On Meeting Tania El Khoury…


REFLECTION by Maya Stucky (Class of 2020)

I applied to intern with artist Tania El Khoury for both personal and academic reasons. As the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant, I feel deep-rooted connections to the country and what occurs within its borders. I make a conscious effort to be aware of its triumphs and of its downfalls, and the presence of refugees in Lebanon has, in my experience, caused controversy. Thus, my involvement in El Khoury’s work is my own personal way of combatting that controversy and being part of the exploration of Middle Eastern politics.

The first thing I noticed about El Khoury is that everyone in a room with her seems to be drawn to her – not only as an artist but also as a person. She has this fascinating energy to her that makes you want to learn more about her or just listen to her speak. She exudes authenticity and warmth. Originally, I could not tell if I felt this energy simply because I feel an innate connection to all Lebanese women because of my own Lebanese heritage, but as I observed the rest of the room and spoke to other interns, it seemed to me that everyone else was just as intrigued. Her presence is not stately and intense, as she truly is very humble and kind, but she radiates strength and knowledge in a way that has you hanging on to every word she says. Conversely, just as El Khoury’s interns attempt to get to know her better, she is doing the same with us. She cares deeply for her work, her subjects, and her audience and wants to ensure those who are representing her and guiding her audience can do so in the appropriate way.

In terms of discussing her work, El Khoury is incredibly particular and precise about every detail about her pieces and the acquisition of her material. Where she falls short, especially in terms of accessibility, she recognizes and seems to be making a conscious effort to create a sensorium that attempts to include all audiences. Accessibility at Bryn Mawr is something that is constantly being brought up, and I think El Khoury was impressed by the students’ advocacy for the utmost amount of inclusion possible. Although she is incredibly particular in her work, I believe she appreciates that her works lose effect the less accessible they become.

I truly am so excited to work with El Khoury in the fall. I know that she has much to teach us about her work, her inspiration, and all the various factors that go into the production of live art. Through her work I hope to grow and witness the growth of her audience through such cathartic and important stories.

Eclipses! – from the Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature

I Have been very anxious about the Weather To-day, how it might chance to fall out, on Account of the Eclipse of the Sun that is to be this afternoon; but it is at present fine, and I hope the Clouds will forbear, and permit us the extraordinary Sight…

Diagram of solar and lunar eclipses from The Young Gentleman and Lady’s Philosophy

Thus begins the chapter on solar eclipses in The Young Gentleman and Lady’s Philosophy (second edition, London: 1772). The book is written in the form of  conversations between Cleonicus, home from College for the summer, and his sister, Euphrosyne, whose lively interest in the natural sciences (“philosophy”) is impeded by her lack of access to instruction on the topic. She has formed the plan of getting her brother to help her, and in a series of dialogues, Cleonicus introduces her to astronomy and physics, using sketches, models, and experiments. Although she frequently suggests that a new subject may be too difficult for her, her intelligence and his organized and factual instruction consistently produce firmly rooted understanding on which she builds. The work speaks strongly for women’s education, arguing that if they were given the opportunity to study the sciences, they could excel.

Euphrosyne and Cleonicus are fortunate to have the opportunity to observe a total solar eclipse together, and following an explanation of why eclipses occur, he sets up two viewing stations –  a telescope with darkened lenses* and an adjacent room which acts as a camera obscura – a pinhole projector on a large scale. Here are highlights of their conversation during a solar eclipse:

Euphros. But see, the Time is at Hand for the Eclipse to begin — It wants 5 1/2 Minutes by my Watch.

Cleon. Well, we are prepared for it, happen as soon as it will; I have fixed the Telescope in a proper Position for viewing it; and thereby you will see it in me Heavens. I have also darkened the Chamber, wherein you will see the Eclipse in Miniature very perfectly; and have so ordered it that you only need to step out of one Room into another to see both.

Euphros. Dear Cleonicus, I am greatly obliged to you; but let me seat myself at the Telescope to observe the Beginning.

Cleon. Do so immediately; there is a Piece of dark Glass before the Eye-Glass in the Telescope, through which you may view the Sun without hurting your Eyes.

Euphros. Very good, Cleonicus; let me view him — I see his glorious Face, and the several Spots which beautify it — there is yet no Appearance of an Eclipse.

Cleon. In half a Minute you’ll see it.

Euphros. I do: — The Moon just touches him on the right Side and covers a very small Part — let me see it in the Chamber —

Cleon. Look in.

Euphros. ‘Tis just as I saw it at large in the Telescope; how beautiful it appears in that small Picture! But here it begins on the left Side, how is that?

