Life is a bit crazy at the moment. For the past couple of weeks, my supervisor and I have been discussing the final stages of my PhD, and yesterday we had a meeting where we sorted out four potential examiners. (I need two examiners, one from within my department and one from another university, but I need to nominate two potential people for each examination slot.) I've written my abstract and am at the point where I need to inform the university of my intention to submit...in September! I am both terrified and relieved to have got this far. But this means the next few months are going to be extremely sleepless.
I have had huge numbers of tabs open for weeks and weeks and weeks (and even resorted to emailing links to myself in order to close some tabs), just waiting for me to have the time to do a linkpost. I don't really have time, but I want to get these out there before too much time passes, so here they are.
I finally dusted off my Romanitas blog
and posted the next of my commentaries. This one's for Romanitas Chapter 5, 'White and Silver'
. I also wrote a fairly negative review
of Juliet E. McKenna's Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution
series on my Wordpress review blog: I’m sad to say that the series just doesn’t work, or at least it doesn’t work for me. The problem is partly one of characterisation (I find all the characters clichéd collections of tropes rather than engaging human beings), but really one of believability. The problem is that the whole revolution is too easy.
This is an old post
about London, but it's so wonderful that you need to read it anyway.
Australian YA author Melina Marchetta is someone I really admire. She's constantly pushing herself in terms of what she writes, and is thoughtful and articulate about her writing and that of other people. This interview
with blogger Jo at Wear The Old Coat is characteristically excellent:I don’t believe that writing for and about young people is a public service. The problem about role models is that some people may believe a good female role model is someone who doesn’t have sex as a teenager at school. Other people may believe that a good role model is someone who challenges the establishment. Or someone who works hard and gets into university. Or someone who doesn’t have to go to university or college to succeed. I don’t think of role models or teaching lessons when I’m creating character. If I did have a secret wish of what I’d like to come out of my writing, it’s that someone feels less lonely. Or someone feels more connected. Or someone questions the status quo.
Another author very dear to my heart is kateelliott
. I've mentioned before that I'm deeply interested in people on the margins of history, people who led fulfilling, happy and interesting lives, but whose stories were never recorded because the Powers That Be didn't view those people's activities as being important. Elliott is an author after my own heart. She puts such marginal people front and centre in her medieval (and nineteenth-century) inflected worlds. Her interviews and blog posts make it clear that this is a deliberate choice. If you're not reading her already, this latest offering
might tempt you:I am not, by the way, a monarchist nor do I yearn for the halcyon days of yore with a secret reactionary bent to my heart. The idea that epic fantasy is by nature a “conservative” subgenre is, I think, based not only on an incomplete reading of the texts but also on an understanding of the medieval or early modern eras that comes from outdated historiography.
I don’t doubt specific works can be reactionary or conservative (depending on how you define those words), but more often than not I suspect–although I can’t prove–that if a work defaults to ideas about social order that map to what I call the Victorian Middle Ages or the Hollywood Middle Ages, it has more to do with sloppy world-building in the sense of using unexamined and outmoded assumptions about “the past” as a guide. I really think that to characterize the subgenre so generally is to not understand the variety seen within the form and to not understand that the simplistic and popular views of how people “were” and “thought” in the past are often at best provisional and incomplete and at worst outright wrong.
Historian Judith Bennett calls this the “Wretched Abyss” Theory, the idea that the European Middle Ages were a wretched abyss from which we modern women/people have luckily escaped. It’s one of the founding myths of modern feminism as well as the modern world. Me, I want to live now, with internet, antibiotics, and that nice intensive care nursery that saved my premature twins. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t also responsible to depict a more nuanced and accurate representation of “a past” as it was lived and experienced as a dynamic and changing span.
And now, for a complete change of subject, have a link
to a post about Oideas Gael, the Modern Irish language school where I've spent a couple of happy summers. It really captures the heart of the little village and the classes. I was sorry to hear from the post, however, that Biddy's (one of the three pubs in the Glen), has closed down. Its wall had a sign promising 'ól agus ceol', which is really all you could possibly want in a pub...
Love, Joy, Feminism is pretty much my favourite blog these days. It's written by Libby Anne, who grew up in an abusive fundamentalist subculture in the US, but broke away as an adult. She is an articulate, unflinching and persistent critic of the culture in which she grew up, and this makes her dangerous to those who promote that subculture as a way of life. If you feel up to it, I highly recommend her most recent series of posts, which are on homeschooling and its potential to exacerbate abuse and neglect
. You can tell how rattled Libby Anne's posts are making some people, as she's receiving a huge backlash from the (so-called) Homeschool Legal Defence Association (an organisation that believes children have no rights, parents have complete ownership over their children and that any regulation beyond parents informing the state of their intention to homeschool is an infringement on parents' freedoms). I highly recommend reading everything Libby Anne writes.
Still on the topic of homeschooling, here is a post
by Jon Bois about his homeschooling experience as a child in rural Georgia in the '90s.
Check out this TED talk
about changing the way we talk about abuse and harassment. The gist of it is that men (are the perpetrators in not all, but most cases of abuse and harassment) should be told that being bystanders to abuse and harassment is a failure of leadership - that if they are in positions of authority or relative power, and they do nothing to investigate, discourage or stop abuse and harassment, they are failing as leaders.
Finally, have a read of Maureen Johnson's post about genderflipped YA book covers