50 Objects 49: Miami Vice DVD

miami-viceA post by Oliver Thompson, Library Assistant.

A skilled martial artist single-handedly defeating 30 opponents whilst blindfolded. A Miami cop speeding in a Ferrari after a drug baron in a Lamborghini. An iconic grunge band performing live. One may not associate such things with a University library, but they can all be found on the shelves at Brunel. Although it exists primarily for academic purposes, the library hosts a wealth of material that can be enjoyed purely for its entertainment value, including fictional works, DVDs and Music CDs, all available free to check out for Brunel students and staff.

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There are many popular and critically acclaimed novels available, from authors such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, George Orwell, JG Ballard, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, and Terry Pratchett. Popular series such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and His Dark Materials are also available.

 

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There is an eclectic library of movies that cater for every taste, including blockbusters such as Avatar, and Back To The Future, comedies such as Spinal Tap and Little Shop Of Horrors, horror films such as 28 Days Later and Psycho, martial arts films such as The Raid, and anime such as Ninja Scroll. The library also holds an extensive collection of public lectures, documentaries and musical performances on DVD.

 

CD - Jeff Buckley.jpgYou can also find a wide library of musical recordings in the library, including Jazz, Classical, Electronic, Rock, Pop, Soundtracks and music from around the world. Beethoven, Jeff Buckley, Miles Davis, and countless others can all be found in the music department.

 

magazine-qOn the top floor of the library there is an extensive selection of journals and periodicals dealing with a very wide range of subjects, including dance, sports, theatre, politics and video games amongst many others, so whatever your interest it is likely that there will be something of interest. Whether you want to take up a new hobby such as photography, learning a new language, film-making, or become adept at chess, learn to paint or get to grips with a new software program, it is likely there will be a book or electronic resource available from the library.

 

There are many things to discover here at the library, so next time that you visit keep an eye and an ear out for the unexpected.

50 objects 48: Elizabethan spies

leftspiesLong before James Bond, there was John Dee and a network of other spies drawn together by Francis Walsingham to serve Elizabeth I. Some research material on such spies in Shakespearian times is found in Brunel’s Holmes collection.

Edward Holmes researched into the authorship of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. He published Discovering Shakespeare: a handbook for heretics (Mycroft : 2001) which discusses the authorship in an accessible way through fictitious dialogue between two people. His research notes were given to Brunel University Library and are housed in Special Collections.  However, the notes are far more extensive than the subject of the book. There are files on many subjects related to Tudor and Elizabethan times, including language, gardens, music, and other literary men. As a tangent to this last, Holmes notes that there seems to be some overlap between writers of literature and drama, and spies or secret agents. leftlit-soldier-spy

Perhaps the most well-known example of this overlap is Christopher Marlowe. Here’s a page of Holmes’ notes on Marlowe’s death and related issues.

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Holmes goes on to amass a file of information on espionage and ciphers at this time, sometimes interweaving Shakespeare, and similarities to characters in Shakespeare’s plays, with details on other men. Much of the material is in note form and it tends to be brief and cryptic, but forms a basis for further study both of Elizabethan spies and of academic views on them at a particular time.

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There are notes on the life and work of individuals who may have been connected to the network of agents, and theories about their activities. Here Holmes notes information about “John Doulande”, John Dowland the musician who some suspect of being involved with espionage.

Much of the “espionage” file consists of attempts to draw together a unified picture of the web of intrigue at particular point in time, by charting names, places, contacts, and so forth. Below are three diagrams of such networks.

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There seem to be no conclusive findings here, but many questions are raised and ideas generated for further study.

 

For more on the question of Shakespearian authorship, see the De Vere Society and the Shakespearian Authorship Trust.

For more on espionage and secret agents in this period, see

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/tudors/spying_01.shtml

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/spies/spies/standen/default.htm

http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/who-were-elizabethan-spies.html

For more on John Dee, see the material surrounding the Royal College of Physicians’ exhibiton.

 

50 objects 47: Dennis Brutus’ poems on Solomon Mahlangu

Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) was a poet and human rights activist who grew up in South Africa. He taught in a high school until he was dismissed for activism against apartheid, and he became instrumental in the movement against racism in sport. He was imprisoned and, on release, forbidden from teaching, publishing his writings, continuing to study law, and attending political meetings.

