2019-2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the Lewis bequest, and the Library has a full year of programs and activities planned. In the words of Horace Walpole, the Library has been “mighty busy” already with a summer and fall filled with scholarship and celebration. The start of the academic year brought new exhibitions, a symposium, a mini-conference, lectures, outreach, and classes. Perhaps the highlight of this busy season was the glorious autumn afternoon lawn party celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Lewis bequest and the reopening of the newly refurbished Cowles House.
The Fellowship year kicked off with a Reading Room full of Visiting Fellows and other researchers deeply engaged in study and the Root House terrace full of those same scholars enjoying lively discussions. Among them was Yale Summer Graduate Student Fellow Sarah Weston. Yale Graduate Student Summer Fellow Sarah Weston, a PhD student in both the English and Art History Departments, was in residence for four weeks from late June through late July to work on her project “Gothic Form: Deformations, Elasticity, and the Shaping Spirit of Caricature,” the first chapter of her dissertation. Her dissertation, Wild Form: Shape, Number, and the Romantic Reinvention of Space, investigates Romantic approaches to form, shape, and space. Her fellowship at the LWL afforded her the ability to study the Library’s rich holdings in satirical prints, and to develop the portion of her dissertation chapter that considers “Gothic form” through the lens of caricature. The Library offers one- and two-month Summer Fellowships to students enrolled in a doctoral program at Yale University who are engaged in or preparing for dissertation research and whose topic of study is supported by the Lewis Walpole Library collections.
An all-day symposium and a mini-conference were organized In connection with the two exhibitions (see separate article elsewhere in the newsletter); we reached out on campus in New Haven to introduce students, staff, and visitors to the Library through participation in start-of-term orientation and the Founder’s Day Open House; and we welcomed visits to the Library by a Yale class, Yale graduate students, the Library Council, and members of the Farmington community.
The all-day symposium “Scholarly Editing of Literary Texts from the Long Eighteenth Century,” held at the Graduate Club in New Haven, brought together panels of speakers, all but one of whom are General Editors of their respective scholarly editions. Panelists were: Stephen Clarke, Curator of the Lewis Walpole Library’s 40th anniversary exhibition, Rescuing Horace Walpole: The Achievement of W.S. Lewis, and Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Liverpool (The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence); Robert DeMaria Jr., Henry Noble MacCracken Professor of English, Vassar College (The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson); Elaine Hobby, Professor of Seventeenth-Century Studies, University of Loughborough (Editing Aphra Behn in the Digital Age); Peter Sabor, Canada Research Chair, Director of the Burney Centre, Professor of English, McGill University (Editing Frances Burney’s Journals and Letters, 1972-2019); Michael F. Suarez, S.J., Director of Rare Book School, Professor of English, University Professor, University of Virginia (The Collected Works of Alexander Pope); and Gordon Turnbull, General Editor of The Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell (Yale Boswell Editions)
The mini-conference “Trial by Media: The Queen Caroline Affair” was held at the Yale Law School where the exhibition of the same name is on view. One panel, chaired by Cristina S. Martinez, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa, explored “Law, Lawyers and the Queen Caroline Trial.” Simon Stern, Professor of Law and English; Co-Director, Centre for Innovation Law & Policy, University of Toronto, spoke on “John Bull, Public Sentiment and the Reasonable Man;” Mark L. Schoenfield, Professor of English, Director of Undergraduate Studies, English Department Vanderbilt University, spoke on “Henry Brougham Per(for)ming the Defense;” and Ryan Martins, Third Year Law Student, Rare Book Fellow, Yale Law School, spoke on “The Legal Legacy of Queen Caroline’s Trial.” A second panel, chaired by Janice Carlisle, Professor Emeritus of English, Yale, looked at “Media, Public Opinion and the Queen Caroline Affair.” Speakers included William Anthony Hay, Professor of History, Mississippi State University, and 2019-20 Garwood Visiting Fellow, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Department of Politics, Princeton University, on “Perfect Storm: What Made the Queen Caroline Affair a Scandal that Shook the Realm?” Kristin F. Samuelian, Associate Professor, Department of English, Coordinator, English Honors Program, George Mason University, on “Engaging Ambiguity: Allusion and Intertext in Queen Caroline Prints;” and Jennifer Tucker, Associate Professor of History, Wesleyan University, on “Queen Caroline and the Sexual Politics of Popular Culture and the Law in Georgian England.’
The Library was represented at the annual Founder’s Day Open House at Sterling Memorial Library nave in October with a display focused on Annie Burr Lewis’s contributions to Yale, fitting in with the year recognizing 50/150 Women at Yale, as well as the Lewises’ generosity that led to the founding of the Library.
We were delighted to resume our evening exhibition lecture series in collaboration with the Farmington Public Libraries. Curator Stephen Clarke spoke to an audience of Farmington community members on the W.S.L. exhibition. Two days later, a look at Lewis and the Waldegraves was the subject of the 2019 Van Sinderin Lecture in New Haven also delivered by Stephen Clarke.
Yale Professor Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen brought her American Gothic architecture students for a class, and the Library again hosted graduate students from the English Department for a day-long workshop on working with primary sources. Upcoming class visits include a group of English and American History juniors from Miss Porter’s School and an Art History class from Bennington College with more in the works.
Every member of the Library’s staff was involved in the reinstallation of collections in the Cowles House, and the result is very exciting. Not only has the physical fabric of the structure been strengthened and such improvements as an electrical system upgrade and handicapped accessible lift and bathroom, air conditioning, fire suppression, and security systems installed, but the furnishings have been refreshed with new upholstery, lamp shades, and draperies. Furniture, paintings, ceramics, books, and other Lewis and collection objects have been reinstalled in new configurations. Ground floor rooms reflect their use during the Lewises’ time, while former bedrooms upstairs have been transformed into scholars’ studies and a meeting room. Overall, the Cowles House retains its Lewis-era ambiance with a fresh look.
The Library and its staff will not rest on their laurels, however, as we look forward to an exciting line-up of programs for the winter and spring. Check out the Save the Date section in the Newsletter and consult the Library website and Yale Library Calendar for upcoming events.