Saturday, November 17, 2007

Seeing the Past

Review by Roy Porter in Past and Present, 118, 1988, pp 186-205.

In this review Porter asks how we can read visual evidence such as prints. He points to problems with using prints as saying something real about what they portray - at least as regards the topic of a particular print (the madman acting out stage madness 202). Possibly we can use the wallpaper or peripheral figures more easily since they were intended specifically AS background (204). I think he is on to something here - but I also believe it is important and useful to understand what the "stock images" were.

He argues that prints were for the same audience as verbal texts - and that that audience was a literate elite. Political prints were, he says, "aimed at a particular elite of the reading public" (90). As evidence he uses the small print runs and the coded nature of the prints (changing over time) - something which in turn he blames on a desire to avoid censorship (all on page 191). I disagree. Prints may have been intended for that elite audience, but what was intended as political was clearly used by others for different reasons - and if the messages were coded it becomes even easier to reinterpret (see Donald and McCreary).

Finally, Porter challenges scholars to explore "what the ... prints tell us about women in Georgian society?" (204) He says that what we DO know is "how utterly 'sexualized' is the woman of the prints" (205) and suggests that this should be read as saying that "because of their sexual nature, women can be fit only for private life; the public business of politics must be left to men only" (205). This I violently disagree with. First of all I am not sure that all women are sexualized. Second, I believe we must keep in mind the common parallell between the family and the state (the concentration narratives, etc) and perhaps read it the other way around - women, sexuality, courtship, etc are so commonly portrayed in political prints as to suggest a very porous relationship between private and public and a much less regimented separation between male and female spheres.

So there.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Notes WCBS presentation

Mr. and Mrs. Bull: the Performance of Gender in British Eighteenth Century cartoons

We know the prints are there – they are oh so useful for illustration purposes, and to show undergraduates that our time period is interesting and perhaps even risqué … (the windy maids)
Art historians have written some about them, together with paintings, showing how they fit into the shift from history painting to lower subjects, representing broader segments of the population, but with no real focus on the historical information available. Historians use the pictures to, but mostly just to illustrate a particular point, reading them as transparent historical artifacts. I am not sure that is a good idea. Just the other week someone was making a statement about needlewomen being prostitutes and that was a well-known fact in the 19th century (coz there was this novelist who made some aside about it). Someone else pointed out that it was a common belief, or gossip, that needlewomen were prostitutes – the facts we have available do not necessarily support the claim. So, what I propose to tell you about today is not what people actually did, but rather what kind of conceptual – visual – language they were using to gossip with, what recognizable stereotypes might have been at the time. I believe understanding these frameworks will help me use images better in the bigger project I am working on.

I started looking at this to find out how one particular woman in the public arena was seen, and found that in addition to the written diary notes, discussion in letters and reviews or gossip in various journals there were also satirical prints of this woman – and the prints were used as if transparent, as if the portrayal of this one woman in the prints could tell us how she was seen without any further references. I decided that I needed to know more, that I needed to understand the language used in these prints, what the subtexts were, and this paper is the result of my explorations so far.

A little background;
From the Italian caricaturas – Leonardo’s grotesqueries – Dutch prints –
Some of the people:
William Hogarth (1697 - 1746) (Yale Lewis Walpole)
James Gillray (1756-1815) (Bucknell U, Brown U – also books)
Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) (Boston Public L, Huntington)
Henry William Bunbury (1750-1811)
Hubert-François, Gravelot (1699-1773) mostly book work – France-England-France
the outside as a reflection of moral standing (crooked nose meant something about your soul) - not accepted as art but as amusement, acceptable because it was a corrective of folly, and as time wore on, as elegant wit and a particular British genre
Rarely censored, partly people bought up the edition if they disliked it, partly it was considered silly to respond – you should grin and bear it as an innocent joke.
Initially separate images sold in stores in different parts of town (on the gender issue – several female print publishers (Mrs. Humphrey (Gillray’s publisher), Mary Daly, etc). People bought prints – individually or by subscription, rented print collections over the weekend, went to the publisher’s gallery or looked for free in the window.
Audience? Often seriously allegorical so only literate folks could follow all the details, but there were broader strokes for lower class folks.

What I have looked for is:
How and where are men and women portrayed in the prints? What sort of women and men are they, are there images with both genders, or mostly separate?
What kinds of environments are people shown in – private, public, political?

Images that are ABOUT gender, gender roles and gender relations?
What do they say (what describes good gender, bad gender, confusion)?
Images that USE gender to describe something else – what McKeon describes as concentration narratives.
How is gender used here (look at the peace image – where napoleon is an effeminate man and George a woman coz they are doing the suitor thing)

Named individuals versus types?

Although cartoons are commonly used as illustrations of the political debate in British eighteenth-century studies, and the satirical depictions of women in those cartoons are regularly used as examples of assumed negative attitudes toward women, surprisingly little work has been done on how gender is actually presented and performed in the images.

There are rich sources to draw from, thousands of cartoons that depict men and women representing actual people as well as muses, virtues, and nations. In some the gender is not a matter of choice, only the way that gender is portrayed is negotiable, in other cartoons the gender is part of the message and gendered characteristics are used to define the people or situations portrayed.

In this paper I explore what kinds of meanings were assigned to gender characteristics. By looking at the words and visual gestures used to portray gender, I delineate the specifics of how gender expectations are revealed and negotiated in the images and accompanying texts. I also use the cartoons to investigate how transgressions of expected gendered behavior are portrayed, what meanings are assigned to such transgressions, and what the implied consequences, if any, are.
Finally, I look at how gender characteristics and expectations are used symbolically to represent other ideological contests, where gendered attributes are descriptive tools, not messages in themselves.

My paper is part of a larger study of how female non-fiction writers in the eighteenth century represented themselves as authoritative voices in the public sphere. I am particularly concerned with how female authors negotiated the matter of their gender in their construction and presentation of self and how their audience, their readers, responded to these constructions. Women who ventured into the public sphere at this time had to structure their public persona within the available discourse on gender, and women like the historian Catharine Macaulay were frequently seen referred to or directly satirized in cartoons. Mapping out the visual rhetorical landscape will demonstrate some of the possible strategies available in the construction and negotiation of a female public voice as well as tell us something of the disconnect between gendered characteristics as conceptual tools and gender as reified categories of understanding.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

McKeon on Wahrman and King

Review article titled "Recent Studies in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century"
From SEL 45, 3 Summer 2005, 707-782.

After general comments and talk about Ruth Perry's book on changing notions of kinship we move to The Making of the Modern Self: Identity and Culture in Eighteenth-Century England, by Dror Wahrman.

The thesis of this text is said to be: that between the first three-quarters and the last quarter of the eighteenth century can be seen a sudden, rapid, indeed a radical discontinuity in English culture.
Wahrman’s principal interest is in “the making of the modern self,” by which he means “a very particular understanding of personal identity, one that presupposes an essential core of selfhood
characterized by psychological depth, or interiority, which is the bedrock of unique, expressive individual identity” (p. xi). In summary form, the basic difference marked by this rupture is that
between ca. 1700 and ca. 1780 English people indulged a sense of self that was fluid and unstable: intermittent, unlocalizable, and unintegrated by virtue of being unanchored in the stability of an individual and essential interiority; and that all this changed around 1780 as a consequence of the English experience of the American Revolution. Before 1700, as well, there was a different sense of self than that which flourished for most of the eighteenth century—although Wahrman says little about what this was like, and when he does it sounds very much like his eighteenth-century paradigm (e.g., p. 335n72). This change in the sense of self
Wahrman takes to be symptomatic of an even broader cultural revolution, in effect the making of modernity as such.

