Category Archives: Global Studies

Walter Ducloux Collection Now Accessible on Texas ScholarWorks

A collection of conductor, composer and educator Walter Ducloux is now discoverable on Texas ScholarWorks, the digital repository of The University of Texas at Austin.

Born in Germany in 1912, Ducloux immigrated to the United States in 1933. He held various teaching positions, including as a music professor at The University of Texas at Austin for 28 years. Ducloux was the co-founder of Austin Lyric Opera, and served as the director of the Austin Symphony Orchestra from 1972 to 1980. His contributions to the musical world were vast, influencing countless students and musicians through his work.

The Walter Ducloux collection is comprised of reel-to-reel tapes of historical recordings of operatic and orchestral works dated from 1949 to 1983. The recordings primarily feature performance ensembles from the University of Southern California and The University of Texas at Austin.

The initiative to enhance access to the Ducloux materials was spearheaded by Librarian for Performing Arts Molly Roy, who earlier this year proposed a new workflow to expedite the revelation of previously hidden materials in the Historical Music Recording Collection (HMRC). Roy’s innovative approach not only enhances accessibility but also facilitates the transition of these materials to more appropriate storage at the LSF.

The finding aid can be viewed here, and the bibliographic record is now searchable through the university’s catalog here. These resources enable users to find specific recordings by keyword and determine their exact locations within the Library Storage Facility (LSF).

Researchers and music enthusiasts alike will greatly benefit from this improved discovery of the rich recordings within the Walter Ducloux Collection. This milestone underscores the university’s commitment to preserving and promoting its valuable historical resources.

The successful implementation of this project is a testament to the collaborative efforts of several departments, with key contributions from staff across the Libraries, including Whit Williams and Marjie Lawrence from Content Management, Brittany Centeno and Joey Marez from Preservation and Colleen Lyon from Scholarly Communication. The collective efforts have been crucial in bringing this project to fruition.

READ, HOT AND DIGITIZED: Digitizing, Repatriating, and Promoting Sound

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.


Financially supported by the Indian Ministry of Culture, the Virtual Museum of Images and Sound is an online platform drawing upon and digitally presenting the amazingly rich resources held in the American Institute of Indian Studies’ (AIIS) collections.  While the open access museum highlights a vast range of artistic expression that I encourage everyone to explore, this brief post highlights the audio recordings from the Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE). 

Grab your headphones, settle into your comfortable chair, and join in to listen and learn!

For those new to South Asian music traditions, the ARCE’s Music in Context section provides a great introductory overview as it organizes recordings thematically.  While one might expect a section on ragas, the ARCE site encourages one to listen to songs associated with life cycle events, with work, or with ritual traditions.  If curated thematic journeys aren’t your style, rest assured that the site also operationalizes a number of digital humanities methods to delve into the dizzying array of musical types.  For example, one can use the Mapping Music or the Music Timeline interfaces to discover recordings by geographical location or in their chronological context.  There are so many fascinating things to find here—for example, did you know that the American jazz artist Teddy Weatherford lived in Kolkata (the city then known as Calcutta) and was featured on India’s First Jazz Record in 1944?  Or that the 1978 “Jazz Yatra” brought the likes of saxophonist Sonny Rollins and sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan together?  One loses oneself in the midst of such resources.

Beyond the fun to be had on the site from wherever you are, it is important to remember ARCE’s compelling vision to support the study of ethnomusicology in India.  The original goals for the AIIS analog collection were to protect and preserve recordings made by foreign scholars in the course of their research which were subsequently deposited in archives around the world.  Troublingly, it was obvious that such recordings were rarely available in India itself.  Addressing this problem head on, ARCE declares that “repatriation of collections has remained a major aim of the ARCE, which houses collections… which were not [previously] available in India. Scholars and collectors from all over the world, as well as India, continue to deposit collections of their recordings regularly at ARCE.”  In addition, they see the collection and the wide array of associated programs and events anchored in the collection as a way to stimulate new ethnomusicological research worldwide.  Knowing this driving mission, it is no surprise that ARCE has made so many collections freely available online.  I commend them on this important work.

I further applaud ARCE on their partnerships to collaboratively digitize and make recordings openly available.  To cite one recent and impactful success, ARCE worked with grant funding from the Modern Endangered Archives Program (MEAP) to preserve, robustly describe, and offer access to the “Recordings of Hereditary Musicians of Western Rajasthan.”  A scholarly collection formerly only on audio cassettes, the new online open access through ARCE and MEAP allows listeners worldwide to celebrate and enjoy Rajasthani music, culture and history.   

Learn more with these databases (restricted to UT affiliates):

Saarey Music provides streaming access to over 60 years of South Asian classical music including genres like Dhurpad, Thumri, Kafi, Tarana, and Ghazal.

