Bingham Center News
Join the staff of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture for an opportunity to learn how to edit Wikipedia articles, learn more about the rich history of women at Duke University, and then put that knowledge into action by creating and editing entries that document the lives and contributions of women alumnae, faculty, staff, and community members.
This edit-a-thon is part of a worldwide movement to increase the percentage of women editors and woman-focused articles within Wikipedia.
If you’re planning to attend, create a Wikipedia account in advance and sign up on the edit-a-thon’s meetup page (where you’ll also find a list of proposed Wikipedia articles that you can work on). Bring your laptop to the edit-a-thon if you can. You can also participate from anywhere in the world!
Looking for more information about the edit-a-thon? Read Duke Today’s article or listen to this “State of Things” discussion with local edit-a-thon organizers, including the Bingham Center’s Kelly Wooten!
Thursday, March 19: Rachel Levitsky, Founder of Belladonna*Feminist Avant-Garde Collective: A Reading and Talk
Date: Thursday, March 19, 2015
Time: 12:00 p.m. (Bring your lunch. Coffee, tea, and sweets will be served.)
Location: The Edge Workshop Room, Bostock Library, First Floor
Contact: Kelly Wooten email@example.com
Join the Rubenstein Library for an lunchtime program with poet, scholar, and activist Rachel Levitsky. Levitsky, who founded Belladonna*, will share itshistory, mission, and aesthetics and read selections from both her writings and work published by the Belladonna* collective. Levitsky will also share the collaborative work she’s done within Belladonna*, Pratt Institute, and the Office of Recuperative Strategies.
In 1999, Levitsky started Belladonna Series in order to investigate and promote feminist avant-garde poetics. Belladonna Series is now Belladonna* Collaborative, and Levitsky is a participating member. Levitsky is a faculty member at Pratt Institute in the MFA program in Writing, where she initiated the program of Creative Writing for Art and Design. With poet Christian Hawkey, Levitsky co-founded the Office of Recuperative Strategies (oors.net). Levitsky’s hybridpoetries and prose utilize politics, humor and abstraction to map the structural reality of everyday life. Her recent books are NEIGHBOR (UDP), The Story of My Accident is Ours (Futurepoem) and the chapbook Renoemos (Delete).
Sponsored by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the Program in Women’s Studies, the English Department, and the Forum for Scholars and Publics.
Date: Thursday, February 12, 2015
Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
Location: Room 217, Perkins Library
Contact: Amy McDonald, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dearest readers and friends, we long to see you on Valentine’s Day. Won’t you please set our hearts a-flutter and come to our Valentine’s Day open house?
Do you fear that you will be too busy penning epistles of undying love to your own beloveds to join us? Ah, but this event is crafted especially for you: we’ll be sharing the most swoon-worthy of love declarations from the Rubenstein Library’s collections, so you may find just the term of endearment you need to woo your mate.
Perhaps a few examples to help the time pass more swiftly until we meet?
We’re charmed by the simplicity of this short note from the scrapbook of Odessa Massey, Class of 1928:From the Odessa Massey Scrapbook, 1924-1928.
Or the more expressive route taken by Francis Warrington Dawson—writing to Sarah Morgan, his future wife–is always sure to succeed:Letter from Francis Warrington Dawson to Sarah Morgan, February 10, 1873. From the Francis Warrrington Dawson Family Papers.
“How deeply should I thank God that he has allowed me to know you, which is to love you, for the sun now has a brighter light & the sky a deeper blue. The whole world seems truer & better, & this pilgrim, instead of lingering in the depths, is breasting the healthy difficulties of existence, with his eyes fast fixed on you. Whatever else may fail, believe always in this devoted & unselfish love of Francis Warrington Dawson!”
Or whose heart wouldn’t melt upon receiving this most adorable valentine, from our Postcard Collection:Valentine postcard, undated. From the Postcard Collection.
And there might even be tips on how to present yourself when you present your valentine!Barbasol advetisement, 1944. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/adaccess_BH0643/
Have we convinced you yet? What if we mention that there will be chocolate and candy?
Until next Thursday,
Your Rubenstein librarians
While I processed a collection of correspondence between two lovers, a handful of letters stuck out. Martha Simpson, then Martha Eleanor Booker, a young African American woman working on her teaching degree at Elizabeth City Teachers College, had a penchant for writing in code. Paul Simpson, her love interest, did not share the same inclination, but did indulge her in his responses. As I read through the letters, the code used in three of them piqued my curiosity. My search revealed that the code used seems to be a form of carnival Pig Latin, also known as Czarny, Z-Latin, or Carny (Hautzinger 30).
Martha first sneaks in her secret code at the closing of a letter from January 10, 1951, with a little taunt, “Ha, ha, I bet you can’t read it.” Paul’s response to this letter, dated January 13, 1951, briefly acknowledges that he, indeed, could read her secret language with the opening line “Dizear Cizheré,” before continuing his letter unencumbered by the extra z’s.
But Martha doesn’t give up. She continues the code in a response from January 17, 1951, written half in this “z-language,” eventually switching back to conventional English.
Martha’s next letter clearly was not on pink paper (did you catch that one?), but she did keep on with her code. The secret language was formed by inserting iz after the first consonant, and if there was no consonant present, beginning the word with biz. In linguistic circles, this is known as iz-infixation and has been linked to rap and hip-hop music. Examples include Frankie Smith’s 1981 hits Double Dutch Bus and Slang Thang (or Slizang Thizang), both of which boast the iz-infix in their lyrics. More recent examples include work by Snoop Dogg and Kanye West (Viau 1). But these letters come decades before the iz-infix made it big in music, and the question remains: Where did this secret language come from?
We think the answer is this: carnival slang. Published accounts of Carny go back to 1926 (Russell and Murray 401), well before Martha was writing to Paul. It was a language immersed in the subculture of the carnival, intended to distinguish between outsiders and the true Carnies, given the questionable legality of the carnival. Sarah Hautzinger describes it as a dialect that “rearranges English to make it unintelligible to the unenlightened ear” (32). In Czarny, “a Z-sound is inserted after the first consonant, and if the word begins with a vowel, before the vowel sound, in the first syllable only” (32). This certainly seems a lot like the iz-infixes found in the letters between Martha and Paul. Rumor has it that this carny talk found its way into popular culture years later.
Whether or not their secret language was descended from Z-Latin, the coded (and uncoded) correspondence between Martha and Paul D. Simpson provides an interesting read. Recently acquired by the Rubenstein, these roughly 300 letters detail the love, life, and struggles of a young African American couple on their way to becoming teachers.
For more information on the Martha and Paul D. Simpson Papers, check out the collection guide.
For further reading on Carny Latin and the iz-infix, see:
Post contributed by Janice Hansen, a Ph.D. student in Germanic Languages & Literature and Technical Services intern at The Rubenstein.
The post Tizhe Lizanguage bizof Lizovers: Carny Latin Reincarnated appeared first on The Devil's Tale.