Purple Pride: Bending Sydney Exhibition

As part of Wear It Purple Day, 2019 the Library is proud to present Bending Sydney: Camp Ink 1970-77, a new exhibition featuring material from Rare Books & Special Collections. The exhibition runs from 30 August – 30 September in Fisher Library and on our ThinkSpace video wall.

We will be decorating service points and rolling out the purple carpet! Wear It Purple strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environment for young members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Photograph from a CAMP Inc demonstration, 6 October 1971. Photograph by Phillip Potter.

The exhibition Bending Sydney features material from CAMP Ink, which was the official publication of Sydney’s first lesbian and gay political organisation Campaign Against Moral Persecution. CAMP was co-founded in 1970 by John Ware and Christabel Poll to create a “safe space” for homosexual women and men to come together to discuss the issues of discrimination they were facing in Australia at the time.

Covers of CAMP INK publications, on display in the ‘Bending Sydney’ Exhibition. Left Vol 2, No. 2/3, December 1971, January 1972. Right: Vol 4, No. 1, 1974

A CAMP Inc branch was established on the campus of The University of Sydney, and Rare Books & Special Collections now holds the collection of the group’s historical publication which was published from 1970 – 1977. This exhibition highlights these publications, which was a vital outlet for CAMP Inc.

Covers of CAMP INK publications, on display in the ‘Bending Sydney’ Exhibition.
Left: No. 38, 1976. Right: Vol. 5, No. 2, 1976

The exhibition is curated by Library staff member Suzy Faiz. Suzy graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Sydney College of the Arts in 2017. Her work explores painting’s critical relevance within contemporary art. It ostensibly concentrates on painting and collage and primarily exhibits abstract tendencies coupled with the occasional inclusion of figurative elements. Suzy’s work has been exhibited locally and internationally and is included in private collections in Australia and Austria.


“As a young queer person, this exhibition has been particularly close to my heart. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the history of Australia’s LGBTQIA+ activism, without which we would not have the freedoms to express ourselves today.”

Suzy Faiz

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Explore the Bending Sydney Exhibition:

Fisher Library:, Level 4: Friday 30th August – Wednesday 16th October

ThinkSpace: Friday 30th August – Friday 13th September

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Echo 回声嘹亮: An exhibition on Chinese drama

For many centuries Chinese drama has enthralled all types of people. Drawing on the East Asian Collection of the University Library, this exhibition showcases rare books on the history of Chinese theatre.

The exhibition consists of three parts: the actor’s stagecraft in Chinese drama, the history of Chinese drama, and a comparative study between Chinese and Western drama. Familiarity with Chinese stage conventions is the key to appreciating Chinese drama. Understanding the historical roots of Chinese drama in comparison with Western drama provides new insights into the vicissitudes of theatrical studies.

Chinese drama continues to be a quintessential element of Chinese culture. The curtain of the stage is now raised!

Actor’s stagecraft


戏剧月刊Theatre Monthly  
刘豁公Liu Huogong, editor 
Shanghai : Xi ju yue kan she, 1928-1932 
Available at Fisher Library Rare Books & Special Collections EA 5651 4 A 

In Chinese drama, theatrical conventions made up of movement, costumes, face-painting and props all convey meaning in abstract ways.  

The fake beard is a distinctive part of the costume for many characters in Chinese drama. “Beard work” in Chinese drama refers to the skilful manipulation of the beard, tossing it in the air, grabbing it in a dramatic pose, and even flicking it outwards to indicate various emotions.  

horsewhip is a flexible cane with several tassels and a finder loop. It is used to indicate mounting, dismounting, riding and leading a horse.   

Flags are usually used to convey a battlefield scene. Four triangular flags are inserted on the back of the performer and it is used to exaggerate the heroic demeanour of the character.  

Pheasant tails are tools that the actor manipulates to express a wide range of emotions. The actors use two fingers on each hand to hold and bend the tails in various poses both in front of and behind themselves. They even clench the feathers in their teeth.  

Actors use long sleeves, long tresses and handkerchiefs to convey internal emotional states from joy to anger in order to punctuate a scene with dramatic action.  

The traditional Chinese opera stage is normally bare. A plain stage with only a table and two chairs can represent a courtroom, household, palace or even mountaintop.   

Cloud whisks are used primarily by supernatural beings like Taoist immortals and religious characters.   

Walking in circles means making a journey.  

