On Reading Spring

Exhibition Dates: March 21 – June 13, 2022
Exhibition Location: The Hannah Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center Lobby, The Joseph Regenstein Library, 1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Royal fern
Light and shadow produce a raindrop-like effect in a delicate, otherworldly 1901 image of Royal Fern (Osmunda Regalis) shoots in early spring from the University of Chicago Botany Department Papers. The Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library.

Why do we all respond so similarly to the “characteristic and essential” traits of spring? Can we trace the genesis of too familiar rhetorical devices, poetic flourishes, and seasonal tropes to authentic, lived experiences of the seasons? How is the creative impulse vulnerable to the physical environment in which it germinates?

On Reading Spring explores these questions by pairing a selection of rare and unusual published works with archival letters, diaries, photographs, musical manuscripts, and early drafts of poems composed between March and June. Through six thematic sections—Refreshment, Vulnerability, Epiphany, Restoration, Tenderness, and Joy —On Reading Spring considers the ways in which these diverse works reveal a sympathetic vernal experience across disciplines, cultures, and time periods.

The exhibit includes works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Margaret Danner, Emily Dickenson, Vivian Maier, Igor Stravinsky, Virgil, Virginia Woolf, and Carlos de Francisco Zea.

On Reading Spring inaugurates a new exhibition case located in the lobby of the Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center. The exhibition takes the form of six rotations, each on display for two weeks. The entire exhibition can be viewed on the web exhibit.

Visiting the Library

The University of Chicago Library has reopened Regenstein, Mansueto, Crerar, and Eckhart libraries to visitors—including alumni, partners of UChicago users, researchers from affiliated institutions, and visiting researchers and members of the public. In order to provide broad and safe access to the Library, visitors will be asked to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, consistent with University policies and protocols. For more information, please visit this Access page.

Writing in diary
Dachau Diaries, 1945. In the spring of 1945, Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz would be liberated from the Dachau concentration camp, where he was imprisoned for his pacifist ideology. Among his notes for the diary he would later publish we find a stark list of the crimes he and his fellow inmates endured during the days leading up to April 30 when the freed survivors were met, as Koberwitz emphatically notes, with snow.