Creative Conversations: Winter Quarter Recap

Creative Conversations is the library’s new speaker series that highlights scholarly and creative work begin done by members of the SPU community. We continue to focus the program on the creative processes that go into their work with the aim of stimulating conversations about these processes among students, scholars, and others at SPU.

This quarter Rob Wall and David Nienhuis started us off by presenting their work on their new book A Bite-Sized Introduction to the Whole Bible, a collaborative work that will ultimately include most of the Theology faculty. Each chapter in the book will focus on a different book or collection of books of the bible and will be written by a different faculty member. Slated for becoming a new textbook in the core curriculum, the aim is to provide a book for students (and edited by students) that provides a foundational big picture look at the whole biblical story.

Executive editor of Image Journal, teacher, and author Suzanne Wolfe presented the following week, sharing from her latest novel in progress, The Iron Ring: The Confessions of St. Augustine’s Concubine. She talked about her research process – including her adventures abroad, the process of seeing characters come to life, and the ups and downs of being a writer. Suzanne read the finished epilogue which was rich and beautifully written and is very promising of things to come.

We welcomed Myrna Capp as our third speaker, a gifted pianist who also teaches piano at SPU. Myrna and her husband spent a significant amount of time in Namibia, during which she conducted a great amount of research on Namibian music and musicians. Her book, Namibian Soundscapes: Music of the People and the Land, gives us a glimpse into a fascinating culture so different from our own, and an introduction to a musical people committed to keeping that culture alive.

Don Yanik rounded out this quarter’s Creative Conversations with a talk on scene design. Don has designed sets for a prolific amount of plays in his time, at SPU and outside of it. He shared a little about the process of design as a process that includes collaboration between the director, designers, and actors. It is a process that creates a world for the play to live in and not detract from it. It accomplishes a purpose. To show his work, Don brought along to-scale models of the stage at SPU.

After a successful Winter quarter, we’re excited to welcome Dr. Kimberly Segall, Dr. Jennifer Maier, Dr. Kevin Watson, and the alumni behind SHEP Films in the Spring. Times and dates to come!

2014 Friends of the Library Event: “The Archive of Seattle Pacific University: A Panel Exploring the Origins of SPU in Time and Place”

FOL Archives PanelOn Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 7:30-9 p.m. in Upper Gwinn Commons a panel of historians and archivists will explore the origins of Seattle Pacific University through the history of Seattle, the Pacific Northwest, and educational institutions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

When the school that became Seattle Pacific University, Seattle Seminary, was founded in 1891, Seattle had recently emerged as the largest city in the new state of Washington and there was broad interest in establishing schools to prepare for the region’s future.

Inspired by a passion for mission and place, the seminary’s founders proclaimed their belief in “teaching for the future” and their ambition to provide a place where students would acquire a thorough “education for character.” In 1930, the school’s leaders wrote that they had witnessed the transformation of both their “great city,” “from a village in a deep and lonely forest … to the great metropolis of the Pacific Northwest,” and their “small denominational Academy located on a barren hillside into a leading liberal arts College, on a beautiful tree-covered campus.”

Each panelist will focus on a different facet of the content and nature of the historical record that enables exploration of these transformations and better understanding of the SPU that exists today.

The event is free and open to the public.

African American History Month Display

The book display currently features an array of work celebrating and remembering some of the important people and events in the history of the African American diaspora. It highlights the work and words of Martin Luther King Jr. who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, for his work in advancing civil rights through nonviolent means. It highlights African American poetry, music, and history as we seek to honor those people who fought for justice, never lost faith, and took the steps needed to march our nation on to a brighter state. We honor and remember them so that we may keep marching, keep striving for equality and justice.

Every American can draw strength from the story of hard-won progress, which not only defines the African-American experience, but also lies at the heart of our Nation as a whole. This story affirms that freedom is a gift from God, but it must be secured by His people here on earth. It inspires a new generation of leaders, and it teaches us all that when we come together in common purpose, we can right the wrongs of history and make our world anew.

– Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation, 2014

Book Review: The Luminaries

                                       The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

luminIn 1866 Walter Moody arrives in the gold-mining town of Hokitika, New Zealand to seek his fortune and escape his tangled family-life at home in the UK. On the night of his arrival, he stumbles upon a group of 12 men meeting to discuss three seemingly unrelated crimes that have taken place on the same day: the disappearance of a wealthy prospector, the suicide attempt of a local opium-addicted prostitute, and the huge cache of gold found in the home of the now-deceased town drunk. At first glance, The Luminaries appears to be a historical murder mystery, but as the story unfolds, the reader quickly realizes that everything is interwoven and nothing, even the story itself, is what it seems.

Catton’s writing is exact, vivid and beautiful. She writes in the style and voice of Victorian authors with a bit of a modern twist; The Luminaries is almost a satire of 19th century mysteries but still earnest. The story is very intricately plotted and the book itself is uniquely structured.

The astrological chart is the basis for the ambitious, unique structure of the book. However, knowledge of astrology is not necessary to understand or enjoy the novel.  There are 12 parts to the novel, each part shorter than the last to reflect the waning moon in its lunar cycle. Each of the 12 men’s astrological signs directs their character and the part they play in the overall plot. Catton names them as the stellar characters and they truly orbit around the seven planetary characters:  Walter Moody and the individuals at the center of each crime.  The cyclical nature of both the lunar cycle and human history also plays a big role in fleshing out the plot and tying all the events and perspectives together.

The Luminaries will appeal to readers of literary fiction, Victorian literature, experimental literature, fans of Sherlock Holmes novels or the current BBC show, and fans of movies with non-linear plots such as Memento, The Usual Suspects or Mulholland Drive.

The Luminaries won the 2013 Man Booker Prize and is unique in two regards: at 823 pages it is the longest novel to win and at age 28 Eleanor Catton is the youngest author to win. While much longer than the average novel, the tightly plotted and fast-paced storytelling will keep readers engaged until the very end.

The Luminaries is available in the General Collection under the call number PR 9639.4 .C39 L86 2013

- Christina Nofziger, Access Services Specialist

Q&A with Library Staff: Johanna Krogh

Jo Krogh joins the SPU Library staff as our new Budget Manager and Administrative Assistant. Learn a little bit about her below in our Q & A interview:

What are some things you are responsible for in your new position?

I am responsible for managing the library’s budget, which can range from counting cash in the cash registers to making sure we are all squared away financially for any major projects we have coming. I absolutely love working with numbers so although I am up in a cave crunching away- I’m happy!

What is your favorite thing about living in Seattle?

I love how each neighborhood in Seattle has its own unique identity. The MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) is one of my favorite places to visit. It is right next to The Center for Wooden Boats where you can take sailing lessons. There are old retired boats parked that you can take tours through, and the museum itself is full of Seattle history. There is also a little park surrounding that area that is full on any given weekend, with the growing neighborhood of South Lake Union just a 5 minute walk away.

One of my favorite things about Seattle is the weather! I do enjoy the sun but I also like cloudy days and the light rain that Seattle is known for. I want to get good use out of my new raincoat, so wouldn’t mind if it was rainy all the time!

Any new book recommendations?

I mostly read fiction novels, and right now I’m bouncing around 5 different genres. I just finished reading ‘A Natural History of Dragons’, by Marie Brennan and really enjoyed it! It’s a fictional (dragons aren’t real, disappointingly) but relatable tale about a young woman trying to study a relatively new form of science that has always been a man’s subject. As a woman in mathematics, I can definitely relate to her struggles. I’m currently reading ‘The Good Lord Bird’ by James McBride, on pre-civil war social issues. For a much lighter suggestion, I recommend ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’ by Mindy Kaling, one of my favorite people in comedy right now. The book is great, but the audio book is even better since Mindy reads it herself!

Jo is located on the second floor of the Library in the Administrative offices. Drop by and say hi!