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EU Month of Culture Spotlight: The Netherlands & Belgium

As part of the European Month of Culture in May 2016, we focus on scholars from European Union member states who have conducted research at The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Wish to apply for a fellowship at the Library? Applications are now being accepted for Kluge Fellowships. Scholars worldwide who have earned a terminal advanced degree within the past seven years are eligible. Apply today

Geert Buelens, Kluge Fellow

Geert Buelens
Geert Buelens was a Kluge Fellow in 2008. Photo by Bob Bronshoff.

The German invasion of Belgium in World War I turned the neutral nation into a symbol of martyrdom. Allied nations, including the United States, quickly integrated Belgium into their wartime propaganda. Liege in particular, the first major Belgian city to be attacked was eulogized in American poetry by, among others, the American poet Witter Bynner.

Bynner sampled verses from the Belgian poet Emile Cammearts, a poet well-known in his time. The war made Cammearts somewhat of a celebrity. He would become a professor of Belgian Studies in London and write a biography of the Belgian war hero King Albert. Cammearts’ books were published in New York and were adapted by Bynner and others. Cammearts was not the only famous Belgian poet to speak for his nation during the war: Emile Verhaeren being the most noteworthy example. American poets who wrote about Belgium included e e cummings. And Russian poets such as Alexander Blok, Valerii Bryusov, Zinaida Gippius and Dmitry Merezhkovsky wrote about Belgium as well. Poetry about Belgium was clearly an important part of the literature of World War I. But why?

Dutch literature scholar Geert Buelens arrived at the Kluge Center in 2008 to examine the phenomenon of poetry during World War I, compiling and editing a collection of First World War poetry, over 200 poems from thirty languages and writing a monograph on European First World War poetry. Buelens grew up in Belgium, and received his Ph.D. in Dutch literature from Antwerp University, where he later taught for four years. He then moved to the Netherlands to teach at Utrecht University, where he is today a professor Modern Dutch Literature. Buelens is a poet himself, and in 2002 he published a collection of poems, “Het is,” which was awarded the Lucy B. en C.W. van der Hoogt-prize. His 2001 book on the Flemish avant-garde poet Paul van Ostaijen was awarded the prestigious triennial Flemish Culture Prize for Essay and Criticism

Netherlands detail
Map of The Netherlands. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:
Belgium detail
Map of Belgium. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

At the Library Buelens’ research also focused on how Belgium was portrayed in poetry both in Europe and the United States. Throughout the Great War and immediately following, poets used Belgium as a symbol for the atrocities of the Germans, as well as the endurance and patriotism of the Allies. Cities such as Liege and Antwerp became the setting for war poems written by Belgians, Russians, British and Americans. But despite being moved by the wartime violence, Buelens argues that the response of avant-garde writers to the invasion of Belgium was turned into, “a propaganda battlefield, an empty signifier that could be used to advance their own agenda.”

As an example, Buelens cites in his 2008 lecture a Witter Bynner poem titled “Canticle of Praise.” Written after the Great War had already concluded, Bynner’s American Great War poem included a live performance with bugle, drum, six male voices and a chorus of 500 children. It was performed by Bynner at the Greek Theatre at the University of California, Berkeley in 1918. Bynner himself was dressed in flowing scarlet robes and the young men around him in uniform. Buelens says that the poem had a triumphalist purpose, intended to celebrate a struggle for freedom won by the Allies. And like many other poems of its era, it invoked Belgium and Liege while adapting verses from Belgian poetry.

Buelens’s research at the Kluge Center led to his publication of the book “Europa! Europa! Over de dichters van de Grote Oorlog,” ABN-AMRO Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 2008 and translated into English as “Everything to Nothing: The Poetry of the Great War, Revolution and the Transformation of Europe.” As the world has collectively reflected on the centennial of World War I over the past few years, Buelens’ work compels us to not only remember Belgium, but to remember the poetry as well.

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More about the European Month of Culture can be found here or on social media at #EUMC2016.

EU Month of Culture Spotlight: Ireland

As part of the European Month of Culture in May 2016, we focus on scholars from European Union member states who have conducted research at The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Wish to apply for a fellowship at the Library? Applications are now being accepted for Kluge Fellowships. Scholars worldwide who have earned a terminal advanced degree within the past seven years are eligible. Apply today

Deirdre Ní Chonghaile, Alan Lomax Fellow

Deirdre Ní Chonghaile - Anne Burke a ghlac
Deirdre Ní Chonghaile was the 2012 Alan Lomax Fellow in Folklife Studies at The John W. Kluge Center. Photo courtesy the scholar, used with permission.

Alan Lomax was America’s foremost documentarian of American and world folk music. Though Deirdre Ní Chonghaile was awarded the fellowship that bears his name, she arrived at the Kluge Center in 2012 to study another, lesser known American ethnographer: Sidney Robertson Cowell.

