Ackland Apprehension

During our class trip to The Ackland Art Museum, I was struck with an epiphany: I far prefer reading adaptations versus observing them in art. This conclusion was not only drawn from my time at the Ackland, but the visit did reinforce that viewpoint.

While I am certainly grateful for every experience that I have to become more cultured and to learn more about the world around me, I found the analysis of the pieces difficult. Unlike literature, where most things are spelled out, the art required me to do a new kind of analysis and to arrive at some difficult conclusions. I partially blame this struggle to understand art on my analytical brain, as I don’t have a large imagination to see what a piece of art truly means.

Ruysdael’s River Landscape with Fisherman truly illustrates my struggle as I tried to understand a deeper meaning. On the surface, the painting displays a serene scene of ships floating on the water, approaching a nearby town. The superficial elements of this piece were easy to comprehend, but I completely missed the other components of the painting that foreshadowed a coming storm. This slight oversight caused me to miss a key aspect of the painting, and this struggle was consistent throughout many of the pieces that we viewed.

Another particular piece that I wrestled with was Hodgkins’ Looking at the Sea. The impressionistic style is extremely imaginative, and I could not understand the painting at all. While I thought the delicate waves were beautiful, I struggled to connect it to the shipwreck theme and Robinson Crusoe. After an explanation from the leader of the tour, I understood what the piece was trying to accomplish, but I would not have been able to come to this conclusion without her help.

Even though I found the deeper themes and meanings of the pieces difficult to understand, I thought that the experience of looking at the sheer talent of the artists was incredible. I really enjoyed Rose Piper’s Eve and the Serpent.  The vibrant colors of this painting were eye-catching and drew me to the piece. I also liked the almost cartoonish style of painting that was used to depict this very serious scene. I particularly enjoyed this work because it was easy for me to connect to its intertextual meaning, as I have a religious background, and I am very familiar with the story of Adam and Eve. I also liked how the tour guide described the song on which the painting was based, revealing even more intertextual elements.

While I did not always grasp the complex meanings of the pieces, I really enjoyed the visit overall. I truly value any opportunity not only to become more connected with my own culture but to also view the pure talent of many of these great artists. Thus, even though I might prefer reading a book as a way to gain exposure to adaptations, the visit was interesting and enlightening because it made me more aware of the frequent use of intertextual elements in art.


The Wonder of Wilson: My Robinson Crusoe Rare Book Experience

Wilson Library is one of the most uniquely beautiful places I have ever visited. Even though our class excursion was not my first visit to Wilson, the subtle architectural beauty captivates me, as does its likeness to many of the buildings in the Harry Potter novel series. The architecture of the overall structure is incredible, and the interior matches the facade’s grandeur. My favorite room is the upstairs open study hall with its massive gold chandeliers and rows of bookshelves. I often visit this room when I need pure focus and a quiet atmosphere.  However, during our class visit, I finally was able to experience the storing and preservation aspect of the library through our investigation of the rare book collection.

The subject of our visit was particularly interesting to me as I have always loved to learn about 18th-century and 19th-century history. Objects from older time periods fascinate me, and I often wonder about life during those particular eras. Our trip to Wilson Library only heightened that obsession as I perused its collection of many rare books. However, one particular piece caught my attention more than others: The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: With An Account of His Travels Round Three Parts of the Globe. Throughout our class study of classic fiction novels and adaptations, Robinson Crusoe remains my favorite text. This love of Defoe’s novel led me to look for adaptations of it on display in the rare book collection.

This particular edition first caught my eye because if its worn state. The cardboard binding was on full display, and the pages were tattered and worn. The book looked well-loved as it was almost falling apart. The smaller than average dimensions of the book created easy portability for the reader. The intricate designs on the front cover added an aura of distinctness to the book, in spite of its weathered exterior. The timeworn pages looked extremely thin and fragile, perhaps made this way to produce a cheaper product, allowing for mass production and accessibility for all social classes.

The inside of the front cover contained a myriad of drawings, all depicting various scenes from the book. The etchings were abstract but understandable and incredibly intricate. Upon further investigation with the library assistant, I learned that this book was George Cruikshank’s a personal copy of Robinson Crusoe from when he was a child. Cruikshank was the illustrator for Charles Dickens. I was astounded by this information as both of these men gained fame in their time and the public still recognizes their contributions today.

