Fenwick Fellows Lecture: Skirting the Issue

Join the University Libraries on Thursday, April 13 at 2 p.m. in the Fenwick Library Main Reading Room, for Dr. Kristina Olson‘s lecture, “Skirting the Issue: Clothing and Politics in 14th Century Italy,” where she will discuss her research findings from her 2015-2016 Fenwick fellowship.

Lecture Abstract: From the mid-13th to the end of the 14th century, an increase in mercantile activity in Florence and other cities in Italy witnessed the proliferation of new wealth among families that did not belong to the aristocracy. This economic development, together with other demographic shifts (such as those caused by the Black Death, ca.1350), caused many non-aristocratic families to climb in social and political power. One way in which they displayed their change in status was by means of their clothing and jewelry, thereby wearing their newfound gains on their persons. This drastic shift in social markers of status bred envy and confusion: families with long-standing claims to nobility appeared impoverished in comparison with these rising upstarts. Bitter feuding and acts of vengeance between the leading aristocratic and mercantile families ensued. In order to maintain social order, civic sumptuary legislation targeted various displays of luxury: excessive spending on clothing, jewelry, and rituals, such as funereal practices and exorbitant wedding dowries.

As clothing comprises a visual language signifying status, then, for many authors of the Italian Middle Ages clothing and luxury became an essential part of their poetic language, bound up with politics and civic identity. Dr. Olson’s book project, Sumptuous Literature: Clothing and Governance in Fourteenth-Century Italy, explores how authors interpret the relationship of wealth, politics and the body in terms that alternately target women (misogyny) or men (misandry) during this exceptional moment in economic and social history.

About the Fenwick Fellows: The Fenwick Fellowship is awarded annually to a Mason faculty member to pursue a research project that uses and enhances the University Libraries’ resources while advancing knowledge in the faculty member’s field. Applications for the 2017-2018 fellowship are currently being accepted; the deadline is May 5, 2017.

Mason Author Series: Helon Habila

Join the University Libraries, in conjunction with the Creative Writing Program’s New Leaves Festival, for a reading and signing by Helon Habila on Wednesday, April 5 at 7:30pm in the Fenwick Library Main Reading Room.

Helon Habila, an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Mason, will discuss The Chibok Girls, his compassionate and powerful account of one of the most horrific recent tragedies to occur in Nigeria: the kidnapping of 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in April 2014 by Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist group whose name translated into English means “western education is abhorrent.” Habila, a native of Nigeria, traveled to the country twice to track down some of the escaped girls and their families and reconstruct what happened on that fateful day and how the town is coping. He situates the kidnappings within the political and historical context of the rise of Islamist extremism in Nigeria, which is deeply rooted in its tragic history of colonialism.

The University Libraries’ Mason Author Series features Mason faculty and alumni authors throughout the year, and is generously sponsored by the University Bookstore. Upcoming readings include Associate Professor Jennifer Ritterhouse on April 26 and Visiting Professor Michael Hayden on May 4.

Spring into Well-Being with the Libraries!

Spring into Well-Being is here! Shake off the stress of spring semester and cultivate your physical, emotional, and community well-being with the following resources from the University Libraries.

NYTimes Food and Travel

Dig deeper than the front page and discover a world of food and travel. Strengthen your body with a wholesome loaf of Nordic whole-grain rye as you contemplate a hiking trip through remote Canada. Restore your spirit with a batch of chocolate ice cream profiteroles while planning a dream getaway to Barcelona. Explore new communities, learn new traditions, and recharge your batteries—all for free, from the comfort of home. NOTE: First time users must create a new account here using their GMU credentials to gain access.

National Geographic Virtual Library

Broaden your perspective and investigate the world with National Geographic online. Browse full-color issues from 1888 to the present; explore maps, images, and videos; or play with the interactive Term Frequency chart and watch the way we talk about our world shift through the years.

Swank Digital Campus

For those days when you just need to watch a movie, explore this rotating collection of 25 feature films and documentaries. Challenge yourself with films like An Inconvenient Truth or Malcolm X; watch a recent blockbuster like Inglourious Basterds; or kick back with a classic like The Breakfast Club or The Godfather. Specific titles may change over time. NOTE: Requires local installation of Widevine Media Optimizer; best accessed via Google Chrome.

These are just a few of the many resources available via the Libraries for Mason faculty, staff, and students. Just login with your Mason NetID and password. For more information on the resources available to you through the University Libraries, browse the Libraries’ subject lists of online resources or contact one of the subject specialists.

Pop-Up Pantry Donation Drive

Help stock the Mason Pop-Up Pantry! Gateway Library is sponsoring a donation drive from March 31 through April 8.  Drop off your pantry donations at either Gateway Library or Fenwick Library service desks. You will receive a chance to win a Panera Gift Certificate! (One chance per each item donated).

What does the Pantry need?

  • Granola Bars
  • Rice, Pasta
  • Chips, Drinks, Soy Milk
  • Crackers & Cereal
  • Seasonings
  • Toiletries, Cleaning Supplies, Detergent, Dish Soap
  • Pens, Pencils, Paper Clips
  • Canned Fruit & Meat
  • Gummies
  • Paper Towels
  • Tofu, Organic Items
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Bottled Water
  • Gloves
  • Kleenex (Boxes)

For more information, please contact Allison O’Connor, Gateway Library, aoconnor @ gmu.edu