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Margaret Fowler Courtyard

September 2009



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Sep. 18th, 2009

nana hug

Miles to go before I sleep

I am a bit overwhelmed by research, writing, and deadlines. It is getting so that any task (no matter how small) that can be definitively completed seems like a huge victory.

Recent Personal Victories?

Cooking tasty meals out of leftovers
Getting onto a conference panel in 2010
Organizing a conference panel in 2010
Clearing off the kitchen (aka the only) table so I can pretend to have a desk

Now I just need to stop thinking about how 2010 is fast approaching, even though so many items remain on the 2009 "To Do" list.

Aug. 20th, 2009

Margaret Fowler Courtyard

"But It's For Research!" The secret lives of beverages

Between prepping to teach in a week, adjusting to a new coast, looking for a house (if the foundations prove stable on a late Victorian, we may have a winner), and trying to get my own writing done in time for an increasingly looming deadline, I've found that I've been avoiding my laptop. It's being used almost entirely as a tool to get real work done, which isn't very fun.

What are fun are the texts on which I've been working.

Since I'm working from online archives that require a subscription, I'm working on putting images of the pages up, but haven't quite figured out how to yet.

One of them is the anonymously penned "A Broadside Against Coffee; or, the Marriage of the Turk" (1672). I've found some work being done on it, but usually it's just in passing. Besides fitting into my current research, this poem exemplifies one of my favorite genre in eighteenth-century British writing: thing-narratives.

I don't think these are just examples of anthorpormorism. Francis Conventry's The History of Pompey the Little  Or, The Life and Adventures of a Lap-Dog, for example,  goes out of its way to make it's canine lead dinstinctly doggy.

There are some poems, though, where inanimate objects are given some human qualities, but I feel that such a strong emphasis is placed on their non-humanness that it keeps this wonderful balance between a social commentary and analysis of the actual object. These coffee beans, waters, and other things stand in a little bit for human counterparts, but they are still very much about the things themselves.

"A Broadside" poses some difficulty for separating the two. On one hand, there is a distinct distaste on the narrator's part towards the cultural miscengation coffee represents between a Turkish product and English waters. The common fears one sees in sixteenth, seventeenth and some eighteenth century texts about English subjects "turning Turk" are present. The closing lines are pretty clear in their condemnation of coffee houses: "From Bawdy-houses differs thus your hap;/They give your tails, you give your tongues a clap./ Mens humana novitatis avidissima."

Despite this, I think there is a certain dizzying joy to the piece. It reminds me a bit of "The Tea-Pot" by Jean Bonnefons. There are social critiques being made, and it is about more than just a tea-pot, but in some important ways it is just about a tea-pot. It is so difficult to justify the pleasure of a text with concrete evidence: these poems are fun and in some future project I want to be able to discuss that element and not just the facinating historical context.

There seems to be an alternate version of "A Broadside" that eliminates the whoring/VD analogy, which I think softens the tone of the piece quite a bit. Their dates are the same, so what's happening that time where these two versions exist? Of course, I've only found the alternate version online so far, so maybe it really is just the one I found on EBBO that I should consult.

Links Cited:
"A Broadside . . ." @ EBBO []
The History of Pompey, the Little @ Broadview Press []
Bonnefons, Jean. The pleasures of coition; or the nightly sports of Venus: a poem. Being a translation of the Pervigilium veneris, of the celebrated Bonefonius. ... London, 1721. @ ECCO []
Alternate "A Broadside . . ." @ GWU []

Aug. 6th, 2009

haruhi's bored

Procrastinating with Life

I've hit such a writer's block when it comes to this site as well as to my other projects. There are drafts of posts, including one on Mary Lamp that are simply not fit to be seen.

What have I been focusing on? Well, since moving cross-country, I've been trying to find a house. It turns out that outside of the California, you can get a multi-bedroom home with yard and waterview without selling your first, second, and third born.

The current top contenders are a multi-family that would be Edwardian if it were in the UK (isn't it a bit sad that I cannot remember what the era is called in the US?), a single family that needs some work, a turnkey late 1800s smaller single family.

Decisions, decision, decisions . . .

Of course, I should be typing (offline) in order to support these decisions.