Cleon. That is, because the Image of the Sun is inverted by the single Glass in the Scioptric Ball — See, there is a large Spot, which the Moon will presently hide, — view it in the Telescope —


Euphros.  I never observed an Eclipse with so much Pleasure and Exactness before — But see, methinks it begins to appear somewhat darkish, or else ’tis my Fancy —

Cleon. The Sun is now about two thirds Eclipsed, and the Day-light begins to be sensibly diminished, and will be so in a few Minutes.

Euphros. ‘Tis darker than it was — I’ll view the Sun again —- he appears horned like the Moon in her last Quarter;

Cleon. The Darkness increases very sensibly — the Air seems obscured, you will quickly see the Stars —

Euphros. The Stars! Will it be so dark as to make them visible?

Cleon. Visible! Yes, for a considerable Time; you will see Day converted into Night

Euphros. Bless me, you make me shudder at the Thought.

Cleon. It will be much darker by- and by in about three or four Minutes the Sun will be totally eclipsed —


Cleon. The Sun is now totally eclipsed.

Euphros. Look, see how the Beasts run under the Trees — what do the poor Creatures think!

Cleon. Think! They can’t tell what the Matter is, — they know ’tis something very extraordinary — There has been many a Night not so dark as it is now.

Euphros. That I am sure of — well ’tis very surprising —-

Cleon. So it is, to see the two great Lights of Heaven in a Manner both extinguished!


Euphros. The Eclipse, I see, is nearly at an End; I do assure you, Cleonicus, I never spent 2 1/4 Hours with more Pleasure and agreeable Surprize than now. — If you please, we will now go to drink Tea, and then I shall trouble you with a few more Questions about an Eclipse of the Moon.

Cleon. With all my Heart, my Euphrosyne; you know nothing gives me a greater Pleasure than to satisfy your Enquiries about natural Things.


The brother and sister at the telescope.

The book is part of the Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature. To see the original pages: Eclipses_from_The_Young_Gentleman_and_Ladys_Philosophy_1772a.

*It is not safe to look through a telescope at a solar eclipse without specialized equipment. Please follow NASA’s recommendations for viewing at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety

Marianne Hansen, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts




Still deciding on the Thanksgiving menu?

turkeyRecently added to our collection of cookbooks, etiquette guides, and housekeeping manuals is a 1911 first edition of Fannie Merritt Farmer’s Catering for Special Occasions with Menus & Recipes (Philadelphia: David McKay). On pages enlivened by illustrations of a series of disturbingly carnivorous cherubs, Farmer suggested two menus for Thanksgiving. The selection of dishes included creamed corn and tomato soup topped with popcorn, oyster soup, celery with caviar, flaming sweet potatoes,  turnip croquettes, squash souffle, chicken pie (in addition to the turkey!), chiffonade-dressed lettuce,  cranberry sherbet, cream-cheese stuffed dates, vanilla ice cream, jelly roll, pumpkin pie, and mincemeat pie.

Feeling tempted to try something new? Here is the entire Thanksgiving chapter of the book – FannyFarmers1911Thanksgiving2

Bon appétit!

The Girl’s Realm Annual – The Ellery Yale Wood Collection of Children’s Books and Young Adult Literature at Bryn Mawr College

Ellery Yale Wood was especially interested in collecting books meant specifically for girls and young women.  This week we have unpacked numerous magazines and annuals. One of these is the Girl’s Realm Annual, a yearly compilation of the monthly Girl’s Realm, over a thousand pages long and bound beautifully to make it suitable as a Christmas present. FN-000000 (2)This Edwardian era publication (it was printed from 1898 until 1915) was lively and well-illustrated. It carried stories about successful women, sports, nature, career options, and handicrafts, as well as puzzles, poetry, and fiction, much of it by well-known authors.FN-000013 Some of the literature was short stories, but there was also usually a serial story, which would have appeared in each month’s issue, but which in the annual appears every 80 pages or so.FN-000005

Advertising for the Girl’s Realm described it as “an up-to-date, high-class magazine, made bright, amusing, interesting, and instructive.” It was self-consciously modern, and addressed girls within the framework of the New Woman: educated, independent, career- as well as family-oriented, interested in sports and the out of doors, socially informed and involved. Some of the stories are romance, but many of them are adventure; the girls in the stories tended to be courageous -sometimes to the point of foolhardiness, patriotic, and strong; there are frequent articles on “girl heroines”. FN-000000At the same time, the magazine expected its readers to be ladylike and eager to take their places within marriages and society. The editorial attitude toward women’s suffrage is telling: the magazine was generally in favor or women’s rights, but it could not countenance the unfeminine behavior of the more militant activists.FN-000010

Here are some additional pages from the 1902, 1906, and 1911 editions, to give a flavor of the whole.