Smithsonian Global Sound is a virtual encyclopedia of the world’s musical and aural traditions and includes material from the Archive Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (ARCE).

Ethnomusicology: Global Field Recordings presents content from across the globe, including thousands of audio field recordings.

Music Online: Listening provides access to over 7 million streaming audio tracks, see in particular the “World Music” section. 

Read, Hot & Digitized: Baalbek Reborn

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.


“Baalbek Reborn” is a groundbreaking virtual experience offering free access to users worldwide. Utilizing cutting-edge digital technologies and insights gleaned from decades of archaeological research, the project presents 3D reconstructions showcasing the appearance of Baalbek’s ruins during the 3rd century CE. These reconstructions notably feature prominent structures of the Baalbek temple complex.

Nestled in the Biqā’ valley in Lebanon, northeast of Beirut, Baalbak is an ancient city that flourished as an agricultural and religious center for thousands of years. It is best known for its Roman temple complex, which was called Heliopolis after the Greek for “City of the Sun.” The complex has three temples honoring the Triad of Heliopolis: Jupiter, Bacchus, and Venus, and the city flourished repeatedly under different religious groups’ administration because of its temple architecture. Baalbek remained a significant outpost through Antiquity and the Islamic imperial period, sometimes dramatically changing hands over the course of only months. As Europeans became acquainted with the city in the early modern period, their focus was––and has continued to be––on the remarkable ancient architecture of the temple complex. While the ancient Roman architecture is certainly significant, it is worth remembering that modern archaeologists cleared the Islamic town––which would have featured historic architecture as well––that had been built on the site in order to access the temples. The inclusion of Baalbek as a UNESCO World Heritage Site underscores its significance.

 The Baalbek Reborn collaborative project enhances accessibility to the site’s cultural heritage by offering a dynamic virtual exploration of its past and present beauty. Available as a free app for computers, mobile devices, and virtual reality headsets, the “Baalbek Reborn” tour provides interactive, 360-degree views of 38 locations within the city. Users can engage with expert audio commentary in Arabic, English, French, or German, and access additional images and text for detailed information about specific spots. One unique feature is the ability to toggle between the present-day appearance of the buildings and their historical reconstruction from nearly 2,000 years ago. The high resolution of both the photographs and reconstructions allows users to zoom in without losing clarity, while informative text and audio clips provide detailed explanations based on research.

Introduction section with flyover.

Upon starting the app, users are treated to a five-minute introduction to the site, along with basic instructions on how to navigate the virtual experience. For those seeking a more comprehensive understanding, a detailed tutorial is available for the app’s features. The app offers two main modes of exploration: a guided tour lasting 38 minutes, highlighting the key features of the Baalbek temples, or the option to explore points of interest directly from the map of the temple complex. It is the latter option that some users may find rather disjointed: it is not easy to move seamlessly between points of interest. However, those who wish to explore further are encouraged to view the ruins on Google Streetview for a virtual walk, albeit without the detailed commentary provided in the app.

Baalbek ruins in Google street view.

The collaborative effort behind this endeavor involved three key partners: Flyover Zone Productions, a virtual tour company responsible for the platform’s development; members of the German Archaeological Institute, who contributed content and provided archaeological expertise; and Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture – Directorate General of Antiquities, which oversees the protection, promotion, and excavation activities related to the country’s national heritage sites. Together, these partners have combined their expertise to create a comprehensive and immersive experience that brings the ancient beauty of Baalbek to contemporary audiences.


For further reading in the UT Libraries’ collections, consider the following scholarship:

Returning to Umm al-Dunya

One of the best parts of serving as the Middle Eastern Studies Librarian for UT Libraries is making and maintaining relationships with scholars, publishers, and vendors. I take advantage of any opportunity to travel to continue fostering these relationships, and my trip to Egypt in late January was no different. I was lucky enough to be able to travel specifically for the Cairo International Book Fair. Over the course of two weeks, I bought amazing books and journals from vendors local to Egypt and coming from around the Middle East, met new suppliers of key research materials, and I was able to connect with dear colleagues new and old.

The Cairo Book Fair is massive. This is not hyperbole: the event is often said to be the largest book fair in the world after Frankfurt, and perhaps more family-friendly than any other. Vendors from all over the world come to offer their wares, and people from all walks of life attend. There are groups of Egyptian schoolchildren on field trips; international students studying at Egyptian universities; scholars of the Middle East from around the world; whole families; teens out for a fun afternoon; and of course, librarians from all over the world who come to find the best, most interesting, rare, or latest publications. I spent my first few days at the Cairo Book Fair at the Children’s Hall and making a preliminary review of the international Islamic vendors in halls 3 and 4. It was in the Children’s Hall that I found the publisher al-Mu’assasah al-‘Arabiyyah al-Hadithah li’l-Tab’ wa’l-Nashr, and they were promoting riwayat al-jib, or pocket novels. In particular, they had produced a boxed set of the full supernatural collection of author Ahmad Khalid Tawfiq. UT Austin already owns a few of his works, including, among others, Mithl Ikarus (Just Like Icarus). The set that I bought includes 81 science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal titles in a small, portable format, with––frankly––delicious cover art. This set, titled Ma Wara’ al-Tab’iah, was the basis of the Netflix series Paranormal.