Book Giveaway

Stephanie's Written Word is giving a way a SIGNED copy of The Plight of the Darcy Brothers by Marsha Altman. To enter, go to her website, leave a comment on the giveway post. You can also tweet about it or post an entry on your blog for another chance to win. Here's the url for the giveaway:

Links Cited
Stephanie's Written Word []
Plight of the Darcy Brothers Link and Image @ Indibound []
Stephanie's Interview with Marsha Altman []
Stephanie's Giveaway []
Twitter []

Jul. 31st, 2009

Margaret Fowler Courtyard

"But It's For Research!" Craciun's Fatal Women of Romanticism

Craciun, Adriana. Fatal Women of Romanticism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.

You can get a peek of the book at Amazon.

What is it ?
Here's the description from the UK Cambridge site:

"Incarnations of fatal women, or femmes fatales, recur throughout the works of women writers in the Romantic period. Adriana Craciun demonstrates how portrayals of femmes fatales or fatal women played an important role in the development of Romantic women’s poetic identities and informed their exploration of issues surrounding the body, sexuality and politics. Craciun covers a wide range of writers and genres from the 1790s through the 1830s. She discusses the work of well-known figures including Mary Wollstonecraft, as well as lesser-known writers like Anne Bannerman. By examining women writers’ fatal women in historical, political and medical contexts, Craciun uncovers a far-ranging debate on sexual difference. She also engages with current research on the history of the body and sexuality, providing an important historical precedent for modern feminist theory’s ongoing dilemma regarding the status of ‘woman’ as a sex."

To give a bit of an overview, here's the Table of Contents:
1. The subject of violence: Mary Lamb, femme fatale
2. Violence against difference: Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Robinson and women's strength
3. 'The aristocracy of genius': Mary Robinson and Marie Antoinette
4. Unnatural, unsexed, undead: Charlotte Dacre's gothic bodies
5. 'In seraph strains, unpitying, to destroy': Anne Bannerman's femmes fatales
6. 'Life has one vast stern likeness in its gloom': Letitia Landon's philosophy of decomposition

Why did I read it?
The now finished, submitted, and I hope, finished, article for which I was reading so much on Romanticism than normal. In particular, Craciun is arguably one of the best scholars to have worked on a Gothic author for whom I have a soft-spot that keeps dragging me into this subfield, Charlotte Dacre.

Why should you read it?
1)    It provides an intriguing angle into the world of British Romanticism. Whether you are familiar or not with the subject, the book leads you through fascinating case studies of how various women represented and were represented by the era. Histories of this era frequently focus more on the men than the women working alongside them (William over Dorothy, Charles over Mary).* I tend to focus a bit more on elements categorized as Georgian or Regency rather than Romantic (even though they are taking place at the same time). The idea of a book on Romantics that focused on women and violence went against a lot of the concepts I associate with that tradition.

2)    It gives a nuanced interrogation on what is meant by gender. I love it when history is used to this end. I think the distance between the reader and the subject makes it easier to see how ideas of femininity and masculinity are shaped by other cultural assumptions.

“I argue that Romantic-period writers not only have questioned the nature of femininity and culturally constructed gender, but that they also questioned the stability and naturalness of sex itself. Modern criticism that focuses on the former instances and ignores the latter does so because the system of natural sexual difference, which was in fact fiercely contested at the turn of the nineteenth century, seems intractable and self-evidently universal two centuries later. What appears self-evident is, of course, ideological and historical: it is recent histories of the body and of sexual difference that have helped restore these women’s subtle critiques and questions, and have made them partially visible to our distant eyes. Once we more fully appreciate the diversity of opinion (and the urgency of the debates) regarding ‘natural’ sexual difference among Romantic-period political, philosophical, and scientific thinkers, we should not be surprised that women writers also questioned such purportedly natural categories for their own diverse interests” (3).

3)    This may at first seem like a repetition of the preceding point, but it isn’t. This is also one of the best feminist histories I’ve read in quite some time. This is actually quite separate from a history of gender. Craciun directly responds to one of my pet peeves in historical work: the misplaced belief that a subject is only worthy if they are somehow morally/ethically superior to those around them.