"he undertakes to outline how the radical discontinuity that is his subject can be observed in the way the categories of race, gender, and class change over the course of the eighteenth century."
For the gender part he starts from Laqueur's Making Sex, which claims that the old view was of
a less tight connection between biological sex and gender where " biological sex is known
to be implicated within, but not determinant of, the more general category of (what we would call) gendered social behavior, which also implies social rank, legal standing, and other aspects of
identity. In the latter conception, biological sex is separated out from this gender substratum and constituted as the natural and essential determinant of personal identity. “Sex” thereby provides the antithetical term against which the explicit idea of “gender” also is constituted.
So gender here comes out of sex, and sex is naturalized and essentialized.

After a long discussion of how Wahrman misunderstands Laqueur and unnecessarily shreds notions of interiority as nonauthentic or lacking in some vital aspect, McKeon moves on to discuss The Gendering of Men, 1600–1750: The English Phallus, by Thomas A. King.

King grounds his analysis in (among other things) the thesis of an early modern shift to a biologically grounded conception of gender difference. But he combines this insight with another thesis, indebted to the work not of Laqueur but of Alan Bray and Randolph Trumbach, that
this period also witnessed the emergence of modern notions of sexuality. The result is the doubly dialectical coalescence of, on the one hand, the modern norm of gender difference and the
orthodoxy of different-sex relations and, on the other hand, the modern deviation of same-sex relations, the negative criterion of sameness by which the norm of gender difference was sustained. The suspicion that modern concepts not only of gender difference but also of sexuality were in formation at this time was spurred by the observation that, around the turn of the seventeenth century, sodomitical behavior was acquiring a new subcultural visibility,
a notoriety as not just something that all men might do on occasion but as a mode of being in which some men might subsist as though by a perverse but natural dispensation. King breaks
new ground, I believe, by insisting that we attend not simply to sodomy but also to pederasty, the specifi c form of same-sex relations that is dominant before the eighteenth century and that has a determinate sociopolitical meaning in that historical context.
Pederasty names the species of same-sex behavior that requires between its participants a marked difference in generation, power, and status and that works, like the patron-client relationship, to cement hierarchical super- and subordination through the performance of one man’s (the prepubescent youth, but also the servant or the slave) dependence on another. From a modern perspective this is defi nitively a “sexual” behavior. Within early modern culture, however, pederasty was experienced as a political relationship of subjection that had for the submissive partner the positive status of a proximity to power that in turn bespoke power. “Courtiers, male and female, fl aunted their subordination as the mark of their favor. They displayed, proudly, their proximity to sovereign spectacle as the sign of their preferment” (p. 5).
Like other rituals of subjection to the public body of monarchy, pederasty was a highly theatrical performance of abjection and self-display on the public stage of the Stuart Court. In King’s argument, when we conceive pederasty in these terms we begin to understand the ideological meaning not only of pederasty in its eighteenth-century decline but also of gender and sexuality in their contemporaneous rise. The antithetical relationship between same-sex and different-sex behavior that is thrown into relief at this historical juncture bespeaks not a transhistorical “homophobia,” nor even simply the abstract logic of structural symmetry, but a political rebellion against the old order of hierarchical subjection. In the context of the far-flung
political, social, and cultural confl icts that marked the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the critique of sodomy that is more precisely a critique of pederasty becomes intelligible as a repudiation of royal and aristocratic absolutism akin to more ostensible
critiques such as the abolition of the House of Lords, the episcopal hierarchy, Star Chamber, feudal tenures, and the like.
Over the long term, what replaced these institutions was the concept of a “civil society” that was separated out from (and thereby also constituted by) the public authority of the state and that ensured the freedom of private institutions—religious observance, economic exchange, the public sphere—from political subjection to the state. In an analogous fashion, different-sex behavior came to stand for a new order of “gender complementariness” (pp. 96, 128): not the forced penetration of pederasty acted out on the public stage but the voluntary social-as-conjugal contract; not the superficial and one-way gaze of spectacular publicity but the asymmetrical reciprocity of looks that constitutes the deep interiority of autonomous subjectivity and privacy."

SO I wonder, is all of this a matter of trying to control where things go when you take away the vertical order ... you HAVE to pretend there is some other structure that works and is natural. And back to the public-private again, some different public/private:

state civil society
civil society domestic
society family
guests/servants couple

They are like concentric circles with public always being the side with more people - more strangers - involved.

Back to McKeon on King:

Once we see pederasty as one among many analogous practices of the old regime, it becomes fruitful to entertain an analogy between the constitutive separation out of civil society from the state and that of “sexuality” from the traditional, all-inclusive category of political practice. As social contract theory posited the state of nature and the natural, rights-bearing individual as chronologically prior to and determinant of society and the political state, so contemporary “gender difference theory” separated out the gendered body as existentially and naturally—that is, anatomically and biologically—prior to whatever contrary political and social practices (like pederasty) might afterward be imposed upon it: “This separating out of practices from ‘the body itself’ would naturalize the self within a body increasingly assumed to possess its distinctive properties, including its gender, prior to and free of any external manipulation” (p. 62). So in my view, King’s thesis offers a more persuasive view than Wahrman’s of “the making of the modern self.” Henceforth the naturalness of possessing inborn rights and sex will come to be seen as the primary determinant of personal identity, and this movement toward the interior—away from impositions “from without” and toward an indwelling authenticity— will facilitate a reconception of “the self” as defined not by one’s place in the sociopolitical hierarchy of subjection but by one’s singular subjectivity. By the same token, this idea of the self, fully separated out from all circumstantial contingencies, will provide the basis for generalization about what is universally characteristic of humanity. “Remembering” pederasty, King argues, is crucial because it is the missing term in the prehistory of modern masculinity, the sociopolitical practice whose theatrical display of dependence was inconsistent with the conception of an autonomous privacy that might be universalized as a natural condition of independence. To remember pederasty therefore is among other things to challenge this naturalizing conception, to imply that like pederasty, gender difference has a “political” contingency: “[E]arly modern opposition to aristocratic publicity has been naturalized and mystified as subjective desire . . . The privatized, social, subjective body depended upon the negation of the passionate, ‘natural,’ subjected body” (pp. 128, 149). So when King speaks of “residual pederasty” in the eighteenth century he refers to the self-conscious reproduction of pederastic modes of superficial publicity and self-display that defiantly theatricalized the aura of being subjected to another, a politics of “counterresistance” to the new order of privacy and deep subjectivity that was itself resistant to the old order of subjection.

