On this page you’ll find recordings of digital and in-person programs from The Rosenbach. Find more on our YouTube page.
Inside Iconic Illustrations | Virtual Behind the Bookcase
“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?” The Rosenbach is the home of great stories, and great stories are enriched by great illustrations. Come behind the bookcase with us to see masterful illustrators who bring great stories to life. Original work from Ernest Shepherd (of Winnie-the-Pooh fame), a colossal mistake from Henri Matisse, and original work from the artist of Alice himself, John Tenniel, will be featured on this Behind the Bookcase.
Aired on Thursday, August 26, 2021.
The Dream The Dreamers Dreamed: The Political Power of Writing | Virtual Behind the Bookcase
To affect change, social activists march, speak, lobby, and often, write. In this virtual tour, we’ll examine the historical and contemporary impacts of political powerhouses like Langston Hughes, Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Toni Morrison, and Lorene Carey. We’ll also dig into The Rosenbach’s collection to highlight the works of lesser-known, but equally significant, writers like Charles Ignatius Sancho, the first Black critic of Phillis Wheatley’s work, Countee Cullen, a pillar of poetry and activism during the Harlem Renaissance, and many others.
Presented on July 23, 2021.
Love’s Old Sweet Song: The Music of James Joyce | Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour
Readers of Ulysses know that music plays an important role in the novel’s narratives. This special virtual tour will pair Celtic harp performances broadcasted live from The Rosenbach’s historic parlor along with a showcase and discussion of iconic artifacts from our collection.
Presented on June 24, 2021.
The Summer of Monsters | Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour
In June of 1816, Mary Godwin, Percy Shelley and Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont joined Lord Byron and his doctor John Polidori at a rented villa on Lake Geneva in the Swiss Alps. Eighteen-year-old Mary had eloped with the already married poet Percy the year before, and Byron had fled England in disgrace. Cold, stormy weather kept the young people cloistered for long nights of ghost stories and scientific speculation. From this alembic of romance, scandal, science, and horror, Mary dreamed up Frankenstein and Polidori began the first vampire story in English fiction. Explore the creation of these immortal monsters with first editions and manuscripts born by the shores of Lake Geneva in The Rosenbach’s Summer of Monster virtual Behind the Bookcase tour.
Written In My Heart: James Joyce & Irish Authors | Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour
“When I die Dublin will be written in my heart,” James Joyce once proclaimed of his homeland. The spirit of Ireland has inspired legions of storytellers for centuries and The Rosenbach is home to an incredible collection of their work. To celebrate Bloomsday 2021, we’ll explore a wide array of holdings like Bram Stoker’s handwritten notes for his gothic classic Dracula, unravel correspondence from the iconic and incomparable Oscar Wilde, and, of course, take a close look at one of our most famous holdings, Joyce’s manuscript of his Modernist masterpiece Ulysses. The influence of these authors continues to be felt far beyond Ireland’s rugged shores. Together we’ll discuss their enduring resonance and even discover some surprising connections to Thomas Jefferson, Herman Melville, and more.
Presented and recorded on June 3, 2021.
The Will to Forget Memory, the Nation, and Ulysses In Conversation with Vincent Cheng
Much scholarly and scientific work has been done in recent decades on issues having to do with memory: Alzheimer’s, trauma, remembrance, memorials and monuments, truth and reconciliation. Memory studies are a notable presence in contemporary studies of culture but hardly anyone ever talks about the desirability or usefulness of forgetting. This presentation considers the importance of forgetting, especially in terms of the nation, national forgetting, and imperialism–and then focuses on one particular literary case study, James Joyce’s treatment of these issues in Ulysses.
Presented and recorded on June 9, 2021.
The Artistry and Industry of Bookmaking | Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour
Do you prefer to judge a book by its cover, or does the inside matter more? In this tour of book arts, we’ll take a look at various rare books in The Rosenbach collection, their aesthetics, their functions, how the processes in creating books inform how we use them today, and vice versa. Go behind the scenes of book binding, illuminating medieval manuscript leaves, the artistry of scribes and painters, 19th century printmaking – and perhaps stumble on a few surprises between the pages.
Presented and recorded on May 13, 2021.