The stagecraft of Chinese theatre is to suggest rather than to completely present. The suggestion is enough to evoke the entire reality. 

Curator’s note: 

Chinese drama is a genre capable of treating any topics in great depth – love, war, religious conversion, political struggles and criminal investigations to name a few. Famous plays include:   

  • The Injustice to Dou E by Guan Hanqing     
  • Autumn in the Han Palace by Ma Zhiyuan 
  • Regency of the Duke of Zhou by Zheng Guangzu  
  • Rain on the Paulownia Tree by Bai Pu  
  • The West Chamber by Wang Shifu 
  • The Peony Pavilion by Tang Xianzu 

Comparative studies of Western and Chinese drama 

The Orphan of Zhao赵氏孤儿

The Orphan of Zhao赵氏孤儿 was a play written by Ji Junxiang纪君祥in about 1330 AD. The play has revenge and retribution as its central themes. This piece was the first specimen of Chinese dramatic literature translated into a European language. There were five European adaptations in the 18th century: two in English, one in French, German, and Italian, respectively.   The play is founded on an event which occurred in the middle of the 7th century BC. A military leader is determined on exterminating the whole Zhao family. A faithful dependent of the family saves the life of the orphan by concealing him and passing off his own child in his stead. The orphan is brought up ignorant of his real descent until he reaches manhood. Once the truth is revealed, he seeks vengeance for the death of his family against the usurpers and ultimately recovers his birthright.  

L’orphelin de la Chine: tragédie 
Voltaire, 1755 
Available at Fisher Library Rare Books & Special Collections General French Plays 1018 

Voltaire adapted the play and he had it acted in the Comédie-Française in August 1755. Voltaire used the play as a didactic tale of morality and he called the play “the morals of Confucius in five acts.”  

The Orphan of China: A Tragedy 
Arthur Murphy; Du Halde, J.-B. (Jean-Baptiste), 1759 
Available at Fisher Library Rare Books & Special Collections General RB 4659.21 

Arthur Murphy had his adaptation produced at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane in April 1759. He includes a letter to Voltaire with suggestions to improve the play.  

Chen Shouyi states, “Each adaptation embodies some attempt at Europeanising the Chinese play. Particularly striking are the efforts made in observance of the Three Unities*. Both Voltaire and Murphy simplified the plot element and reduced the stage scenes. Voltaire embodied in the adaptation his admiration for ancient China, his confidence in the triumph of civilization over savagery. Murphy saw in it a fair chance for adapting and improving Voltaire.”[1]


Also see:

Studies in Chinese-Western Comparative Drama

Yun-Tong LUK  

Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1990 

Available at Fisher Library General 895.1 13  

Curator’s note:  

Comparative research is a research methodology in social sciences that aims to make comparisons across different countries or cultures. Can you think of other areas of comparative studies? 

History of Chinese drama 

A History of Chinese Drama

William Dolby

London: Paul Elek Books Limited, 1976

Available at Fisher Library General 792.0951 4

Dr. William Dolby (杜为廉) was a lecturer in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. As one of the foremost experts on Chinese language, culture and history, Dr. Dolby was a leading pioneer in Chinese theatrical studies and published A History of Chinese Drama in 1976. It was one of the first substantial works of Chinese theatrical history in western countries.

Curator’s question: 

Can you draw a timeline of Chinese theatrical developments using the table of contents?

Curator’s note:  

The cover image is originally from China Illustrated drawn by Thomas Allom who was a famous British illustrator for travel books in the 19th century. The image depicts a Chinese drama performance. Full volumes of China Illustrated can be found in the Rare Books Collections at the Fisher Library. 

China Illustrated  
Thomas Allom  
London: Fisher Son & Co., 1845 
Available at Rare Books & Special Collections General Dewey 915.1 206 

宋元戏曲史 Song Yuan Xiqu Shi (A History of Drama in the Song and Yuan Dynasties)
王国维 Wang Guowei
Taipei: Publications of Ancient Books, 1915
Available at Fisher Library East Asian General EA 5656 4

This book is considered as the first monograph of Chinese theatrical studies. Wang Guowei (王国维) is one of the most renowned intellectual luminaries of modern China.

According to Wang’s research:

  • The definition of Chinese drama must encompass “speech, action and singing in order to perform stories”.
  • Chinese drama originated from witchcraft performances and temple rituals.
  • Chinese drama matured in the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368 AD) and it embodied the value of “naturalness” which Wang considered as a universal standard for good literature.

