Calliope’s Cabinet: Video series puts spotlight on Emory Libraries’ rare collections

The Hatchery, Emory Center for Innovation, and Emory Libraries are proud to announce the launch of “Calliope’s Cabinet: An Exploration of Curious Innovations Through the Ages.” This new video series seeks to inspire Emory innovators and connect them to Emory University Library resources by showcasing unusual and thought-provoking archival material from deep in Emory’s library collections.

“There is a current tendency to equate innovation with technology and entrepreneurship,” said Shannon Clute, PhD, director of The Hatchery, Emory Center for Innovation. “But it’s more historically accurate, and ultimately more helpful, to understand innovation as the purposeful development of novel and valuable solutions to human needs. This show takes its inspiration from the Renaissance ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ fad, which showcased such human innovations—and a great number of oddities that were thought-provoking but hard to classify through classical thought.”

Calliope’s Cabinet takes this broader view of the history of innovation, examining breakthrough inventions in human health, communication, education, love, spirituality, and other fundamentally human concerns. Each video focuses on a particular innovation, and features an Emory expert discussing when and where it was invented, what problem it was intended to solve, what made it innovative, how it was received, what eventually replaced it, and why it is still of conceptual value to innovators today.

New episodes will be posted throughout the academic year. You may view them individually, or subscribe to receive all new episodes.

Episode 1: Robert Gaynes, MD and distinguished physician and professor at Emory University School of Medicine, discusses Vesalius’s “De humani corporis fabrica” (On the Structure of the Human Body), the first modern treatise on human anatomy and dissection, which utterly innovated the study and practice of medicine in the Western world. Watch now.

Episode 2: Coming in January, 2022. Beth Shoemaker, rare book librarian for the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, exhibits art books from the Emory Libraries that create new intersections of form and meaning and challenge the norms of publishing and visual arts.

Episode 3: Coming in February, 2022. Dr. Brandon Wason, curator of archives and manuscripts for Pitts Theology Library, discusses the personal journals of theologian and evangelist John Wesley, leader of the revival movement known as Methodism, whose innovative systems for assessing the piety of his everyday actions helped to evolve the Church of England.

Episode 4: Coming in March, 2022. Robert Gaynes, MD and distinguished physician and professor at Emory University School of Medicine, showcases a Civil War surgeon’s field kit—a turning point in medical history containing hopelessly outdated technology that cost many lives while saving countless others.

Episode 5: Coming in April, 2022. Lolita Rowe, community outreach archivist for the Rose Library, discusses a selection of Victorian yellowbacks—19th century pulp novels that changed the publishing world and popular culture by making reading accessible, affordable, and appealing to the working masses.


Adapted from “Calliope’s Cabinet: A Renaissance Innovation for the Digital World”
by Shannon Scott Clute, director, The Hatchery at Emory University

November 24, 2021

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