Sidney was born in California in 1903. Originally a music teacher, for 21 years from 1936 to 1957 she recorded a wide variety of music in the U.S. and in other countries, including Canada, Ireland, Iran, east Pakistan – now Bangladesh – and throughout South Asia. Toward the end of her life, she donated her papers to the Library of Congress.

Ní Chonghaile had a special connection to Sidney: in Ireland, Ní Chonghaile’s uncle Seán Ó Conghaile taught some Irish to Sidney. In fact, a postcard that Seán sent to Sidney is in the Library of Congress collections.

Sidney’s first efforts to record overseas were in Ireland. In the summers of 1955 and 1956, she created up to 11 hours of recordings, extensive notes and photographs in the west of Ireland, specifically in the Aran Islands and in Conamara. According to Ní Chonghaile, her Irish work forms a small but significant part of Cowell’s field recordings and writings.

Ireland detail
Map of Ireland. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

Why did Sidney go to Ireland? In 1955, she and her husband, the avant-garde composer Henry Cowell, planned a summer lecture and concert tour of Europe and the Middle East. They began their trip with a holiday in Aran because they wanted to reconnect with Maggie Dirrane, the star of the movie “Man of Aran,” whom Henry had met in New York in 1934 during the Broadway premiere of the film. The Cowells arrived in the largest island of Inis Mór and stayed in the guesthouse of Ní Chonghaile’s grandparents. They soon discovered that Dirrane’s son, John, and others had never been recorded. Within a week, Cowell had borrowed an EMI tape recorder from the BBC. Over 12 days, Sidney recorded 16 single-track tapes in Inishmore—around 70 songs, mostly in Irish and a few English ones. And in 1956, when she was granted funding by the Rockefeller Foundation to spend seven months studying music in the Orient, Sidney began that trip by returning to Ireland and recording 16 five-inch double-track tapes in Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Carna on the mainland.

The folks in Aran called Sidney “The Yank with the Box,” a reference to her being an American with a recording device. This was the title of Ní Chonghaile’s lecture at the Kluge Center. Upon first arriving in Aran, Sidney recorded almost everything, but she later took a special concern in the old style of solo singing, describing its interest thus: “It has been something of a surprise to me to find that the voices of many Irish peasants, like those of beggars and boatmen in Italy, are really surpassingly beautiful by cultivated concert standards. Although they may sing nothing but songs from the oral tradition, in the old, curving vocal style, very surprising from a fellow in hip boots digging peat in a Conamara bog.” Sidney clearly found beauty and excitement in recording the music of Aran. But she also intended to document the musical connections between Irish traditional music and American folk music. She wanted to document such connections for an American audience, because, as she wrote, “The music lies very close behind much of the folk music of the United States.”

Ireland map
Map of Europe with Ireland highlighted. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

A woman in the male-dominated field of folk music collecting, Sidney Robertson Cowell’s work had been marginalized over the decades, but Ní Chonghaile has helped to bring her contributions to light. Ní Chonghaile’s research on Sidney and Aran folk music featured in her PhD thesis, “’ag teacht le cuan’ : Irish traditional music and the Aran Islands”, and will be published in her forthcoming book on music-collecting in Ireland. Sidney’s recordings and Ní Chonghaile’s research are two of the ways that the culture of Aran continues to be preserved.

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Check back later this week for the final post in this series.

EU Month of Culture Spotlight: Spain

As part of the European Month of Culture in May 2016, we focus on scholars from European Union member states who have conducted research at The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Wish to apply for a fellowship at the Library? Applications are now being accepted for Kluge Fellowships. Scholars worldwide who have earned a terminal advanced degree within the past seven years are eligible. Apply today

Ascension Mazuela-Anguita, Alan Lomax Fellow

Ascension Mazuela-Anguita
Ascension Mazuela-Anguita will be the 2016 Alan Lomax Fellow in Folklife Studies at The John W. Kluge Center. Photo provided by the scholar, used with permission.

The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) holds a collection of traditional music that includes more than 20,000 songs collected in Spain between 1944 and 1960. The Library of Congress holds a collection of Spanish folk music documented by Alan Lomax during the same period. No one has fully compared the two holdings to see how they complement each other and how they differ. Until now.

Ascension Mazuela-Anguita is a postdoctoral research assistant at CSIC’s Institució Milà i Fontanals, Barcelona. As the next Alan Lomax Fellow at The John W. Kluge Center, Mazuela-Anguita will be the first scholar to systematically compare these two collections and establish connections between them when she arrives at the Library in January 2017. The materials were collected around the same time from often the same villages and regions, so it is likely they complement each other. But no one is sure to what extent. During her fellowship Mazuela-Anguita will explore the holdings, as well as learn about how the Library of Congress catalogs and preserves traditional music.

