Archive for the 'art' Category

February 27th 2013
Mid-week roundup: it’s never to soon to start the Great Forgetting!

Posted under American history & art & Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & technoskepticism & women's history

Up on my hobbyhorse, again!

Howdy, friends:  quick post today as I’m up to my commuter horse Revenue’s a$$ in meetings today and the rest of this week.  As we shall see, it’s never too soon to start the Great Forgetting!  (That is, the tendency of men and women both to choose to ignore, overlook, or hide the importance of women throughout history.)  Here goes:

  • NPR featured a story last night on two women’s efforts to combat the Great Forgetting of women’s role in the Seattle punk and grunge music scene in the early 1990s.  “[Gretta] Harley and [Sarah] Rudinoff also wanted to address the disconnect between the history they had lived and the histories they saw written. In 2011, the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind sparked numerous tributes to the grunge era that didn’t capture the Seattle music community they remembered. ‘We started looking at the books that were written by different authors, and the women were absent, almost completely absent,’ Harley says. ‘And we thought, ‘Wow, this is a story that really hasn’t happened yet.” ”  So, after recording more than 30 oral histories of women who were a part of the scene, they wrote a play called “These Streets” in order to document women’s presence in the grunge movement.
  • Speaking of oral history:  Temple graduate student Dan Royles describes his Kickstarter campaign to raise $6,000 to transcribe the oral histories he has done on AIDS activism in the African American community in the 1980s and 1990s.  As of this morning, he’s at $5,374–let’s raise a little coin for him in the next 36 hours, shall we?  Continue Reading »

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February 25th 2013
Oscar d00dly b00bfest best for lying down, avoiding

Posted under American history & art & bad language & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

We had a much-needed little Front Range snowstorm yesterday.  It was so peaceful and quiet–Sundays are usually pretty quiet days in Potterville, but with the snow swallowing all outdoor sounds, it was even quieter.  I had a beef burgundy* in the oven, and we made a fire and watched a Harry Potter movie instead of the Academy Awards.

It turns out that it was a really excellent decision to shut out the rest of the world last night.  I keep thinking about the old Monty Python skit about Australian wines:  “this isn’t a wine for drinking!  It’s a wine for lying down and avoiding.”  (Don’t miss Linda Holmes’s review at NPR.)  In the end, I think Amy Davidson’s analysis was the best I’ve read today:

Watching the Oscars last night meant sitting through a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane. That would be tedious enough. But the evening’s misogyny involved a specific hostility to women in the workplace, which raises broader questions than whether the Academy can possibly get Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host next year. It was unattractive and sour, and started with a number called “We Saw Your Boobs.”

“We Saw Your Boobs” was as a song-and-dance routine in which MacFarlane and some grinning guys named actresses in the audience and the movies in which their breasts were visible. That’s about it. Continue Reading »

13 Comments »

December 7th 2012
He capsized the boat and we lost five men, and we did not catch the whale, brave boys.

Posted under American history & art & book reviews

This time you’re going down, Moby Dick.

I hope as many readers out there as have time for it will join in Comradde PhysioProffe‘s interdisciplinary excursion into Melvilleana over at his blog. If you’re interested, be sure to click on over and let him know. Continue Reading »

3 Comments »

November 30th 2012
Thoughts on Little Women

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Gender & women's history

Little Women, 1933

Barbara Sicherman offers some interesting thoughts about Little Women on the occasion of Louisa May Alcott’s 180th birthday (yesterday) and its influence on generations of women around the world (h/t to reader LKK for this.)  She says that the book’s durability is due to its surprisingly modern sensibilities, perhaps most memorably in the person of Jo March, Alcott’s alter-ego:

Perhaps the most important reason for the novel’s survival is a heroine with unusual appeal. Some readers have identified with the other March sisters, but it is Jo March, the rambunctious tomboy and bookworm who is unladylike and careless of her appearance, who carries the story. The vast majority of readers, past and present, have identified with her. Jo’s presumed flaws are precisely the characteristics that speak to preadolescent and adolescent readers, themselves struggling with issues of growing up.