His poems reflect his frustrations and sadness at the political environment, and are frequently concerned with the sufferings of fellow black or mixed-race people.

One poignant set of poems on this topic is In Memoriam: Solomon Mahlangu, published in 1979. Solomon Mahlangu was a South African who was hanged by the apartheid South African government in 1979 after a controversial verdict finding him guilty of murder, and despite the intervention of the UN. The deaths were caused by another man, who was not considered fit to stand trial, and Mahlangu was found guilty on the understanding that he had had a “common intent” with the other man. The booklet begins, and ends,

“Singing
he went to war
and singing
he went to his death”.

The copy of this collection held at Brunel has a handwritten dedication to Brutus’ wife and children.solomon

Another published booklet of poems held in the Dennis Brutus Collection is Thoughts Abroad, by Dennis Brutus but published under the pseudonym John Bruin in order that it could be published in South Africa, where Brutus’ work was banned. This copy has been updated to attribute the work correctly and explain more about Brutus and his work.

There also handwritten poems and drafts by Dennis Brutus, and various works by other poets. The copy of Restless Leaves, a booklet of poems by Mark Espin, is dedicated to Dennis Brutus in thanks for the inspiration he provided.

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End of a poem written by Dennis Brutus during a UN hearing

 

Further reading on Dennis Brutus:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/dennis-brutus

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/23/dennis-brutus-obituary

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Dennis-Brutus

 

 

Explore Archives

This week is a great time to get involved in archives and special collections that interest you! Have a look at the Explore Your Archive main page to see what’s happening near you, and look at the #explorearchives posts on Twitter and other social media.

Find out about our collections:

Special Collections at Brunel is home to a huge array of material that can support your research. You can find out more by using our A-Z list of collections, or consulting our Special Collections guide, where we’ve highlighted collections of particular interest to English or History students.

You can search our collections by subject or keywords – use the library catalogue for printed material and the archive catalogue for manuscript.

Browse the Special Collections blog, where you can use the tags to find posts on particular themes, such as the First World War or trains.

You can see more about us on Twitter and Instagram too.

If you are looking for collections beyond Brunel you will find a list of resources on our guide.

Using Special Collections

Our collections are kept on closed access, so you will need to make an appointment with the Special Collections Librarian to come and see them once we re-open in January. If you haven’t used Special Collections or archival material before there is a guide on our blog.

 

50 objects 46: register of parcels going through Padstow station

Everyday administrative records can give valuable insights into aspects of life in the past, and often become more interesting with age. This book is a register kept as part of the standard records at Padstow station in Cornwall, from 1921 to 1952.

This station, the terminus at the western end of the North Cornwall Railway, was opened by the London and South Western Railway in 1899. As railway companies changed and merged the station changed ownership, and when it closed in 1967 it was owned by British Railways. The station was served by the Atlantic Coast Express, which ran direct from London Waterloo.

As the port at Padstow sent out a great deal of fish, the station had a separate fish loading platform. This was closed in 1950s as the trade in fish declined. This website gives more details on the freight trains, including the dedicated fish service running to Nine Elms.

The register’s full title is “L. & S. W. Ry – Register of traffic forwarded or received unentered account to follow: [blank] station”, and each page comes with instructions and ready-labelled columns to complete. This was a standard printed LSWR book issued to their stations. “Padstow” has been filled in on some pages of this one.

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The register keeps note of parcels or goods being sent by train for which there is some anomaly or for which a payment is due. The information filled in by hand or stamp for each individual transaction varies in detail and legibility, and the precise directions are not always followed, but the entries as a whole give snapshots over a thirty-year period of the range of goods being sent, the stations to and from which they were sent, and the costs involved.

Many of the entries are for fish or other foodstuffs, but there is also an entry for a corpse, sent in December 1940 to Stepps in North Lanarkshire: perhaps a fallen soldier? Kept in the pages for 1940 is a loose memo, written in pencil and dated 20th September 1940, concerning a delayed delivery and noting that “during the current emergency” (that is, during World War Two, owing to the disruption to rail services) the special charges for fish sent to London Waterloo would also apply to fish sent to Paddington.

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50 objects 45: The most borrowed book of 2015-2016

A post by Oliver Thompson, Library Assistant.