And then, then we get to the real meat of this ... so far. Katharine Gillespie’s inquiry in Domesticity and Dissent in the Seventeenth Century: English Women’s Writing
and the Public Sphere
"Gillespie argues that mid-seventeenth-century English women made use of the category of
the autonomous subject, the individual abstractly disembodied and disembedded from contextual socialization. On this basis they wrote in favor of a political contractualism that both ceded individual rights to the state and guaranteed the right to dissent from and to replace the magistrate:; they conceived themselves to be possessive individualists who had the right to own property in the wages they earned for their labor of preaching and prophesying; and they believed in the separation of the realms of the private and the public—the separation of church and state, the separation of home and state—as the institutional foundation of the free and sovereign self. As Gillespie shows at some length, these are liberal values that postmodern feminism has tended to see as masculinist ideology" .............." Gillespie counters that, often in explicit defense of women’s rights, “sectarian women writers actually forged the model of the subject that feminists actively seek to displace—that of the ‘sovereign’ or ‘abstract’ individual. Identifying them as early articulators rather than victims of this principle should challenge
us to reconsider its status as a masculine construct invented solely to further rather than ameliorate patriarchal domination” (pp. 170–1).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Concept v category

Read someone's blog on history - the writer was curious as to the difference between concept and category (because she wanted to study gender as a concept and could only find it written about as a category). So I looked up

1. A general idea derived or inferred from specific instances or occurrences

and category

1. A specifically defined division in a system of classification; a class.
2. A general class of ideas, terms, or things that mark divisions or coordinations within a conceptual scheme, especially:
Aristotle's modes of objective being, such as quality, quantity, or relation, that are inherent
in everything.

So I decided that category is the better word to use because it speaks of ideas in terms of being parts of a bigger context. Since I don't believe hardly anything can be studied by itself, but always needs to be considered in terms of what it is bounded by, and since any study of a concept would be (or at least should be) interested in the boundaries of the idea in question, it seems that category is a more useful term.

On French feminism and cultural diversity

Essentially, American-made "French Feminism" celebrates women's innate difference from men: neither combating nor submitting to the patriarchy, women are called to affirm their much-neglected values. The three canonical "French Feminists" (Hélène Cixous, Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray) would not disagree with this idea, although it is not the center of their work. In France, these women are not grouped together as feminists, a term they don't even use themselves. Kristeva is a respected philosopher and Cixous an innovative novelist. Their writings can be applied to but not reduced to politics or revolutionary feminine visions.
Historically, France owes its existence to uniting diverse peoples under a common language and strong central government. In a nation structured on ideals of unity and equality, feminism connotes divisiveness. This is the opposite of the United States, founded on the ideal of independent states united only for defense and economic transactions. Whereas Americans glorify liberty and diversity, the French appreciate common ground (the State and its values) and interdependence (a socialist-type system). Feminism, which places gender and not nationality as the uniting force, subverts even progressive French thought, whereas it fits somewhat better with American values. Paradoxically, certain French policies imply that because equality has been legally achieved, professional inequalities exist simply because women have other priorities and interests. Thus the outward ideal of equality surreptitiously translates into "separate but equal," each sex maintaining its role for the sake of national cohesion.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

McKeon's comments at the Long Eighteenth Blog

From the blog "The Long Eighteenth"

I agree entirely that "interpretation" and "explanation" form a dialectical doublet, in their interrelation defining what historical method should aim to achieve. I emphasize the former only because I feel as though "our" attentiveness to the self-conceptions of the past in recent years has been overbalanced by methods and perspectives that derive from modern experience. By this I meant something very imprecise, and the term "presentist" is probably misleading except in so far as it, too, means simply "what postdates the portion of the past that's under study." I think "explanation" is crucial to historical study, but perhaps only once (a schematic temporalization) "interpretation" has defined a sense of the past's self-understanding on the basis of which the claim to "explain" by *other* means can become intelligible.So in these terms, the presentism I sought to rebalance in Secret History is the tendency to read the period in which modernity first seems to emerge (which I take at least to include the 18th century) from the viewpoint of the failures of modernity, paradigmatically, capitalism, the bourgeoisie, class conflict, liberalism, the public sphere, separate spheres, "The Enlightenment." To study these things from the viewpoint of "the past" is, as I've already quoted, "to view the past not only as the prelude to our present but also as a response to its own past" (xxvii), a formulation that suggests that the distinction between interp. and explan. can also name the difference between attending to the intentional *motives* with which past activities, etc. were undertaken and elaborating a theoretical or *causal* understanding whose possibility depends on taking a certain distance from the aims of the past culture in question. In 1690 capitalism meant not commodity fetishism, alienated labor, and the extraction of surplus labor but freedom from hierarchical political and economic control. The bourgeoisie was not a self-conscious class whose ideology sought to universalize its own interests. Indeed, whether it even existed is a definitional rather than an empirical question--hence my objection (74) to the translation of Habermas's burgerlich as bourgeois rather than civil. What people *experienced* in 1690 was not class conflict but a conflict between status-based assumptions about the coextension of birth and worth and emergent class-based assumptions that worth was a function of labor discipline within one's calling, or simply one's industrious accomplishments and the upward mobility that attended them.Except for a few thoughtful "Tory feminists," "liberalism" wasn't an ideology of human rights and negative freedom that nonetheless silently drew the line at women and indigent men but a revolutionary alternative to the tacit belief in monarchal legitimacy. Similarly, the public sphere wasn't a hypocritical claim to inclusiveness and equality but a revolutionary intuition that the determination of public affairs should be the work of others besides the king and his ministers. Separate spheres was not simply the modern, more ruthlessly efficient instantiation of patriarchal inequality but one result of reconceiving gender relations no longer as a matter of better vs. worse but instead as a matter of equality in difference. And the Enlightenment was not the dogmatic adherence to rational and instrumental "objectivity" but a dialectical effort to make sense of the difference between the object and the subject, science and the humanities that had been bequeathed by the quarrel of the ancients and the moderns. This is not to fashion an apology for modernity but to fill in its other side (as it seems these days necessary to do) so as to come closer to an understanding of the past as, like the present, historical process.This sort of presentism can't be laid at the door of any single recent critical movement: the post-structuralist demystification of "history," utopian Marxist contempt for the achievements of modernization, new historicist efforts to "do" history outside the protocols of empiricism--i.e., without abandoning the poststructuralist belief that "history" is epistemologically inaccessible--all these have contributed to the haze of "negative hermeneutics" (Ricoeur) of our times. To recur to one of your points, Dave, although I see what you mean about the comparable vulnerability of "presentism" and "historicism" to partiality, I'd rather reorient these terms, partly on the precedent of previous usage. I take presentism itself to be a mode of "historicism" in the now very general sense of historicism as entailing any commitment to historical understanding. But as I see it, "historicism" came into usage to name what I've been calling "interpretation," the aim to study the past in its own terms, as opposed to the aim to elaborate general laws of historical formation and development that can "explain" history in a more trans-historical fashion, i.e., the attempt to apply the model of scientific "natural laws" to sociohistorical experience.(I associate this meaning of historicism with, e.g., Troeltsch and Dilthey; but ironically Popper and others later adopted the term to describe and discredit what I'm calling "explanation".)And I agree that to conceive interpretation as the study of the past in its own terms begs the question of what, or even more *whose*, past we're talking about. Thinking of inter./explan. as methodologically a dialectical doublet, however, suggests that this is the necessary next step in interpretation: dividing interpretation--a whole vis a vis its opposition to explanation--into its own parts once that preceding division has been accomplished. This can be both diachronic and synchronic: the former in so far as "the past" we seek to understand is a chronology that needs diachronic subdivision if we're to sort out different viewpoints and perspectives; certainly the latter once we recognize that any diachronic period is defined apart from others according to a synchronic perception of what makes it, as a unit, different from surrounding periods. I.e., synchronic study isn't the opposite of diachronic study, it presupposes it as the means by which any slice of diachrony becomes susceptible, by bracketing adjacent chronologies, to synchronic understanding. In this respect I don't think cultural studies devotes itself to synchronic rather than diachronic study; it brackets the problem of diachrony--and thereby takes a position on diachrony--by conceiving a period (or a decade or a day) as susceptible to its "own" analysis. And I think we owe synchronic study not to any recent thinking but to the Scottish Enlightenment historians and then, soon after, to the full elaboration of Marx, for whom the synchronic relationship between infrastructure and superstructure became as indispensable to "historical" study as is the relationship between one event or period and others. (The attribution of the discovery of synchrony to cultural studies might even be seen as an example of "presentism," like the case of looking to Said [as Dave points out]for the origins of what Selden already practiced.) And I think that when people castigate "master narratives" they're not thinking of diachronic totalizations alone. The strong meaning of "teleology" as positing "at the outset a result purported to emerge only as the result of inquiry" (xxv) doesn't require a linear narrative in which to operate. After all, Marx's synchronic relation of ideology/material base has been accused (although I think wrongly)of teleology, as well as of "abstraction" and "reduction." On the other hand, the ambition to hunt out teleology has led some to conflate teleology with linear succession or temporality, which seems to me a mistake. (If this were true, then chronological readings would be ipso facto "evolutionary" readings, whereas in fact they also can be, and can be criticized as, "devolutionary.")For a discussion of interp./explan. that very interestingly argues the subtlety with which that distinction can be made when applied to micro-questions of whether individual actions are the result of "internal" motive or "external" cause see Alasdair MacIntyre, "The Idea of a Social Science," in Against the Self-Images of the Age (Notre Dame, 1984), 211-29.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Internet resources - journals

