“The Left Book Club is more relevant now than ever because it represents a time [period] when drastic changes in media were happening parallel to radicalizing politics… similar to our current moment, when social media has increased access to information, but it also seems to have polarized our political culture.”—Marc Blanc
Join Ohio University Libraries for an afternoon discussion on research strategies of the Left Book Club with Marc Blanc, a senior in English, on Wed. Sept. 6 from 4-6 p.m. on the fifth floor of Alden Library. Hear about Blanc’s new expertise and view the exhibit, “The Politics of Publishing: Joining the Left Book Club, 1936-1948,” he curated as a student in the English 4940 Research Apprenticeship class.
Miriam Intrator, special collections librarian, and Joe McLaughlin, associate professor of English and chair of the Faculty Senate, collaborated on the development of the course with the idea that the student would spend most of his or her time in the Libraries’ special collections working with rare books and archival materials.
“Usually students come in with some sort of interest already,” said Intrator. “Then we try to develop a research project for them over the course of the semester. Something that is a great interest to them—and will benefit our knowledge of our collections.”
McLaughlin, who had found a previous study (and inventory) of the Left Book Club (LBC), a far-left publishing group that rallied against intolerant political views and practices, shared his finding with Intrator as a possible research topic for Blanc—if he was interested—and he was.
One of Blanc’s initial assignments was to build a webpage, “and that was what I had to do for the Libraries. For myself, it was to gain knowledge about an era I was interested in—the extremist political ideology of the ‘30s and the mid-20th century. So it all just fell into my lap. The fact that the Libraries had it was serendipitous for me.”
During the course of his research, Blanc discovered that the OHIO Libraries held one of the largest collections of Left Book Club editions in the nation.
“The fact that we [the Libraries] had this was beyond my wildest dreams for college. This is so up my alley,” said Blanc. “I can incorporate [this collection] into my thesis I am writing for my senior year—I am focusing on George Orwell, and Orwell had his big break with this club.”
There are multiple disciplines available for researchers, so it is no surprise that Blanc was able to incorporate what he learned into his thesis. With all the interesting topics available in the Left Book Club collection, Intrator hopes, as with all the Libraries’ special collection material, that people will use them.
“Part of what we want to do is to let people in other departments know that there is literature, history, political history, graphic design [among many others topics],” said Intrator. “There are women’s studies, African American studies—and race and rights issues in general. [And] …there are authors like Orwell, who are now great names, but maybe weren’t when they wrote during their time.”
So join us on Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. in the George Voinovich Seminar Room on the fifth floor of Alden Library. The event is free and open to the public—light refreshments will be served.