The CSIC collection was acquired throughout Spain during the 20th century. The former Instituto Español de Musicología, founded by Higinio Anglés, commissioned researchers to gather the collection between 1944 and 1960. More than 4,000 people from nearly 3,000 Spanish locations participated, singing and playing songs. Most of the repertory remains unpublished.

Spain detail
Map of Spain. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

Since 2011, Mazuela-Anguita has been involved in cataloging and making accessible this music. Since 2013, the songs have been available through an online database. Directed by Dr. Emilio Ros-Fábregas, the project enables free access to one of the richest collections of Spanish traditional music.

Mazuela-Anguita will use her Kluge Center fellowship to establish connections between the Library’s Alan Lomax Collection and the CSIC-IMF collection in Barcelona. One example: in his trip to Spain in the early 1950s, Alan Lomax visited Yebra de Basa, a remote location in the Aragonese province of Huesca. He took pictures of the village and of a man named Alfonso Villacampa Villacampa, who played for him on the “chiflo” and the “salterio” several musical pieces. Six years earlier, in 1942, the Spanish folklorist Arcadio de Larrea visited the same village and transcribed some of the same pieces performed by the same musician. The information from both collectors can now been linked electronically. In addition, Mazuela-Anguita has identified Lomax’s piece entitled “El ruiseñor”, performed by Alfonso Villacampa, as a variant of a popular piece known as “La cardelina,” which has been documented in several versions in Aragón. These are just two examples of what a thorough examination of the two collections could uncover.

Spain map
Map of Europe with Spain highlighted. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

Mazuela-Anguita hopes that after her fellowship concludes it will be possible to research Alan Lomax’s collection of Spanish music in a richer context, opening new lines of comparative research and better appreciating his contribution to Spanish traditional music and the Hispanic world.

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Listen to traditional Spanish music here

Explore the Alan Lomax Collection at the Library of Congress

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More about the European Month of Culture can be found here or on social media at #EUMC2016.

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EU Month of Culture Spotlight: Sweden

As part of this year’s European Month of Culture, we focus on scholars from European Union member states who have conducted research at the Library of Congress Kluge Center.

Wish to apply for a fellowship at the Library? Applications are now being accepted for Kluge Fellowships. Scholars worldwide who have earned a terminal advanced degree within the past seven years are eligible. Apply today

Joel Frykholm, Kluge Fellow

Joel Frykholm
Joel Frykholm was a Kluge Fellow in 2012. Photo courtesy the scholar, used with permission.

At the dawn of the silent movie era, George Kleine was a titan of the industry. In 1904, Kleine was the leading distributor of motion pictures in the United States. But by 1920, the business had changed and Kleine and other early pioneers were left on the margins of a Hollywood that was rapidly expanding and commercializing. Kleine was on his way to being a forgotten name in film history.

Joel Frykholm of Sweden came to the Kluge Center to research Kleine and re-establish his place in American film history. The Library of Congress holds the George Kleine papers, which contain the correspondence, legal papers, and files of Kleine’s business relationships with Thomas Edison, Eastman Kodak Company, Motion Picture Patents Company, and Biograph Co. Frykholm, a scholar of American film, came to the Library as a Kluge Fellow after earning his Ph.D. from Stockholm University in 2009. His dissertation, titled “Framing the Feature Film: Multi Real Future Film and American Film Culture in the 1910’s,” was awarded the best dissertation published by Stockholm University’s Faculty of the Humanities. He currently is a post-doctoral research associate at Stockholm University where he teaches in the Division of Cinema Studies within the Department of Media Studies.

Sweden detail
Map of Sweden. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

Frykholm was struck by Kleine’s failure to adapt to the industry as it expanded and changed in the early part of the 20th century. Kleine struggled to finance and distribute films with high box office value—what today we may think of as blockbusters. In his failed attempts to come up with a winning blockbuster formula, Kleine re-issued old films, continually cast aging female stars, and adapted theatrical plays for the screen. None proved to be highly profitable. According to Frykholm, as Kleine struggled to adapt to changing tastes and market forces, he lamented what he saw as the emerging Hollywood business model: quantity over quality. Studios produced a large volume of films, only a few of which generated enough box office revenue to support the studios’ mass production. Kleine implored Hollywood to make fewer total films, which would enable a greater number of films to be of higher quality. But Kleine’s business model, and especially his reluctance to seek Wall Street financing, was out of step with the rapidly expanding industry. Kleine drifted to the margins of the commercial mainstream of the movie business, clinging to the idea that each film should have artistic and historical value.

Kleine eventually grew disillusioned with American films, Frykholm writes. He spoke out against the deluge of vampire movies and numerous formulaic romances. Kleine especially did not enjoy that such films were sent abroad, showing the world a poor picture of the United States. No one heeded his objections. The moral of Kleine’s rise and fall, then, is not so much the transitory nature of the film industry but rather one of its enduring central tensions. Since its early days, Hollywood film directors have had to compromise the desire to make high art with the commercial necessities of entertaining the masses.

