Birss Memorial Library Exhibition to Celebrate
the 50th Anniversary of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The eleventh annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Library Exhibition will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. This exhibition will take place in the library foyer from February 1 through March 9, 2011. It will include items on loan from the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, University of South Carolina Libraries in Columbia, South Carolina; Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and the Quonset Air Museum in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.

It is my hope that you will visit the University Library to view this exhibition which focuses on Heller as a writer and particularly on Catch-22 as a major novel of twentieth century American literature. Highlights of the exhibition will include the following:

  • Joseph Heller's typewriter used to write Catch-22

  • Photographs and records from Heller's Unit during World War II

  • Heller's first published story, "I don't love you anymore"

  • Heller's first chapter of Catch-22 published as the story "Catch-18"

  • Inscribed first edition of Catch-22

  • Multiple translations of Catch-22

  • Facsimile of Heller's handwritten chart used to outline Catch-22

  • Facsimiles of original manuscripts Catch-22 with editing notes

  • Facsimiles of correspondence with Joseph Heller by notable figures, such as John Steinbeck, Thomas Pynchon, and Tony Curtis

  • Facsimiles of critical essays and evaluations of Catch-22

  • World War II U.S. Army Air Corps bombardier jacket and flight helmet

  • Norden Bombsight

  • Original manuscripts of other works by Heller

  • Original photographs of Heller and his squadron during World War II

  • Heller's scrapbook
This exhibition is produced in conjunction with the Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture which will take place on Monday, February 28, 2011 at 4:00pm in the Feinstein College of Arts & Sciences Room 152. The speaker will be Dr. James Nagel, J. O. Eidson Distinguished Professor of American Literature at The University of Georgia. Dr. Nagel is a nationally recognized scholar in American literature. He has edited two collections of essays on Catch-22 and Joseph Heller, published several articles on the novel and lectured around the world. His books include Critical Essays on Catch-22 (1974); Critical Essays on Joseph Heller(1984); and more recently, The Contemporary American Short Story Cycle: The Ethnic Resonance of Genre (2001); and A Companion to the American Short Story (2010).

Other related events include:

  • Book Discussion sponsored jointly by the Honors Program and the RWU Library
    • Time: Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 3:30pm

    • Place: Mary Tefft White Cultural Center, RWU Library

  • A Student Panel Discussion will be moderated by Professor James Tackach
    • Time: Wednesdy, February 16, 2011 at 4:00pm

    • Place: Feinstein College of Arts and Science Room 152

  • Birss Competition sponsored by the Feinstein College of Arts and Sciences is ongoing with winners to be announced at the Memorial Lecture.
Should you have any questions regarding the library exhibition, please contact:
Christine Fagan, exhibition coordinator
ph: 401.254.3029

About Birss Memorial Library Exhibition

The Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture and Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Library Fund were established by University alums, Robert Blais '70, to honor Professor John Howard Birss, Jr., nationally recognized for his knowledge of first editions.

The Birss Lecture is an annual lecture series benefiting the humanities programs at Roger Williams University's Feinstein College of Arts and Sciences.