A Friend, a Foe, and a Faire Youth: Finding Shakespeare in Early Printings and Later Manuscripts | Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour
Was Shakespeare the greatest playwright ever, a social-climber, or both? Why have his sonnets been a source of confusion for 400 years, and what was going on with him, the Faire Youth, and the Dark Lady? In this “Behind the Bookcase,” we’ll discover Shakespeare’s first fans and enemies, see some of his earliest printings and inspirations, and puzzle over some unanswerable questions.
Presented and recorded on April 1, 2021.
Written In My Heart: James Joyce & Irish Authors | Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour
“When I die Dublin will be written in my heart,” James Joyce once proclaimed of his homeland. The spirit of Ireland has inspired legions of storytellers for centuries and The Rosenbach is home to an incredible collection of their work. In this virtual tour we’ll explore a wide array of holdings like Bram Stoker’s handwritten notes for his gothic classic Dracula, unravel correspondence from the iconic and incomparable Oscar Wilde, and, of course, take a close look at one of our most famous holdings, Joyce’s manuscript of his Modernist masterpiece Ulysses. The influence of these authors continues to be felt far beyond Ireland’s rugged shores. Together we’ll discuss their enduring resonance and even discover some surprising connections to Thomas Jefferson, Herman Melville, and more.
Presented and recorded on March 4, 2021.
Black Writers, the Jazz Age, and the Harlem Renaissance at The Rosenbach | Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour
The Harlem Renaissance is the fulcrum for this look “behind the bookcase” at great Black writers. Beginning with Paul Laurence Dunbar, the first acclaimed Black poet after Emancipation, we’ll spend the bulk of our time with letters and first editions of poet Langston Hughes and philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke-including the keystone work of the Harlem Renaissance, Locke’s The New Negro.
Presented and recorded on February 25, 2021.
Highland Heart: The Music of Robert Burns | Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour
In Conversation with Lisa Norling | Quaker Wives and Cape Horn Widows: The Women Melville Left on Shore
Presented and recorded on December 7, 2020. Program begins at the 2:40 mark.
Virtual Behind the Bookcase | Miniature Worlds Part I
In this Behind the Bookcase tour, we bring a magnifying glass to some of the itsy-est items in The Rosenbach’s collection. Get a behind the scenes look at The Rosenbach’s recently acquired miniature model of the library of John Fleming, the Rosenbachs’ employee and successor in the rare book business. Learn more about the history and artistry of fine miniature making and collecting as we explore the scaled-down books and furnishings within the Fleming Library.
Behind the Bookcase | Golden Cross: Artifacts of Spanish Imperialism in the Western Hemisphere
The Spanish Empire was one of the western world’s first global colonial superpowers, and its great wealth was built on the extraction of natural resources by enslaved labor in Central and South America. The Rosenbach is home to a collection of manuscripts and books from the 1500s and 1600s that record the conquest of Mexico. In this Behind the Bookcase tour, study historic illuminated manuscripts and meet the people who populated the Spanish Empire. The tour, which is informed by postcolonial theory, will include a discussion of the economic, political, religious, and social history of New Spain, and how the historical events of the early modern period are still felt today.
Content note: This tour involves discussion of human enslavement and violence against Indigenous peoples.
Seeing Alice Dunbar-Nelson with 2020 Vision: (Re)interpreting a Civil Rights Activist During an Election Year
Co-curators of “I Am an American!” The Authorship and Activism of Alice Dunbar-Nelson Monet Timmons and Jesse Erickson join us for a behind-the-scenes peek into the exhibition development process and get to know this under-studied local activist, journalist, novelist, educator, poet, and much more.
Aired on July 3, 2020. Support for “I Am an American!” is provided by the Pennsylvania Abolition Society Endowment Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation.
Founding Fathers and Revolutionary Women | Behind the Bookcase tour
Reflect on Independence Day with a look at The Rosenbach’s collection of handwritten letters + notes, early works, and more of some of the founding fathers and revolutionary women who shaped our country.
Aired on July 1, 2020. Program begins at the 13:26 mark.
In Bed with Ishmael: Queer Approaches to the Life, Work, and Legacy of Herman Melville
In Bed with Ishmael is presented as part of The Rosenbach’s celebration of Pride Month 2020, and alongside American Voyager: Herman Melville at 200.