Kleine quipped in a letter to an associate that one day a man would be born with a mathematical certainty in selecting and making winners. “When he happens,” Kleine wrote, “he will get all of the money in the world.” Perhaps Kleine’s prophecy will soon be fulfilled, as computers and algorithms deliver to us personalized recommendations that give us exactly what we want, when we want it. Kleine foresaw that there was great fortune to be made in predicting the tastes of the American consumer. He never would be the one to profit from it.

Map of Europe
Map of Europe with Sweden highlighted. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

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More about the European Month of Culture can be found here or on social media at #EUMC2016.

Check back all month for additional posts in this series.

Profiles in Leadership: Statesmen Who Made Breakthroughs for Peace and Security

As the 2015-2016 Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress, political scientist Bruce Jentleson is writing and researching a new book on transformational leaders of the 20th century who made major breakthroughs for peace and security — and what lessons may exist for the 21st century. He sat down with Jason Steinhauer to discuss the motivation for writing this book now and the question of whether history makes men (or women) or women (or men) make history.

Bruce Jentleson
Scholar Bruce Jentleson is the 2015-2016 Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Kluge Center.

Hi, Bruce. What is the broader purpose of your project and book?

In the early 1980s towards the end of the U.S. Foreign Policy course I taught at the University of California-Davis, I’d ask the students their thoughts on the future. “Well, Professor Jentleson,” one student said, “I think the Cold War will end, and end peacefully.” From another bright-eyed one, “Apartheid will end and South Africa will transition to a black majority democracy.” My responses were along the lines of it’s nice to be young and naïve, but let’s be realistic.

I was a young professor then, still conscious of how in graduate school we were steered away from focusing on individual leaders. International affairs, the canon held, were driven largely by systemic forces and such timeless dynamics as national interest and balance of power. But while many factors came into play, the extraordinary leadership provided by Mikhail Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela were the crucial ones in ending the Cold War and Apartheid.

So I got thinking: Whom else in the 20th century was a “profile in Statesmanship”, shaping major breakthroughs for peace?  Who were transformational in ways that, as Isaiah Berlin put it, “at crucial moments, at turning points . . . individuals and their decisions and acts . . . can determine the course of history.” I was looking for leaders who also fit the distinction made by James MacGregor Burns between transformational and transactional leadership, which for my study focuses on major breakthroughs in global peace and security as distinct from diplomacy geared to managing and resolving issues.

A second question followed from the first: What can we learn from 20th century transformational Statesmanship for the 21st century? This isn’t a matter of pointing to this or that individual, rather drawing lessons from past Statesmanship to help shape and motivate the breakthroughs for peace our era so needs. The 20th century profiles show that it’s difficult. They also show that it’s possible.

What are the five dimensions of peace and security you have chosen, and why?

To get a handle on the rather broad category of global peace and security, I break it down into its five component dimensions: managing major power geopolitics for cooperation more than conflict; building international institutions for conflict prevention and collective action; fostering reconciliation of peoples locked in conflicts rooted in historical hatreds; advancing freedom and protecting human rights; and promoting sustainability including poverty and inequality reduction, environmental protection and global public health. In each of these chapters I focus on a few representative 20th century Statesmanship cases, and draw out lessons within those policy areas for 21st century challenges.

You’ll also see that I don’t just have in mind leaders of countries but also include leaders of key international institutions and pioneering non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who did for peace and justice what governments were unable or unwilling to do.

It is often debated whether men make history or history makes men. It seems as though you are seeking a middle ground?

Yes, my perspective based on experience in the foreign policy world as well as an international relations professor puts me in the History/Great Leaders middle ground. The academic literature digs deeper than just the latest who’s up and who’s down, but too often stays at a level of abstraction that glosses over the impact that leaders do have. The talk inside the D.C. Beltway and among journalists can get too caught up in personalities, but often does focus in on critical decision-making and strategizing. The analytic balance is in recognizing that history and broad social forces create constraints as well as conducive conditions shaping the range of available choices, but that they don’t determine which choices get made. No individual is so extraordinary that (s)he would have transformational impact irrespective of the context in which (s)he ends up operating. But it also is not a given that just anyone could have pulled off the Statesmanship that the particular leader did. It’s man (woman) and moment, fit and timing.

I’m struck by your allusion to sabermetrics and statistics such as Wins Above Replacement. How are you integrating that brand of thinking into your research?

Friends know I’m a rabid baseball fan. (I won’t mention my favorite team to avoid alienating some folks!). The main innovation in the “Moneyball” craze in Major League Baseball is the wins-against-replacement-player statistic (WARP) calculating how much one player contributes to team victories over alternative ones at the same position. Scholarly studies of political leadership use more formal language, such as “actor indispensability,” that the leader in question responds significantly differently than another leader in the same situation would have. While there is no neat diplo-ball “statesman-above-replacement-leader” (“SARL”) saber-metric, evidence can be marshaled to make the same point: who the player/Statesman is makes a big difference.

