Pop Culture Post: TV Elections


By Ellen Davies, UGrow Fellow, and Jay Sylvestre, Special Collections Librarian

With the 2016 Presidential election less than a month away, it will soon be time for another State of the Union address in January 2017. As portrayed in the show Designated Survivor you may know that one member of the President’s cabinet is selected to spend the address in an undisclosed location to guard against a catastrophic loss of the Executive and Legislative bodies of government. In the show Tom Kirkman, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is that member of the Cabinet chosen to spend the State of the Union in an undisclosed bunker. After an explosion kills the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and many other cabinet Secretaries, Kirkman becomes President.


George McGovern on election night in Roger Smith Hotel in Washington, D.C., 1972. Photograph by Michael Carlebach. University of Miami Special Collections.

The United States Constitution specifies that the Vice President succeeds the President, but makes no mention of further succession. Two amendments clarify the role of Vice Presidential succession, while the rest of the line is governed by laws passed by Congress. Cabinet-level succession is determined by the founding date of each department. For example, the State Department founded as the Department of Foreign Affairs was the first federal agency created under the Constitution. It was approved by Congressional legislation on July 21, 1789, making its Secretary the first of the Cabinet positions. The Department of Transportation, number 14 in line, was founded in 1967.

Of course, before a line of succession can exist, a President must be elected. Elections and campaigning have been fertile ground for Hollywood to explore. Satire, political thrillers, and outright comedy go hand in hand with movies about elections and often overlap with each other.

One of the most popular comedic explorations of political campaigns, and the moments of joy and frustration they can bring, is portrayed in Parks and Recreation. The series stars comedian Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, a deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in small-town Pawnee, Indiana, and is known for her unwavering positivity, admiration (and borderline obsession) for powerful female politicians like Hillary Clinton and Margaret Thatcher, and undying belief in local government’s potential to have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. When she decides to run for city council, however, she quickly learns she must overcome the influence of gender bias as well as overall skepticism of government in order to effect any change in the small town. One idea that receives major pushback for instance is on combatting childhood obesity, a major health issue in Pawnee, where the existing city council has just decided to sell the space allocated for a new park to a fast food chain called “Paunch Burger.”

Other popular TV shows like House of Cards, Scandal, and Veep work to pull back the curtain on political campaigns and presidential elections, giving an inside look at Washington through the use of story lines tied to current events and allusions to American politics and politicians that blur the line between satire and reality. These shows mix all the things that aren’t supposed to be discussed in polite conversation: money, sex, and politics, and allow us to binge on them in the privacy of our own living rooms.

Family standing outside of the White House, 1970s. Photograph by Michael Carlebach. University of Miami Special Collections.

In the first season of Netflix’s wildly popular series House of Cards, Frank and Claire Underwood’s marriage reeks of the early Clinton years. Southerner Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, is a Democratic Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives who has aspirations of becoming President. Together he and his wife Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright, are an unstoppable political duo ready to take on Washington and gain political power at all costs. Claire is the definition of a true “ride-or-die” and the pair have more of a business-like partnership than a romantic relationship, both more than willing to accept the other’s morally questionable actions and keep quiet about extra-marital affairs for the greater good of their own political careers. As the series evolves it ultimately becomes clear that while Frank is the public front man, Claire, like many first ladies and wives of politicians, is the tail that wags the dog.

Meanwhile it may be worth noting that Robin Wright, who plays Claire, recently made headlines for revealing that she earned less money than co-star Kevin Spacey in the first two seasons of the series and was only able to negotiate equal pay with Netflix after threatening to go public with the wage gap.

UM Libraries houses several books, movies, and television series related to political elections:

Election-Themed Resources


Being There


The Contender

Television Series

John Adams

The West Wing


The Manchurian Candidate

Too Close to Call

1920: The Year of Six Presidents

How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians

Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968

“Pink Powder” Exhibition Now On View


Silueta Works in Iowa, Ana Mendieta, 1976, on view at Richter Library. The photograph is part of Mendieta’s series depicting her silhouettes created from the earth over time.

September 20 – November 1, 2016
Otto G. Richter Library, 2nd floor

Featuring works by Tracey Emin, Naomi Fisher, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Ana Mendieta, and Susanne Winterling

Pink Powder, an exhibition of renowned works owned by the de la Cruz Collection is now on view at Richter Library. The exhibition brings together a group of artists whose work addresses the female form and identity.

