“How does one become a writer, and how does she go about building a body of creative work?”* These are questions that author Irma López seeks to answer in her latest publication, a biography of the late Mexican writer María Luisa Puga (1944–2004) titled Extraño no-amor el tuyo: María Luisa Puga, historia de una pasión.
This is the second book on Puga by López, a professor of Spanish and interim dean at Western Michigan University. For this volume, López relied heavily on a collection of 327 diaries kept by the award-winning writer between 1972 and 2004. The diaries make up the bulk of the María Luisa Puga Papers at the Benson Latin American Collection. They are “an existential logbook of body and identity” writes former Benson librarian José Montelongo in a Spanish-language essay about Puga’s diaries. It was López who originally brought the collection of diaries to the attention of the Benson; the writer’s sister, Patricia Puga, donated them to the collection in 2017.
In Extraño no-amor, López builds on her previous work on Puga and, with the aid of the diaries, probes deeply into the writer’s life in order to better understand her work. The resulting biography is a portrait of Puga that lays bare her strengths and weaknesses, her artistic and existential struggles, similar to the way in which Puga relentlessly examined herself on the pages of her diary.
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.
The China Biographical Database is a freely accessible relational database with biographical information of approximately 427,000 individuals as of April 2019, primarily from the 7th through early 20th centuries. Users can query the system in terms of place, time, office, social associations and kinship, and export the results for further analysis with GIS, social networks, and statistical software.
The China Biographical Database (CBDB) originates with the work of Chinese social historian Robert Hartwell. Hartwell’s research employed data as evidence to form and support his arguments. He built a relational database in dBase for MS DOS format to capture biographical data as it relates to five elements: (1) people, (2) places, (3) a bureaucratic system, (4) kinship structures and (5) contemporary modes of social association. He created an advisory committee for the database and made copies of his datasets and applications available to the committee members. When Hartwell died in 1996, the project included a large number of multi-variant biographical and genealogical data for over 25,000 individuals. He bequeathed his database to the Harvard Yenching Institute. Later, the Harvard Yenching Institute transferred its rights to the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies 1 and changed its name to the China Biographical Database (CBDB).
Hartwell’s database has since gone through many redesigns to make it work with modern computer technology. The FoxPro application has been used to make easier searches and queries. An online application for public access querying and reporting has been added. Python is used to write procedures for names entity recognition for text-mining and text-modeling. Other facilities that have been built into CBDB includes an XML export ability, a save/load ability, and a handy list of pre-made regular expression examples. The long-term goal of CBDB is to systematically include all significant biographical material from China’s historical record and to make the contents available free of charge, without restriction, for academic use. Users can query CBDB through an online database in both a Chinese and an English interface. Users can also download the entire database, together with query forms and utilities for exporting data for network and spatial analysis, from the CBDB website and explore the database on any computer with Microsoft Access. 2
The data in CBDB is taken from multiple biographical reference sources, including modern syntheses of biographical data, traditional biographical records, evidence for social associations from literary collections, evidence for office holding from modern and traditional sources, and other biographical databases. 3 Data is regularly being added and updated and is categorized and coded for various aspects of the life histories of Chinese people. The CBDB project also accepts volunteered data as it is thought that the more biographical data the project accumulates, the greater the service to research and learning that explore the lives of individuals.
Research methodologies supported by CBDB:
An investigation of the common characteristics of a historical group by means of a collective study of their lives.
GIS: Mapping and Analyzing
Statistical and geographic information system (GIS) software can be used to work with CBDB data. For example, ArcGIS, MapInfo or even Google Earth can be used to combine freely available China Historical GIS (CHGIS) with CBDB output
Social NetworksSocial network analysts find that people need and seek emotional and economic support of different kinds. All social network queries in the stand-alone version of CBDB export data for visualization and some analysis to Pajek, freeware for social network analysis for Windows in UTF-8, GBK or pinyin romanization.
Peter Bol, who was the chair of Hartwell’s advisory committee and a professor of Chinese history at Harvard, is now the chair of the CBDB Project’s executive committee. There are many committees overseeing CBDB: a steering committee (composed of scholars of pre-modern Chinese studies and computer scientists), editorial committees from the participating research institutes, working groups on each of the four historical periods, and functional committees who work on text mining and web maintenance. All committees are composed of scholars from around the world and CBDB has been promoted widely, for example a recent special program at the 2019 Association for Asian Studies Conference on “Digital Technologies Expo.”
Sima Guang social associates (464 listed, of various types: Patron of, Friend of, Friend in the same graduating class, Impeached, Impeached by, Recommended, Recommended by, Opposed or attacked, Opposed by or attacked by, Praised or admired by, Coalition associate of, Supported by, Purged by, Prefaced book by, Preface of book by, Epitaph written by, Epitaph written for, etc. )
Some examples of biographical indexes included in CBDB and held in the University of Texas Libraries.
Comics writer Jim Ottaviani will talk about his new graphic novel biography Feynman, on the life of the noted Nobel nuclear physicist Richard Feynman, for a special installment of Science Study Break.
Feynman’s life story was shaped by his connection to historical significance (he was part of the team that developed the atomic bomb and, later, the commission that looked into the Challenger disaster), his contributions to science (he was a pioneering figure in quantum computing and nanotechnology) and his quirky personality.
Ottaviani is the author of several comic books about the history of science, including Two-Fisted Science: Stories About Scientists which features biographical stories about Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Niels Bohr, and several stories about physicist Richard Feynman. He is also a librarian and has worked as a nuclear engineer.
Come hear Ottaviani talk about Feynman at 6pm on Friday, Sept. 30, in Welch Hall, Room 2.224, located at 24th & Speedway. There will be pizza from Austin’s Pizza (while it lasts) and the University Co-op will be selling copies for Ottaviani to sign (while they last).
This biography, Reflections of a Soldier and Scholar, by Davis Ford is packed with Earnest Gloyna’s fascinating recollections of farming, public education and family life in the Texas Panhandle during the Depression as well as his experiences in WWII, in graduate school at Johns Hopkins, and, of course, his professional life as a consultant/businessman, professor and dean. Of particular interest is his early life in the Texas Panhandle picking cotton, cutting milo, going to rural schools, learning to type and meeting his future wife, Agnes. Two of these would be helpful in his later life—typing and Agnes.
The story of how he chose graduate school over working for the U.S. Public Health Service after the war is classic Earnest. He decided to go to graduate school instead of joining the Public Heath Service because they would only pay him as a Captain. This decision changed everything—Earnest went to graduate school and became Dr. Gloyna.
Earnest has had an amazing career as an educator and researcher, as a consultant working on environmental problems all over the world, and as a dean. Under his leadership the College of Engineering grew enormously and improved its graduate programs by hiring highly qualified faculty from all over the United States. This faculty would help make the Cockrell School a research powerhouse. Another of his great accomplishments was when he helped the Engineering Library grow from a barely competent collection to one of the best in the US. Continue reading New Biography on Retired Dean and McKinney Supporter Gloyna→