Your book seems to have much in common with other work on leadership.

Leadership is, to again quote James MacGregor Burns, “one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.” Noted author and public intellectual Walter Isaacson calls it an “elusive quality.” That’s not for lack of trying. Books abound. So do university-based leadership programs. In the corporate world an estimated $14 billion has been spent over the past two decades on leadership development, twice as much as before. Indeed people talk about leadership all the time, in many contexts, with the same “we need leadership” and “how do you get it” mantras. Yet for all this attention, one gets a sense of both fascination and frustration. Fascination in how time and again explanations of success and failure in such a range of professions and pursuits hone in on leadership as a key factor. Frustration in how difficult it is to define the elements of leadership with any degree of consistency, let alone teach and cultivate them. I hope to connect to this fascination and contribute to diminishing the frustration.

This is a story not just of great men, but also great women. Talk about Gro Harlem Brundtland and the other women you are profiling?

Gro Harlem Brundtland, three-time Prime Minister of Norway, is included in the “Sustainability” chapter principally for her work in the international arena as chairwoman of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in the 1980s and Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO, 1998-2003).

I also include Aung San Suu Kyi for the crucial role she has played in fighting for democracy and human rights in Burma/Myanmar. Enduring decades of house arrest, separation from her family, and repeated threats on her life, she embodied the hopes of those seeking to end the military dictatorship both within Burma and internationally.

And as a different kind of case Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, founders of the Northern Ireland Women for Peace, as everyday people who in their own ways played crucial catalytic roles in the mid-1970s at the height of the violence known as “The Troubles” that while not ending the conflict in the moment paved the way.

Why this project now?

In the late 1980s-early 1990s it seemed like the world was going in a good direction. The Cold War ended peacefully. Dictatorships were falling to democracy. Globalization was spreading the wealth. History was said to be over, world affairs becoming so harmonic as to be downright boring.

Things have not exactly worked out that way. The end of the Cold War has not meant the end of war. That democratic wave has broken up on some rocky shores. Globalization has had losers as well as winners, downsides as well as upsides. History has come roaring back with ancient hatreds fueled by modern venom. Climate change is speeding up. Global health pandemics are spreading. Cyber-war and other technology-driven emerging areas, in need of rules of the game, aren’t getting them. Indeed it’s a lot easier to name a global problem that’s been growing worse than one on which progress is being made.

There are many aspects to meeting these and other 21st century challenges. Some must be generated bottom-up, as with the “people power” of protest movements. Some must be middle-out from science, technology, economics, education and other fields. But much must come top-down from global leaders able and willing to be transformational, to break out of the tunnel vision of thinking narrowly about one’s interests and the myopia of focusing on today but not tomorrow.

Bruce Jentleson is the current Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress. He lectures on transformational statesmanship of 20th Century on Thursday, May 19 at 4:00 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by the Embassy of Sweden as part of the European Month of Culture.

EU Month of Culture Spotlight: Italy

As part of this year’s European Month of Culture, we focus on scholars from European Union member states who have conducted research at the Library of Congress Kluge Center.

Wish to apply for a fellowship at the Library? Applications are now being accepted for Kluge Fellowships. Scholars worldwide who have earned a terminal advanced degree within the past seven years are eligible. Apply today

Elia Andrea Corazza
Elia Andrea Corazza was a Kluge Fellow in 2014. Photo courtesy the scholar, used with permission.

Elia Andrea Corazza, Kluge Fellow

Scholar Elia Andrea Corazza arrived at the Library of Congress in fall 2014 to conduct research on legendary Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. In particular, Corazza wished to know more about Respighi’s collaboration with Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, after World War I, in order to shed light on this period of music history and on Respighi’s life and career.

Corazza was well-suited for the task. A trained musicologist and musician from Bologna, Corazza earned his Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Bologna. Prior, he earned three separate master’s degrees in composition, orchestral conducting and pianoforte. He has conducted numerous orchestras and has composed his own pieces.

Corazza relied on the personal papers of Diaghilev held by the Library of Congress. Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes toured across Europe, the U.S. and South America, and collaborated with numerous artists, incorporating European operas into the performances, especially Italian ones. Diaghilev met Respighi in Rome in early 1917 and the pair discussed the production of a ballet based on a selection of little-known piano pieces composed by Gioacchino Rossini while in Paris at the end of the 19th century. Leonide Massine choreographed and danced the ballet using the most important European dances, like the French Can-can, the Italian Tarantella, the Polish Mazurka, the Viennese Waltz, the Russian Dance Cosaque. The result was a musical parody featuring caricatures of Italians, French and Germans titled La Boutique Fantasque, which premiered on June 5, 1919, at the Alhambra Theatre in London. One of the Ballets Russes’ most successful productions, it was performed over 300 times between 1919 and 1929.

