A John Barth funhouse

New exhibition at the Sheridan Libraries

Books from the John Barth collection

Credit: Courtesy of the Ferdinand hamburger archives milton s. eisenhower library, Johns hopkins university

John Barth's fiction and career have famously defied convention. Following suit, the Sheridan Libraries' new exhibition on Barth offers visitors a kind of funhouse experience devoted to exploring the author's life and legacy. Lost and Found in the Funhouse features highlights from the John Barth Collection, which documents the creative output and career of Barth, the American fiction writer, essayist, and teacher. A National Book Award winner, he was a leading figure in the university's Writing Seminars, and his work is central to postwar American literature.

The exhibition features highlights from the collection, which contains the notes and manuscripts for most of Barth's published writings and lectures, correspondence between him and other major literary figures, and editions of his works. In addition, the collection includes the author's 1,200-volume library: books belonging to Barth from his student days, with his annotations; books inscribed by students, colleagues, and important writers of the past several decades; and books that were instrumental to Barth in his own writing. The collection also includes photographs, recordings, juvenilia, and homemade posters and slides that Barth used to illustrate talks and readings.

"The aim of this exhibition is a gallery experience that reflects the imaginative spirit of Barth's fiction," says exhibition curator Gabrielle Dean, curator of literary rare books and manuscripts in the Department of Special Collections at the Sheridan Libraries. "His writing is full of funny word play and puzzles for the reader to work out. It's often very gamelike. We have tried to transfer some of those qualities to the physical space."

Lost and Found in the Funhouse runs through February 28, 2016, at the George Peabody Library in Baltimore. More information at the exhibit's website.

Posted in Arts+Culture