ricardienne: (library)
No seriously, how AWESOME is this? (Correct answer: very very fascinating)

(I still suspect that the Quarrel de le Roman de la Rose was the first wanky internet flame-war, however.)
ricardienne: (Default)
Tutoring is not a good time to completely mix up one's languages. Or: [livejournal.com profile] ricardienne taught her student the Latin word for "intoxication" because she was somehow convinced that she knew it was the word for "toad." (Stupid French...)

However I can now conclude the following about Things That Do Not Interest And Do Interest Middle School Boys:

Things Not of Interest to Middle School Boys (no snickering: these things would totally have interested my brother when he was in eighth grade!):
-The loss of traditional senatorial freedom under the principate.
-Writers, patronage and tyranny.
-Really clever subversion of the stupid sentences in the book.
-Julius Caesar with zombies (I don't know why he didn't like that one).

Things of Interest to Middle School Boys:
-Sentences with words that sound vaguely dirty in English.

Okay, so I should have known that already.

For reasons unknown to me, I've been translating "Who's on First" into Latin -- it works quite well, if I do say so myself. Most of the declarative/indirect question issues go away if you make it colloquial enough that the verb drops, and then the joke works just as well in any language. In the process, I came across a "Shakespearean" version, which is also pretty awesome and hilarious.
ricardienne: (library)
...since it turns out that my presentation last week counted for a paper (I should write the paper anyway, right? Unfortunately, I'm feeling very lazy about this.)

-Family Man: a webcomic set in 18th century Germany, about academia (publishing, perishing, getting stabbed in the back by your dissertation committee!) and werewolves.

-[livejournal.com profile] boosette's very interesting essay about "Mary Sue policing" and bully culture. (I posted a long long comment about 19th century and early twentieth century notions of girls' writing and its "Mary Sue" (or similar) tendencies before I realized comments were being screened. Oops, but maybe I'll write it up at some point more thoroughly.) ETA: another interesting essay here that deals with what exactly "Mary Sue" characters do and why that is maybe a problem.

-An awesome site for 19th century American children's literature.

-The Vulture Reading Room: a group of scholars and critics read and discuss Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol to much hilarity.
ricardienne: (library)
Proof that Google is going to turn into a monster machine, like the androids in that Star Trek episode who take over their human masters and go around telling them that they aren't allowed to do things that would be harmful to them:

I got this pop-up when I tried to send a message in which I wrote "attach" instead of "forward":

Did you mean to attach files?

You wrote "I'm attaching" in your message, but there are no files attached. Send anyway?
ricardienne: (Default)
I inadvertently googlewhacked (okay: not quite, because proper names seem to be dubiously legal, but nevertheless): http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=xharra+tacitus&aq=f&oq=&aqi=
ricardienne: (library)
So I have been thinking a lot about MammothFail (short version: Patricia Wrede writes a fantasy YA about settlers in the magical American West -- having eliminated the Native Americans altogether. People, naturally, find this problematic. Lois McMaster Bujold says some very stupid things on the internet...)

Anyway, having read lots of analysis and quotes from the link above, these are my two (quasi-original, or at least I haven't seen them completely put out this way) thoughts:

(1) Wrede's decision to write about a magical America sans indigenous people has nothing to do with how "hard" it would be to write Native Americans in a non-offensive way. It has everything to do with how impossible it would be to write the whites in a non-completely-unsympathetic way. We don't think about it, and our (or at least my) history books are all about the heroic and intrepid pioneers, (and I grew up on the Little House books too) but settling the West (or any of the Americas, really) was imperialism. It was moving onto land already occupied by a civilization, and is not separable from the displacement and extermination of that civilization.

I hadn't really thought about that until this internetsplosion. I think that it is generally recognized that one cannot talk about e.g. the antebellum South unproblematically. The hoopskirts and rolling hills and peach orchards may be very nice, but it is not possible to write a novel about the planter class and their lives with their slaves in the background and not have it be read either as racist or as a indictment of the society with a dark and ironic undercurrent or something.

The same should be true of the pioneer novel, really. And in this respect, Wrede's choice to eliminate the "problem" is trying to have your cake and eat it, too. Or more bluntly: to avoid white guilt while still having her settlers-in-the-west story.

(2) One of the things that has come up in many of the posts and discussions I've read the last few days is the prevalence of the pioneer narrative in, esp. science fiction. That may be the expression of the human desire for the frontier or whatever, but it's also the ideal, unmessy colonization narrative: wide-open spaces with no strings attached in the form of people already living there. (Ironic that LMB's first Vorkosigan novel is set on exactly such a planet: unpeopled and ready to be contested by "advanced" galactic civilizations?) It's certainly much more squicky when done an alternate-earth, where the peoples who are getting eliminated to make it easier for the Europeans are precisely those whom the Europeans really did try to eliminate in order to make it easier for themselves. But how much of this more general fantasy/sci-fi plot is essentially doing the same thing in a less obviously bad way?

Also, I really hate to bring this up, because LMB is one of my favorite authors, in spite of her rather unadvised comments recently, and because I particularly like her Chalion books, but her fantasy is a pretty obvious earth-analogue that also functions by removing the inconvenient and guilt-inducing parts of history: a transparently Reconquest Spain where the fake!Moors are conveniently barbarous and imperialist and the *fake!Jews are conveniently not there? There is something a little bit weird about fantasizing Isabella and Ferdinand and then removing the problematic aspects of their careers.
ricardienne: (Default)
On principle, I haven't friended any professor on facebook, but some of them have public profiles. And it's really weird to read their wall posts, and find names that I recognize because I read their articles writing things like "we must meet for drinks after APA this year" and so forth. Particularly when they are Shadi Bartsch people who are terrifying even to think about and read their scholarship.

I went to Scottish dancing tonight for the first time in ages (one of my regular piano rehearsal times is Friday nights, but tonight it was a bit earlier, so I got out in time). SO MUCH FUN. I managed to get Elderly Philosophy Prof/instructor's husband for the strathspey: dancing with a good partner is awesome, particularly when it is a slow and elegant dance.


ricardienne: (Default)

January 2017

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