Chinese drama is an indispensable part of Chinese folk culture. Rare books on folklore in the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD) and the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368 AD) recorded some historical developments of Chinese drama.

南村辍耕录 Nan Cun Chuo Geng Lu 

陶宗仪Tao Zongyi  (1329–1410 AD) 

Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 1959 

Available at Fisher Library East Asian General EA 2700 3 

都城纪胜 Du Cheng Ji Sheng  

耐得翁 Nai Deweng (Song Dynasty) 

Taibei: Taiwan shang wu yin shu guan, 1979 

Available at Fisher Library East Asian General EA 9105 9 

There were amusement quarters known as瓦舍washe ‘tile booths’ in the Song Dynasty where 雜劇zaju ‘variety plays’ were performed.  

东京梦华录 Dong Jing Meng Hua Lu 

孟元老 Meng Yuanlao (Song Dynasty) 

Shanghai: Po ku chai, 1922 

Available at Fisher Library Rare Books & Special Collections, EA 9100 3 

Within瓦舍washe ‘tile booths’ were a number of棚 peng ‘awnings’ which could hold thousands of audience members.  

梦粱录 Meng Liang Lu 

吴自牧Wu Zimu (Song Dynasty) 

Zhejiang: Zhejiang Ren min Chu Ban She, 1980  

Available at Fisher Library East Asian General EA 2665.7 8 

Curator’s question: 

When you write academic essays, you need to provide primary and secondary sources to support your arguments. Are these books primary or secondary sources?  

About the Curator

Jenny Zhijun Yang graduated with a Master of Art Curating with distinction at the University of Sydney in 2018. She graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts in history and Asian studies in 2017, and was awarded the Summer Research Scholarship of the University of Auckland. Jenny is currently a gallery assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and was previously a gallery assistant at the Auckland Art Gallery. She also works as a collection manager for a private collector. She co-curated the Giuseppe Castiglione Print Exhibition宫廷画师郎世宁)at the George Fraser Gallery in collaboration with the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation and the National Palace Museum of Taiwan in 2016. In 2018, she curated an exhibition on Thomas Allom, Perspectives of an outsider: Thomas Allom’s fascination with 19th century China with the University Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, and gave a Rare Bites talk: Orientalism in Thomas Allom’ s engravings. Jenny has a Chinese heritage and her dream is to share Chinese civilization with others.  

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Exhibition details:

Fisher Library, level 3

From 29th August 2019

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[1] Chen Shouyi, “The Chinese Orphan: A Yuan Play – Its Influence on European Drama of the Eighteenth Century,” in The Vision of China in the English Literature of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries edited by Adrian Hsia, 1998, Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.

* Three Unities require a play to have a single action represented as occurring in a single place and within the course of a day. These principles were called unity of action, unity of place, and unity of time. 

Free Lunchtime Talk on Late Medieval Spanish Manuscripts

Join us for an upcoming lunchtime talk by Dr David Andrés Fernández: Sacred space, music and liturgy in Late Medieval Spanish Manuscripts.

fol. 19 verso from Add.Ms. 420. “Poissy Processional.” 10 Mar. 1501: n. pag. Print. (One of the books discussed in the talk: a written and illuminated book of plainchant music that contains the liturgical processions used by nuns at the Dominican convent of Saint-Louis de Poissy at the beginning of the sixteenth century, between 1500 and 1510.)

Dr David Andrés Fernández is a visiting scholar from Complutense University of Madrid, Musicology and he will be discussing his latest research findings concerning some of the liturgical manuscripts recently purchased by Rare Books and Special Collections.

These manuscripts include books for both Cathedral and Monastic use, dating back to the thirteenth century. Many of the books focus on the period from Christmas to Epiphany.

Although provenance for a number of these manuscripts cannot yet be established with any certainty, repertorial and decorative evidence in some of the books points to links with the liturgical agenda of Salamanca Cathedral. Two monastic antiphonals and one gradual are identified with religious communities (Servites, Jeronymites, Augustinians) and one of these appears to have been associated with a particular house of nuns (Our Lady of the Snows).

When
Tuesday 20th August, 1pm – 2pm

Where
Fisher Library
Seminar Room, Level 2

RSVP

Numbers are limited so please register here.