 “Central to feminist literary criticism on British women writers is the usually unspoken aim to demonstrate that women as a class (that is, as a sex outside of class) eschew violence, destructiveness, and cruelty, except in self-defense or rebellion, like Gilbert and Gubar’s imprisoned madwoman in the attic. This faith in women’s benevolence, for it is indeed a foundational belief of many modern feminisms, originated in the rise of the bourgeois order itself, which enshrined the maternal, nurturing, and domestic middle-class woman as the protected, private moral center of this new socio-economic order. That Romantic-period middle-class women gained an important new sense of moral, cultural, and economic authority through their domestic identities is undeniable. But should feminist criticism share the same commitment to bourgeois women’s special immunity or freedom from masculinist regimes of power, cruelty, or oppression? I want to insist on this connection between contemporary feminist reevaluations of the Romantic period and its normative (but not uncontested) ideology of gender and sex, because current scholarship too often replicates this (gendered) Romantic ideology unproductively” (8).
I love the reproduction pun in the last line! Which leads to Reason No. 4:

4) I think that many people (whether they be academics or not) forget how pleasurable a well-written line can be in any genre, even in literary histories.

I hope to post a bit more on this book and one of its subjects, Mary Lamb, later.

* It was a bit of a pain finding sites on Mary Lamb that were accurate and did not need a subscription to view them.

Links Cited
Adriana Craciun Homepage @ Birkbeck, University of London[]
Fatal Women @ Cambridge UP Site []
Image @ Cambridge UP Site []
Peek of the book @ Amazon []
William Wordsworth Bio @ The Literature Network []
Dorothy Wordsworth Bio @ Books and Writers []
Charles Lamb Bio @ The Literature Network []
Mary Lamb Bio @ The Literature Network []
Mary Lamb Author page @ GoodReads[]
Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales From Shakespeare[]

Jul. 25th, 2009


Double-Dipping: Everything Austen Challenge Update + What's on my iPod

Everything Austen Challenge: Item Two: Reread Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (DailyLit)

I am still adjusting to my iPhone. I do not really enjoy typing more than a sentence on it (hence, I'm sitting in yet another cafe with free wifi, using my laptop), and reading pdf files has resulting in varying degrees of success (reading installments of A Tale of Two Cities, success; reading facilmiles of seventeenth-century broadsheets, head-splitting headache of failure).

This brings us to Item Two in the Everything Austen Challenge. I reread S&S last December and was struck anew by the novel's poignent humor and realism (I usually hate terms like "transcendence" or "universalism," but the novel has aged remarkably well in terms of the relatability of its characters and their conversations).

Reading it on the iPhone in daily doses from DailyLIt has been a treat. It is so tempting to request extra installments and just spend the day reading the novel. Receiving snippets of the text highlights the attention to detail found in Austen's writing: Col. Brandon subtly shifting the conversation to save Elinor from too much scrutiny; how vulgar Mrs. Jennings actually is behind all her good-natured humor; Marianne's misplaced confidence in her own sixteen-year old assessments of the world . . . and how her excessive sensibility results in a paucity of empathy, self-knowledge, and sense.

Currently, I'm at the point where Col. Brandon's called away to attend to Miss Williams. I had forgotten how blunt Mrs. Jennings is about her suspicions. I'm looking forward to my next installment, which is due to arrive in my Inbox this Monday.

Links Cited:
"Everything Austen Challenge" @ Stephanie's  Written Word []
Sense and Sensibility @ Daily Lit []
Daily Lit Official Site []

Jul. 22nd, 2009

Margaret Fowler Courtyard

Website of the Week Wednesday

Okay, I'm declaring my sabbatical from the site over. I'm trying to get back in the habit of typing daily. My two articles have been sent out into the world, so now I have no excuse but to finish editing and polishing the ms. I'm going to try to have more posts relate to that.

But, now I have a new addiction. During our first few days here, I ate almost all my meals at The Beehive Cafe in Bristol. It is so lovely. The portions are of a perfect size. The ingredients are local. The staff is wonderful. AND you can follow what's on the menu that day on Twitter!

Here are the links:
Facebook Page (the image is from here, too):
Twitter Page:

Margaret Fowler Courtyard

Everything Austen Challenge: Expanded Edition

I think this is a sign of how stressed I am that I am making my Austen addiction seem more "official" in order to justify it.

