to 2016 and resumed publication in digital in 2019. Many of its issues include a section dedicated to Solitreo and its transcription. See UTL catalog. Some issues are also available online.
Barocas, David N. A Study on the Meaning of Ladino, Judezmo, and the Spanish Jewish Dialect / by David N. Barocas ; with an Introductory Essay by Henry V. Besso on Judaeo-Spanish, Its Growth and Decline. New York: Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture, 1976. (see UTL catalog).
Bunis, D. A guide to reading and writing Judezmo. Brooklyn, N.Y.: The Judezmo Society, 1975. Downloadable from the author’s academia.edu page.
Bunis, D. Soletreo: Writing the Ladino Script with Prof. David Bunis. Stroum Center for Jewish Studies. University of Washington, 2015. In this video, Professor Bunis reviews and illustrates how to write each letter of Ladino in both the Rashi and Solitreo alphabets.
The Libraries announces the “Fostering Inclusive Classrooms with Open, Free & Affordable Course Materials” instructor learning community, to promote IDEA concepts through the adoption of open educational resources (OERs).
The OER Working Group eagerly seeks applicants to join its first instructor learning community in Fall 2021. With support from facilitators and guest experts, we hope to join participants from across disciplines in their efforts to make their courses as financially inclusive as possible by eliminating or substantially lowering course material costs. The emphasis of the community will be open educational resources (or OER), which are learning materials that carry open licenses and allow anyone to freely read, share, and modify them. These permissions also enable instructors to adapt them for greater cultural responsiveness and accessibility or even include students in building them.
In the course of the learning community, participants will engage with the cohort to:
Understand the spectrum of affordable learning materials available openly or through campus / UTL services, with an emphasis on OER
Search for OER that may be relevant to the courses they teach in one or more repositories and evaluate them using open rubrics
Evaluate course materials for basic accessibility best practices & cultural responsiveness; identify opportunities to enhance these aspects of OER and self-created course materials
Identify and interpret open licenses associated with OER created by others and those they wish to apply to their own materials
If you’ve been interested in taking the first steps to transitioning your course to free or low-cost materials but need support to do it, please consider applying to join this instructor learning community. We will offer a nominal stipend of $200 (less withholdings) for completing the following requirements:
Participation in at least five of six required discussion sessions
Completion of a course map matching some of your course objectives to existing free and affordable material options
A sharing activity that may include openly licensing a learning object (such as a syllabus, lesson plan, module, or even your course map) or a proposed alternative
Please note that to maintain the level of interaction at which this group will most benefit, we will cap participants at 10 for Fall 2021. If interest exceeds that number, we look forward to offering more cohorts of this learning community in the future.
See more details about who may be interested and what to expect from the experience. Apply here by Monday, 9/20. Notifications to accepted applicants will be delivered no later than Monday, 9/27.