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>  News Releases >   2003 >   February

Recent books by Dartmouth authors

Posted 02/18/03

Engaging Symbols; Gender, Politics, and Public Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence

By Adrian W. B. Randolph, Associate Professor of Art History

Yale University Press

Reviewed by Andrew Bailey '03

The emergence of Florence in the 15th century as one of Europe's most significant city-states gave rise to a significant body of artwork fueled by the politics and culture of the time. In Engaging Symbols, Adrian W.B. Randolph attempts to explain the nature of this art and how it rose beyond a mere reflection of the state to an essential operation of Florentine politics itself. In very detailed and academic prose, Randolph combines visual and cultural analyses with literary data, placing the art into its social context. Arranged around six case studies of specific works of art, each chapter can stand on its own without the reader following them sequentially. The pieces represent a variety of mediums, and numerous photographs and drawings are placed throughout the book. Explaining Florence's visual history in the introductory comments, Randolph states:

After the imperial troubles of the mid thirteenth century Florence became an independent commune, albeit still owing allegiance to the emporer and pope. To mark this autonomy, Florentines crafted an array of visual symbols that served to gloss on the history and character of their city. Working within what Donal Weinstein aptly called "The Myth of Florence," these visualizationsof the city and its authority gave the developing state palpable form. Initially, this form was compound, growing out of local, parochial affinities. Like other communes, each administrative unit of the city possessed its unique civic signs, customarily flags and mascots. Similarly, the religious division of Florence generated quarters; these, too, yielded quasi-heraldic markers. But in the thirteenth century, and most insistently with the building of the city hall, later called the Palazzo Vecchio, a handful of civic signs came to represent the city as a whole to its inhabitants and to others.

Eleazar Wheelock and the Adventurous Founding of Dartmouth College

By Dick Hoefnagel, Professor of Maternal and Child Health (Pediatrics), Emeritus, with the collaboration of Virginia L. Close, Humanities and Social Sciences Reference Bibliographer, Emerita

The Durand Press

Reviewed by Andrew Bailey '03

Eleazor Wheelock was a preacher, a writer, an educator, a slave-owner and a father, as well as founder and first president of Dartmouth College. In Eleazor Wheelock and the Adventurous Founding of Dartmouth College, Dick Hoefnagel, with the help of Virginia L. Close, reconstructs Wheelock's life, paying close attention to the events surrounding the founding of Dartmouth in 1769. Using source materials written by and about Wheelock from the Dartmouth Library collections, including letters, legal documents, lists, invoices, account books, and diaries, Hoefnagel in simple and accessible prose describes an inspired and respected Wheelock who nonetheless was overworked and in constant debt. The following excerpt shows some of the trials Wheelock had to face:

A problem that cost Wheelock much time and frustration was that of the availability of "Spirituous Liquors" at the College and nearby. In May 1771 he took the initiative to have a tavern established in Hanover — with that move he hoped to control the choice of an innkeeper. For the post he chose Aaron Storrs ... [who] soon established a tavern and store on two acres of land allotted to him by the College trustees, and located at the present site of the Casque and Gauntlet Senior Society. All appeared to go to Wheelock's satisfaction until a year or so later, when he had to report disconcerting news to the governor: "…I am informed that my Neighbor Mr. John Pain[e] has obtained a Licence to retail Spiritous liquors…" Wheelock's anger knew no bounds, more so because Paine's public house was located only a short walk from the corner of present College and Elm Streets, to the north of Wheeler Hall. Paine became the president's nemesis for years to come.

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