Internet library of Early Journals
Annual Register, Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, Gentleman's Magazine, Notes and Queries, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, The Builder

Historical Broadsides

Accessible Archives - 18th American journals (charges for the privilege)

The Spectator

The Tatler

The Female Spectator

The Rambler 1-54 (1750)

The Rambler 55-112 (1750-1751)

The Rambler 171-208 (1751-1752); The Adventurer 34-108

The Idler

Quotes on the latest fashion

Sources on homosexuality - Rictor Norton
says gay identity clear in early 18thC (1707)

Research tips England

Information about archival resources:

Information about the British Library:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

on cultural differences

Watching Heroes - remembering a comment about how good it is with a show that does not try to make everything mechanical or about science and biology ... I wonder how much of the debate depends on where we are coming from - in Sweden it is important to mitigate the biological explanations, to remember that there are more things under the sun. Here in Texas it is vitally important to provide an antidote to the american taliban - to the fundamentalist view that science is just ivory tower academics who don't understand the real world and are simply intent on intimidating regular joes with their science mumbo jumbo. We still desperately need the enlightenment - you need to move beyond it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dissertation chapter outline

Introduction – what’s it all about?
Feminist theories
What they DON’T do
What I WILL do
What my presumptions are, why these women, why non-fiction, why I will not consider the “change” (if there is a difference we might see it, if there isn’t one that is interesting too, and we won’t see that if we ASSUME that there is a change)

The intrepid author will set out her position in gender studies history – the different strategies (inclusion, exceptions, mainstream representatives) that have made it clear that women as a category were treated differently, but also that there were any number of exceptions to any rule based on that assumption. The list is long: novels ok because they are about the domestic sphere, upper class women ok because they are so powerful, early century ok because family was more important, religious women ok because they spoke for God – all these excuses and exceptions leave me confused and probably left them confused too
The two things most scholars have agreed on is that some sort of conceptual change occurred during the eighteenth century – where women at least rhetorically were relegated to the domestic sphere, and that gender is a useful category of study. The first assumption has been challenged by Vickery, Sweet and others, and the second I want to challenge in this work. I am not about to say that gender is not a useful category, I believe it has been vitally important to rethink our understanding of the past in terms of the experiences of different groups. What I am saying is that the use of gender as a category limits our understanding of the lives of individuals, who are always members of several categories, and gender is not necessarily the primary marker of identity.
In this work, I propose to look at a number of women to see how they related to the category of gender …women who in different ways demonstrated their willingness to transgress ostensible gender boundaries. I then look at how their strategies were received, and how their audience seemed to relate to the relationship between the individual and their gender.
Sweet suggests a plurality of overlapping models of family life (Ordering the World 113), and I want to suggest a plurality of overlapping models of identity … where sometimes gender, sometimes social status or class, sometimes political affiliation, determines the presentation of self of any particular individual.

This is why we need cubist history

Chapter One
where the author describes what different scholars have had to say about the past – the “facts” of oppression and the other facts and how to reconcile them – or not.
A) The change – why this is an interesting period to look at, with a growing
public and public writing, lots of claims about what that does to women retreating into the private sphere and how life is compartmentalized.
- B) Legal and official position – a discussion of citizenship, Shoemaker and Wiesner, against Gunderson
- C) Family life and the body – separate spheres and companionate marriages appearing says L Stone, not so clear says Wrightson, Karen Harvey against Thomas Laqueur and perhaps Fletcher
- D) More complications – business owners of R Sweet, anonymous lawyers mentioned in article, the not so separate spheres of Vickery,
- E) The literary field –( female) writers as professionals, Todd, Backschieder, Richetti duke it out with Bannett and others. For all the anxiety about female writers it does seem clear that women novelists were acceptable – see Cheryl Turner

Chapter Two
- where the author introduces the women one by one and gives a discussion of their lives and works. There is an initial discussion of the implied author (Wayne Booth) and what we are looking for. False humility as a rhetorical device is discussed.
- Section one where Lady Mary is introduced. Lady Mary did not publish non-fiction officially when she was alive – what does that say – she was still very public – what does that say? Was she not intending to be taken seriously? How did she relate to her writing and herself as an author?
- Section two where the author introduces Catharine Macaulay and proceeds to do to her what she did to Lady Mary in the preceding section, but also talks a bit about the colonies and attitudes toward them Discussion of the differences between her early work and the later On Education that DOES have a gendered edge. Also continues the discussion of citizenship and how she could claim that role.
Attention is paid to Katie Davis argument that Macaulay’s position was undermined by her increasingly radical position and that her second marriage was simply an easy way of taking her out.
- Section three where the author (re)introduces Mercy Otis Warren and does the same thing all over again, continuing the colonial discourse. Is she meeker because she is American? How does she relate to the whole idea of republican motherhood?
- Section four where we meet Elizabeth Montagu, etc etc. Here the discussion will be different since she only wrote one text for publication – the rest of her public appearance is as a salonniere - was she seen as a hostess or an intellectual?

Chapter Three
where we may run into some additional characters – Hanna More, Judith Sargent Murray, Mary Astell, Elizabeth Carter, Damaris Masham – as well as some male writers
- Bring back the discussion on the literary marketplace – how my women fit the norms and general expectations

Chapter Four
where the author describes how writers/women/gender relations in general were portrayed by others and how her particular writers were received
- general media descriptions of women, gender, and public life – from the Spectator,
Tatler, Rambler, Annual Register, Gentlemen’s Magazine, Female Spectator, etc

- gender and satirical prints – how gender is performed, what roles women are made
to play and who is seen doing what (from merry milkmaids and widows to patriotic
wives and literary ladies) the background in types and puppet theatre – see Donald (history), McCreery (gender), Atherton (politics and the surprising number of female printers) … Brittania and John Bull as representatives of patriotism (what is going on here? – is this connected to the power struggle between the aristocracy and the middle class, French and British – i.e. manly middle class British values against foppish female aristocratic French – is this part of what Wahrman is saying, go back and check his class perspective)

- specific reactions to my women (reviews, diaries, articles etc)

- the question is asked to what extent audiences accepted the implied author
- how they were portrayed and what that might have meant
- are there distinctions between the prints, the gossip and the diary entries? Are for
instance the prints more dependent on general types with actual people exemplifying
them rather than making comments about specific individuals?