In Halls 3 and 4, I found the majority of the international and Egyptian Islamic vendors. Of particular interest were the booths and pavilions for the Dar al-Ifta’ organization and Al-Azhar University. The latter had an entire pavilion with exhibits on the manuscripts held at the Al-Azhar Library and the expertise of the preservationists who care for those rare and special materials, as well as art displays and activities for children and adults. I took a peek in their storage room to find what I had originally expected and hoped to find: the classic paperback Azhari texts and textbooks. Researchers focusing on the history of Al-Azhar as an educational institution, or on the history of Islamic education at all levels (for al-Azhar is not just a university, but also operates a K-12 school system), would find these materials central to their work. They are inherently ephemeral, due to their purpose of use and construction, so it was a rare opportunity to find them for UT Libraries’ collection.   

Over the following few days, I made my way with more intention through halls 3 and 4 and also explored halls 1 and 2. I had the pleasure of visiting with fellow librarian, Dr. Walid Ghali, who is a professor and director of the library at the Aga Khan University (London). Dr. Ghali recently released three novels of his own, and we had a delightful conversation about librarianship and authorship while at the booth for his novels’ publisher, Dar al-Nasim. I also had the opportunity to speak with Ashraf ‘Uways, the founder of Dar al-Nasim. It was wonderful to learn more about his approach to selecting titles for publication, and especially his interest in supporting the publication of Arabic novels by authors in non-Arabic speaking countries in Africa. With such wonderful publishers at my disposal, I was acquiring quite a bit of incredible material. Each day, I arrived at the fair with a suitcase to fill, and I wasn’t the only one. From students to families to scholars, nearly everyone had a bag or cart of some kind to help them transport home their precious finds.

Traveling to Egypt was also an opportunity to meet with UT Austin’s regular book vendors. I had the pleasure to see George Fawzy, the director of our beloved vendor Leila Books. We were able to  check-in in person about the research priorities at UT Austin and how those shape the materials that we acquire through Leila Books, and we were able to catch up on the state of libraries in North America and publishing in the Middle East. Visiting the Leila Books office is a delight for me because I get to see their incredible work in action, meeting the folks behind acquiring and shipping our materials. I always have to get a photo with the latest UT Austin shipment, and sure enough we had several boxes that were about to be sent out.

From left, Dale Correa and George Fawzy.

Additionally, I was able to meet with a new vendor who specializes in rare materials and visit his warehouse on the outskirts of Cairo. It is from this vendor that I have been able to acquire unique periodicals, including al-Majmu’ah al-Da’imah and al-Majallah al-Misriyyah li’l-‘Ulum al-Siyasiyyah (the Egyptian Journal of Social Science), which I brought back from this trip. Al-Majmu’ah al-Da’imah is a huge, multi-volume work that compiles the official record of judicial decisions issued in Egypt since the beginning of the national court system in 1883, and I would not have been able to locate it without this vendor’s help and some luck. I also found out-of-print significant, even rare, materials from the book market of Azbakiyyah in central Cairo. With the Cairo Book Fair on, the entirety of Azbakiyyah market moves to the Fair, where they have their own dedicated section. The Azbakiyyah booths are the most popular and most lively of the Fair, with materials moving in and out constantly. If you ever want to find a particular scholarly edition, or affordable novels, Azbakiyyah, or perhaps its section at the fair!, is the place to go.

My trip to Egypt was not only about acquiring pivotal materials for the UT libraries—I also took the time to visit key Egyptian cultural heritage institutions and to meet with scholars. I had the honor of finally meeting Dr. Nesrine Badawi (the American University in Cairo) in person. We had an engaging conversation about current trends in Egyptian scholarship and discussed her most recent research on Islamic law and the regulation of armed conflict. Additionally, I was able to visit Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt, and spend a day at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Although I have visited this beautiful library and its extraordinary collections before, it is always worth a trip for the new exhibits and rotation of special collections on display. On this visit, I was able to tour the reconstructed private library of renowned journalist and director of al-Ahram newspaper, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal. The extensive exhibit was a stunning look inside Heikal’s education, career, and personal and professional relationships. For my own intellectual amusement, I spent a great deal of time in the rare books room, reviewing the latest rotation of centuries-old manuscripts. Bibliotheca Alexandrina now boasts a significant collection of ancient Egyptian art and contemporary Egyptian art, ranging from paintings to sculpture to ceramics.