Italy detail
Map of Italy. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

An intriguing collaboration between the two men occurred in 1920. The production was an adaptation of La Serva Padrona, an opera composed by Giovanni Paisiello at the court of Catherine II tsarina of Russia at the end of the 18th century, based on the libretto which was set to music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi at the beginning of the 18th century. The orchestration of La Serva Padrona that Respighi made for Diaghilev in 1920 was never staged, however. The sheet music was held at Yale University in the F. R. Koch Collection, however several pages were missing and thought to be vanished forever. That is, until Corazza discovered them inside the Diaghilev papers here at the Library of Congress. With these missing manuscripts, Corazza was able to recreate Diaghilev and Respighi’s La Serva Padrona, and conduct the first-ever performance of it in Bologna—the city where Respighi was born. Corazza plans to direct the U.S. premiere of La Serva Padrona, along with the recently found ballets, in the United States in the near future, bringing this lost opera to life.

Learn more about Corazza’s work:

Italy map
Map of Europe with Italy highlighted. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

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More about the European Month of Culture can be found here or on social media at #EUMC2016.

Check back all month for additional posts in this series.

EU Month of Culture Spotlight: Poland

As part of this year’s European Month of Culture, we focus on scholars from European Union member states who have conducted research at the Library of Congress Kluge Center.

Wish to apply for a fellowship at the Library? Applications are now being accepted for Kluge Fellowships. Scholars worldwide who have earned a terminal advanced degree within the past seven years are eligible. Apply today

Krzysztof Jaskulowski, Kluge Fellow

Krzysztof Jaskulowski
Krzysztof Jaskulowski was a Kluge Fellow in 2006. Photo provided by the scholar, used with permission.

Krzysztof Jaskulowski was in residence at the Library of Congress for four months from 2006 to 2007 researching theories of nationalism in the English-speaking world. Jaskulowski examined contemporary debates on nationalism and its origins, and investigated various theories on the rise and construction of Eastern European nation states.

Jaskulowski arrived at the Kluge Center as an assistant professor at the Institute of History at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. He received his doctorate from the same university in 2002, his dissertation examining the leader of the Welsh National Party Gwynfor Evans, President of the Plaid Cymru from 1945 to 1981. Evans was a staunch advocate of Welsh nationalism and sought for Wales to return to its pre-war roots. He also advocated for a return to the Welsh language; Evans eventually went on a hunger strike in order to force the British Broadcasting Company to institute a Welsh language television channel on British television—which he succeeded in doing in 1980.

Poland detail
Map of Poland. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

During Jaskulowski’s residency at the Kluge Center, he continued his investigation into Anglophone theories of nationalism. In his Kluge Center lecture in February 2007, Jaskulowski focused on Hans Kohn, a Czech scholar and activist regarded as the founding father of modern academic research on nationalism. Jaskulowski argued that Kohn was the first to adopt a more neutral stance toward the topic. Kohn attempted to analyze the phenomenon of nationalism in order to define it, classify it and explain it. Jaskulowski argued that not only did Kohn bring a fresh perspective to the subject, he was responsible for introducing one of the basic and long-lasting themes to the study of nationalism—a “moralistic distinction” between a good nationalism, which Kohn associated with the West, and a bad nationalism that was typical of the non-Western world. Jaskulowski examined three fundamental questions in relation to this idea: how did Kohn conceptualize the differences between the two types of nationalism? How and why did he come to his conclusions? And, finally, were Kohn’s discrimination between the two types of nationalism valid and useful?

As a result of his Kluge Fellowship, Jaskulowski published his 2009 book “Nationalism without Nations: Nationalism in Anglophone Social Sciences” (Foundation for the Polish Science). He has continued his research on nationalism and its origins with his 2012 book, “Symbolic Community: Towards an Anthropology of Nationalism.”

Poland map
Map of Europe with Poland highlighted. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

Today he is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw and continues to actively research nationalism while publishing in both academic and popular publications. His scholarly interests include international migration and transnational mobility, European and American nationalism, and nationalism within popular culture, particularly the link between national identity and sports. His work sheds light on the foundations of a phenomenon that is so intensely felt in today’s Europe.

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Emer Vattel and His Influence on Early America

Emer Vattel’s “Law of Nations” (1758) remained overdue on President George Washington’s library account until it was returned in 2010 with a waived fee of $300,000. As a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, historian Theo Christov has researched the influence of Vattel’s work on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the early American republic. Christov sat down with Jason Steinhauer to discuss impact of Vattel’s work on the 18th century and its relevance to international law today.

Hi Theo. Let’s start with a basic question: who was Emer Vattel?