Chapter Five- Conclusions
Wherein the author reveals the implications of her findings as to gender as a category of research (take that Joan Scott), and proceeds to suggest how her approach can be further used and developed to transform historical studies – delivered with only a whiff of hubris.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I think this is what Beth is doing - unless she is going into movement disorders - gotta look at neurological specialties and figure out how to advise .. bleah.

Notes on a Scandal

... The story of two obsessions.

This is a desperately sad story about loneliness and quiet despair and the consequences of our actions and how they are different than what we can see as we stumble into the disaster.

Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench both inhabit their roles with an authority that forces the viewer to hear their characters, to reckon with them. The young man seems artlessly passionate, not even acting, which is perfect for a role where he is supposed to be visceral, not thoughtful. The husband is the only uneven note. Nighy does a good portrait and his pain is genuine and his anguish gripping, but we never quite connect to his person, we don't get close enough to relate to him on our own and we do not get enough information to know how we "should" relate to him. Maybe this is intended to demonstrate how Blanchett feels distanced from him - but we don't really get her reactions to him either ...

Other than that, and a certain aimlessness in the script, this is a beatifully acted, well scripted, delicately directed little gem.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Brave One

Jodie Foster's newest is bad - really really bad. Bad plot, bad director, bad director of photography, bad acting at times. The outline probably looked good - and from the outline it would have been possible to make it a good movie, Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Initially the couple is not set up properly - they act too much in love for no reason and we don't get to see a relationship. Then the attack happens and Foster's character is all alone in the hospital and all alone when she gets home - for no reason. She stays at home and then goes out - when the cops don't have time for her she buys a gun - for no apparent reason. She gets into an awful lot of difficult situations - for no reason. She kills people and we are not quite sure why - then the cops get on her tail - possibly for good reason. Then the cop has a change of heart - for no reason. Then she finds her dog - and leaves it - for no reason. There is simply no motivation for the acts and reactions of the characters, but we don't get a sense that the idea is that their motivations are murky or conflicting - just that the director couldn't bother deciding what s/he wanted to say.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Ordering of the World in the Eighteenth Century

Donald, Diana and Frank O'Gorman. The Ordering of the World in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.


Arts exuded order - static order. Order was also in the universe, divinely structured not for man, but only man, purportedly, could fully appreciate it. Ideas of order flowed back and forth between religion, humanities, science.

Joshua Reynold's Discourses describe artistic order and hierarchy, ranking the styles and subjects of art. At the summit was art modelled on the renaissance. Its epick style roused the nobler passions, based on severity - sober tones or bold, simple contrasts. From there we move down along the Great Chain of Being. Threats to this beauty came from Venice with nuances and light flickering that seduced the painter (these works were fickle, superficial, vain, etc - in language borrowed from Pope these paintings were all the bad of feminine).

More on the Chain - there is hierarchy of course, and balance (from top to bottom, from man being both spiritual and physical). The things below were - subjected - to those higher up. Many assumed this to be true, and that the drudges needed to be kept in ignorance to not be too miserable. People like Johnson, in Rasselas, questioned the resulting social stagnation - "the maxims of a commercial nations .... promote a rotation of property" (Johnson The Works)

Some - noting eg the importance of earth worms - saw rather the mutlifarious lateral relations of interdependence.

Foucault says this is when belief in the mysterious affinities linking all the objects in the world gives way to rational systemisation as per Linneaus (although some critics thought it was silly to base system on a few external criteria when clearly the truth is on the inside). People DID, though, look closely at the world to set up their systems - and some said it was an unsustainable theological fantasy to make unbroken linear continuity a part of the plan of the Creation (Blumenbach quoted on page 10)

What many hoped to find was that nature reflected a benevolent and perfect Creator - like Newton perhaps - but increasingly what they found was disorder and constant flux. Donald says this "was as closely related to concepts of the political order and of human destiny as the hierarchical 'Great Chain' had been" (11)

Buffon regarding nature and Smith regarding the economy are said to have had parallell systems of irresistible, opposite but self-correcting forces. More critical voices included Hume, who did not see an invisible hand keeping order and indeed thought that man created trouble for himself - "man is the greatest enemy of man", and Malthus, who presented nature not as abundant and ever-nurturing but as an "indigent parent who could not provide for all her fecklessly produced off-spring" (13). Then Darwin taking inspiration from Malthus, in a cross-pollination that as we have seen is the norm rather than an exception.

Such interchanges were common among the many conflicting ideas of order, and each structure was internally incoherent - we are looking then, at several, flawed, attempts at ordering the world. This is organised as follows (list of chapters and content).

"Providence, Predestination, and Progress: Or, Did the Enlightenment Fail?"

Basically Jonathan Clark says that divine providence as an explanation of the course of human affairs (private lives and politics alike) remained a vital and mainstream explanatory model. I think he also says that when people moved away from providence is was as often as not toward chaos, not scientific rationality ... Finally, scientific rationality and providence were not, initially, at odds with eachother - they were often seen as the same (e.g. Newtion's view that we see God's hand in the laws of nature).

There is a discussion of how miracles are less seen as events where God overules the laws of nature than as a fortuitous confluence of individually natural events = providence. I think the underlying debate is as to the nature of God - if all-powerful he need not tinker constantly with his creation, but then if people have free will God needs to clean up after their bad decisions. On the other hand if people do have free will - is God still omnipotent?

At times he seems to go off his topic and just generally discuss the kinds of debates on order taking place in the eighteenth century - his long term goal seems to be to argue that the Enlightenment wasn't secular, not modern, and that the focus on order and structure was invented as a straw man in the nineteenth century by people who were questioning everything sacred. And the only thing they managed was to question themselves.

Chapter two - Frank O'Gorman
"Ordering the Political World"

Looking for an overarching model of the political order in 18th c Britain - the old idea that there is a stable and solid political order is misleading. The Whig interpretation has held though, and it "emphasized both the constitutional legitimacy and historical continuity of the political system." (p 84)

Standard interpretations have been:

1) J Clark saying Britain in the eighteenth century was dominated by the forces of monarchy, Anglicanism and aristocracy - an ancien régime - a confessional state.

2) John Brewer said England was a Fiscal-Military State - acknowledging that Britain depended on parliamentary supply and presenting Britain as essentially secular.

3) A social interpretation by eg Borsay, Corfield and Paul Langford that emphasizes the growth and importance of the middling classes. Complements Brewer rather than Clark.

4) Linda Colley has described how a Protestant-based patriotism emerged to protect the nation against its other - France.

All of them seem to assume the order was stable - working from Jack Plumb's lectures in the 60's where he claimed that in the 1720's England achieved political stability after decades of strife. Whigs had won over Tories, court over country, executive over the legislature and electoral franchises had been narrowed. Finally, the independence of London had been curtailed and Scotland and Ireland been pacified. (p 87)

there are problems with the stability thesis:

1) growth of oligarchy and expansion in the executive is said to have created INstability under William and Anne but stability under George I and II?

2) Plumb claims electoral patron subdued their constituencies - but this is not the case, as many seats were contested later and the size of the electorate increased

3) Walpole believed there were threats everywhere -Whigs, Jacobites, France

4) Plumb leaned on Habbakuk's theory of the growth of large estates - didn't happen. The GENTRY prospered, not the aristocracy.

