By Bailey Blaker
From mystery novels about vigilante detective historians to textbooks on the 1980s Chinese avant garde art movement, the Kenyon Authors Collection epitomizes our campus’s rich literary history.
An annual reception honoring Kenyon authors is being held this afternoon at 4 p.m. in the Greenslade Special Collections & Archives, where honorees will each read a passage or two from their works. Candidates for inclusion in the collection must have authored, edited, translated or illustrated by past and present Kenyon employees. There is a separate collection that includes alumni that is not a designated part of the archives, but which belongs to the library’s broader collection.
Abigail Miller, College and digital collections archivist, organized the honoree reception.
“Everyone who works here has to wear a lot of hats; it’s a small institution,” Miller said. “This is a nice way for the library to recognize all of the hard work that faculty and staff do in addition to all of their regular duties.”
Eight texts are being honored this year, including Professor Emeritus of History Reed Browning’s mystery A Question of Identification and the play Things Being What They Are by James Michael Playwright-in-Residence Wendy MacLeod.
Browning views the collection as a way to honor those faculty who have published in the last year and to preserve our culture as an institution.
“I think it’s greater value is probably not for students, but for people interested in Kenyon’s history, and in particular faculty and other people associated with the College who have written over the years,” Browning said. “It becomes with each passing year a somewhat more interesting and presumably more instructive voice about earlier years in Kenyon’s day.”
The texts selected for inclusion in the collection span all genres, including fiction and more research-driven texts.
The Wiley Handbook of Eating Disorders, coauthored and edited by Linda Smolak, deputy civil rights and Title IX coordinator and professor emerita of psychology, is a comprehensive work that explores the psychological field of eating disorders.
Smolak, along with co-author Professor Emeritus of Psychology Michael Levine, compiled years’ worth of research into the 68-chapter text.
For Smolak, the attitude toward research on campus allowed her to be successful in completing the project.
“If you were at a larger university, you would have to get that research out pretty quickly,” she said. “Kenyon allows you to take the time to do longitudinal research.”
Yan Zhou, visual resources curator and adjunct assistant professor of art history, condensed almost 20 years of work into Odyssey of Culture: Wenda Gu and his Art, which tells the tale of Chinese avant garde art in the 1980s through the career of artist Wenda Gu.
The focused nature of his work allows Zhou to explore different insights and to develop an in-depth understanding of his field.
“I tried to do something that digs deeper to get a more profound insight into something essential,” he said.
The collection is available for viewing in the archives during regular business hours.