Below is a small sampling of the many events scheduled in the next few weeks on the Princeton University campus. For a complete schedule of public events, visit the university’s online calendar at Events are free unless otherwise noted.

A campus map is available online at

Sunday, March 25, 3-5 p.m. Book Adoption Party hosted by the Friends of the Princeton University Library.

The sketch at right comes to us from the mid-19th century. It is an outline of a man’s head in profile. A variety of lively scenes, ranging from the mythological to the mundane, crowd that cranium: A tiny Cupid, a young couple out for a stroll, Justice holding her scales, and an artist in the act of painting are but a few of the lively figures that populate the skull. That sketch is but a fragment of a “science” debunked long ago, phrenology. Phrenologists claimed that by measuring areas of the skull, they could uncover all the details of an individual’s personality.

That curious work, from Princeton University Library’s Rare Books collection, is just one of the 103 items that will be on display at the upcoming Book Adoption Party. Amid beverages and hors d’oeuvres, guests will be offered a rare glimpse of select materials — from coins and maps to manuscripts — housed in the Princeton University Library collections. The party will also provide a singular opportunity to meet with curators and conservators who will field questions and tell the stories behind these rare items.

At its core, the party invites participants to “adopt” an item that they find particularly appealing. Adoption not only supports the library’s conservation of these works, but enables the university to acquire new works for its collections. If you adopt one of the displayed items your name will appear on a bookplate permanently linking you to your adopted item. A miniature version of a 1901 issue of Scribners, which can be adopted for $20; a Harry Potter stickerbook; a 17th-century map of the Low Countries drawn on the back of a lion; the phrenology drawing, $225; a pamphlet in Yiddish to support Woodrow Wilson’s 1916 re-election, $3,000; and an 1852 map of Princeton are only a few of the treasures that will be on display. Admission is $25.

For the list of sponsors and additional information, visit 609-238-3155. Chancellor Green.

Tuesday, March 27, 4:30 p.m. “The Transcontinental Railroads and the Construction of American Space.”

What if the New Jersey Transit trip from Princeton to New York’s Penn Station took 700 minutes instead of 70? In his upcoming lecture, Professor Richard White of Stanford University will ask us to consider this very question. White will examine how the construction of transcontinental railroads — held to be one of the most stunning technological accomplishments of the 19th century — not only influenced urban growth, but even determined the location of cities.

As White will explain, those railroads did not just make it easier for people to travel; they forever changed the way people perceived space and influenced the cost of goods. The power of this change is all the more stunning, for (as White demonstrates in his recent book, “Railroaded”), it is the product of scheming, corrupt industrialists making back-room deals, writing misleading financial reports, and shamelessly manipulating the press.

Sponsored by the Program in American Studies. 609-258-6771. 211 Dickinson Hall.

Thursday, March 29, 7:30 p.m. “About Elly” (in Persian with English subtitles).

Princeton’s Garden Theater is currently playing director Asghar Farhadi’s film, “A Separation.” There will soon be an opportunity to view one of Farhadi’s earlier films, “About Elly,” at Princeton University’s Persian Film Series. The film received critical acclaim at festivals from Germany to Tehran and won the Tribeca Film Festival’s award for Best Picture in 2009.

“About Elly” tells the story of three Iranian families who travel to the Caspian Sea for some relaxation — and matchmaking. The group of friends includes Elly, a young teacher, and the newly divorced Ahmad. While others conspire to bring Elly and Ahmad together, their plans are thwarted by the disappearance of Elly herself.

Sponsored by the Program in Near Eastern Studies. 609-258-4272. Jones Hall 100.

Friday through Saturday, March 30 through 31, 8 p.m. “One Act Opera Project.”

This upcoming performance by Princeton’s Composers Ensemble will introduce talented composers of the next generation. The Ensemble, founded in 1985, matches seasoned, celebrated musicians with new talents. This latest production, the “One Act Opera Project,” features three works. The first, “Lear on the Second Floor,” is an update of Shakespeare’s celebrated tragedy. “Lear” follows its protagonist, neuroscience researcher Nora Lear, as she grapples with the onset of Alzheimer’s.

“Weakness,” the second work, tells the story of a spirit from the Otherworld — the realm of the dead and supernatural in Celtic mythology — who assumes human form and in doing so experiences the pleasures and perils of mortality.

The final opera, “Off Court,” is set in an exclusive tennis club. The protagonist (Louisa) chafes against the high-society affectations that surround her. Yet, the very qualities Louisa abhors are the ones her social-climbing husband longs to embrace. Tickets are $15, $10 for seniors and students. A free talk with the artists will be at 7:15 p.m.

Sponsored by the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Department of Music. 609-258-3694. Berlind Theater at McCarter.

Briefly Noted:

Saturday, March 31, 10:30 a.m-1 p.m.: “Taking it With You: Egypt and the Afterlife” is part of the Princeton Art Museum’s Art for Families series. Whether you stay for a few minutes or a few hours, this event will offer lively look at Egyptian burial practices. The Book of the Dead and false doors on tombs are only a few of the exciting elements to discover. Participants can even make and take home their own cartouche, an ancient Egyptian amulet. Princeton Art Museum.

Monday, April 2, 4:30 p.m.: Sir Robert Watson, former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will speak as part of the Woodrow Wilson School’s “Energy and the Environment” series. Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall.

Alana Shilling recently earned her Ph.D. in comparative literature from Princeton.

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