With over 17,000 prints of unique books, the Special Collections & University Archives Department at the John C. Hitt Library is a treasure trove of information that some students might not know about. But Dr. Louise Kane, a new English professor, wanted to change that with her students — while also teaching them about literary modernism.
Literary modernism, which tends to encompass experimental literature published around 1900-1940, is the focus of the LIT3714 class in the English department. To help students create their own literary modernist magazines as a final project, Kane brought her students to the Special Collections & University Archives Department to have them do archival research on modernist magazines from the past. The activity helped students create magazines that will be showcased at UCF Celebrates the Arts on April 5-6, 2019 at Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.
Archivists David Benjamin and Burak Ogreten guided students through the Zines Collection and the Sol and Sadie Malkoff Collection, instructing them on how to handle the sometimes centuries-old materials with care.
“Some of the documents my students handled were from as early as the 1890s, so they can be very fragile,” said Kane. “But I wanted them to get the experience of actually touching the documents and getting that real archival experience, as opposed to just looking at them on a computer screen.”
By exposing her students to modernist authors from Japan, China, Russia, India and beyond, Kane hoped the students came away from the experience with a more global perspective of the often-westernized artistic movement.
“I think it’s important to teach literary modernism because it’s such a global phenomenon,” said Kane. “By bringing archival research to the forefront of class activities, I think we stand a better chance of recovering certain texts, writers, and literary movements that might have otherwise been erased from history.”
Brittany Tinder, an English – Creative Writing student who took Kane’s class, worked with other students Anthony Garcia and Patricia Corsi to create original writing and art for their magazine, READYMADE. Its contents were inspired by two modernist movements Kane’s students learned about in class: Dadaism and Surrealism.
“Dr. Kane’s class was the most engaging, thought-provoking and creatively-taught class I’ve ever taken,” said Tinder. “I learned how to think freely and without limits and how to channel that creativity into a literary magazine.”
Some of Kane’s students have gone on to conduct further research on literary modernism as part of UCF’s directed independent research course. “I think doing this activity made students realize that archival research is something you can do as an undergraduate and even enjoy once you know the basics,” said Kane. “It’s also really good for preparing students for graduate study, since incorporating archival research into published articles and PhD dissertations is such a highly-rated skill.”
Photo credit: Artwork featured in READYMADE, a magazine created by students Patricia Corsi, Anthony Garcia and Brittany Tinder. It is a recreation of “Two Ladders” by Gertrude Abercrombie, a Surrealist painting from the 1940s. (Credit: Patricia Corsi)