It was a delight and an honor to be able to return to Egypt and to visit the Cairo Book Fair this year. I am sincerely grateful to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the UT Libraries, and our generous HornRaiser donors for making this trip possible. I look forward to my next trip and the caretakers and creators with whom I will forge relationships.


Women’s History Month, Chicana Feminism

Women’s History Month is an opportune time to reflect on the multifaceted contributions of women, especially those from diverse cultural backgrounds. In recognition, we turn our attention to the Chicana community and the rich resources available at the University of Texas Libraries – and especially the Benson Latin American Collection – that celebrate and document their stories.

At the heart of Chicana history lies a narrative of resilience and resistance. From the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 70s to contemporary social justice initiatives, Chicana women have been instrumental in advocating for change. The Libraries’ collections include seminal works and primary sources that shed light on Chicana activism, identity formation, and community organizing. Researchers and enthusiasts alike can access documents, oral histories, and archival materials that capture the spirit of Chicana activism across different eras.

The Libraries boast a rich assortment of Chicana literature, from classic works by luminaries such as Gloria Anzaldúa and Sandra Cisneros to contemporary voices pushing boundaries and redefining genres. The Libraries’ catalog offers an extensive selection of Chicana-authored works – including poetry, fiction, or scholarly analysis – that illuminate the complexities of identity, migration, and belonging.

The visual and performing arts are integral to Chicana cultural expression, offering mediums through which artists challenge stereotypes, reclaim narratives, and celebrate heritage. Libraries’ resources include an impressive collection of visual art, photography, and performance documentation that capture the vibrancy and diversity of Chicana artistic production. From iconic murals to groundbreaking performances, these materials provide insight into the evolution of Chicana artistry and its intersections with politics, feminism, and cultural heritage.

In addition to physical holdings, the Libraries offers an array of digital archives and special collections that provide convenient access to rare and unique materials. Through digitization initiatives, scholars and enthusiasts worldwide can explore manuscripts, photographs, and ephemera related to Chicana history and culture. These digital resources not only preserve valuable artifacts but also facilitate research, teaching, and community engagement initiatives that promote awareness and understanding of Chicana experiences.

Here are some examples from the extensive holdings at the Libraries and the Benson Latin American Collection:

Chicana Movidas: New Narratives of Activism and Feminism in the Movement Era by Maylei Blackwell: This groundbreaking book examines the contributions of Chicana activists during the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Drawing from oral histories and archival research, Blackwell sheds light on the often-overlooked role of Chicana women in shaping social and political change.

Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS): This peer-reviewed journal focuses on the scholarly study of Chicana and Latina experiences. It publishes research articles, creative writing, book reviews, and more, reflecting the diverse voices and perspectives within the Chicana/o community.

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa: An iconic work in Chicana feminist literature, Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera explores the intersection of gender, race, and culture in the borderlands between the United States and Mexico. Through prose and poetry, Anzaldúa challenges conventional notions of identity and belonging, inspiring generations of activists and scholars. The Benson holds Anzaldúa’s archive, so curious scholars can see the author’s process at work from original manuscripts and source materials.

Chicana Archival Collections: The Benson Latin American Collection stands as a repository of invaluable Chicana primary resources, preserving the rich cultural tapestry and narratives of Chicana individuals. Within its holdings, iconic figures contribute distinct threads to the vibrant mosaic of Chicana heritage. Gloria Anzaldúa’s groundbreaking works challenge societal boundaries and explore the complex intersections of identity. Yolanda Alaniz’s activism and writings on feminism and Chicana identity serve as testament to the resilience and agency of Chicana women. Carmen Tafolla’s poetry and prose capture the spirit and struggles of Chicana life, while Carmen Lomas Garza’s art vividly depicts everyday scenes infused with cultural symbolism and familial warmth. These examples provide a mere cross-section of the rich Chicana holdings available to researchers and the curious alike.

Chicano Database: This comprehensive bibliographic index covers Chicano and Latino topics, including art, education, history, literature, and more. It includes citations to articles, books, book chapters, and conference papers, making it an invaluable resource for conducting research on Chicana studies.

Chicana: This documentary by Sylvia Morales traces the history of Chicana and Mexican women from pre-Columbian times to the present. It covers women’s role in Aztec society, their participation in the 1810 struggle for Mexican independence, their involvement in the US labor strikes in 1872, their contributions to the 1910 Mexican revolution and their leadership in contemporary civil rights causes, and shows how women, despite their poverty, have become an active and vocal part of the political and work life in both Mexico and the United States.

Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings edited by Alma M. Garcia: This anthology brings together key writings by Chicana feminists, spanning from the early days of the Chicano movement to the present day. Covering topics such as reproductive rights, immigration, and intersectionality, these essays and manifestos offer essential insights into Chicana feminist thought.


