Fun in the archives

by Nicholas Laughlin on July 28, 2010

1905 editions of the Jamaica Times

Three editions of the Jamaica Times from 1905. Images from the Digital Library of the Caribbean, University of Florida

Some weeks back, Antilles’ “In hand” series cast a glance at Belinda Edmondson’s Caribbean Middlebrow, which examines — as her subtitle has it — “leisure culture and the middle class” in the Caribbean, with a focus on Jamaica and Trinidad. This week the CRB publishes a full review by Brendan de Caires — as well as Vanessa Spence’s review of Pauline Melville’s novel Eating Air.

Caribbean Middlebrow covers a broad range of cultural phenomena, including “mid-nineteenth-century novels, fin-de-siècle newspapers, the gentrification of dialect poetry, the social politics of beauty pageants and jazz festivals, and transnational markets for popular fiction.” Edmondson has clearly put in some time in the archives, and readers who might like to follow her — investigating, say, how a nascent West Indian literary culture was charted in late-nineteeth- and early-twentieth-century newspapers — could do worse than browse the virtual stacks of the Digital Library of the Caribbean, or dLOC, a project of the University of Florida. This is a searchable library of digitised documents and publications — maps, photographs, books, journals, pamphlets, newspaper clippings and whole newspapers — all freely accessible to scholars, students, and ordinary readers. The Jamaica Times thumbnails above come from dLOC, where you can read entire editions of the paper from c. 1905. So does this film poster by the Cuban artist Eduardo Muñoz Bachs, designed for the 1975 Italian version of Zorro starring Alain Delon — which I’m reproducing here simply because I like it (three cheers for archives!):

Zorro film poster by Eduardo Munoz Bachs

Zorro poster (1976), by Eduardo Muñoz Bachs. Image from the Digital Library of the Caribbean, University of Florida

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