Editor's Note: Over the years long-time readers will have noticed that I frequently refer to the campus faith group with which Dear Husband and I celebrate holidays (some religious, some not), play games, and do arts and crafts. We are an eclectic group of "graduate students and like-minded persons" who meet weekly during the academic year to discuss books or videos. During the summer we sometimes offer alternative programming. This year, we are visiting our respective buildings around campus to learn about each other's research. Here is a sampling of the visits thus far.
The first week, a recent graduate of the library school took the group to the Rare Book Room to marvel at unique texts--such as a 1976 draft of the Star Wars script in which Luke Skywalker is still named "Luke Starkiller"--and very old ones, such as a book from the Cavagna Collection, Per la facciata del Duomo di Milano (ca. 1657) (below). This collection of opinions about architectural renovations to Milan's cathedral has what amounts to the papermaker's version of a footprint in fresh concrete: a handprint made while the paper was still wet. You can see more images, learn about making paper in the early modern period, and read about the Milanese cathedral blueprints in this blog post.
I led the next tour, representing history. We traipsed through four of the five stories of the big old building that houses my department. In one of my old classrooms, we stopped to do an exercise I learned in a German course and have used to good effect in history classes: we put up pictures on the walls and "visited a gallery." This gallery had portraits of Jesus: Jesus looking holy in Warner Sallman's ubiquitous "Head of Christ," Jesus teaching in a Rembrandt, and Jesus doing both at the same time in the Christ Pantocrator (Christ the Savior) icon from the 6th century... Check out the picture above. The right side of his face is calm, and he lifts his hand in a gesture of blessing and teaching. The left side of his face is stern, and he carries a heavy Bible for instruction. This particular image is the oldest version of a common Orthodox icon and can be found in Saint Catherine's Monastery near Mount Sinai in Egypt. Then we went out for ice cream.
Finally, the group went to the civil engineering building, where we started by ogling the cranes, earthquake simulation center, and concrete canoes. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Our guide showed us the special material he studies with a super-high-tech microscope that can zoom in reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaallllly close to the surface of a specimen. He uses a diamond to stress the material, measures various parameters, and develops models for understanding these things. Then we went out for Indian food.
It turns out that what Library Science, History, and Civil Engineering have in common are graduate students excited about their research and eager to share it to build a community of faith. Check back later for more summer tours!