Whether you’re a student, scholar, or simply interested in learning more about Chicana history and culture, these materials offer a rich and diverse perspective on the contributions of Chicana women to our society.

As we commemorate Women’s History Month, let us honor the legacy of Chicana women by delving into their stories, amplifying their voices, and recognizing their enduring contributions to society. Through the resources available at the University of Texas Libraries, we have the opportunity to deepen our understanding of Chicana history, culture, and activism, ensuring that their narratives continue to inspire and empower future generations.

Read, Hot & Digitized: Black Classicists in Texas

Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this new 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.


For the past two years, I have been delighted to work on the Black Classicists in Texas exhibition project, a collaborative endeavor to tell the story of Central Texas’ early Black educators and their passion for the study of antiquity. This joint initiative, led by Dr. Pramit Chaudhuri, Dr. Ayelet Haimson Lushkov and myself, involves collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Classics, University of Texas Libraries, the Benson Latin American Collection, Huston-Tillotson University and the Carver Museum & Cultural Center. At its core, the project’s exhibitions underscore advocacy for classics, 20th century African American advancement and highlight a vibrant community of scholars, students and public intellectuals.

Although the physical exhibitions concluded in December 2023, their legacy endures through an online exhibition that emphasizes the relationship between education about the classics, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the historical trajectory of education in Austin. Leveraging digital platforms, the online exhibition employs multimodal approaches including story maps, virtual tours and digitized archival materials to provide users with a dynamic exploration of the individuals and institutions intertwined in this narrative.

The website, a cornerstone of the project, exemplifies the initiative’s collaborative efforts. Choosing the education-friendly Reclaim Hosting allowed for easy hosting, a custom domain and installation of web applications with the built-in installer, Installatron. Through Installatron, we were able to build a custom website with WordPress, assisted by the exceptional team at UT Austin’s Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services and beautifully designed by the creative studio, In-House International.

Screenshot of the Explore the Materials page, showing the three exhibition institutions
The landing page of the Explore the Materials section.

The “Explore the Materials” section of the website provides users with access to digitized versions of the physical exhibition materials, alleviating the need for researchers to physically visit archives to view the items. As someone intimately involved in the project’s archival research process, I am delighted to offer researchers an easy access point to these materials, each complete with detailed metadata and sourcing information, ensuring folks can find the original materials even now after the physical exhibition is over.

A screenshot of metadata and thumbnail for R.S. Lovinggood's 1900 pamphlet, "Why Hic, Haec Hoc for the Negro?"
A digitized item on the Huston-Tillotson University section of the Explore the Materials page.

Archival research often presents challenges, whether the archival finding aid is detailed, vague or non-existent. That’s why it’s particularly exciting to preserve items that might not be found through traditional methods. These include a photograph of Samuel Huston College President Matthew Simpson Davage, discovered in a box of unprocessed photographs brought to the research team by the former Huston-Tillotson University Archivist. Similarly, hard to track down documents like the 1976 report of UT’s affirmative action compliance from the Black Diaspora Archive and custom exhibition panels and maps are now digitally accessible.  

Beyond digitized materials, the website features technologically innovative elements, including 3D models of the physical exhibition spaces courtesy of our collaborators at In-House. Hosted on the freemium 3D platform, SketchFab, these interactive models preserve the essence of the physical exhibitions, offering users an immersive experience. They even allow users to see some of the materials in greater detail than possible in-person.

Screenshot of the SketchFab 3D model showing the physical exhibition
Screenshot of SketchFab 3D model of the physical exhibition in the Benson Latin American Collection Rare Books Reading Room, as it appeared in 2023.

Additionally, the ArcGIS StoryMap linked on the site, “This is My Native Land: Tracking the “Classical” Legacy Across Texan Historically Black Colleges and Universities”, adds another interactive element to the story of Black Classicists in Texas and their legacy. While many of the tools we used in the project came at a cost, we were fortunate to create an ArcGIS Story Map for free.

Landing page of the StoryMap, "This is My Native Land". Photographs from the exhibit are scattered in the background.
StoryMap created by project researcher, Elena Navarre.

Moreover, pages dedicated to resources on Black history and culture in Austin, alongside preserved interviews originally showcased at the Carver Museum, provide invaluable context and insight into the broader socio-cultural landscape surrounding the Black Classicists in Texas narrative.

By showcasing the contributions of Black Classicists in Texas, the website and associated tools shed light on underrepresented voices in the study of antiquity and Texas educational history. They serve as a testament to the diversity and resilience of these scholars, enriching our understanding of their invaluable contributions and histories.


