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?

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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.

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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.

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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.



Local Food Experts Engage Foodie Community of South Florida

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Click the image above to watch a video of the discussion on May 13. More photos from the event can be viewed on Facebook.

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Local food experts reflected on South Florida’s abundant natural offerings, strong multicultural seasonings, and rich supply of untapped resources—all shaping the area’s evolving culinary landscape—during a panel discussion at UM Special Collections’ Tropical Gastronomies featuring chef and cookbook author Norman Van Aken, food blogger and Edible South Florida editor Gretchen Schmidt, and author and historian Mandy Baca.

Mandy Baca is talking.

Mandy Baca, author of The Sizzling History of Miami Cuisine: Cortaditos, Stone Crabs & Empanadas, discusses Miami food history with chef and cookbook author Norman Van Aken and food blogger and Edible South Florida editor Gretchen Schmidt.

Moderated by Special Collections Head Cristina Favretto, the discussion touched on well-established fares and flavors such as stone crabs, citrus, and mangos, the formation of Van Aken’s New World Cuisine, and how recent developments like the farm-to-table movement are shedding light on lesser-known edible flora and fauna. The event was held as part of a UM Libraries-wide exhibition exploring the rich culinary traditions of South Florida, Cuba, and the Caribbean. Vintage restaurant postcards and menus, local organizational cookbooks, and dining brochures from Pan American World Airlines, Inc., and other materials are on display from Special Collections.

During the event, Favretto announced that Special Collections aims to further its collection of food- and cooking-related materials through the establishment of the Culinary History Collection of Florida, and is seeking donations of historical materials such as restaurant menus, local and regional recipe books, oral histories with chefs, and images of restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets. Individuals interested in contributing to the archive are encouraged to contact Special Collections at 305-284-3247 or asc.library@miami.edu.

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The discussion touched on well-established fares and flavors and how recent developments like the farm-to-table movement are shedding light on lesser-known edible flora and fauna.





Flori-zines! Zines from Florida on Display in Special Collections

Flori-zines: Underground Voices from the Sunshine State is a show currently on view in Special Collections consisting of limited edition and unique zines from Florida. Curator Cristina Favretto coined the neologism “Flori-zines” for the Miami and Florida portion of the exhibit, which takes the viewer on a visual journey through the counterculture and fringe lifestyles not usually associated with the state. National and international zines, including some very rare early science fiction and punk zines from Special Collections are currently being showcased in a complimentary exhibit called  ?#@*$%! the Mainstream: the Art of DIY Self Expression at the Lowe Art Museum.

Zines are do-it-yourself publications, typically handmade and photocopied. They are counterculture passion projects, born from the desire to be heard, with the most famous trend coming out the punk rock scene of the 1970s.  They appeal to readers for their often highly niche topics and cover a wide range of subject matter ranging from music, literary, comix, science fiction, girl, queer issues, spirituality, and politics, amongst many others.

Florida, and particularly Miami, has a long history with zine culture and the University of Miami boasts an extensive and rare zine collection. One of the larger donations received was from the Firefly Collective in Miami.

Yo Soy Miami, from Firefly Zine Collection

According to Tara McLeigh, a founding member of the collective, The Firefly was a do-it-yourself art space and venue that had a massive zine lending library of over 1,000 items that opened in 2007. The collection was run by volunteers and represented an amalgamation of several defunct zine libraries. Many of the zines were duplicated for check out and at one point the collective had over 200 members. The Firefly has since closed, but upon donation of its collection to the University, McLeigh stated that it was “very important that the zine collection can exist and breathe once again and I cannot think of a better place for them at their new home.”

One of the more interesting items currently on display is a copy of Brazen Hussy, a Miami-based work created by Caroline Paquita. This particular zine was recently displayed in a show at HistoryMiami titled “Teen Miami”, about life as a teenager in South Florida. There are three issues of Brazen Hussy in special collections which are all part of the Erick Lyle papers. Lyle is a musician, writer, and zine editor with deep ties to South Florida.

The opening page of Brazen Hussy #8 features Paquita professing to her readers that upon completion of each issue she feels there is always more to say. To Paquita, this showcases the beauty of the zine as medium. It’s a very telling proclamation about the nature of the form and establishes an informal link between the DIY style and the potential of a constantly evolving narrative.

Paquita, who now runs her own publishing house Pegacorn Press, wrote and produced eight issues of Brazen Hussy as a teenager living in Miami from 1998-2004.  When asked about the zine she claims, “it was very important and influential part of my growing up as a young female artist, as it helped me branch out of what I thought was a limited (at the time) punk and DIY scene in Miami, to a larger web of other zine folks in the States and abroad.”

Zines, by their very nature, are imbued with the personality and character of their creators and here we see that this particular project, Brazen Hussy, was a launching pad for an artist finding her voice. Now active in both the publishing and art worlds, Paquita branched off into the two creative industries that underpin the cavalier attitude of zine publication.

Scam, by Erick Lyle, from the Erick Lyle Papers

Favretto suggests that, “zines are a window into the zeitgeist of our culture. They often represent what we’d call the ‘fringe’ elements of society, but it’s often the fringe right before it becomes mainstream.  Zine writers are not beholden to advertisers, or publishers, or even editors, and therefore are conducive to the sort of candor (and often bad writing) that simply wouldn’t make it into commercial publications. And yet they have an impact, and are crucial research material for those who want to know more about the ‘real’ late twentieth century from the eyes of a very varied group of people.”

She goes on to explain the current economic landscape of bookselling explaining, “zines have also become big business. Their small publication runs, coupled with a certain charming raw quality and nostalgia for certain academically under-documented cultures, have made them very collectible to a savvy 21st century audience. Demand for zines—especially by academic collections—exceed the supply (zines were by their very nature throw-away objects) and consequently can often be quite expensive.  Zines that sold for 25 cents at concerts or record stores are sometimes selling at almost one hundred times that price.”

Carter, by “Scott”, from the Erick Lyle Papers

It’s not far-fetched to suggest that the way youth and anti-establishment creativity utilizes the internet burgeoned from the same spirit as zine culture. Zines are a text heavy and an inexpensive way of sharing what you feel, what you love, what you hate, and what you are trying to better understand. Yet, their uniqueness lies in the desire to be heard and express, as opposed to profiting from the clicks of the internet. Due to their scarcity and truly unique perspectives on the counter-cultural phenomena they illuminate, zines have a fascinating place in the pantheon of print material.

The University of Miami Libraries invites the public to experience Flori-zines: Underground Voices from the Sunshine State which is currently on display in conjunction with the ?#@*$%! the Mainstream: the Art of DIY Self Expression exhibit at the Lowe Art Museum. The Lowe exhibition is co-curated by Favretto, with the assistance of UM Libraries Preservation Administrator Scott Reinke and Research Assistant Steve Hersh. Favretto will also be presenting at an event at the Lowe on Saturday, November 16, 2013 from 1–3 p.m., which includes a zine lecture, workshop on zine-making, and exhibition tour.

Special Collections is open to the public from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information please contact 305-284-3247 or email asc.library@miami.edu.

Nathaniel Sandler, Book Detective for UM Special Collections