Rare Bites: Free lunchtime talks exploring our Rare Books treasures

Rare Bites is a series of 30 minute lunchtime talks held monthly during semester. Each talk features an expert speaker spotlighting specific Rare Books and Special Collections resources that are part of their field of study.

The series gives the opportunity for staff & students to learn about some of the treasures and lesser-known gems within Rare Books & Special Collections.

Semester two talks include:

A Bunch of Flowers from Medieval France: The Twelfth-Century Florilegium in Fisher Library

Join Dr James Kane, lecturer at the University of Sydney discussing Florilegium, in our final rare bites talk of the year. 

One of the many types of manuscript in circulation during the central Middle Ages was the florilegium (plural florilegia), a Latin word meaning ‘a collection of flowers’. Medieval writers tended to use florilegia to compile quotations and longer excerpts from works of literature, philosophy, history, and so on by the great classical and patristic authors of the past. Nicholson Ms. 2 is a late twelfth-century florilegium from France that has the distinction of being one of the earliest medieval manuscripts currently held in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library. It contains excerpts from the works of St Jerome, Apuleius, Cicero, Boethius, Seneca, and other Latin luminaries. 

Though relatively unadorned, the manuscript shows various signs of usage over time and is a perfect example of how medieval annotators could keep books alive by appropriating marginal space. This talk will outline the contents of this florilegium, discuss its script and layout, and explain what its various marginal annotations and other features reveal about how it was used.

Dr James Kane is a lecturer at the University of Sydney, where he currently teaches Old English and Old Norse language and literature. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2016 on the topic of how crusading terminology evolved across various western languages between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. He is now preparing this thesis for publication under the tentative title Wearing the Cross in the Medieval West, c. 1095–c. 1300.

When: Wednesday 16 October 2019, 1:00pm – 1:30pm

Location: Fisher Seminar Room (218), level 2

Places are limited, register to secure a place.

The Orphan of Zhao – An Influential Chinese Drama

Join University of Sydney Alumnus Jenny Zhijun Yang discussing The Orphan of Zhao in our fifth Rare Bites talk of the year.

The Orphan of Zhao was a play written by Ji Junxiang dating back to 1330 AD and explores the main themes of revenge and retribution. The play was the first specimen of Chinese dramatic literature translated into a European language.

The Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections owns two adaptations of the play by Voltaire in 1755 and Arthur Murphy in 1759. This talk will focus on the original play and its adaptations to explore a special type of cultural exchange. 

Jenny Zhijun Yang graduated with a Master of Art Curating with distinction at the University of Sydney in 2018. She graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts in history and Asian studies in 2017 and was awarded the Summer Research Scholarship of the University of Auckland. Jenny is a currently a gallery assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and was previously a gallery assistant at the Auckland Art Gallery. She also works as a collection manager for a private collector. Jenny has Chinese heritage and her dream is to share her knowledge of Chinese civilization with others.  

This Rare Bite Talk has passed. However you can view this Rare Bite on our YouTube channel soon.

Exploring Amazing Fantasy #15: The genesis of Spider-Man

When unsuspecting teenager Peter Parker got bitten by a radioactive spider and later realised with great power there must also come great responsibility , America’s ‘most different new teenage idol’ and superhero Spider-Man was born.

Join University of Sydney alumnus Matthew Skinner as he discusses the origin of Marvel Comics’ flagship character within the pages of anthology book Amazing Fantasy #15 by co-creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (1962) in our 4th Rare Bites Talk of the year.

His presentation will explore Lee and Ditko’s tightly plotted, scripted and drawn 11-page collaboration, why their publisher was initially hesitant to print the story, the readership’s reaction to their teenage protagonist, and the pair’s later feud over who exactly created the hero.

Matthew has over ten years of experience delivering marketing, media and communications insight across the sports and higher education sectors.

His exposure to, and passion of, comic books as a medium spans thrice that.

Matthew completed his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 2006, presenting his thesis on The Literary History of Comic Books in America Between 1938-1975, and more recently his Master of Media Practice in 2010.

This talk has passed, however you can view this Rare Bite on our Youtube channel:

Uncover the Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections Treasures in our series of lunchtime talks

Rare Bites is a series of 30 minute lunchtime talks held monthly during semester. Each talk features an expert speaker spotlighting specific Rare Books and Special Collections resources that are part of their field of study.

The series gives the opportunity for staff & students to learn about some of the treasures and lesser-known gems within Rare Books & Special Collections.

