Archive for the 'the body' Category

February 3rd 2013
Intimate body care: never a highly paid occupation

Posted under American history & class & European history & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & women's history

NPR featured a story tonight about how poorly compensated home health care work is.  Currently, they are not entitled either to the minimum wage nor to overtime pay.  Most make between $8-10/hr., while the company that employs them pockets the $18/hr. payment from Medicare. Spokespersons for the home health-care industry were permitted to whinge and whine about the terrible hardship that a minimum wage and overtime requirements would put on their businesses.

The tone of the story tilted towards compassion for the workers and their clients, but they story’s historical perspective looked back only 40 years when I think a critical component of this story is the longue durée of this kind of low wage work, work that now (as in the past going back at least 500 years) is performed overwhelmingly by working-class women, and in the Americas for the most part, by black and brown-skinned working-class women.

Intimate body care has never been a well-compensated occupation.  Continue Reading »

26 Comments »

January 28th 2013
At last! Mansplanations from an angry C-SPAN 3 viewer.

Posted under American history & bad language & Gender & the body & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Drat!  My nefarious radical plot to start a “sex week” at Baa Ram U. has been discovered.  Behold!  A viewer named Bruce, who apparently writes like a blog SPAMbot, has caught me out:

I heard your classroom teaching “clothes of the 17th-18th century” It sounded like you were obsessed with breasts, and fully made that your focal point to those innocent brains of the all female class.* NO-not all slaves walked around bare breasted, and in fact, few ever did if you researched the truth.** Just why in the hell have you made this your theme in the class instead of talking about basic items, like dresses, suits, dress up ideology in those days.*** You must be one of those liberals trying to start a sex week on campus there?****

And it would have worked too if it weren’t for those meddling C-SPAN 3 cameras!

On a more serious note:  my C-SPAN lecture has re-opened my eyes to the power of television.  Continue Reading »

23 Comments »

January 25th 2013
DVR alert: Historiann in re-runs this weekend on C-SPAN 3.

Posted under American history & childhood & class & Gender & Intersectionality & local news & race & students & the body & women's history

I’ve been informed that my lecture on stays, material culture, and early American women’s history will air again this weekend on C-SPAN 3:  Saturday at 11:20 a.m., Sunday at 6:20 a.m. (for the after-hours crowd, I guess, or the extremely bored parents of insanely early-rising infants), and Monday morning at 7:20, EST.

Of course, the streaming video is still available, at any hour of the day or night that suits you.

For the real costume history junkies among you:  check out this video of a woman dressing another one in Ursuline choir nun habit.  (Follow that link, then click the link on the right side of the page under “Vidéos” that says, “L’habit religieux des Ursulines de Québec.”)  It’s in French, as it’s on a website assembled by Laval University in Québec, but even non-French speakers can get the gist.  Continue Reading »

9 Comments »

January 6th 2013
Oxycodone addict and member of notoriously drunken rich clan with fortune built on bootlegging opposes decriminalization of pot

Posted under American history & bad language & class & the body & wankers & weirdness & women's history

 

Alcohol is legal; smashing up bars is not.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Retired Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy is taking aim at what he sees as knee-jerk support for marijuana legalization among his fellow liberals, in a project that carries special meaning for the self-confessed former oxycodone addict.

Kennedy, 45, a Democrat and younger son of Edward Kennedy, is leading a group called Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) that opposes legalization and seeks to rise above America’s culture war over pot.

The sense of entitlement boggles the mind:  why would anyone find him a credible advocate?  Or is this a case of the convert being more Catholic than the Pope, as it were?  Continue Reading »

18 Comments »

January 5th 2013
2012: the Year of the Asshole?

Posted under American history & bad language & book reviews & European history & fluff & Gender & the body

Some of you have probably heard of Geoffrey Nunberg’s Ascent of the A-word:  Assholism, the First Sixty Years (2012) because of his platform as the resident linguist for NPR’s Fresh Air.  A few weeks ago, we learned that Aaron James, a philosophy professor at the University of California, Irvine, published a book in 2012 called Assholes:  A Theory, and this article describing James’s book made me laugh out loud:

So what is an asshole, exactly? How is he (and assholes are almost always men) distinct from other types of social malefactors? Are assholes born that way, or is their boorishness culturally conditioned? What explains the spike in the asshole population?

