By: Kevin Grace
Last week we had the pleasure of hosting an English Department lecture by visiting University of Texas professor John Rumrich on John Milton’s poetry, who spoke on the sometimes very literal connection between a physical book and an author. In the case of Milton, Professor Rumrich related the poet’s work to the curious custom that developed in the 18th century of binding books in human skin. And, in preparation for his remarks, Rumrich examined the Archives & Rare Books Library’s anthropodermic binding.
An odd volume in our holdings for over half a century, this binding encloses the poetry of Phillis Wheatley, an 18th century African American poet. Though there is no indication at all that the binding has a connection to the poet in any way, and really is an altogether other topic for discussion, it did call our attention to the Wheatley body of work, appropriate enough for a month devoted to poetry. Continue reading