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New collection of photographs
captures essence of life at ‘Carolina’
The history of the university is chronicled in a new book "Carolina: Photographs from the First State University," which hits bookstores in early April.
"Carolina" features campus moments and scenes captured by the lenses of University Photographer Dan Sears, UNC staff and an assortment of aspiring student photographers. Creative writing professor and novelist Doris Betts wrote the foreword.
The new collection was edited by Erica Eisdorfer, manager of the Bull’s Head Bookshop, part of UNC Student Stores. The book was published by the University of North Carolina Press in association with UNC Student Stores.
Eisdorfer, who has been at the Bull’s Head for 26 years, said the book filled a void.
"For all my years here at the Bull's Head Bookshop, customers have asked for a book with pictures of the university," she said. "So there’s always been that gap. A couple of years ago I went to the UNC Press with a plea: please make one. And they asked me to do it."
Until now, no such picture book has existed to show Carolina as it is, with the perspective of shadows from the past and occasional lighted glimpses of what might come, Betts wrote in the foreword.
In full color, 200 images are carefully arranged to follow a year in the life of the Carolina campus. Academics, athletics, student life, memorable moments, art, architecture, natural beauty — the book features all aspects of what it means to spend time in Chapel Hill.
"There’s a picture of moving into a dorm room and one of textbook rush," Eisdorfer said. "Then we start studying — the library and autumn events and fall sports. Then we tell the story of the brief wonderful snowstorms on campus and then, of course, there’s basketball. And after winter comes spring in its glory. The whole thing culminates with graduation, as does the student’s years on campus.
Mark Simpson-Vos, special projects editor at UNC Press, said the book reminded him about the special nature of Carolina.
"I've been a student or worked on this campus now for 13 years, and walking the same paths, sometimes you can forget the little things that bring magic to this campus," he said.
"But working on a book like this one, seeing so many terrific photographs laid out in one place, you can't help but be reminded what an honor and pleasure it is to be part of this university community," he said. "The process of working on the book really reminded me of the first time I set foot on campus and all the little hidden corners I've come to love. My biggest hope is that it will do the same for everyone."
Eisdorfer said she was up to the task of selecting the images to tell the story of an institution with more than 200 years of history.
"I knew I wanted to show Carolina in all its diverse gorgeousness: all the faces of all the nations of the world on this one campus," Eisdorfer said. "But as we all know, UNC is the oldest state university and with that comes a tremendous dignity. So I wanted to be sure that the book was respectful of the origins of the university and the years that this campus has under its belt. I went into the project with a list: the famous landmarks, of course, but also the quiet little places that don’t get as much celebrity."
The book draws on images from professional photographers, journalism students, art photographers and hobbyists, Eisdorfer said.
"And they each found something else that was beautiful — and by that I mean striking in an aesthetically pleasing way — about UNC-Chapel Hill," she said. "Things I never would have thought of. Like the picture of the crane on a building top against a huge amazing sky. Or the wonderful gargoyles on Person Hall. Or the tie-dyed kid listening hard to a pit preacher, himself dressed in black. There’s so much that’s perfectly beautiful about Carolina and I love these pictures because they speak to the less obvious as much as to the familiar sights."
Photo captions relate history, facts, figures and unique stories associated with the university. Eisdorfer said this information came from archive records, tours of campus, former students and personal research. Images range from a report of the Board of Trustees meeting in 1790 to the Franklin Street celebration of the 2005 men’s basketball national championship. The book, however, is more than a collection of photographs, she said.
"… People who don’t have a personal connection, but who are nevertheless affected by the ambiance and the dignity and the grandeur of the place, will find something to love in this book," Eisdorfer said. "They will bring it home and sit on the couch with their kids and leaf through its pages and say, ‘this is what it’s like to go to college.’ And then maybe their kids will say, ‘But not every university is like this one, is it?’ And they will agree that no, Carolina stands alone."
For more information see:www.uncpress.unc.edu/books/T-7922.html
A Sampling of URLs for Photos Featured in the Book:http://www.ibiblio.org/uncp/media/eisdorfer/aerial_view/aerial_view.jpg
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