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Michigan State University

RCAH 202, Spring 2023 -- Living with the Dead -- Resources in Special Collections: Home

What will you find on this page?

This page identifies the materials brought to your RCAH 202 class visit on February 8 or 9, 2023. Some were unique artworks, while others were representative of a genre. For the latter, there's help finding more pieces.

Andreas Vesalius and Human Anatomy

A portrait of Andreas Vesalius conducting a dissection, with focus on the body's right arm.

Andreas Vesalius De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body, 1543) was the first modern work on human anatomy.

Vesalius intersects with your course topic in two interesting ways:

  • Prior to Vesalius, the Western world still considered the ancient Greek scholar, Galen (born 129 C.E.) as the highest authority on human anatomy. It was believed that the knowledge of the past could not be improved upon.
  • Thirteen centuries later, Vesalius pioneered the practice of dissection to gain understanding of human anatomy. (Galen had never dissected a human body!) Thus, the recent dead made a profound contribution to human knowledge.

Special Collections has a 1555 edition of De Humani Corporis Fabrica (brought to class.) An annotated translation into English is also available.

Epitaphs

Photo of a gravestone from the 1840s.

Epitaphs are the inscriptions on grave markers. In the 1700s and 1800s collections of epitaphs were common.

Brought to class: A Collection of Epitaphs and Monumental Inscriptions... (1806)

More collections of epitaphs in Special Collections

Photo from takomabibelot on Flickr. Creative Commons license.

Fine press movement

One page from an illuminated manuscript, with colorful embellishments.

Artisans of the fine press movement idealized the book aesthetics of the Middle Ages. Their work can also be understood as part of the larger Arts & Crafts movement. The Kelmscott Press, founded by William Morris, was the most admired practitioner.

Brought to class:

More Kelmscott Press volumes in Special Collections.

Haggadot

Cover of "A Passover Haggadah" (Simon & Schuster, 1993)

A haggadah (plural haggadot) is a book or booklet containing the service for a seder, the ritual meal for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Special Collections has about a dozen haggadot that were acquired and cataloged individually.

The Sylvia B. Kruger Haggadah Collection includes 80 haggadot, from the 1920s to 2006. Box 3 of this collection was brought to class.

Lev Raphael Papers

Cover of the book My Germany by Lev Raphael

Lev Raphael is an American writer of Jewish heritage who has published both fiction and non-fiction.

His book My Germany (2009) concerns his parents' experiences during the Holocaust and his own feelings about German history and culture.

Raphael's papers are held in MSU Special Collections. Files concerning My Germany are in box 9 (folders 17-20) and box 9.5 (folders 1-33.)

Brought to class: box 35, folder 22.5, with notes & drafts for a presentation at the Yom Hashoah Holocaust memorial service at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, East Lansing, 1994.

Here's the finding aid (archival term for a collection inventory) for the Lev Raphael papers. Click Collection Organization for an outline of the holdings.

Maus

Cover illustration from The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman

Art Spiegelman's classic graphic memoir of his father's experiences in the Holocaust. Copies in Special Collections:

Also available as an ebook (MSUnet logon required)

Volume 1 of Maus (My Father Bleeds History) is also available on 2-hour loan at the Main Library Circulation Desk, call number D810.J4 S643 1986. (Longer hours than the Special Collections reading room.)

Monsters

Detail of cover for Frankenstein, illustrated by Lynd Ward

Brought to class:

More zombies in Special Collections:

Teaching children about difficult histories

Unique artworks

A fabric book with a quilted, six-pointed star on the cover.

Extinction Scares Me, by Wael Taleb (2016)

I Listen to the Snow Shrouding Me Forever, by Christine Kermaire (2010)

Pansy's Hexagons, by Elsi Vassdal Ellis (2015)

[Scrapbook of botanical illustrations], 1886

Still, by Jenna Rodriguez (2015?)

Michigan State University