Imagery varying from the quiet and ponderous, to the raw and rebellious, subvert the traditional role of the female muse within the canons of art history, literature, and popular culture.

From the “earth-body” work of Cuban-American artist, Ana Mendieta, to the drawings of female bodies as plants by Miami artist, Naomi Fisher; and from the confessional work of British artists, Tracey Emin and Sam Taylor-Johnson, to the autobiographical work of Berlin-based artist, Susanne Winterling; the artists in this exhibition address the female body with an unapologetic intensity and encourage a conversation on the healing power of the visual arts.

This exhibition is organized by the de la Cruz Collection in collaboration with the the Libraries and Miami Institute for the Americas with contributions by the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lowe Art Museum in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Frost School of Music on the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2016.


Pink Powder: Commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Pink Powder, an exhibit of renowned works from the de la Cruz Collection, is now on display at the Richter Library.

On the eve of Breast Cancer Awareness Month coming up in October, Dr. Felicia Marie Knaul, director of the University of Miami Institute for the Americas, has a message for the many women around the world who have been confronted with the devastating disease.

A breast cancer survivor, Knaul spoke alongside her husband, UM President Julio Frenk, on Tuesday evening about stigmas that surround cancer, specifically in treatment, and the need to empower those who are facing it, at the opening of Pink Powder, an exhibition on view at the Otto G. Richter Library.

“The beauty of women is not specific to our exterior,” Knaul said during a reception held in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, her words echoing a unifying message in a series of works owned by the de la Cruz Collection and brought to UM through a collaboration of the Libraries and Miami Institute for the Americas with contributions by the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lowe Art Museum in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Frost School of Music.

Knaul was inspired to initiate the installment in part from her own experience in battling breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2007.

“One of the biggest obstacles in being able to detect and treat women’s cancers, particularly breast cancer, is this tremendous fear of what it will do to our bodies. We are afraid of abandonment. We are afraid of disfigurement,” she said at the event.

The exhibition includes works in various forms related to the female body and identity, from the “earth-body” work of Cuban-American pioneer performance artist Ana Mendieta to the drawings of female bodies as plants by Miami native Naomi Fisher, and from the confessional work of British artist Tracy Emin to the autobiographical video of Berlin-based artist Susanne Winterling.

Pink Powder is a group of artists that are trying to address the woman’s body, through a woman’s form,” said Rosa de la Cruz, co-founder of the de la Cruz Collection. “And here you have artists from Ana Mendieta, the performing artist, to the work of Tracy Emin, which is totally autobiographical, and you see how these women are encouraging us to have a conversation on the healing power of the visual arts.”

President Julio Frenk said the exhibition reflects an aspect of work at the University and within the University of Miami Institute for the Americas related to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. “Breast cancer affects people of all socioeconomic groups and all countries of the world. There’s the emotional connection to the system, that is actually life threatening if it is not treated correctly,” Frenk said. “The arts are a vehicle to derive meaning from the human experience. And that’s why this exhibit is so powerful.”

On view in the library through the month of October, the exhibition is an initiative of the University’s Galleries, Libraries, and Museums (GLAM) sector, which supports collaboration between libraries and museums as rich repositories of ideas, objects, and insights into how we think, who we are, and the stories we tell. “We are proud to host this powerful series of works by female artists,” said Chuck Eckman, dean of the University of Miami Libraries.

The event closed with a performance on keyboard by Justina Shandler, a graduate student and songwriter in the Frost School, inspired by a family friend’s battle with cancer. From Shandler’s Easy to Be Afraid:

Pick up your head, pick up your pencil
Get out of bed, get in the light 
Pick up some bread and you can break it with a friend 
Pick up your friend and hold her tight
Pick up all the stardust you can find in your life

DVD Picks: Banned Books Week

by Terri Robar, Learning & Research Services

This week, from September 25 to October 1, the UM Libraries have been celebrating Banned Books Week. It is a celebration of the triumph of our freedom of expression. The movies on this list are all based on books that we are featuring in our displays in the Richter Library. The captions for each movie include the information on when and where the book was banned or challenged.

