By Christine S. Fagan, Collection Management Librarian
The sixteenth annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Library Exhibition celebrated the 50th anniversary of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This exhibition was on display from February 1 through March 31, 2016.
Featured items included:
- First edition of In Cold Blood published by Random House (1966)
- Serialized version of “In Cold Blood” in four issues of The New Yorker (September 25, October 2, 9, 16, 1965)
- Facsimile book reviews from The New York Times and The Observer (London)
- Facsimile local news coverage in The Hutchinson News at the time of the murders, trial and execution
- Facsimile Kansas Bureau of Investigation report of the critical interview with Floyd Wells, which was the first clue leading to the capture of the murder suspects
- Issue of Life (May 12, 1967) with a feature article on the making of the film, In Cold Blood, in the town where the murders took place
- Facsimile portraits of Capote by Carl Van Vechten, Roger Higgins of New York World-Telegram and Sun, and others
- Facsimile photographs of the Black and White Ball held by Truman Capote at the Plaza Hotel on November 28, 1966
Other related events included a book discussion on March 2 lead by Professor James Tackach and jointly sponsored by the Honors Program and the RWU Library. A screening of the film, In Cold Blood, in conjunction with the FCAS Great Film Series took place on March 30. Professor Tackach offered a one-credit course on Truman Capote and In Cold Blood during the spring semester.
Dr. Thomas Fahy of Long Island University delivered the Keynote Lecture, “What’s So Dangerous About In Cold Blood? Truman Capote, American Culture, and the Literary Canon,” on March 17. Dr. Fahy, a noted Capote scholar and author of Understanding Truman Capote, provided an engaging presentation focused on the cultural climate of America in the 1950s, the setting of the novel. Economic inequality and fear of global atomic destruction are themes of the 1950s that still resonate today as the economic divide continues to expand and the fear of global terrorism is on the rise. Dr. Fahy concluded that alienation and violence tend to thrive under such circumstances, which sadly makes this novel so relevant and frightening today. A lively question and answer session followed.
Stay tuned as plans are underway for the 17th Annual Birss Memorial Program celebrating the 50th anniversary of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.