Wow…it’s hard to believe my last post was way back in December 2011!!
Up to that point, life had grown so rote and routine. Pressing the refresh button seemed critical. Shake things up a bit, I told myself. So, I signed up to audit a few classes at the University here in town. After attending and registering for six classes, I quickly realized I did not have the stamina (nor time) to commit to the rigors of all six. So, a few of the classes fell by the wayside…and got dropped. I comfortably nestled into only two – Women’s Literature and Creative Writing…and I was glad I did. Each class unfolded new, fascinating aspects of learning about the past and me.
The Women’s Lit class offered students the opportunity to delve into and explore a number of female writers whose works I might never have picked up or sought out on my own. For example: Fantomina by Eliza Haywood and The Captivity Narrative by Mary Rowlandson. In reading their writings and dissecting and gaining an understanding of the cultural and social dynamics of the period during which these women wrote, one gained a deeper appreciation for what they were attempting to convey and how brave they were to do so. The class also dissected Frankenstein in a way that I may have never considered – socialization, responsibility, and the humanistic aspects of life. While these unique reading endeavors were intriguing, the most captivating aspect of this course was a project assignment that launched one onto a true journey into the past.
The project began with a visit to CU’s Norlin Library – Special Collections. Each student was asked to select an item/book from this Collection that they would use to conduct research into the history, creation, and publishing of their selected item/book.
Upon arriving in the Library room, I noticed how carefully and considerately the Collection had been placed out for our viewing. Each item was respectfully position on the mahogany table top; each book had been egotistically propped up in its own “cradle” and was gently held open by a minute pillow that resembled a tiny lavender eye cover. The room was permeated with that unique smell of the past – a mixture of ink concoctions, hand made paper, weathered leather.
As I wandered among the items/books, my attention was immediately drawn to a closed book. The book’s cover contained a raised, intricate design. As the book beckoned me to come closer, I noticed that the cover design had been created or imbedded with delicate glass beads to form the design. Gently flipping the book over in its cradle, I became aware of the exact same design on the opposite cover. Without even opening the book, I knew this had to be my selected book; after all that’s what my business Spirit Sleaves™ was all about – creating beautiful, protective coverings that allowed tired, weathered books to feel safe, comfortable, protected, and attractive.
As I sat down and began to gently turn the pages, I observed poems, stories, and some amazing pieces of artwork. After only a few minutes, it became apparent that this book – both outside and in – contained a rich story that needed to be told. As I quickly learned, a book – which now seems close to becoming a dinosaur – is so much more than just the item being help in one’s hand – it is a rich story of history and the making of that history – from the making of that book to the political and cultural landscape of the time and beyond.
I hope you enjoy the journey into The Literary Souvenir as much as I did. Also, if you’re interested in
18th- and 19th-century British Women Writers click to learn more about an event being held June 7-10, 2012 in Boulder, CO