Explore more in these UT Libraries resources:

Cook, William W., and James Tatum. African American Writers and Classical Tradition. University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Greenwood, Emily. Afro-Greeks Dialogues Between Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Classics in the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Hairston, Eric Ashley. The Ebony Column Classics, Civilization, and the African American Reclamation of the West. University of Tennessee Press, 2013.

Cásarez, Adriana. “Diverse Adaptations of Classical Literature.” University of Texas Libraries Exhibits, 2020. https://exhibits.lib.utexas.edu/spotlight/diversity-classics.

Spirit of Viche: Black Ancestral Traditions in the Colombian Pacific

by CAMILLE CARR

The Benson Rare Books Reading Room hosts a
student-curated exhibition, funded by an Archiving Black América–Black Diaspora Archive Acquisitions Grant

Spirit of Viche presents scenes of Black life and culture from the Colombian Pacific and features artistry from its four departments—Chocó, Cauca, Valle de Cauca, and Nariño. Its focal point is viche, an artisanal distilled sugarcane drink whose recipe has been passed down from enslaved African women to their descendants for centuries. Viche has medicinal properties, healing general ailments and aiding women during the process of childbirth. Viche is also deeply spiritual, constituting an integral component of everyday life for Black Colombian Pacific communities.

Several glass bottles sit on a wooden table, their contents range in color from orangish to amber yellow to clear. Different bottles have different colored labels.
Bottles of Mano de Buey viche sit on a table. The different labels and colors illustrate the varieties of distilled spirits offered by the brand. (Photo: Camille Carr)

Join us on Feb. 29 for a special exhibition talk with student curator Camille Carr, LLILAS Director Adela Pineda Franco, and visiting scholar Dr. William Mina Aragón, Universidad de Cauca, and Biblioteca Afrocolombiana de las Ciencias Sociales at Universidad del Valle, Cali
Event information here

Black women have created viche from sugarcane for centuries, also producing derivates that are important in spiritual and traditional healing practices of the Colombian Pacific. The first step in the artisanal process involves harvesting sugarcane along rivers and grinding it using a mill called a trapiche. Once ground, the sugarcane stalks release a juice called guarapo, which is fermented and distilled for up to three months. During the distillation process, guarapo is cooked over an open flame until it becomes transparent, resulting in viche puro. Viche makers, or vicheras, then infuse the drink with local herbs, fruits, and spices to create the traditional derivates of viche, known as viche curado and tomaseca. Black Pacific communities use viche curado to heal general ailments and tomaseca to aid women with menstruation, reproduction, and childbirth. As a spiritual and medicinal drink, viche functions as an ancestral technology for Black survival.

A Black woman holds a bottle and faces the camera. The bottle contains greenish-yellow herbs and liquid and has a pink label. There is a batiked cloth tied around the top. The woman's earrings are large turquoise hair combs and her hair is natural, very full, and reddish.
Vichera Mayra (Maja) Arboleda Mina (photo: Camille Carr)

In November 2021, the Ley del Viche (Viche Law) recognized viche as the patrimonial beverage of Black Pacific communities and permitted its commercialization. Presently, vicheras/os aim to protect the drink from cooptation by people outside the Pacific who wish to profit from the efforts of Black communities. With that in mind, this exhibit endeavors to recognize and reiterate this ancestral craft as a practice original to Black Colombian women and their communities.


The materials on display were collected in 2023 by LLILAS master’s student Camille Carr as part of the inaugural Archiving Black América-Black Diaspora Archive Acquisitions Award. The award allowed Carr to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in Cali, the center of Black life and culture in the Pacific region, and build a small archival collection that includes print media, photographs, bottles of viche, artworks, and other materials.

The acquisition of these materials reinforces the Black Diaspora Archive’s mission to document Blackness in the Americas and reifies the presence of Black Colombian culture within the Benson Latin American Collection.

This exhibition was curated by Camille Carr (MA ’24) in collaboration with Benson Exhibitions Curator Veronica Valarino.

Read, Hot and Digitized: Italian Poetry, Translated and Sonorized

Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this new 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.


For most of human history, poetry has been an oral tradition, with poets singing their verses to an audience rather than writing them down and disseminating them in print. Italianpoetry.it, an independent digital humanities project without academic affiliation, aims to share the beauty and lyricism of recited Italian poetry with a wider audience, offering recordings of Italian poems alongside the original text and English translations.

The site, which is frequently updated with new poems, focuses on a simple but very effective content model. Poems are published in their entirety in the original Italian, with the English translation of the text beneath each line. An audio file containing the recording of the poem is embedded at the top of each page. When the audio file is played, the word being read is highlighted in both the Italian and the English translation, allowing users to follow along with the recording and to see how the word order and phrasing in the translation compares to the original text. This allows for a streamlined, user-friendly experience that facilitates appreciation and enjoyment of the original text—both for its sonority and its meaning—regardless of the user’s knowledge of Italian. Each poem also has a brief write-up by the site’s creator at the bottom of the page, providing additional context for the work. A guide to navigating the site is also provided to make it easy for new users to interact with its content.