All kinds of statistical data is whizzing around the library and being recorded, with the ultimate purpose of improving the student experience through increased efficiency. This includes the number of books in stock, the number of students in the building at any time and the number of PC’s being used in any specified area. One of the most interesting uses of statistical data is to record how many times an item has been checked out. This measures the relative popularity of a title and can indicate whether the currently held quantities of a particular title are sufficient or should be adjusted.

business-2015During the 2015-2016 academic period the most popular title borrowed from the library was Business Research Methods by Alan Bryman and Emma Bell, which was checked out a total of 684 times. This particular title is currently available from the library in four different editions, having originally been published in 2003 (HD30.4.B78) and most recently in 2015 (HD30.4.B78 2015). Adapted from Bryman’s own ‘Social Research Methods’, according to the blurb this title provides students with ‘a comprehensive introduction to the area of business research methods. It gives students an assessment of the contexts within which different methods may be used and how they should be implemented.’

business-2003Alan Bryman is Professor of Organisational and Social research at the University of Leicester, which he joined in 2005 after working at the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University for 31 years. He has contributed to numerous research publications and is well-known for his 1988 book Quantity and Quality In Social Research. Emma Bell is Head of the Centre for Economics and Management at Keele University. She is also the current joint Editor-in-Chief for Management Learning, the ‘Journal for Critical, Reflexive Scholarship on Organisation and Learning’.

The rest of the ten most popularly checked out books of 2015-2016 are mainly business research focused, reflecting the strong popularity of this subject and its importance to many Brunel students.

The following table presents the entire top ten most checked out titles from the library during the 2015/2016 academic period:

Author in catalogue Title in catalogue 2015/16 circulation counts
Bryman, Alan, Business research methods 684
Saunders, Mark, Research methods for business students 517
Bryman, Alan, Social research methods 318
Crane, Andrew, Business ethics : managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization 310
Banfield, Paul. Introduction to human resource management 305
Jacques, Ian, Mathematics for economics and business 274
Rollinson, Derek John. Organisational behaviour and analysis : an integrated approach 259
Keegan, Warren J. Global marketing 251
Hall, Susan J. (Susan Jean), Basic biomechanics 241
Collis, Jill. Business research : a practical guide for undergraduate & postgraduate students 235

engineering-mathematics-qa37-s87-2001 Going as far back as records will allow to the mid 1990s, the most checked out individual book is a copy of K. A. Stroud’s Engineering Mathematics (item ID 6025957295, call number QA37.S87 2001), which had been checked out 1161 times as of the time of writing. It has sold over 500,000 copies worldwide in its various iterations and is hailed as a classic in its field. Author Kenneth Arthur Stroud was a mathematician and Principal Lecturer in Mathematics at Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry, England. According to Wikipedia he was ‘an innovator in programmed learning and the identification of precise learning outcomes’. Stroud passed away in 2000 at the age of 91. Engineering Mathematics continues to be updated since his passing, with contributions from Dexter J. Booth, a holder of a PhD in Theoretical Physics and a former Principal Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield.

50 Objects 44: Chris Wookey’s railway photographs

Chris Wookey was born in 1957 and was a student at Brunel University from 1975 to 1979, graduating with an honours degree in applied biochemistry. He went on to teach chemistry at a school in Walton-on-Thames until his untimely death in 1989.

Chis entered fully into student life, a writer for the student newsletter Le Nurb under the pen name “Big K”, an active member of the Christian Union, and captain of a five-a-side football team. His other great interest was railways, and his football team was named “Locomotive Brunel”. He was chairman for two years of the Brunel University Railway Society, and was a keen railway photographer.

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King’s Lynn station

 

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Brundall signal box

 

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Brundall Gardens station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1989 Chris Wookey’s railway photographs and notes were given to Brunel University Library by his widow and parents, to form a lasting memorial. The collection comprises photographs of British railway stations and signal boxes, mainly from the 1970s, and research notes with diagrams of railway routes. It provides a unique record of operations and the lineside scenes at this time.

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Diagram from Wookey’s research notes

Chris Wookey was a meticulous and knowledgeable worker, and his photographs are very clearly labelled and referenced. There are hard copy finding aids to this material: for more information please contact us.

Readers wanting to learn more about his activities while at Brunel should consult the University Archives, which may have relevant documents.