Alcott, who modeled Jo in her own image, created a character that continues to appeal. As J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books and herself a “Jo,” observed: “It is hard to overstate what she meant to a small, plain girl called Jo, who had a bad temper and a burning ambition to be a writer.”

For readers on the threshold of adulthood, the book’s embrace of female ambition has been a significant counterweight to more habitual gender prescriptions. For years there were few alternative models, although in my generation, the Nancy Drew books helped. Even today, some girls still respond to the portrait of Jo, the enthralled and enthralling writer.

It’s a good time of the year to consider Little Women, as the novel opens with Marmee and the March girls cooking Christmas breakfast.  I think I read LW when I was eleven, in the sixth grade.  I remember being so moved by the idea of Jo reading a pile of books while eating “russetts” in her “garrett” as to climb a tree with an apple in my teeth and the novel under my arm in order to re-enact Jo’s escape as best I could.  Continue Reading »

44 Comments »

July 26th 2012
The dog blog is dead. Long live the mad blog!

Posted under American history & art & happy endings & jobs & women's history

Self-Portrait of a Madwoman

Last week, we lost a powerful voice in the queer academic and dog-friendly blogosphere:  Roxie Smith Lindemann of Roxie’s World announced her final departure from the blogosphere, only a little less than three years after her death.  However, her typist Moose has decided bravely to carry on blogging under a human pseudonym at a new blog called The Madwoman with a Laptop.

The Madwoman at MWAL, otherwise known as noted Willa Cather scholar Marilee Lindeman, describes herself on the new blog as “English prof, blogger, queer, feminist, non-geek fascinated by social media, making life up as it goes along. Play on. Tenure means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Her second post at the new blog is a thoughtful reflection on mid-career funks, the (corrupt) business of higher education, and the cardboard management-speak  slogan of “rebranding.” She writes:  Continue Reading »

4 Comments »

July 21st 2012
Your free hit of juvenalia and alternative nineteenth-century U.S. history and letters

Posted under American history & art & fluff

Dude, why can’t you do both?

Do you subscribe to The Writers’ Block podcast?  This is why it’s worthwhile:

Most of the book I wrote while watching music videos on MTV.  Yes, that’s how old I am.  Back then MTV still played videos.  Now, now doubt, you picture me wearing high-button shoes and rolling a hoop down a dirt road in, I don’t know, ancient Thebes?

Nobody ever had so much fun writing a book.  I’d be couch surfing with Alexander Graham Bell and Dolley Madison and watching Echo and the Bunnymen videos.  Abraham Lincoln would order us a pizza, and Bell would offer everyone hits of MDA.  That’s how far back this happened.  We didn’t call ecstasy “E.”  We didn’t even call it “X.”  Louisa May Alcott would be rolling us a fattie.  I’d shake my head no.  I’d whine, “Guys, I can’t get high!  I need to write my novel.”  And Harriet Beecher Stowe would say, “Dude, why can’t you do both?”

Continue Reading »

11 Comments »

June 27th 2012
Nora Ephron, 1941-2012

Posted under American history & art & unhappy endings & women's history

Now I will really miss her.

From the New York Times obit:

The producer Scott Rudin recalled that less than two weeks before her death, he had a long phone session with her from the hospital while she was undergoing treatment, going over notes for a pilot she was writing for a TV series about a bank compliance officer. Afterward she told him, “If I could just get a hairdresser in here, we could have a meeting.”

Ms. Ephron’s collection “I Remember Nothing” concludes with two lists, one of things she says she won’t miss and one of things she will. Among the “won’t miss” items are dry skin, Clarence Thomas, the sound of the vacuum cleaner, and panels on “Women in Film.” The other list, of the things she will miss, begins with “my kids” and “Nick” and ends this way: Continue Reading »

8 Comments »

June 20th 2012
Mudwoman in Virginia?