Talk One:
More than just its prayers: A late medieval Dutch Prayer Book in Fisher Library

Our first talk More than just its prayers: A late medieval Dutch Prayer Book in Fisher Library is by Dan Anlezark- McCaughey Professor of Early English Literature and Language; Director, Medieval and Early Modern Centre; Associate Dean Research (Education) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of English who will be talking about the book from our collection: Add. Ms. 342

[A prayer book in Latin and Dutch]. 1501. Netherlands.

Add. Ms. 342 is an unstudied late medieval prayer book in Middle Dutch and Latin. This late fifteenth-century manuscript, written on paper, is only minimally decorated, and is the kind of book that was the output of mass production in the Low Countries in the later Middle Ages. The book appears to have remained in private ownership from the time it was made until relatively recently, as is indicated by the inscription of a number of names (including those of children) up to the early nineteenth century.

This short talk will provide a brief overview of the book in its evolving historical contexts, from the time of its manufacture, until it was acquired by the Fisher Library.

Cost: Free

When: 1:00pm – 1:30pm, Wednesday 20 March 2019

Where: Fisher Seminar Room (218), level 2

Register online (places limited)

Talk Two: Illustrations to micrographs: Visualising patterns in Botany

Learning about the world around us involves observing and recognising the patterns. In science, learning is about sharing and challenging “the what” and “the how” of our observations through discussion within the classroom and with the scientific community at large.

Botanische Wandtafeln (1874-1911), RB Elephant Folio 580 2
Online at https://digital.library.sydney.edu.au/nodes/view/6401

Join Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell from Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science discussing Botanische Wandatafeln – a series of technical scientific illustrations (1874-1911) distributed globally as teaching tools to support student learning in botany.

Reliance on these illustrations of resources fell out favour for a number of reasons including the advent of digital imaging which coincided with the explosion in the number of online resources (including the University’s eBOT collection). Re-utilising Leopold Kny’s series in a digital platform allows for an enriched dialogue about how science, in general, and botany, is communicated.

Associate Professor Rosanne Quinnell is from Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science. Dr Quinnell’s research and teaching focus on plant sciences and the use of technology-enhanced solutions to improve student learning e.g. Botany, Zoology and Human Biology virtual microscopy slide collections, eBOT botanical image repository, electron laboratory notebooks, CampusFlora apps.

Cost: Free

When: 1:00pm – 1:30pm, Wednesday 17th April

Where: Fisher Seminar Room (218), level 2

Register online (places limited)

Talk Three: Not an Ordinary Dog: Flush by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf wrote Flush, a fictional biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, after having been captivated by the dog’s presence in the love letters of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. Flush was “not an ordinary dog”, by Woolf’s description, and he is certainly more extraordinary for his persistence in literary imagination.


Image: Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941., Flush : a biography, London : L. and V. Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1933., 823.91 W913 J10 5

Join Dr Vanessa Berry, Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Sydney discussing Flush by Virginia Woolf (1933) in our third Rare Bites Talk of the year.

Although Flush was a bestseller for the Hogarth Press at the time of its publication, it has long been considered one of Woolf’s minor works. However, with the rise of animal studies in the humanities there has been an upsurge of interest in Flush.

This presentation will introduce Flush and the genre of the canine memoir and consider the literary potential of the human-canine relationship.

Dr Vanessa Berry is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Sydney, and a writer known for her work with history, memory and archives. Her most recent book Mirror Sydney, which examines the city’s marginal and undercurrents, was published in 2017 and won the Mascara Avant Garde literary award.

Cost: Free

When: 1:00pm – 1:30pm, Wednesday 22nd May

Where: Fisher Seminar Room (218), level 2

Register online (places limited)

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Stay tuned for details of more upcoming Rare Bites talks throughout the year.

The Golden Age of Dutch Printing

In the seventeenth century, a period known as the Dutch golden age, Dutch book production led the world.

Atlas minor…noveau revue, et augmente / Gerardus Mercator (1512-94). Amsterdami, excusam in aedilus Judoci Hondii [1613]. RB 6113.1

Dutch dominance of European printing at this time can be attributed to two main factors: the Dutch Republic’s position as a centre of international trade, and its relative freedom of the press. This exhibition showcases some examples of fine Dutch printing held in Rare Books & Special Collections.

When: 18th March – 23rd September 2019

Where: Fisher Library, Level 1