Aired June 18, 2020.
Virtual Bloomsday Festival
Bloomsday was celebrated in a new digital format this year, in place of our annual festival on Delancey Place.
Aired on June 16, 2020. You can watch the full festival here.
The history of the Ulysses manuscript at The Rosenbach
Our Librarian Elizabeth Fuller talks us through the history of James Joyce’s Ulysses manuscript and how it made its way to The Rosenbach.
Aired on June 16, 2020.
The History of Bloomsday
The Rosenbach’s Curator and Director of Collections Judy Guston walks us through the history of why Bloomsday is celebrated every year on June 16.
Aired on June 16, 2020.
Virtual Behind the Bookcase tour: 20th-Century Gay & Lesbian Lives
This Behind the Bookcase tour examines the hidden histories of 20th-century queer luminaries like Mercedes de Acosta, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Cocteau, Alain Leroy Locke, and Langston Hughes through their published and private writings.
Aired May 28, 2020.
Rosenbach Collections Chat: Indigenous Author-Activists in The Rosenbach’s Collection
The Rosenbach’s rare book collections include volumes written by Native American authors who sought to advocate for Indigenous peoples’ rights in the nineteenth-century United States. In this interactive, digital program, you will learn about three of those authors—William Apess, R.B. Lewis, and Simon Pokagon—and a fourth author, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, represented in the Rosenbach collection in a rare and fragile manuscript. Join us as we consider how these authors used the genres of memoir, poetry, history, and the novel to advocate for Indigenous rights.
Aired on May 8, 2020. Program begins at the 2:30 mark.
Sundays With Dracula
Every Sunday for 27 weeks, we’ll be having a live virtual conversation about Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula and highlight one chapter per week. The novel begins on May 3 and ends 27 weeks later on November 6. Join us for one program or all 27! Joining Edward G. Pettit of The Rosenbach will be a revolving set of co-hosts, all of whom have had a long history of reading, collecting, and creating with Stoker’s vampire. The Rosenbach is the home of Bram Stoker’s Notes for Dracula, over 100 pages of outlines, early plot ideas, and research notes, compiled by the author over the seven years he developed and wrote the book. Find the full series of videos here.
Aired on May 3, 2020. Find the full series of videos here.
Virtual Behind the Bookcase Tour: Emily Dickinson
In honor of National Poetry Month, our April program featured two letters written by Emily Dickinson. The Belle of Amherst. The vulnerable recluse who lived a life of quiet passion. The Emily Dickinson of public imagination for a century was confined to the decorous hall of The Nineteenth Century Poetess. She could be a little eccentric, but never improper. However, Emily was far more audacious and lively, a woman whose adventurous art and challenging ideas continue to resonate today. We‘ll look at letters in her own hand learn how her first editors reshaped her poetry to fit their own conceptions. We’ll explore the myth of the Belle and give voice to the Modern Emily.
Aired on April 30, 2020.
Ulysses Every Day Reading Challenge: Day 1
For literature enthusiasts and first-time readers alike, Ulysses can be every bit as daunting as it is thrilling. If you’ve always wanted to read James Joyce’s masterpiece, or are eager for any excuse to revisit it, join Ulysses Every Day, a daily challenge to inspire you to finish it by Bloomsday on June 16. Find the full series of videos here.
Aired on April 15, 2020. Find the full series of videos here.
Pennoni Panels at the Rosenbach: The Justice of Memory: Evaluating Monuments in a Changing Culture
Presented and recorded on February 12, 2019.
In Conversation With The Rosenbach Mini-Series: The Legacy of the Thirteenth Amendment: Eric Motley
Presented and recorded on January 24, 2019.
In Conversation With Douglas A. Blackmon | Our Persistent Past: The Enduring Legacy of Slavery and America’s Corruption of the 13th Amendment
Presented and recorded on November 15, 2018.
In Conversation with the Rosenbach: Emily Bazelon on Federalist Paper No. 83
Presented and recorded by March 6, 2018
In Conversation with the Rosenbach: Kermit Roosevelt on Federalist Paper No. 46
Presented and recorded on February 21, 2018
In Conversation with the Rosenbach: Judge Jed S. Rakoff on Federalist Paper No. 78
Presented and recorded on January 26, 2018.