I have had the pleasure of acting as Faculty Director for one term of three years, and I’m overjoyed to have been renewed for a second term. In the course of my tenure, I’ve tried to further open the Center to guests, both physically present in the superb collections and also actively present through on-line participation in some of our digital projects. To that end, I launched a series of conferences on “cultural modernisms”, in Québec (2013), Latin American (2014), Japan (forthcoming in the fall of 2015), and Australia/New Zealand (forthcoming in the spring of 2016), with proceedings as well as videotaped discussions published in the online journal AmeriQuests (www.ameriquests.org). The special issue devoted to Québec has already garnered significant attention, and can be consulted by anyone with access to the internet:
I am also working with an array of administrators, scholars and potential donors to further aggrandize this splendid collection, Yvonne Boyer, Daniel Ridge and I will be making applications for new resources that will allow us to offer more services to our guests, and more invitations to those interested in the materials we house. Our goal is to make the Bandy Center even more of a “Center” by situating it in a nexus that connects scholars to texts, and writers to the eras that have inspired their work, thus encouraging new research possibilities in a world that is still “modern” in so many ways.
A recent visiting scholar described the Pascal Pia Collection, which counts some 20,000 volumes, as Ali Baba’s cave of gold. Although a portion of the nineteenth-century collection can be found digitized online through various sources, there is something very powerful about standing in a room full of rare books. The experience of stumbling upon a dedicated first edition by a favorite writer could never be replicated by pulling up a scanned text on a computer screen. And then of course, there is the feel of a beautifully bound book and the smell of its pages.
As a historian, I feel privileged to be a part of a research center that values the material aspects of literary production and preservation, yet also seeks innovation in literary interpretation and contemporary academic studies. Like many scholars of my generation, I completed my undergraduate degree before the advent of the Internet as we know it, and all the resources it offers. And while these resources are often beyond compare, they still remain virtual. There is something to be said about touching and holding a book itself that should never be lost or forgotten. Researchers come from every corner of the globe to work in the Bandy Center, often for this tactile experience. Among the world’s top Baudelaire scholars, those coming from South America, Europe, Quebec, and Japan, a séjour at the W.T. Bandy Center is a sort of right of passage, if not at least, a point of pride in their academic career.
I myself have had the privilege of working on rare editions by and about Pierre Louÿs (1870-1925) and Jean de Tinan (1874-1898). Interestingly, Pascal Pia, whose library was acquired under the auspices of Claude Pichois, used his library as a sort of filing cabinet, producing what has become a unique aspect of our rare holdings: the Pia Ephemera. These Ephemera include personal letters with authors, news clippings, and extensive notes by Pascal Pia himself on a range of subjects ranging from the process of publication to disputes over historical discrepancies. All of this material is available to the public at the Bandy Center and can easily be found using the library’s online catalog. Often, in the process of their research, visiting scholars point out books I may never have come across otherwise, which of course adds to our mutual enthusiasm and respect for the amazing literature and rare editions we find ourselves surrounded by daily.
Cultural Modernism IV: Baudelaire in Japan Conference November 5-6, 2015
Cultural Modernism III: The French and Italian Avant-Garde
October 23-24, 2014
Literature, painting, theater, cinema, and
D'Annunzio, Canudo, Marinetti,
"La Revue du Cinéma," "La Révolution surréaliste," "Documents,"
"Le Surréalisme au service de la Révolution,"
The Beats, and their legacy.
As librarian for the W.T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies, it is my privilege to welcome scholars, students, and Fellows to the Center.
The Center is located in the main library of Vanderbilt University and is part of the campus life. Scholars come from all over the world to consult material about Charles Baudelaire’s life, works, and related studies. This comprehensive collection is maintained with special attention paid to searching and acquiring materials in many formats and media, and providing access on site and online to scholars worldwide.
Our commitment to a constantly expanding bibliography with entries ranging from print form to ephemera, including specifically curated digital exhibitions, acknowledges the continuing legacy of Charles Baudelaire and his central position in modern French studies. The collection is housed in the Treasure Room of the library, an appropriate location, as a former director referred to the Center as the jewel in the Vanderbilt crown.