Screenshot of a poem from the site.
The page for the poem “A una zanzara.”

The site is intentionally simple and, per the author, “unapologetically retro-looking” in its appearance, allowing users to focus on the site content without interference from unnecessary or distracting web elements. Focusing on simplicity is not only an aesthetic choice, though, as it helps make the site more accessible for users with slower or unstable internet connections who may have trouble browsing more complex webpages. The site uses the BAS Web Services set of tools to synchronize the poems’ texts with the audio recordings. The BAS Web Services are provided by the Bavarian Archive for Speech Signals, and provide a broad and valuable set of tools for speech sciences and technology.

Screenshot of a list of poem titles available on the site.
The selection of all poems available on the site, including options to sort by composition date, date added to the site, author, and title.

In addition to the main pages created for each poem, there is also an audio-only podcast version of the poems for those who would like to listen to the audio without the interactive elements of the main site. The site’s creator makes clear that the poems selected are in no way representative of Italian poetry as a whole, and that they were chosen at the author’s discretion. This adds a personal touch to the site sometimes absent from more comprehensive digital projects.

Screenshot of the site's podcast offerings.
The podcast audio files included on the site.

Italianpoetry.it is a valuable resource for those wishing to explore Italian poetry, regardless of their experience with the Italian language or knowledge of its history. While intentionally a personal selection rather than a wide-ranging survey of the Italian poetic tradition, its content offers a great introduction to that tradition that can spur further interest and exploration. It also provides a very interesting and accessible way to explore the relationships between written and spoken text, sonority and textual structure, and translation and original texts.


For more information, please consult the UTL resources below:

Picchione, John, Lawrence R. Smith, John Picchione, and Lawrence R. Smith. Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry : An Anthology. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.

Lind, L. R. (Levi Robert). Lyric Poetry of the Italian Renaissance; an Anthology with Verse Translations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954.

Lucchi, Lorna de’. An Anthology of Italian Poems, 13th-19th Century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922.

Bonaffini, Luigi, and Joseph Perricone, eds. Poets of the Italian Diaspora : A Bilingual Anthology. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014.

Libraries Host Filipino Documentary Screening

On October 26, the Libraries hosted an incredible screening of Filipino American film-maker, PJ Raval’s 2023 documentary, “Who We Become: A Story of Kapwa”.

In honor of Filipino History Month, over 50 attendees gathered to watch Raval’s feature documentary about three young Filipina women wrestling with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial tensions. Raval’s work follows the women as they find themselves on a journey of self-discovery and self-reflection within their families and communities, finding new meanings of Kapwa.

Multiple organizations across campus worked together to celebrate Filipino and Filipino American culture; bringing film, food, and community into the Perry-Castañeda Library. The event also featured catering from Kapatad Kitchen & Café, the documentary short, Pagtiyagaan (2023), created by Giullian Canlas, a current senior in Asian American Studies and Radio Television Film at the University of Texas at Austin, and an insightful Q&A with Director PJ Raval.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s distribution company, ARRAY, is bringing Raval’s documentary to Netflix on December 1st, and UT librarians, Uri Kolodney and Adriana Cásarez, are acquiring the film for the UT Libraries permanent collection.

This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Asian American Studies at UT Austin, UT Libraries, Radio, Television and Film (RTF), Moody College of Communication DEI, Filipino Students Association (FSA) and UT Asian American Journalists Association (UT AAJA).

Read, Hot and Digitized: Rabbinics, Meet Analytics

Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this series, librarians from the UT Libraries 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.


The E-lijah Lab (text in Hebrew) is a digital humanities lab in the Department of Jewish History & Bible Studies at the University of Haifa in Northern Israel. Among many projects that map the history of Jewish culture, HaMapah (Hebrew for ‘The Map’), founded in 2018 by then PhD students Elli Fischer and Moshe Schorr (now a Rabbi and a software engineer respectively), “aims to bring modern tools of quantitative and geographic analysis to Rabbinic literature[1].” Mapping ‘rabbinic networks’ that are based on responsa (Jewish legal texts written in the framework of questions and answers), the project reveals new data that “shows spheres of influence through time and across space.”

Schorr explains that “a true responsum, the answer that a rabbi writes to a query posed by another rabbi, is the basic unit of rabbinic authority. It orders the two correspondents hierarchically; the one asking acknowledges the greater expertise of the one answering, thereby expanding the latter’s influence.” Moreover, “because the hierarchy is … emerging implicitly from the deference of the secondary and tertiary elite, it can tell us more about the dynamics of influence, reputation, and expertise than many other forms of legal authority.”

