Archive for the 'O Canada' Category

January 15th 2014
An update (and lessons learned) on the Liturgy of the Book

Posted under American history & happy endings & jobs & local news & O Canada & publication & women's history

I would have made a poor nun!

Last autumn I wrote a blog post in which I described my plan to finish a draft of my book by the end of 2013.  My scheme involved waking up at 4 a.m. several days a week to write for a few hours while the house was dark and quiet.  Well friends, I have failed to do that, but in many respects I consider the experiment a success.  Furthermore, I learned some things that may be of use to the rest of you.  To wit:

  • I did not complete a draft of the entire six-chapter book, but I produced a pretty polished draft of chapter 4 and I have something called chapter 5, which is probably better  than I would have done without even trying this early morning experiment.  So, I would say that I have about 5/6 of the book drafted, and would therefore give myself a B for effort and a B-/C+ for achievement.
  • The main reason I didn’t finish all six chapters is that I pooped out after about five weeks of very steady writing and engagement.  I caught a cold in early October, went to a conference, and then midterm papers and exams came in.  In early November I had a trip out of town, and then it was Thanksgiving and I caught another cold, and that’s where October and November went.  And then December, with final exams and papers and grading, not to mention the rest of the holidays and family visiting?  You can imagine.
  • Biggest lesson learned?  The 4 to 6 a.m. writing experiment is a great thing to do for two weeks or a month at a time, but expecting to keep up that schedule amidst the demands of my day job was unrealistic.  Continue Reading »

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October 10th 2013
Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize in Literature

Posted under Gender & happy endings & O Canada & women's history

Busy busy day–no time to blog until now, and not much time for that anyway, but:  one of my favorite authors, Alice Munro, won the Nobel Prize in Literature today! (See also this nice notice in which she makes a feminist point about being only the thirteenth woman to win the prize, and also includes a link to a CBC story.)

Her work is especially relevant to women’s historians, I think, because so many of her stories span several decades and are frequently compressed little nuggets of twentieth-century North American women’s history.  If you’ve never read Munro before, don’t start with her much-hyped (and sure-to-be-emblazoned-with-gold-foil-stickers) latest collection, Dear Life.  Start with some of her earlier works like The Beggar Maid:  Stories of Flo and Rose (1978), a fascinating document about girlhood and young adulthood in an Anglo-Canadian provincial Ontario town and the relationship between two women of different generations.

Talk about a writer of domestic fiction who addresses universal themes like shame, lust, and all varieties of love and disappointment.  Continue Reading »

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September 28th 2013
The Liturgy of the Book

Posted under American history & captivity & childhood & happy endings & jobs & O Canada & publication & women's history

Esther Wheelwright (1696-1780)

Esther Wheelwright (1696-1780)

When Tenured Radical wrote a blog post about the “Grafton Challenge” this summer, I was both impressed and completely intimidated by the blistering pace at which Tony Grafton writes:  3,500 words a day!  Amazing.  Then when she followed up to report that Matthew Gutterl had drafted a book this summer by. . . sitting down to write every day and cutting out distractions like blogging!. . . I thought to myself:  how much longer do I really want to live with the book I’m writing now, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright?  Isn’t it time to move on?

So, I decided to finish a rough draft of my book this fall, with Christmas day as my drop-dead date.  When I finished the second draft of Abraham in Arms eight years ago, the only time I had to myself that was completely free of familial distractions or responsibilities was from 4-6 a.m.  So, several days a week I now get out of bed at 4 a.m. and try to write for two hours.  It’s not as difficult as you’d think.  Caffeine helps, as does a shockingly early bedtime the night before.  I’ve had a cold this week, and the high-test antihistamines I’m on also give me a kick.  (I think it’s the stuff they cook meth out of, so no wonder.)  I prefer the silence of the tomb when I work, and my brain is freshest first thing in the morning, so 4-6 a.m. it is.

(I was reviewing a chapter I had already drafted, and I re-read something I had written last summer about how the Ursuline nuns I’m writing about would rise at 4 a.m. to begin their day.  Coincidence?  Continue Reading »

35 Comments »

May 3rd 2012
I am Black Robe

Posted under American history & O Canada & students & weirdness

Black Robes

For the past several years in my colonial North America class, we’ve read several different books that deal with Jesuits as a part of the French colonial strategy. I’ve also had my students read selections from The Jesuit Relations and write essays using them as primary sources, and I usually also show the relentlessly depressing Black Robe (Bruce Beresford, 1991) in class, too. (Fratguy once offered the best review of this movie ever: “It’s Apocalypse Now, only with Jesuits and Indians!”) Every time, I find myself in an awkward position of defending the Jesuit perspective against my students’ reflexive secular and/or evangelical protestant anti-Catholic views about Jesuit missionary work.

It’s a very strange position to be in, as a non-Catholic Marxist feminist scholar. Continue Reading »

19 Comments »

February 1st 2012
Yes we CANada!

Posted under fluff & O Canada

But wait: there’s more! Continue Reading »

12 Comments »

June 1st 2011
Quebec libre, 2011

Posted under O Canada & women's history

Quebec City

I hope your summers are off to a fine start. In Quebec City, it’s lovely late spring weather–not too hot, but warm and sunny and just right!  (Well, today was pretty hot actually, and a cold front is going to blow through tomorrow, but we’re always ready for that in the true North, strong and free.)  The tulips, crabapples, and lilacs are just flowering here–so it’s especially floral and picturesque.