The following films are a part of Richter Library’s DVD collection. In addition to the thousands of DVDs spanning comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror, documentary, and other genres, UM Libraries also houses film-related materials such as screenplays, soundtracks, musical scores, and original book titles. Search the catalog to browse music and print resources related to these films.

The book was burned in Alamagordo, New Mexico, in 2001 for being “satanic.” In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him and, though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, still it remained lost to him. After many ages, it fell, by chance, into the hands of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

The book was banned in public schools in Chicago, Illinois, in 2013. In 1970s Iran, Marjane “Marji” Satrapi watches events through her young eyes and her idealistic family. Their long-held dream is realized when the hated Shah is defeated in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Now ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, Marji grows up to witness first-hand how the new Iran has become a repressive tyranny on its own.

The book was challenged in middle schools in Goffstown, New Hampshire, in 2011. In the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the televised event in which one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts are chosen to fight to the death until one victor remains.

The book was banned in high school classrooms in Raceland, Louisiana, in 2008. With exacting detail, the film re-creates the American siege of the Somalian city of Mogadishu in October 1993, when a 45-minute mission turned into a 16-hour ordeal of bloody urban warfare.

The book was challenged in schools in Morganton, North Carolina, in 2008. An uneducated woman living in the rural American south who was raped by her father, deprived of the children she bore him, and forced to marry a brutal man she calls “Mister,” is transformed by the friendship of two remarkable women, acquiring self-worth and the strength to forgive.

The book was challenged in middle schools in Brentwood, Tennessee, in 2006. The setting is a dusty Southern town during the Depression. A white woman accuses a black man of rape. Though he is obviously innocent, the outcome of his trial is such a foregone conclusion that no lawyer will step forward to defend him–except the town’s most distinguished citizen.

The book series holds the record for being the most frequently challenged title in the U.S. for the decade of 2000-2009. Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The book was banned in high schools in Nampa, Idaho, in 2012. After Tita is forced to make the cake for the wedding of the man she loves and her own sister, the guests are overcome with sadness. Tita has discovered she can do strange things with her cooking.

The book was challenged in public schools in Olathe, Kansas, in 2007. In the Great Depression, George and Lennie, two displaced migrant ranch workers, dream of the autonomy of owning and operating their own ranch someday.

The book was challenged in high schools in Orono, Maine, in 2006. The fascinating true story of a young woman’s life-altering stay at a famous psychiatric hospital in the late 1960s.

The book was banned in high schools in Coventry, Rhode Island, in 2000. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time. An otherwise typical soldier in WWII, without warning, he jumps back and forth in his life with no control over where he is going next.

The book was challenged in public schools in Lubbock, Texas, in 2008. In a parallel world where witches soar the skies and Ice Bears rule the frozen North, one special girl is destined to hold the fate of the universe in her hands.

New Exhibit Explores Gender and Social Justice in Vintage Board Games

By Yvette Yurubi, Reference Assistant, Special Collections

Long before video games came along, board games dominated as a common pastime for adults and kids. With their 2-D platforms, simple narratives, and easy, straightforward objectives, they were a hit among friends, during parties and family gatherings. So what can we learn today from this historic national pastime?


What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls (1966), players vie to be first in becoming a “career girl.”

After Special Collections recently acquired a series of vintage board games, UGrow Fellow Ellen Davies created a display highlighting what games can tell us about social issues and attitudes in mainstream culture. Without the many bells and whistles virtually transporting players to worlds beyond, these games used more simple tactics to entertain, meanwhile reflecting the ideals of the time. In games from the 1960s and 1970s, we are transported to a time when even the concept of equality, regardless of gender or race, was still making its way into many parts of society.

What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls, for instance, is a game where players must roll the dice, move around the board, and collect career, personality, and subject cards in order to obtain their “dream job.” The game only offers to women six very limiting jobs to choose from: model, airline hostess, ballet dancer, actress, teacher, and nurse. Notably absent are many STEM-based jobs aside from nursing, jobs in the military, and hard-labor jobs, and the game comes equipped with set-backs where a modeling career is out of a player’s reach due to them being overweight or being unattractive. It presents a singular view in which women are highly valued for their looks and behavior rather than their education, intellect, and abilities.


Male career options highlighted in What Shall I Be? The Exciting Career Game for Boys.

