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FODYLL North Country Research Award

Award last spring at Joe Kling’s FODYLL Commencement Lecture, the 2016 FODYLL North Country Research Award was given to the sister-scholars team of Samantha and Kimberly Habb, for their paper The Environmental Impacts of Microplastics: An Investigation of Microplastic Pollution in North Country Waterbodies. The paper was prepared under the direction of Dr. Erika Barthelmess.  Samantha and Kimberly describe their purpose this way:

We sought to investigate the issue of microplastic pollution in North Country waterbodies framing our investigation as a conservation issue. Microplastic pollution has been found in North Country waterbodies including the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and Lake Champlain. Our research reveals the sources of microplastic pollution, the threat that microplastic pollution poses to biodiversity, the extent of microplastic pollution in the North Country, the various stakeholders who have an interest in the issue of microplastic pollution, the governmental issues that relate to the topic, and potential solutions to this widespread and prevalent pollution problem. Based on our findings we conclude that in order to adequately address and remedy the issue of microplastic pollution in North Country waterbodies, immediate action is needed in the form of consumer education and legislation to target and eliminate the sources of microplastic pollution in a timely manner. In order to be effective, an adequate solution needs to be inexpensive, require minimal changes to lifestyle, be ubiquitous and global in its application, and offer an effective strategy both for preventing continued pollution of waterways and for removing the microplastics that are already present.

The paper is available here.  It is very professional research, it is an important topic for those of us who live in the North Country.  Congratulations Samantha and Kimberly!

Summer Blogging: Life and Letters XIII

Ah, summer has come to an end, it’s mailed.  Thinking about how to conclude this string of posts about letters and letter writing, it turns out, quite by chance, we have two new books about the Post Office arriving for our Browsing Collection.  Browsing at the post office!  Well, here they are:

I am searching my brain for a profundity to blog, but what it seems like I have is this chance encounter with two very new (2016) titles about the Post Office as institution, so will leave this luck as punctuation.  More FODYLL blogging, if not about letters, straight ahead…

Summer Blogging: Life and Letters XII

Writing a lovingly crafted review of a new edition of the selected letters for Joseph Conrad in the newest issue of the Hudson Review, David Mason writes:

I miss letters, postcards, aerogrammes–typed or handwritten, arriving with kaleidoscopic stamps, inked with dates and places of origin. They took time and gave weight to words.  Often they went out like shared pages from private notebooks, collaborations with the friends and strangers to whom they were sent.  Now when real letters arrive I can hardly believe in their existence.  Caught from the neck up in the Internet, I have slowly learned that a civil voice still has to be fashioned with patience and calm I do not always possess.

We don’t actually have the edition of Conrad’s letters to which Mason alludes, but it made me think of collections of letters like Letters from a Lost Generation: the First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and four friends, Roland Leighton, Edward Brittain, Victor Richardson, Geoffrey Thurlow edited by Alan Bishop and Mark Bostridge.  A collaboration of people reflecting their times and their struggle with the war of their generation.  Weight in the words…exactly why to read letters, so succinctly put by Mr. Mason.

Summer Blogging: Life and Letters XI

byron_lettersOld friends…over the past couple of weeks I read Byron’s Letters and Journals: a New Selection from Leslie A. Marchand’s twelve-volume edition, edited by Richard Lansdown.  Having read Byron’s letters edited by Marchand in twelve volumes when I was in graduate school, this was visiting with an old friend.  Of course, none of the letters are to me, but like most people who suffer some degree of Byron-mania the voice that resonates in the letters is enough of the man to make him feel familiar when you read.  One of the pleasures of reading letters is the exploration of friendship, the way letters can convey and confirm intimacy between two people.  The way letters convey how someone loved, looking around simply for letters about friendship and love and come upon titles like A Chance for Love: the World War II letters of Marian Elizabeth Smith and Lt. Eugene T. Petersen, USMCR edited by Eugene T. Petersen, or Hemingway in Love and War: the Lost Diary of Agnes von Kurowsky, Her Letters, and Correspondence of Ernest Hemingway edited by Henry Serrano Villard and James Nagel, or The Animals: Love Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy  edited and with an introduction by Katherine Bucknell. The lost generation in war and in love, read about it in letters.   Another one I found on this short search was Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957-1958 Jack Kerouac and Joyce Johnson with an introduction and commentary by Joyce Johnson, another generation and for me another familiar voice in the form of Kerouac.  Writing about what it means to be a friend, as far as he was capable, human frailty is certainly a quality that comes through in letters…