The fun thing about Quebec is that it’s (in the words of one of my traveling companions) a “free city,” especially in the tourist centers of the upper and lower cities inside the city walls.  It’s got a relaxed and playful vibe–people walk around in everything from skins from the waist up (men, anyway) to suits and more formal wear.  The teenagers and young adults of the city were sunning themselves and showing off their tats on the walls of the city.  The historic parts of the town are tres touristique, and there are more tacky T-shirt shops than ever, but hey–everyone has to make a living, right?  Being a francophone Canadian means that one lives in a very small country, and not everyone wants to get rigged up like a Musketeer to go to work.  Continue Reading »

20 Comments »

April 11th 2011
Monday movies: Paddle to the Sea

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Dolls & happy endings & O Canada & students

All of this talk about elementary school makes me remember one of my favorite movies from my school days: Paddle to the Sea (1966). We saw this annually in Great Lakes country where I grew up. And of course, it stars a doll–Kyle Apatagon’s clever creation, “Paddle to the Sea.”

Do you know this movie, or does it stir a distant memory? I find it mesmerizing still–it’s a glimpse of an experience that’s something new for most urban or suburban children. If you have young children in your life please share this movie with them.

24 Comments »

January 25th 2011
It’s funny because it’s true! Plus some thoughts on mortification practices outside of graduate school.

Posted under American history & Bodily modification & European history & fluff & jobs & O Canada & students & the body & weirdness & women's history

Don't ask.

Wasn’t that an old Homer Simpson line or something, “it’s funny because it’s true?”  Anyway–here’s something I found pretty funny, although some of the commenters don’t seem to get the joke.  Actually, I think the author, Daniel J. Ennis, gets it right:  the oversupply of Ph.D.s is due to the satisfactions of smugness:

I don’t spend much time on The Outside, but I meet nondocs in the grocery, and at church, and at unavoidable family gatherings, and I see them struggle to achieve the smug. So much alcohol, so much philandering, so much striving for promotion to V.P., attachment to sports teams and political parties, time lavished on soup kitchens and animal shelters, on raising kids and caring for the aged, so much windsurfing and cross-training … so many airy castles designed to prove that there are good lives to be lived without that ne plus ultra of credentials. We were acquainted with those people before we went to graduate school. As Bob Dylan (honorary doctorate, Princeton) put it, “All those people we used to know /they’re an illusion to me now.” The nondoc trades thousands of dollars and hours for an uncertain shot at self-satisfaction. The person with a Ph.D. has a lifetime supply.

.       .       .       .      .       .      

While there is nothing more miserable and annoying than a doctorate-in-training, once that little sucker breaks out of the cocoon she can beat her wings like the butterfly she was meant to be. In mixed company (i.e. groups of doctorates and nondocs) she can let slip “when I was working on my doctorate” and the room becomes hers. In mixed marriages (distasteful, perhaps, but sometimes useful to pay for life’s little necessities, like health insurance), the Ph.D. can be the ultimate weapon in a decades-long struggle for emotional dominance. Nobody argued with The Professor (Ph.D., Botany, UCLA) on Gilligan’s Island. All those marooned nondocs depended on his serene intelligence when the chips were down. Continue Reading »

30 Comments »

January 7th 2011
The Kennedys yanked by the “History” Channel: ‘not a fit for the History brand’! (Plus, they’ve got several episodes of Pawn Stars already in the vault.)

Posted under American history & art & bad language & O Canada & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

After all the sturm und drang last winter about the alleged historical inaccuracies of the “History” Channel’s planned miniseries The Kennedys because of the political sympathies of the creators, the “History” Channel itself has pulled the plug on the show (via The Daily Beast.)  The Hollywood Reporter says that a network rep released a statement that “upon completion of the production of The Kennedys, History has decided not to air the 8-part miniseries on the network. . . . While the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.” 

Developed by Joel Surnow, the conservative co-creator of 24, along with production companies Asylum Entertainment and Muse Entertainment and writer Stephen Kronish, the project drew fire from the political left and some Kennedy historians. Even before cameras rolled, a front-page New York Times story last February included a sharp attack from former John F. Kennedy adviser Theodore Sorenson, who called an early version of the script “vindictive” and “malicious.”
 
History and parent A&E said at the time that the script had been revised and that the final version had been vetted by experts. Indeed, the script used in production had passed muster with History historians for accuracy.

“History historians?”  WTF?  How bad does it have to be to not be fit to share the same channel as Ice Road Truckers? Continue Reading »

16 Comments »

October 4th 2010
Women in Early America: CFP and reminder

Posted under American history & conferences & O Canada & women's history

Today’s post is a public service announcement that proposals for “Women in Early America,” a workshop jointly sponsored by the William and Mary Quarterly and the University of Southern California-Huntington Library Early Modern Studies Institute, are due Friday, October 15.  This workshop is one in an annual series designed to identify and encourage fresh trends in understanding the history and culture of early North America. 

My original post on this workshop is here.  The conference website with instructions for applying is here.  I’ll just add two things:  first of all, this is a dee-luxe conference.  The setting, the accomodations, the food, and of course the intellectual companionship will be brilliant.  You really shouldn’t miss out, if you have anything at all to say about women’s history.  Secondly, the Call for Papers emphasizes that all of early North America is game, so Mexican and Canadian history is more than welcome.  As Claudio Saunt, Ned Blackhawk, and others have argued, there really is an early American West, too–so think about it and do yourself a favor by applying to this conference. 

For those of you who have never been to the magical, enchanting Huntingon Library and Gardens, here’s a little preview of the wonders that awaits you.  Continue Reading »

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