The metadata of responsa – when they were written, to whom, by whom, from where, and to where they were sent – can be digitally quantified and visualized in different ways. HaMapah examines the effects of national and cultural borders on the spread of rabbinic authority. Data visualization shows the ‘reach’ of Rabbis who lived near one another, either at the same time or in succession, demonstrating rabbis’ authority.

For example, while mapping Noda Bi-Yehuda, a two volume responsa work by Rabbi Yechezkel ben Yehuda HaLevi Landau (1713-1793) who was an influential authority in halakha (Jewish law), the researchers discovered significant differences between the two volumes, as they represent distinct parts of his career.

Volumes 1 & 2 ‘heatmaps’ of Noda Bi-Yehuda (https://tinyurl.com/2pzmv4t7)
Volumes 1 & 2 ‘heatmaps’ of Noda Bi-Yehuda (https://tinyurl.com/2pzmv4t7)

The responsa in volume 1, published in 1776, are scattered across a wider geographic area than those in volume 2 (published posthumously in 1810), even though it contains only about half the number of responsa and was composed earlier. Those in volume 2 are much more densely concentrated in Bohemia, Moravia, and Hungary, whereas Volume 1 includes more responsa to Germany and Poland. It seems that the publisher, who was actually Landau’s son, wanted the contents of the book to shape and perhaps geographically expand his father’s reputation. The knowledge gained through visualization leads Fischer to assert that “the implication is that Rabbi Landau had a certain geographic consciousness. He was aware that a greater reach implied greater halakhic authority and had a mental map of his sphere of influence, or at least of the sphere of influence he wished to project to his readers.”[2]

The success of HaMapah has branched out to adjacent projects, including a Searchable Map of Hebrew Place Names, and the comprehensive database of Prenumeranten. Similar to today’s crowdfunding campaigns, the Prenumeranten were lists of readers who presubscribed to books before publication. Those lists were printed in around 1700 Hebrew books published during the 18th-20th centuries. They document almost 10,000 distinct places of Jewish residence, mainly in Europe, as well as the names of hundreds of thousands of individuals. Each subscription – noting a specific person, living in a specific place, buying a specific book in a specific year – is a data point in a vast network of cultural interactions. For example, Fischer used this vast data set to reconstruct the itineraries of three booksellers as they sold subscriptions throughout Europe in the mid-19th century. He also researched the reception of specific authors and their works in various communities, such as that of Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna (1720-1797), better known as the Vilna Gaon.

“Rabbinic Wanderlust and Cultural Transfer” – a visualization of some of the trips taken by Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi, a collector, dealer, copyist, and publisher of Jewish manuscripts.
Rabbinic Wanderlust and Cultural Transfer” – a visualization of some of the trips taken by Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi, a collector, dealer, copyist, and publisher of Jewish manuscripts.

The HaMapah and Prenumeranten projects effectively combine historical documents and cutting-edge technologies to shed new light on the intersections of travel, book culture, and Jewish history.  While these projects are still in their infancy, I encourage readers to visit the website for conference papers on their early findings and to learn more about these important projects.


Additional reading:

Fischer, Elli and Schorr, Moshe. Analysis of Metadata in Responsa : Methods and Findings. Innovations in Digital Jewish Heritage Studies – the 1st International Haifa Conference. July 13, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV9N1Zt15Uc (video).

Haas, Peter. Responsa : literary history of a rabbinic genre : Atlanta, Ga. : Scholars Press. 1996.

https://openlibrary-org.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/books/OL8151172M/Responsa

Freehof, Solomon Bennett. The responsa literature : Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1955. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991031462519706011

Flatto, Sharon. The kabbalistic culture of eighteenth-century Prague : Ezekiel Landau (the ‘Noda Biyehudah’) and his contemporaries : Oxford, UK ; Portland, Or. : Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2010. https://search.lib.utexas.edu/permalink/01UTAU_INST/9e1640/alma991035983629706011 

Fischer, Elli and Ganzel, Tova. A Glimpse of Rabbi David Zvi Hoffmann’s Methods as a Decisor of Halakhah (Hebrew). JSIJ – Jewish Studies, an Internet Journal.

https://jewish-faculty.biu.ac.il/sites/jewish-faculty/files/shared/JSIJ22/ganzel_fischer.pdf

Fischer, Elli. The Prenumeranten Project: Digitizing Pre-Subscriber Lists. Digital Forum Showcases, European Association of Jewish Studies. January 21, 2022. https://www.eurojewishstudies.org/digital-forum-showcase-reports/the-prenumeranten-project-digitizing-pre-subscriber-lists/


[1] Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, is the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writing. In academic research, Rabbinic literature includes the Mishnah, Halakha, Tosefta, Talmud, Midrash, and related writings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbinic_literature).

[2] https://blog.hamapah.org/mapping/super-rabbi/