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Discovering the Language of Photography:
The Gernsheim Collection

Roy Flukinger, Senior Research Curator of Photography at the Ransom Center and author of The Gernsheim Collection exhibition catalog, discusses the lives of Helmut and Alison Gernsheim and the historical photography collection they amassed and later sold to the Ransom Center in 1963.

Introduction to Helmut and Alison Gernsheim

In this clip, Flukinger describes how Helmut Gernsheim began collecting photographs after World War II, thanks to encouragement from American photo historian Beaumont Newhall.

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The hunt for the first photograph

Helmut Gernsheim conducted historical research and performed some deft detective work to track down the world's first photograph by Joseph Nicephore Niépce after it had been missing for half a century. Flukinger describes the hunt and the moment when Gernsheim realized he had found the image.

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Bringing the Gernsheim collection to The University of Texas at Austin

In the 1950s, the Gernsheims began searching for a permanent home for their photography collection, and after a series of negotiations, Harry Ransom made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

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Biographer discusses researching
Somerset Maugham biography

Selina Hastings is a writer and journalist, the author of four literary biographies, including The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham, which was published in May 2010.

In this audio clip, Hastings discussed the challenges she faced in researching Maugham. In a case of being in the perfect place at the perfect time, Hastings was the first scholar to be granted access to Maugham's papers by the Royal Literary Fund.

Hastings also recently wrote an article for Ransom Edition about her work in the Ransom Center's collections and the "uneasy friendship" between Maugham and Hugh Walpole.

At the Ransom Center, she was a Mellon Fellow during 2002-2003 and was awarded the Dorot Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Jewish Studies in 2009-2010. She has previously worked in the Ransom Center's collections for her biographies on Evelyn Waugh, Nancy Mitford, and Rosamond Lehmann. She is currently working on a biography of Sybille Bedford.

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Lucien Douglas Performs Poe

Lucien Douglas, Professor of Theatre and Dance at The University of Texas at Austin, performs excerpts from three works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Jayne Anne Phillips Reading from Lark and Termite

The Ransom Center recently acquired the papers of American novelist Jayne Anne Phillips.

Phillips has published six novels and story collections over the last three decades. Her most recent work is Lark and Termite (2009), which explores the effects of the Korean War on a soldier and his family back home.

Known for her poetic prose and her in-depth study of family dynamics, Phillips has received critical acclaim and major literary prizes, including a Guggenheim fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Phillips is professor of English and director of the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at Rutgers University, Newark.

Phillips visited the Ransom Center and recorded a reading of Lark and Termite.

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Sebastian Barry Reads from The Secret Scripture

Irish novelist, playwright, and poet Sebastian Barry was recently chosen for the longlist for the Man Booker Prize for his latest book, The Secret Scripture. Dinitia Smith of the New York Times Book Review says his language in the book is “like a song, with all the pulse of the Irish language, a song sung liltingly and plaintively from the top of Ben Bulben into the airy night.” Listen as Barry reads the first chapter of the book.

The Ransom Center acquired Barry's archive in 2001. You can also listen to more audio clips, read an interview, and view photos from Barry's visit to the Ransom Center in 2006.

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Alan Furst Reading from The Spies of Warsaw

Known for capturing Europe in conflict between 1933 and 1941, Alan Furst writes novels that fit into a genre he defines as historical espionage. Listen to Furst read from his latest book, The Spies of Warsaw, a book that Washington Post critic Jonathan Yardley claims as "...entertaining from first page to last" and dubs Furst as "...that rarity, a writer of popular fiction who is also a serious novelist."

The Ransom Center acquired Furst's archive in 2006.

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Jim Crace Reading from his Works

Hear British writer Jim Crace read from some of his prize-winning works, including the novel Being Dead, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Quarantine, the Whitbread Novel of the Year and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Crace provides an intro to each reading.

The Ransom Center acquired Crace's archive in the spring of 2008.

  • The Devil's Larder
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  • Quarantine
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  • Being Dead
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  • Heroes
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  • The United States and the Salvadoran Civil War

    Associate Professor of History Virginia Burnett speaks with exhibitions intern Joey Kolker about memory and human rights in El Salvador, 15 years after the signing of peace accords that ended the country's civil war. Burnett is a co-organizer of the April 2008 conference Image, Memory, and the Paradox of Peace, jointly sponsored by the University's Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, the School of Journalism, and the Harry Ransom Center. As part of this collaboration, the Ransom Center presented the photography exhibition Inside El Salvador.

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    Photo by
    Linda Gervin

    Interview with James Salter

    Ransom Center Advisory Council Member Robert Franden spoke with author James Salter about his archive, his writing process, and his acclaimed book Light Years.

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    Interview with Woodward and Bernstein

    On March 23, 2007, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein talked with University of Texas government professor Bruce Buchanan and Ransom Center public affairs assistant Alicia Dietrich about their papers, their relationship with Mark Felt, and about presidential accountability.

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    Interview with Norman Mailer and his family

    Norman Mailer visited the Ransom Center for the 2006 Flair Symposium, The Sense of Our Time: Norman Mailer and America in Conflict.

    During Mailer's visit, Robert Fulton, the Ransom Center's former Curator of Academic Affairs, interviewed Norman Mailer, his son John Buffalo Mailer, and Norman Mailer's sister, Barbara Mailer Wasserman.

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    Photojournalism in War Zones

    Documentary photographer and Journalism School Associate Professor Donna DeCesare discusses photojournalism and the legacies of violence in El Salvador's civil war with exhibitions intern Joey Kolker. DeCesare is a co-organizer of the April 2008 conference Image, Memory, and the Paradox of Peace. Also, a selection of 30 of DeCesare's photographs form the section El Salvador Inside Out in the Harry Ransom Center's exhibition Inside El Salvador. The photographs trace the stories of two individuals and their relationship to the war and its legacies.

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    Anatomy of an Exhibition

    Molly Schwartzburg, Curator of British and American Literature at the Ransom Center, curated the exhibition On the Road with the Beats. She speaks with Ransom Center Public Affairs Assistant Alicia Dietrich to give a behind-the-scenes look at some of the items in the exhibition and the challenges she faced in organizing and choosing items for the show.

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    A Conversation with the "Scrollmaster"

    Jim Canary is a conservator at Indiana University's Lilly Library, but he also has the job of caring for Jack Kerouac's scroll manuscript of On the Road. While in Austin to install the scroll, Jim spoke with Molly Schwartzburg, curator of On the Road with the Beats. Canary discusses how he got the job of caring for this unique 120-foot document and why he thinks Kerouac's looking down and laughing at the attention given to the scroll now.

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    Jess, Boob #3
    1954. (Detail)

    Jess: To and From the Printed Page
    Interview with Host Curator Peter Mears

    Harry Ransom Center Curator of Art Peter Mears speaks with Public Affairs intern Anne Frugé about the life and work of the artist featured in the exhibition Jess: To and From the Printed Page. The exhibition focuses on the influential San Francisco artist known as "Jess" (Burgess Collins) that explores his ongoing dialogue between visual images and printed text. Imaginative collage works and paintings derived from poetry, literary classics, and even the Sunday comics are featured.

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