Born in 1714 in the Swiss principality of Neuchatel, Vattel came from a privileged background: his father was a high-ranking clergyman in the Reformed Church, while his mother was the daughter of the treasurer general of the King of Prussia. His interest in philosophy, coming from his father’s side, and taste for politics on his mother’s side defined Vattel’s passion for both.

As customary at the time, he was trained in the humanities and the philosophy of the polymath Leibniz, in particular, stimulated his thinking on the nature of human morality within a larger cosmic order. His first published work, which helped him secure his first public office, was in defense of Leibniz’s philosophic system.

Working as a minister of the Elector-King of Saxony, Vattel spent a good part of the year with his family back Neuchatel. When he died at the age of 53, he left a young widow and a 2-year-old son. When one of his close friends, Hennin, introduced Vattel to Voltaire after his death, he was described as loved “for the candor of his heart and the tenderness of his spirit.”

What led him to write the “Law of Nations”?

Had a disciple of Leibniz—Christian Wolff, another German philosopher—not produced a major work on the law of nature, then Vattel would have likely not written his “Law of Nations.” Wolff’s work, ingenious as it was, was largely inaccessible to a wider audience: written in Latin, full of with mathematical demonstrations to prove the inclinations of human nature, Wolff’s book had to be popularized if it were to have any large impact.

Vattel’s ”Law of Nations” was precisely that kind of book: not content with the absence of an integrated approach to philosophy and politics, he set out to transform Wolff’s ideas in a comprehensible way and freed his cumbersome system from obscurities. The irony is that Vattel never intended to make an original contribution to the ideas that govern the conduct among nations, but simply to systematize it and make it accessible. And yet the ”Law of Nations” became an instant classic and a guidebook in the hands of statesmen and diplomats.

What was the reaction to the treatise during Vattel’s lifetime?

Vattel did not work in isolation from other political authors at the time: in fact, without acknowledging it openly, he engaged with the ideas of his Swiss contemporary Rousseau on the question of sociality (a large point which I discuss in my own book “Before Anarchy“).

Unlike other eighteenth century philosophers who had little, if any access to the world of politics, Vattel was a practicing diplomat and understood well the practicality of international affairs. His work fared well in the hands of practitioners, who were eager to apply general theoretical principles to the conduct among nations. But his work was certainly noticed among other philosophers: the leading German thinker of the time, Immanuel Kant, grouped Grotius, Pufendorf and Vattel as “sorry comforters,” whose ideas about international conduct were impractical because they had no legal force.

Screenshot of title page from “The Law of Nations” by Emer Vattel, Sixth American Edition, 1844. Source:

How did his ideas influence America’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

John Locke, among other major European political thinkers, is generally credited with influencing the thought of the founding fathers, especially on the idea of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Their conception of “happiness,” however, resonates with a distinctly Vattelian theme in its appeal to provide a general framework of fulfillment for individuals and the entire citizenry as a whole. Moreover, on the central question of how to engage America in the world, the ”Law of Nations” prescribes a distinct path for a nation to emerge as a respectable actor on the international stage. First introduced to the colonies in 1762, Vattel’s work and its timely ideas circulated widely among leading statesmen. What the ”Law of Nations” offered, while no other treatise did in the same way, was a recipe for a rising state to emerge as a credible actor on international arena. It offered colonists not only reasons for sovereignty and independence, but also for international recognition and equality among other states.

Vattel delineates the obligations and rights of nations, and how they ought to behave. On what did he base this?

Vattel derived the general law of nature not from divine ordinances, but from reason and customs: the conduct of the morally righteous individual is invariably in accordance with the light of reason, which illuminates the precepts of human sociability. The law of nations was merely the law of nature as applied to nations: it derived its force largely from human reason, in which all individuals participated equally, and partly from the voluntary consent that nations practiced among themselves. But just like individuals in a state of nature were completely free, so did nations retain their natural liberty: the general principle of non-interference laid the groundwork for the development of positive international law in the 19th century. Vattel’s vision was for an international order of states where they were obligated to guard their own liberty and equally engage with others in the promotion of ameliorative international relations.

How much do you see Vattel as a product of the Enlightenment’s fascination with natural law and how does his work support or challenge notions of natural law put forth by, say, Locke, Rousseau and Voltaire?  

The middle of the 18th century, when Vattel produced his major work, was a time of great fascination with natural law as political philosophers attempted to understand the normative framework for human conduct. While many vigorously rejected any proposition of a divinely ordained order, very few, including Vattel himself, insisted on an essential analogy between the law of nature and that of nations. What defined natural law were the principles of reason, liberty, and equality, and they all retained their force at the level of states. Paramount in those debates was, of course, the question of human sociability: do we have a natural tendency to associate with others, or are we innately unsociable? Unlike the more pessimistic view of Rousseau, for whom only a small community of individuals may produce the desired effects of benevolence, Vattel’s vision was far more socially tasteful: sociability drives human progress and he almost took it for granted that the society of individuals, in organizing itself into a system of states, had to follow the same principles of reason and reciprocity.