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & childhood & Dolls & Gender & jobs & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Howdy, friends.  Since I’ve been living in the long eighteenth century for the past week or so, at least in my own head, I haven’t been consuming either print or electronic news as I usually do.  But several of you have written to ask my opinions on the unexpected and untimely cashiering of the President of the University of Virginia, Teresa A. Sullivan, last week.  As many of you know much better than I, Sullivan had been prez for only two years, and was the first woman chosen to lead Mr. Jefferson’s university.  This morning, I read something that several of you (in person and via e-mail) had already suggested to me, namely that forces on the university’s Board of Visitors against Sullivan were peeved at her resistance to online education.  (Earlier this week, other reporting suggested that Sullivan was perceived as reluctant to cut low enrollment programs such as German and Classics.)

I’m really grateful to you readers for the e-mails and the prodding on this, but since I’m actually making some research and writing progress this week on my own irrelevant and self-indulgent intellectual work, I’d like to turn the conversation over to you.  Some of you who have written to me have UVA connections, so feel free to discuss the Sullivan firing and its causes and consequences. Continue Reading »

33 Comments »

June 6th 2012
Through a two-way looking glass, you see your Alice: is feminist biography necessarily a modernist pursuit?

Posted under American history & art & Gender & jobs & women's history

In the latest Journal of Women’s History, eminent biographer Susan Ware reflects on the biography that got away after a year of full-time research in “The Book I Couldn’t Write:  Alice Paul and the Challenge of Feminist Biography:”

In theory Alice Paul [1885-1977] and I were a perfect match. She was one of America’s most intrepid, albeit polarizing, feminists, whose career spanned practically the entire twentieth century from suffrage militancy to second-wave feminism; no major biography of her had ever been completed. I had spent almost my entire career as a women’s historian writing about the fortunes of feminism through the lens of feminist biography. As an independent scholar unencumbered by regular teaching responsibilities, I had the time and energy to put in the years of research that it would likely take to complete the project. An added bonus: Paul’s papers were at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe, practically across the street from where I live.

So, what was the problem? 

After almost a year of sustained research, I finally had to admit that Alice Paul did not speak to me as a subject. In a profound failure of my historical imagination, I found myself at a total loss when searching for an overarching theme or hypothesis to make her life story compelling and relevant to contemporary readers. In other words, that spark of connection just wasn’t there. And yet lurking in my decision to abandon the project were questions beyond my personal failure to make the topic come alive. How can you write a feminist biography when your subject has left no trail of breadcrumbs (as a friend called them) to recreate any kind of interior or personal life? How do you make fifty years of laying the groundwork for [the Equal Rights Amendment] that ultimately failed seem accessible and interesting to readers? More fundamentally, what if some lives are not in fact suited to a full-bore, cradle-to-grave biography in the first place? I offer my story as Alice Paul’s would-be biographer to shed light both on the process of doing feminist biography and on why Alice Paul remains such a complicated, indeed elusive biographical subject.

At the heart of Ware’s frustration with Paul is the fact that she was all business, and never developed much of a personal or interior life that’s accessible to biographers and historians.  Continue Reading »

33 Comments »

May 23rd 2012
The Learning Machine

Posted under American history & art & childhood & fluff & students

Courtesy of blog reader JM, we hear that Anna Platypus, Daniel Striped Tiger, and Prince Tuesday are debating whether they want to learn via a fabulous new educational technology, The Learning Machine, or whether they want to have teachers and field trips.  “Lady Elaine was telling people that all they needed to learn anything” is the Learning Machine! Henrietta Pussycat is hoping for “Meow Meow Meow Field Trip Meow?” Scroll up to about 15:15 to the Neighborhood of Make Believe to see what they decide:

They must attend some kind of Quaker school or a Montessori, because the students are permitted such a large role in pedagogical decisions.  (Then again, it is the Neighborhood School of Make Believe!)  Continue Reading »

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