5) Plumb said Whigs were in control - but the Tories were a constant, serious threat - and many Tories were also Jacobites and ready to renounce the Hanoverians.

6) and Church-state relations in Scotland and Ireland made for instability

7) and Plumb did not look at local issues - local gov't had worked through the instabilites of the 17th C and just kept on going, not noticing much difference in the 18th

8) Plumb doesn't say how long it is supposed to have lasted [maybe until the colonies were lost?]

What really IS there is rebellion - dynastic, imperial, and religious (p 89) - additionally there are a number of plots and crises (p 90). Also, no other country has this kind of constant crises or rebellion going on, OTHER countries are much more stable. In France, things are quiet before the revolution - except the riots, but riots in Britain are much bigger. Only in Poland can we see a country whose history "manifestly exceeds that of Britain in the vulnerability and persistent instability" (91).

One of the general problems is of course terminology - what do we mean by stability and crisis? Plumb's definition is too wide and there is no other agreed upon. Stability is when people believe gov't is legitimate and this belief is consistent with general beliefs so people continue to assent to gov'ts authority. The opposite happens when people feel alienated from the political order - a "crisis of legitimation". O'Gorman says this happened on a number of occasions in 18th c Britain.

The first time was w the Glorious Revolution, then w the installation of George I, then the Jacobite uprising in 1715, then end of peace w France 1741) at the time of the War of Austrian Succession and the fall of Walpole (1742), and then the Jacobite uprising of 1745-6. After that the Jacobites were done for but stability was not to be had ... things just got worse with the rebellion of the colonies and the American war of independence (1776-1783). The conflict raised serious issues about legitimacy and loyalty and subjection. Add to this the county associations under Christopher Wyhill and the Gordon Riots in 1780 and it is clear the whole country was mad the whole time.

Then we get ten pages of the different crises and how they were handled - in the end O'Gorman says that the crises did not break the country apart but rather served to strengthen the cohesion of the country (104). The issues that caused instabiliy were solved and stability grew - the problem of distance, of dynastic inheritance, of loyal opposition. Darly on people were frightfully disloyal -

MY NOTE HERE - this says they were perhaps doing something else? that they were not being disloyal to England but loyal to their religion, that they were not disloyal to the king but loyal to the idea of monarchy ... I think that is a really interesting question - what US did people feel like they belonged to, and what did that belonging entail. I do NOT think that O'Gorman shows instability - I think he shows exactly what others have been talking about - a nation that was stable enough to deal with so many crises without falling apart.

Chapter four - Rosemary Sweet
"The Ordering of Family and Gender in the Age of Enlightenment"

Although patriarchy was questioned - the family was still an organising factor. "The institution of the family and the distinction between man and woman were seen to be God-given and 'natural'; they were the basic determinants of order in eighteenth-century society and, as such,not open to question" (112). Lawrence Stone's classical discussion of the separation of spheres and other key features of 'modern family life' should be given up in favor of a "plurality of overlapping models of family life" (113)

Nuclear family? some maybe, but experiences are widely divergent. They existed before and kinship models kept existing. Publications of antiquarian family history, establishing family kinships, persisted (117) THey may have been 'cultural residue' (Raymond Williams) but still important (118).

The family and polical culture (check out Lewis Namier ...) Recent research has found:
a) neat theoretical distinction between public and private spheres breaks down when tested against the lived experience
b) the importance of the family - particularly in informal politics, which was a lot of it. (120)Campaigners would target women as well as men and women were expected to help out and were vital conduits of information
Women worked for the family, not themselves, but then I guess so did men ...

Family interest and Corruption - familial interest and involvement was questioned as symptom of corruption - please note this was at least in part a class issue. Pigott and others used gender to point out the immoral mores of the aristocracy and to question aristocratic privilege. Family influence continued unabated - but it was being transformed into a different kind of political force, "one of the points where the unreformed system was most vulnerable to attack" (122)

Urbanization: a challenge to the family? Conservative moralists such as Byng feared the loss of distinction and privileges due to birth and breeding, and looked upon the growth of urban society with horror" (123) ... "but the concept of the family amongst the middling sort should not automatically equate with a simple model of individual autonomy and private domesticity, or the rejection of the obligations due to wider kin" (123) - RICHARD GRASSBY has shown that "half of business partners came from immediate family or kinsfolk, with no decline towards the latter end of the period" (124) There are though, some studies that show a shift toward friends and neighbours instead of kin ... Kin and networks based on occupation, politics, religion and neighbourhood coexisted!

Separate Spheres, gender roles and the nuclear family - aristocratic connections of kinship did come under attack but some of the other claims are weak. Judith Lewis has argued (in line with Stone) that aristocratic women were forced to withdraw, Thomas Laqueur has claimed that we went from one sex to a two sex model of gender and women were defined in terms of childbearing (127). "This mode of thought, it has been argued, produced a discourse which was able to 'stabilize and maintain a social order of gender inequality', even as the traditional foundations of patriarchal theory were being undermined" (127).

It IS true that women found themselves excluded from some professions, but in many ways "the tidy transition that is supposed to have taken place in early eighteenth-centuryy thought is considerably less clear-cut than some interpretations have suggested" (128)

KAREN HARVEY has shown that two-sex and one-sex models exist parallell to each-other in both seventeenth and nineteenth-century literature. Numerous historians have shown that affectionate love existed long before the 18th century (129) [Keith Wrightson I believe is one].

Marriage: Romantic Ideals and Pragmatic Reality ... upper class folks seem to have some element of romance, but much more of parental suitability, middling sort folk seemed to often consider the partnership, co-dependency ... (see eg Hunt) - hard to find any direct changes in emotional register depicted in sources ... clear that although there was general agreement that adultery was wrong, positions were changing and thetre were increasing numbers of divorce, esp. after 1770 (130) = also "adultery was becoming a social problem rather than a religious offence" (130).

It is difficult to know what to make of print culture evidence - what exactly does it mean? And that sort of reasoning also sidesteps the issue of "whether gender weighed more heavily than social status or class in determining an individual's identity and experience" (130)

there is also the yawning chasm between prescription and practice - "recent research has cumulatively built up a picture of the widespread participation of women in the urban economy that blurs the clarity of the distinctions that historians have traditionally tried to draw" (131)

!!!!! COMMENT!!!!
The deal is that women were always also all these other things - and depending on what they were doing they would use whatever was their strongest suit - "I qualify for this position/authority/whatever because of X" ... X is never their gender, being a woman was almost never the basis for authority - and it was often a the basis for devaluation and humiliation. When you wanted to question someone you would use their weakest suit - and that was often gender ... but in between those two situations there were many when gender did not come up, where other criteria already had decided. Those who had a number of strong suits did not have to discuss their gender as often - they had other capital. The question then becomes if gender is always seen as the weakest suit to take someone down with?

"fluctuating and contested nature of masculinity" (131) - one change "that can be attributed to the code of politeness was a diminished tolerance for violence". the values of politeness were often those associated with women so there was a fine line to balance on

and btw, the importance of family was relevant to men too - "private, domestic virtues of a man began to have an increased bearing upon his public persona, whether he was a statesman or a military hero" (132)

Finally - as you have seen things were complex - the model of big change and separate spheres is too simple, older patterns were still viable and the terrain contested - note that the model is not the reality - the ideal type shows the pattern, not any individual truth. (133)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

3:10 to Yuma - Bourne

Saw 3:10 to Yuma Friday - it was good in parts, at least the acting by Bale and the Aussie, but it took itself much too serious and the morals got seriously murky - still worth seeing and at times even powerful. I liked that they complicated who was good and who was not - except at the end.