Theo Christov
Kluge Fellow Theo Christov is researching the influence of Emer Vattel’s “Law of Nations” on the early United States. Photo courtesy the scholar, used with permission.

Do Vattel’s ideas still hold resonance today, or do they feel dated? Why or why not?

Hardly any other major political thinker has been more influential for the founding tradition of this country than Vattel: he was, by far, the most cited author in legal cases and court proceedings during the 19th century.

What the founding fathers discovered in Vattel was not merely a theoretical framework for explaining international conduct, but also a practical mechanism for implementing it into a diplomatic practice. What has been largely taken today as the pillar of international law—that international legal sovereignty is based in recognition, liberty, and equality—derives its original meaning from Vattel.

In our world today, when the very idea of the sovereign state is constantly being undermined by non-state actors, the legacy of Vattel should appear ever more relevant for us: the idea of the sovereign state bears a close resemblance to its cousin- the autonomous individual. We all desire to be free and live in free states, but as the ”Law of Nations” continually reminds us, such freedom demands a responsibility toward ourselves and obligations toward others.

Theo Christov is Assistant Professor of Honors, History, and International Affairs at The George Washington University. He lectures on the “Law of Nations” in America’s independence on Thursday, May 12 at 4 p.m. at the Kluge Center. The event is cosponsored by the the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria as part of the European Month of Culture.

Read the “Law of Nations” in its entirety here

EU Month of Culture Spotlight: Cyprus

As part of the European Month of Culture in May 2016, we focus on scholars from European Union member states who have conducted research at The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Wish to apply for a fellowship at the Library? Applications are now being accepted for Kluge Fellowships. Scholars worldwide who have earned a terminal advanced degree within the past seven years are eligible. Apply today

Eliana Hadjisavvas, Arts & Humanities Research Council Fellow

Eliana Hadijivvas
Eliana Hadjisavvas was an Arts & Humanities Research Council Fellow in 2015. Photo by Travis Hensley.

The research of Eliana Hadjisavvas examines Jewish displacement at the end of the Second World War and the internment of Jewish refugees in British-run camps in colonial Cyprus.

A British national of Greek Cypriot descent, Hadjisavvas is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Birmingham in England. From October 2015 to January 2016, Hadjisavvas conducted research at the Kluge Center through an international exchange with Britain’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)–a program that allows AHRC-funded scholars to conduct short-term research at the Library of Congress. She used the Library’s collections to examine the interconnected pasts of the United Kingdom and Cyprus. Cyprus was a British colony until 1960.

As Hadjisavvas stated on our blog in November, in 1939 British policy stated that the rate of Jewish immigration to British-controlled Palestine would be 75,000 over the next five years, with further admissions subject to Arab acquiescence. At the end of World War II, Britain upheld its immigration measures and barred Holocaust survivors who sought visas for Palestine. “This led to many embarking on clandestine passages,” Hadjisavvas explained, “with thousands of Jewish refugees crammed on small, unseaworthy vessels braving the journey across the Mediterranean.” In August 1946, the British government responded by establishing internment camps in Cyprus. The erection of twelve distinct campsites in the villages of Caraolos and Xylotymbou collectively housed over 52,000 people and witnessed the births of over 2,000 children until the camps dissolution in February 1949, according to Hadjisavvas.

Map of Cyprus
Map of Cyprus. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

Conditions inside the camps were challenging. Inmates were detained behind barbed wire, and there was limited food and water. “Britain’s decision to use German Prisoners of War to construct the camps caused further discontent,” Hadjisavvas said, “whilst the erection of watchtowers with armed British guards to prevent people from escaping, was disturbingly reminiscent of Nazi camps, where many of the refugees had been liberated.” Assistance from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and American and Canadian volunteers helped to provide relief, services and transport off the island.

In her work, Hadjisavvas said she sees similarities between the refugees of the 1940s and today’s refugees from Syria and Iraq. “Although refugees are now pressing Europe’s borders as a point of entry rather than embarkation, the desperation of immigrants crammed on overcrowded boats in search of safety, chillingly mirrors the plight of Jewish refugees 70 years ago,” she said. Though the Cyprus camps closed 70 years ago, there are still local Cypriots who remember them. In 2013, two Xylotymbou residents took Hadjisavvas to various sites around the village, which included a cave where Jews who had navigated their way through escape tunnels from inside the camp would hide, awaiting Cypriot aid. Few people knew of it. Following her visit, the Israeli Ambassador also made a trip to the cave and decided to work with Xylotymbou locals to establish a garden in commemoration of the camps, which was unveiled by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in July 2014. Through examining the stories of the past, Hadjisavvas has ensured they will be commemorated in the future.

Map of Cyprus
Map of Europe with Cyprus highlighted. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source:

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