It’s notable that the boy’s version of the game does also offer careers that would be considered traditional for men alongside an array of educational possibilities: law school – statesman; graduate school – scientist; college – athlete; medical school – doctor; technical school – engineer; and flight school – astronaut. However, the absence of careers like steward, model, or dancer also shows a limited perception where men aren’t granted much freedom to pursue anything that doesn’t fall within long-stemming societal views of masculinity.

While these games might be taken at face value, it’s also possible that the creators wanted to use them to make social commentary by highlighting the blatant lack of equality. Woman & Man: The Classic Confrontation furthers this idea by encouraging players to take on the role of the opposite gender and experience “life” through their lenses. The goal of the game is to gather 100 status quo points, though those who choose to play as women can only start with a range of 5-40 points and a position as an assistant while those who play as men, start the game with 36-60 points and a managerial position. The lack of gender equality is exhibited from the onset, illustrating the harder struggle women have had to endure to even stand on an even playing field with men.


Woman & Man: The Classic Confrontation (1970s) encourages players to experience life through the lens of the opposite sex.

In the wake of growing awareness of social issues and the expanding and rapidly evolving concepts of gender and sexuality, these games seem laughably outdated and politically incorrect. However, aside from their novelty, they do provide an opportunity to open up a dialogue about how casual sexism and restricted gender roles once dominated the social consciousness of the past and how they continue to be an issue today that everyone is struggling to transform and reinvent so that future generations do not have to be so confined in what role they feel they should have to fulfill in order to be accepted into society. We eagerly invite you all to venture to the 8th floor and join us with your friends to share in the experience of these vintage games which are now on exhibit.

Join Us for Mindfulness at Richter on October 26, 4 p.m.


Wednesday, October 26
4 – 4:30 p.m.

Otto G. Richter Library
3rd Floor Conference Room
1300 Memorial Drive | Coral Gables, FL 33146

Co-presented by the UM School of Law

Join us for a practice session in mindfulness led by Scott Rogers, Lecturer in Law and Director of the Mindfulness in Law Program. This 30-minute session will introduce the fundamentals in mindfulness with five minutes of gathering and readying for practice, a 15-minute lightly-guided practice, and five-minute period of quiet discussion.

If you’re interested in attending this free program, please send an email to richterevents@miami.edu.

Parking is available at the Pavia Garage near Stanford Drive. Please click map image below to enlarge. Learn more about parking »


Libraries Receives Grant to Digitize Pan Am Archive

Prepare to soar through iconic 20th-century history.


Pan American World Airways Bermuda Clipper, a Sikorsky S-42 flying boat, as it arrives in Bermuda, 1937.

University of Miami Special Collections is gearing up for a project to put over 100,000 items in the Pan Am archive online thanks to a digitization grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

In May the NHPRC announced the grant, one of five awarded nationwide, for Special Collections to digitize the items in the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records collection. The archival collection—one of the University of Miami’s most popular and extensive—houses historical Pan Am brochures, newsletters, periodicals, annual reports, timetables, and many other records documenting the iconic company’s 60-plus years of operation.

“This is an opportunity to provide unprecedented access to Pan Am’s history, operations, and business culture,” says Sarah Shreeves, UM Libraries Associate Dean for Digital Strategies. “We thank the NHPRC for helping us make this extensive series available for researchers at any time of day and from anywhere in the world.”


The Pacific by Clipper, 1947.

The 1.5-year project, which begins in October, will include the digitization of 60 boxes of printed materials and publications (known as the “printed materials series”) spanning from 1930 to 1991, which is almost the entire lifetime of the company, and covering all of the geographic areas serviced by the airline.

The digitization efforts build on a previous NHPRC-funded project completed in 2014 to organize the collection in its entirety—all 1,500 boxes of administrative, legal, financial, technical, and promotional materials as well as internal publications, photographs, audiovisual material, and graphic material. Online tools for researching the collection are available on the mini-website Cleared to Land.

“The project will continue our efforts to maximize the impact of the collection as a research resource,” says Beatrice Skokan, Manuscripts Librarian at Special Collections, who worked with head of Digital Production and principal investigator Laura Capell to secure the grant.

Once the printed series is digitized, the archive will be fully text searchable and available to the public free of charge.