Last week we saw the latest Bourne movie - very well made and some fun spy stuff - scary implications of always being watched by big brother - interesting that Bourne got to feel bad about killing people, compared to True Lies and others were killing bad guys is not like killing at all. Matt Damon is good and so is Julianne More - really good.

"History of Ideas at 80"

By Richard Macksey in MLN 117.5 (2002) 1083-1097

Modern American History of Ideas born at lunch w Arthur Lovejoy, George Boas, and Gilbert Chinard when a club was proposed. It was formed on January 24, 1923.

Pre-history w Aristotle, "universal histories" by Polybius, Vico, Kant and Schelling, discussions of Zeitgeist, Denkstil, and world-view, as well as e.g. cassirer and begriffsgeschichte.

Lovejovian history of ideas "involves an interdisciplinary approach to the indetification and tracing of certain "unit-ideas" as they find expression in a wide range of cultural fields from philosophic systems to literature, the other arts, the sciences, and social thought." (1084)

In 1940 they founded the Journal of the History of Ideas. Isaiah Berlin, Rene Wellek and others have been on the board, a number of academic programs have been founded as history of ideas programs, and the Dictionary of the History of Ideas was published to spread the ideas.

The paradigm work is of course "The Great Chain of Being: A Study in the History of Ideas" (1933). The unit ideas of plenitude, continuity, and gradation were followed from Plato to the early nineteenth century on the trail of the "single pervasive complex of ideas" embodied in the title. I guess here the idea of the great chain is that it encompasses everything, that it gives continuity over time and that it provides a hierarchy for the world? - at least this is the idea until the enlightenment and romanticism kills the unity of the universe.

Lovejoy says HOI is more specific and less restricted than history of philosophy, coz the units studied are different. He wants to study unit-ideas, the constitutive element of all the larger systems, creeds, and -isms. Macksey says Lovejoy believes the unit-ideas are finite in number and persistent through time - which makes it questionable whether an actual unit-idea has any history at all?

According to Macksey - Lovejoy's emphasis on this anatomizing process tends to foreground continuity over discontinuity, since "the seeming novelty of many a system is due solely to the novelty of application or arrangement of the old elements which enter into it" (4). (Macksey page 1089)

According to Macksey - Lovejoy then describes some unit-ideas - most are of the following types: implicit or incompletely explicit assumptions, or "more or less unconscious mental habits" , "dialectical motives", "types of metaphysical pathos", "sacred words or phrases of a period or movement" and, more explicitly, specific propositions or principles (eg the Great Chain)

TWO OF THESE TYPES DESCRIBED BY LOVEJOY ARE ESPECIALLY USEFUL TO ANYONE ATTEMPTING TO ACCOUNT FOR THE NON-RATIONAL SUBSTRATE IN INTELLECTUAL HISTORY; the "dialectical motives", which are the mental tics that form the characteristic turns of reasoning or assumptions of an individual, school, or even generation; and "metaphysical pathos" which is Lovejoy's term for the emotional 'charge' of certain words or phrases (Macksey page 1089)

Then three important aspects of the recurrent phenomena -
1) same presuppositions or operative ideas in diverse provinces of thought and different periods
2) the role of the semantic transitions and confusions
3) the internal tensions or waverings of the mind of almost every individual writer

Innovation is to Lovejoy a matter of recombination of the basic elements of thought

Development in France - histoire des idees much like academic source study but also the Geneva School. Georges Poulet - is more concerned with the concepts we think with than the things we think about.

Development in Germany - "several rival versions of conceptional history in the generation after Dilthey, notably Friedrich Mienecke's Ideengeschichte" and eg Gadamer. Also , the exploration of commonplaces, "sacred words and phrases" in Ernst Robert Curtius' European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (1953)

Development in Britain - Isaiah Berlin. Where Lovejoy stresses continuity of unit-ideas, Berlin "is characteristically drawn to new or emergent ideas" (1092)
Next generation in Britain were Quentin Skinner and John Dunn. Skinner says neither context nor the total insistence on the autonomy of the text is enough. And compare this to the scholars (old-school history of literature folks) v critics (new school new criticism folks) debate.

Then we get to practical applications which have been various. Lit scholars have learned to be cautious about periods, many confusions have been cleared up and disambiguations taken place.

Many second generation studies have wandered beyond particular eras looking at such things as progess, primitivism, biblical covenant, etc

Then we get to fruitful objections such as are described in eg Lovejoy's The Great Chain of Being after Fifty Years by Daniel Wilson (1987).
Spitzer who wanted a synthetic method that allows the historian to comprehend the 'totality of features of a given period or movement' " (1094)
Mandelbaum who wanted to distinguish between continuing ideas and recurrent ideas.
Mink who ?
Foucault who was tireless in his attacks (no, it is not that I don't describe what they are, it is that Macksey doesn't - silly man), but had certain similarities:
a) committed to a vigorously cross-disciplinary approach
b) identified and studied the profound break in thought separating the E from Romanticism
c) more interested in the CONSTRAINTS on thought at any given period than in its flow
d) anti-formalists

General problems:
what is an idea?
define causality and influence?
discontinuities or paradigm shifts?
meaning and value?

This really is not a very good article - there are many claims and very few examples to support them. There is no way to figure out from this how different scholars see the history of ideas as a discipline and what it is supposed to be doing. For instance, at the end Macksey says that the linguistic turn has significantly altered the way in which readers how approach the conceptual formulations in Lovejoy's narrative - no shit, Sherlock - but he says not a word about HOW the approaches have been altered. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.


we went to the poetry reading last night - and it was good - and Susan read well and it was nice to meet everybody but of course I didn't have time to talk to anyone enough and I just started conversations in different directions and Pat Michaelson was there with her husband and I didn't get her talked to either - there is so much I want to say to her and ask her and we have not yet built the sort of relationship where that happens smoothly. Oh well. There is respect, and that will do for now.

Today is reading - reading - reading.

I have to find out about cubist history!

James asked me

a) why are these women interesting as anything other than exceptions -the problem lies in the question. If we attempt to find the majority position and use that as an ideal type, even knowing that that is a model and not the terrain itself, we miss something vitally important - which is the RANGE of possible positions. I want to explore the boundaries of the conceptual landscape and to do that I have to find the edges, where the inside THIS pushes up against the outside THAT.
I am looking for the edge pieces.

Saying that someone or something is an exception and leaving it at that is not good enough - not all kinds of exceptions are possible, so we need to understand what kinds of exceptions are possible and perhaps even expected and what role they served and yadi yadi yadi.

b) why I need to do more than one woman, since I am not going to have enough to do something representative anyway. Apart from the constraints of reality (time, energy, bla bla) that keep me from the representative, I still think four are better than one, because four might indicate patterns versus just a simple axis. If they all use the same kind of strategy then the range is possibly two dimensional, a matter of degree. If there are more than one strategy, the complexity of the field increases and we will have to keep going a ways before we can know how the edge pieces relate to each other ...