Summer Blogging: Holding the Mail

Clarissa,_or,_the_History_of_a_Young_Lady_(title_page)I am out of the office for two weeks, so will suspend blogging about letters for that time. However, what a perfect mid summer block of time to read Clarissa by Samuel Richardson which is A) perhaps the first novel in English, and B) is an epistolary novel!  If in fact begins the tradition of the epistolary novel which continues to this day.  We have a lovely four volume 1932 version of Clarissa published in four volumes.  Imagined letters will certainly do when there is no real mail awaiting one…

And given the weather is supposed to be sultry in extremes, we have Richardson’s correspondence in six volumes if you really want to read…back with more on letters later in the summer…

Summer Blogging: Life and Letters X

One of the great reading experience with letters is reading a correspondence.  What was the back and forth? How did the two personas that emerge in the letters interact?  There are famous correspondences such as The Adams-Jefferson Letters; the Complete Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, a two volume work, or better still, a two volume conversation with history.  One on display in our Browsing Collection is Distant Neighbors: The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder.  Letters long and short (they exchanged post cards as well as epistles), and they include a lot of writing about reading, a lot of writing about work.  Berry and Snyder are of course important literary figures in the modern American scene, but their orientation to the life of the mind and simultaneously to life working with one’s hands makes this a very immediate and available book.  A perfect book for summer–for a summer divided between the garden and the library.

Summer Blogging: Life and Letters IV

downloadThe late Frank Kermode was perhaps the most influential literary critic of his generation, and in 1995 he edited with Anita Kermode The Oxford Book of Letters.  It is one in the voluminous series of anthologies published by Oxford UP.  There’s an anthology for whatever time period or genre you’re interested in, including letters.  Only someone with Kermode’s taste and confidence could have even thought of compiling an anthology like this, although, because the letters were chosen for reasons of their individual quality–“[we] have tried to leave room for the less illustrious, whose performances as writers may well be confined to epistolary correspondence undertaken for reasons of business, friendship, or love–the reasons, after all, for which the vast majority of us exchange letters–and written quite without regard for qualities that might win the admiration of an uninvited posterity”–there is something of a feeling of jumble here.  There is a lot of fine writing, but there is also the feeling of being in an antique shop where the inventory was acquired without any overriding purpose.  No sense of place, no sense of commonality.  Which is not meant to discourage potential readers, but rather, to wonder a’loud about the role of a correspondence in the composition of letters…

Summer Blogging: Life and Letters VIII

Along with the letters of individuals, we have collections of letters by individuals grouped by who they are.  These collections represent cultures within societies, these collections represent people at various times in history.  Many of them are of particular note (we’ll highlight them this summer) including Letters from Prison: Voices of Women Murderers by Jennifer Furio.  The premise of the book is simple, Ms. Furio establishes an “epistolary relationship” with a number of women serving murder sentences.  She does not hide their crimes, but works letters these women wrote to her to emphasize the women’s “humanness.”  Who are they? Why?  Through the letter the women are able to render themselves for Ms. Furio to then represent.  This is a startling, important collection of letters.  We have many of these.

Summer Blogging: Life and Letters VII

veilQuestioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women by Marnia Lazreg  gives us the tradition of the open letter.  Even in this digital time, the “open letter” metaphor for a communication with an individual (or here, individuals) that is shared with a greater audience persists.  This is perhaps because of the concept of voice in a letter–each letter adopts the tone of voice in the interesting middle ground a letter holds between essay and conversation.  You want to let an audience in on something, write an open letter.  The perseverance of the metaphor bespeaks the intimate written in a letter, Lazreg’s book is a narrative of her experiences, and the praise for the book centers on her candor–something of course that can be achieved in a letter and makes letters fascinating.  While this books uses the “open letter” as a narrative device, it serves well as an illustration of letters in our collection.

Summer Blogging: Life and Letters VI

BIG BOOKS OF LETTERS…some of our collections of published letters are, well, leviathan.  Saul Bellow: Letters is 552 pages worth of letters (excluding index and acknowledgements).  Herzog is, in contrast, 341 pages.  Volume One of The Letters of Robert Frost is 773 pages of letters, Volume Two is apparently still in the offing (our copy has a book plate dedicated to Ladd L. Young of the class of 1944).  Volume IV of Henry James: Letters (four!) is 784 pages–I have no idea what the four volume total is, but there is another multi volume collection from the University of Nebraska Press.  The point here being that this is illustrative of the place letters took in some people’s lives, writing letters was a significant self-exploration within their existence.  Secondly if one wanted to immerse oneself in the life of a letter writer some summer, collections are available to accommodate.  On page 512 in Henry James’ letters he writes to Bernard Shaw, I do such things because I happen to be a man of imagination and taste, extremely interested in life, and because the imagination, thus, from the moment direction and motive play upon it from all sides, absolutely insists on and incurably leads a life of its own, for which just this vivacity itself is its warrant.  Lost for the summer, indeed, in the best possible way.