UM Libraries Celebrates Banned Books Week

by Lauren Fralinger, Learning and Research Services Librarian

How often do you think about your right to read? It is often said that words can change the world, whether they’re spoken aloud or written down. The First Amendment recognizes the power of words, enshrining our freedom of speech. But what happens when that speech is challenged? When we’re told we can’t speak out, can’t read words that might challenge our thoughts or give us new ideas?

Sbeyond magentaeptember 25 through October 1 is Banned Books Week, a time of year designated to raise awareness of banned and challenged books, and an opportunity to understand the consequences of censorship. This year the week takes a thematic focus on diversity, celebrating diverse voices and ideas and shining a light on disproportionate censorship of authors from diverse communities.

Banned Books Week was founded in 1982 by Judith Krug in response to a sudden surge of challenged books. Krug, a First Amendment defender and library advocate, strongly opposed censorship. She felt that no one should be restricted from books or ideas, and that readers should have the freedom to develop their own opinions.

In the thirty-four years since Krug began her initiative, there have been more than 11,300 books challenged, according to the American Library Association (ALA). 275 books were challenged in 2015, which is lower than previous years. Some of the most frequently challenged books  of 2015 included Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin, Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter, and even the Holy Bible, which appeared on the list for the first time. Books that involve topics of sexuality and religion often top lists of frequently challenged books.

51cKB7Nh4YL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_If a book is challenged, someone is trying to keep it from the hands of readers. ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom has reported the top three reasons for a challenge are: 1) the material was considered to be sexually explicit, 2) the material was considered to have offensive language, and 3) the material was considered unsuited for any age group.

Challenges by various groups have resulted in books commonly regarded today as classic literature being banned from libraries and schools across the United States: In 1957, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was banned from the Detroit Public Library for “having no value for children of today, supporting negativism, and bringing children’s minds to a cowardly level.”

Other classic works that have been banned include:

  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, on the grounds of profanity and racially charged language.
  • J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, described by detractors as a “filthy, filthy book.”
  • First edition copies of Allan Ginsberg’s Howl were seized by the San Francisco customs for obscenity in 1957; however, after a trial the obscenity charges were dropped.
  • John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was temporarily banned in the in region of California in which it was originally set for “alleged unflattering portrayal of area residents.”
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, was once banned by an Alabama textbook committee, deeming it a “real downer.”

Banned Books Week at Richter

Banned Books Week highlights these and many other influential works that have endured censorship, bringing together proponents of free speech, librarians, publishers, teachers, and book lovers of all genres. This year’s events specifically highlight the increasingly popular medium of comic books and graphic novels.

Come join us in September for a week-long celebration of free speech and great literature! Starting September 25, look around the library for books that have been challenged or banned – some of the titles may surprise you. And don’t miss our Read Out of banned and challenged work on September 28!

Throughout the week, you can also view a selection of banned, rare books at Special Collections. An exhibit near the elevators on the 8th floor will feature works by John Milton, William Shakespeare, Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake for his religious and scientific views), D. H. Lawrence, Allen Ginsberg, and others.

Exercise your right to read – check out a banned book from the library!

Join Us for Banned Books Week Read Out on September 28, 2 p.m.

E-mail HeaderWednesday, September 28
2 – 3:30 p.m.

Otto G. Richter Library
Learning Commons, 1st floor
1300 Memorial Drive | Coral Gables, FL 33146

Join us in celebrating the “right to read!” The University of Miami will commemorate the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week 2016 with a Read Out of previously banned or challenged works. Speakers for this event include:

  • cfrancis blackchild, Lecturer, Department of Theatre Arts
  • Louise Davidson-Schmich, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
  • Suchismita Dutta, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of English
  • Jeremy Penn, Treasurer of SpectrUM
  • Josh Schriftman, Lecturer in the Composition Program, Department of English
  • Sarah Shreeves, Associate Dean for Digital Strategies, University of Miami Libraries

About Banned Books Week

Since 1982, the American Library Association has designated this annual week to raise awareness of banned and challenged books and the consequences of censorship. Banned Books Week 2016 takes a thematic focus on diversity, celebrating diverse voices and ideas and shining a light on disproportionate censorship of authors from diverse communities. Learn more about UM Libraries celebration of Banned Books Week »

Parking is available at the Pavia Garage near Stanford Drive. Please click map image below to enlarge. Learn more about parking »