All trips to Wilson Library are special to me as it is a distinguished space where I feel privileged to visit. This particular visit affected me as it was fascinating to get hands-on experience with these miniature pieces of history. The condition of the books on display amazed me, and I often felt hesitant to touch them for fear of harming them. I enjoyed the privilege of viewing such well-preserved pieces of art, and I am thankful that the university invested in collecting these rare books.  I will definitely visit again in order to discover more about the unique collections on display.


Crusoe’s Logs: Boring or Brilliant?

One of the most interesting but often overlooked passages in Robinson Crusoe is his daily log. However, I found it perplexing that our class was so repulsed by this detailed log of fictional events. Through many research studies, it has been proven that when people lie (like when telling a fictional account), they often give far too much detail in order to convince the reader that they are, in fact, not fallacious. While that most certainly is the case in this book, some find the monotony of Crusoe’s everyday life to sound almost too familiar. Many would consider Robinson Crusoe as an ultimately tedious text, but it is surprising that the current generation dislikes the format of daily logs as they very much enjoy watching “vloggers” that create logs that show the daily details of their lives, just as Crusoe does.

Although it may not be known by the majority of the older generation, young people enjoy watching others live their “boring” everyday life in video logs, otherwise known as “vlogs,” through many online mediums, the most popular of these being Youtube. Thousands of these so-called “vloggers” produce video logs of everything in their lives from their meals to their clothing combinations, and they sometimes even speak about their hardships. The reception of these “vloggers” is incredible, as many of them have millions of subscribers watching their reality.  To link back to Defoe’s novel, Crusoe frequently logs his troubles to find food, his creation of new tools, and his hardships of loneliness. These struggles are directly correlated with what the ”vloggers” experience today, just 300 years prior. So why is it that we praise the “vlogger” for being so transparent about his/her daily experience, but we find Crusoe’s log of his time on the island to be so ridiculously boring? While some could dispute that the video aspect of “vloggers” gives them a new and exciting take on the daily log, I would argue that the basic premise is the same. Babbling on about random happenings of the day has always been fascinating to humans. Therefore, we mustn’t chastise Crusoe for his writings about the island; they are the only format in which he can record and later share his story with the rest of the world.

The similarities between Crusoe’s log and many “vlogs” are indeed striking. Both include a time or date controlled line of events and often include an analysis of these events. For example, on page 110 of Robinson Crusoe, he spends time “cooking the turtle” and he finds the meat to be “the most savory and pleasant that I had ever tasted in my life”(Defoe 110). In comparison, Ellen Fischer, a YouTube daily “vlogger,” films her family picking Poah Berries, and her son exclaims that the berries “are really good” (Fisher). This comparison shows that both mediums feature food foraging and flavor analysis, furthering the idea that Crusoe’s logs are not so different than modern vlogs. Another example of their similarities is how they choose to list their daily schedule. Crusoe will list by day what task he completes; for example, on November 1, he describes that he “set up my (his) tent under a rock” and on November 3, he “went out with my (his) gun and kill’d two fowls like ducks” (Defoe 106). Similarly, another “vlogger,” Tayna Burr, describes her routine as “brush my teeth, put on deodorant, and then it’s time to get dressed” (Burr). Even though both of these texts describe a routine daily happening, some would even find Crusoe’s routine to be more interesting than the modern “vlog.”

Crusoe’s log is not a new convention, nor is it outdated by any means. Through studying many different cultures, I have always found what people choose to record to be very interesting. In earlier cultures, people would record history through art and sculpture to tell their stories. In Defoe’s story, Crusoe records everything he sees, feels, and experiences so that if he dies, someone will know his story. In today’s context, our cultural “vloggers” record their lives for sheer entertainment. Maybe we should not be so hard on Crusoe’s log because it is not only Crusoe’s life that is monotonous, but our culture and the “vloggers” we enjoy.



Defoe, Daniel, and Evan R Davis. Robinson Crusoe. Broadview Press, 2014.

Fisher, Ellen. “A DAY IN OUR HAWAII LIFE | Big Island Abundance.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 Nov. 2017,

Burr, Tanya. “My Summer Morning Routine | Tanya Burr.” YouTube, YouTube, 17 Aug. 2017,