James was at the beach when he began mulling those questions. “I was watching one of the usual miscreants surf by on a wave and thought, Gosh, he’s an asshole.” Not an intellectual breakthrough, he concedes, but his reaction had what he calls “cognitive content.” In other words, his statement was more than a mere expression of feeling. He started sketching a theory of assholes, refining his thinking at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, where he spent a year as a fellow in 2009.

Now here’s the part I really like as a historian.  James pushes beyond the linguist’s focus on the word to explore the history and philosophy of the asshole avant la lettre:

He consulted Rousseau (who, James notes, was something of an asshole himself on account of his shabby parenting skills), Hobbes (especially his views on the “Foole” who breaks the social contract), Kant (his notion of self-conceit in particular), and more-recent scholarship on psychopaths. He spoke with psychologists, lawyers, and anthropologists, all of whom suggested asshole reading lists. “There are a lot of similar characters studied in other disciplines, like the free rider or the amoralist or the cheater,” James says, calling his time at Stanford an “interdisciplinary education in asshole theory.”

James argues for a three-part definition of assholes that boils down to this: Continue Reading »

18 Comments »

December 26th 2012
Historiann, archived

Posted under American history & childhood & class & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & local news & race & students & the body & women's history

Hi, friends!  I hope you’re enjoying a lovely holiday and/or winter vacation.  Several of you have e-mailed me or left questions in the comments here on the blog about whether the lecture I recorded for C-SPAN, “A Pair of Stays,” would be archived or available as a podcast.  The answer to both questions is yes, so here are the relevant links:

 

8 Comments »

December 22nd 2012
Multi-media Weekend Round-up: The Holly and the Ivy and the Gunsmoke edition

Posted under American history & childhood & class & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

Well, friends, la famille Historiann has had a very good year and we have a lot to be grateful for, the first thing being that none of us was injured or killed by firearms.  I hope that all of you are happy and safe too, and that if you’re traveling, the winter snows blanketing the Rockies to the midwest aren’t causing you too much trouble or grief.  (We are envious–there were breathless reports of snowsnowsnow!!! coming last Wednesday, but here in Potterville, we got nuthin’ but a little dusting that blew away before noon.)

If you have a few spare (or sleepless) moments over the weekend, here’s a round-up of recent news and views that I thought you might find interesting:

  • Thank you, Jeffrey Toobin, for reminding us what a revanchist creep Robert Bork (1927-2012) actually was.  I was growing tired of reading all of the sanitized obituaries and the commentaries by so-called “liberals” who had deep, deep regrets about the way Bork was treated in his confirmation hearing.  You’d think a big, tough conservative guy like Bork would be glad to stand up for his pro-segregation, anti-Civil Rights, antifeminist writings and judicial record, wouldn’t you, and take whatever licking he got as a proud conservative?  According to Toobin, no recent SCOTUS nominee in recent years has so richly deserved a borking as Bork.
  • Paging Tenured Radical:  how ’bout a book club on Bork’s Slouching Towards Gomorrah (1996), like we did with Terry Castle’s The Professor?  It would be good for your history of modern conservativism courses, and fun for me.
  • Fiscal Cliff Notes:  Rutgers University historian Jennifer Mittlestadt writes that although many liberals may be rooting for the military spending cuts that will go into effect if we fall off the “fiscal cliff,” we need to look at the details hidden in the proposal:  “Folded into the current military spending cuts is a neoliberal agenda to privatize and outsource the retirement and health care benefits of military personnel and their families. Americans may consider these proposals of minimal concern, and of interest only to military personnel, veterans, and their families. But their implications reach far wider: they are part of a comprehensive neoliberal plan to privatize virtually all government social welfare programs and entitlements.”
  • Deconstructing white manhood:  Bloggers Werner Herzog’s Bear and MPG (“Unofficial thoughts about discrimination, racial sight, and race”) have some interesting contributions to make to a problem that Respectable Negro Chauncey DeVega has tried to highlight this week, too, given the demography of mass-murderers like Adam Lanza.  Continue Reading »

20 Comments »

December 20th 2012
The big reveal! Historiann has a face for C-SPAN 3.