I've now decided to take the expanded version of the Everything Austen Challenge:

Original Items:
1) Read Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (hard copy)
2) Reread Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (DailyLit)
3) Reread Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (Girlebooks)
4) Listen to Lady Susan by Jane Austen (Librivox via Audiobooks app)*
5) Listen to Memoir of Jane Austen by James Edward Austen-Leigh (Librivox via Audiobooks app)*
6) Watch the ITV/PBS Northanger Abbey [which I never got to finish viewing]

Expanded List:
7) ReWatch Clueless (I hope the sequel rumors are true)
8) Read Janet Todd's Jane Austen in Context, which I got at the last ASECs meeting
9) Read Michael Thomas Ford's Jane Bites Back
10) Read Amanda Grange's Mr. Darcy, Vampyre
11) ReRead Jane Austen's Persuasion (my favorite of her books)
12) ReWatch the 1995 adaptation of Persuasion (the best Austen adaptation, I think, and one of my all-time favorite films)

Links Cited:
Clueless @ IMDB []
Jane Austen in Context @ Amazon []
Jane Bites Back @ Amazon []
Mr. Darcy, Vamprye @ []
Persuasion @ Broadview Press []
Persuasion (1995) @ IMDB []
See the following posts for old citations:
"Everything Austen Challenge" []
"Everything Austen Challenge: Item One" []

Margaret Fowler Courtyard

Everything Austen Challenge: Item One

Ah . . . the joys of a reliable wifi connection! I'm now fairly settled on the other side of the country and have found two very nice cafes with free wifi.*

Item One: Everything Austen Challenge

I finished Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. Like her first novel, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, it provided a witty, funny companion for my evenings.** It is such a joy to find the rare book that makes me laugh  out loud. I'm still a bit car-lagged*** and do not feel up to a review. There is a great one at Stephanie's Written Word. I only wish that I hadn't lent my copy of Confessions; now I will need to go find another copy so I can reread it. I'm all anticipation for whatever Ms. Rigler writes next.

Next on the list:

2) Reread Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (DailyLit)
3) Reread Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (Girlebooks)
4) Listen to Lady Susan by Jane Austen (Librivox via Audiobooks app)*
5) Listen to Memoir of Jane Austen by James Edward Austen-Leigh (Librivox via Audiobooks app)*
6) Watch the ITV/PBS Northanger Abbey [which I never got to finish viewing]

I'm currently working on Item 2 and considering upping the ante, as suggested by Laurel Ann.

Links Cited
Image  for Everything Austen Challege @ Stephanie's Written Word []
The Beehive Cafe []
The Coffee Depot []
Everything Austen Challenge @ Stephanie's Written Word []
Rude Awakenings @ []
Laurie Viera Rigler's Jane Austen Addict Site []
Confessions @ Mysterious Galaxy []
Rude Awakenings Review @ Stephanie's Written Word []
Rude Awakenings Cover @ Jane Austen Addict Site []
"Everything Austen Challenge X Two" @ Austenprose []
"Like vs. As" @ Grammar Girl []

* Of course, the free wifi makes me feel obligated to drink pot upon pot of tea.
** How I struggle with grammar and usage issues! I am always mixing up like and as, so I hope I have correctly identified the situation as calling for a preposition and not a conjunction. I even consulted the Grammar Girl site.
*** Yes, it is a horrible neologism. But I never realized that riding (I pooped out somewhere after Colorado) in a car for a week would be so tiring!

Jun. 30th, 2009

Margaret Fowler Courtyard

Everything Austen Challenge

I'll be on the road soon, so I thought I try something a little different: The Everything Austen Challenge!

Follow this link for information on the challenge:

Since I will be speeding across the country, I'm going to see how much of this I can do on my iPhone.

Here are my six items:

1) Read Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (hard copy)
2) Reread Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (DailyLit)
3) Reread Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (Girlebooks)
4) Listen to Lady Susan by Jane Austen (Librivox via Audiobooks app)*
5) Listen to Memoir of Jane Austen by James Edward Austen-Leigh (Librivox via Audiobooks app)*
6) Watch the ITV/PBS Northanger Abbey [which I never got to finish viewing]

Links Cited:
"Everything Austen Challenge" @ Stephanie's  Written Word []
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict @ []
Sense and Sensibility @ Daily Lit []
Daily Lit Official Site []
Northanger Abbey @ Girlebooks []
Girlebooks Official Site []
Official Northanger Abbey page @ PBS []
* no links - I'm a bit unsure how to cite this other than to direct you to the librivox website []


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