Posted under American history & captivity & childhood & class & Gender & race & students & the body & women's history

You can see me lecturing to my HIST 358:  American Women’s History to 1800 students from this semester on the politics of early American women’s underwear (srsly!) on C-SPAN 3, American History TV, this weekend.  I’m on Saturday 8 p.m. EST/6 p.m. MST, again on Saturday at midnight/10 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m./11 a.m.  If (like me) you don’t get C-SPAN 3, it streams online over the weekend, too.  I also throw in some bits about the 600-year old bra, John Paul Gaultier, and Madonna into the lecture, just for laughs.

(Amazingly enough, there is a blog called Eighteenth-Century Stays, where you can see more photos like the one’s I’ve borrowed here, as well as other examples of both eighteenth- and seventeenth-century stays, with instructions for how to make them yourself.)

How did I get interested in early American undergarments, and why on earth do I think this is an appropriate subject for an undergraduate student lecture?  Continue Reading »

25 Comments »

December 10th 2012
Cake week, Monday edition: Reefer badness!

Posted under American history & childhood & jobs & local news & students & the body & unhappy endings & weirdness

This past weekend was spent gathering ingredients and starting a little holiday baking, so I thought a little cake blogging would be in order this week, which is finals’ week at Baa Ram U.  More cake and baking fun will follow, but today’s post offers a cautionary tale.  Friends, although the people of this great state have voted to decriminalized recreational pot use for people 21 and older, it’s still illegal to feed your classmates and your proffie pot brownies without their full consent:

Two University of Colorado at Boulder students are facing multiple felony charges after they allegedly fed marijuana-laced brownies to their unsuspecting history class — leading to the hospitalization of three people.

The professor of the course was taken to a hospital by paramedics Friday after complaining of dizziness and dropping in and out of consciousness.

.       .       .       .       .

Thomas Ricardo Cunningham, 21, and Mary Elizabeth Essa, 19, baked THC-laced brownies for their class at the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building on Friday, said Ryan Huff, CU police spokesman.

After the professor was taken to the hospital, a student’s mother notified campus police that her daughter, who had been in the professor’s class, was in the hospital after having a panic attack.

Later that day, the parents of another student in the same class took their daughter to a hospital after she told them she felt like she would black out. Continue Reading »

37 Comments »

November 29th 2012
CFP, Early American Studies: Beyond the Binaries

Posted under American history & Gender & GLBTQ & happy endings & Intersectionality & the body & women's history

“The Publick Universal Friend”

Last week I received this call from Rachel Hope Cleves at the University of Victoria for a special issue of Early American Studies she’s editing on the subject of “Beyond the Binaries: Critical Approaches to Sex and Gender in Early America:”

Deadline for Proposal: 31 January 2013
            In a 1993 article in Sciences, biologist and historian Anne Fausto-Sterling provocatively argued that human sex could not be neatly divided into two simple categories, men and women. Instead, she recommended a five-part system of categorization, including men, women, merms, ferms, and herms. At the time of publication, Fausto-Sterling’s tongue-in-cheek proposal provoked more criticism than applause, but in the past two decades scholars in a wide range of disciplines, from neuroscience to gender studies, have added evidence to her assertion that binary sex categories are not a biological rule. With a few exceptions, however, historians of early America have been slow to question the binary of man and woman. In the uproar provoked by her proposal, few recall that Fausto-Sterling began her article not with a headline grabbed from the daily papers, but with an historical example dating to 1840s Connecticut.
            Now, recent work by historians including Elizabeth Reis, Clare Sears, and Peter Boag, indicates a growing attention to the instability of sex in early America. Their studies illuminate the existence and social knowledge of individuals whose bodies, gender identities, and desires defied neat divisions. Moreover, these works provoke questions about the coherence of the binary sex categories that historians assume as foundational. What did it mean to be a woman or a man in early America, if, as Reis points out, in 1764 a thirty-two year old woman named Deborah Lewis could change sex, becoming a man named Francis Lewis, and live for another six decades as an accepted patriarch within his community? How fixed were sex identities in early America? What possibilities existed for the expression of gender identities that stood at variance with embodied sex? What social practices created opportunities for the blending and rearrangement of sex identities? How did hierarchies of race and class destabilize or re-stabilize sex binaries? Should “men” and “women” be understood as variable rather than unitary categories?
          To encourage these questions, and others like them, Early American Studies invites proposals for essay submissions on the theme of “Beyond the Binaries: Critical Approaches to Sex and Gender in Early America” for a special issue to be published in fall 2014. Continue Reading »

9 Comments »

« Prev - Next »