Biography of Alexander Pope

account given of Martha by Valerie Rumbold in her 1989 study "Women's place in Pope's world," which used extensively the manuscripts and papers at the Blount family home of Mapledurham.
Maynard Mack's magisterial biography of Pope

Richard G. Williams, Librarian and Archivist, Mapledurham House

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Publication the first

I will have a publication - "Select Papers" from the CRE 2007. I am very happy. Really very exceedingly happy. I don't know how many people sent in ther papers for consideration, but I know there were almost 150 speakers and there were about 35 names on the list of recipients for the email saying our papers were approved. The speakers at that conference included Sara Maza, David Bell, Rosemarie Zagarri, Isser Wolloch, Jeremy Popkin, Elizabeth Eisenstein, among many others (although mostly they were serving as commentators on other people's papers). This is a good day.

The series appears to be published by Florida State UP and the general info is:
ISSN: 1092-0013; LCCN: 96-640299 ; sn 95-31874
OCLC: 32531229

just in case ...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

To tell the students

Why hard work is more important than talent - people who finish Ph.D's are not smarter than the others, just more organised. In any topic, at some point you will run into something your smarts cannot fix - discpline and structure is what will keep you alive at that point.

Why we refuse to keep handing you facts to memorize - the facts aren't as certain as we like to think, there are, for instance, three possible dates for when WWII began - 1937, 1939 and 1941. In addition, you have to be able to evaluate the facts, to see which are reasonable and which demand further inquiry or are only valid under some circumstances. Finally, at some point you should be able to start creating your own knowledge and you can't memorize something that doesn't exist yet.

Why we make you work in groups - it has everything to do with the topic above. If you are simply expected to memorize facts or principles, then a group will only help you if the other members know things you don't, things that are not in the book. But since we want you to figure stuff out, to evaluate arguments - to have arguments, you simply must have people to have those arguments with. Imagine a court where the same person was both prosecutor and defense attorney ... Voila, group project.

Why you will probably sometimes have to do more than what is required on the syllabus - we don't know what you know and don't know now, only what we want you to know and understand by the end of the semester. If your background knowledge is limited somewhere - we just expect you (without saying anything to you about it) to go figure it out. If you need to use a dictionary or an encyclopedia or read an extra couple of books to understand the stuff that IS required, we expect you to go read that extra stuff. We don't require that you do certain things, but that you accomplish certain things, however you do them.

Keep in mind that we are trying to teach you content, but also skill sets and methods; not only the historical data (who did what to whom and when) but how to DO history - not only what other philosophers have said but how to CONDUCT a philosophical argument - not only what this or that biologist did or found, but HOW they did it and how you can REPLICATE it and do your own research that confirms or questions what s/he did.

When you are bored because you know most of it, the challenge becomes to notice the things that you DON'T know, figure them out and figure out if that changes the things the things you did know.

Make note of the brave souls who do this in a different language. If you have taken a foreign language you know how hard it is - some of your classmates are doing that every day, everything they do is in another language that they have had to master or are still working on. It is HARD, also because joking is terribly difficult in a foreign language and so you become less animated and you only speak when you have to, because it takes so much out of you.

OT - a note to readers

This is my blog - hah - this is where everything goes - or maybe anything goes - as long as it goes I'll be fine. That's why it's a blog, see.

James, Michelle, whoever else I gave the URL to - if you read this - remember you only have to look at the stuff that is actually about the dissertation .. the rest is just me biting my nails.

James - one thing I did not talk to you about yesterday - about thinking and feeling. Descartes and so many others distinguish between thinking and feeling and believe we can separate out what we think about ideas from what we feel about ideas, or rather, when it comes to the history of mentalités, how we think ideas and how we feel ideas. I believe that is a false dichotomy - I think thinking involves feeling. Adam Smith seems to have been on to something along those lines when he talked about sympathy and the role it plays in our thinking about the world around us, or perhaps to think about things as PART of the world around us - a different perspective to be thinking from (imagining what it must be like in your shoes, or if I were in your shoes ..). The neurologist Antonio Damasio has written a book - Descartes' error - wherein he describes how we use emotions to think (we use emotions to decide what things are important to attend to and what can be ignored - we use emotions to fasttrack thinking into categories and to quickly find likely relevant other information (a sort of heterarchial tagging system). So, assuming that model is viable - any discussion of thinking and the categories of thinking would have to have some room for a broader understanding of thinking that does not see feeling as its ugly stepsibling.

Stuff like this - random blabber - will be tagged as OT. Stuff that is more relevant will be tagged according to some system I will try to come up with below:

DISS - the stuff itself
BIBLIO - readings
TODO - lists
conferences - places, groups, topics,CFPs, etc
money - grants, fellowships, travel,
research - places, contents, howto's,
admin - software, sorting stuff, tools I need or how to use them
OT - off topic stuff - rants, random ideas, conversations and moral outrage
PRECIS - just what it sounds like
Get it? Got it? Good! (Danny Kaye - but what movie?)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

History of Sensibilities

Article in AHR by Dan Wickberg.

two interpretive directions of new cultural history

A) cultural history of representation
B) history of sensibilities

I think these two relate to the discussion of intellectual history v the social (material) history of intellectuals but I am not sure how? Maybe what the first article says is that Wickberg, rather than study what people have thought about (which would put IH very close to history of philosophy or perhaps in history tend toward a cultural history of representation) or study what made people think about certain things (which would be a social history of intellectuals), believes we should study HOW people think and feel about things - and how, historically, we have perceived the things we think and feel about ... which would be a history of sensibilities.

The first case looks at how eg whiteness is represented and think that says something about race - the second case "foregrounds the sensibility" (662)

He quotes Huizinga and says that "what separates the people in the past from our contemporaries in the present is not so much the things they were concerned with, but the alien ways in which they sensed and felt those things" (664).

Then we get a short history of the term sensibilities - founded in the idea of sense experience as described eg by John Locke and defining sensibility as the general capacity for sense experience and the faculty of mind responsible for sensation.

A second lineage developed though, emphasizing the moral, emotional, and literary elements of character, associating sensibility with refined feeling, taste, and sensitivity to suffering. This is embodied in "the Man of Feeling".

Along these two paths sensibility was unitary - you had it, to a larger or lesser degree, but it was one thing. In the twentieth century art movements took aesthetic sensibility and turned it into sensibilities (666).

When Trilling and Sontag used the term they "emphasized its collective nature and tied its moral to its aestethic content" (667). Sontag equated sensibility with collectively held forms of taste (667)

When Clifford Geertz used the term, he linked culture and sensibility - "what marked people as different from one another was precisely the difference in the structure of perception, feeling, and value that could be designated as 'sensibility'; the task of cultural anthropology was to translate one sensibility into another without collapsing the differences between them" (668)

IN a different direction TS Eliot talked about the dissociation of sensibility - sensation and perception are separated and thought and feeling divided - not good. His discussion shows that sensibility is not just a structure of feeling but a pattern in which idea and emotion are bound up with one another" (669)

Why is sensibilities better? Because it is broader and combines things in a better way:

Episteme (Foucault) and paradigm (Kuhn) are focused on thought and knowledge - not emotion.

Mentalité (Annales school) distinguishes between elites - who have rational ideas - and the people - who have "popular attitudes" or .. mentalités.

Structures of feeling (Raymond Williams) is good because it considers emotion, but limited because it seems to imply formal systems of thought do not contain particular structures of feeling .. it is also Marxist

Habitus - Bourdieu - focus on embodiment makes it problematic for groups? Also, "the notion of habitus is lacking that sense of the interior mental and emotional life that the concept of sensibility captures so well; its problem in some sense is that it is too rigid in its focus on system and structure to capture the looseness and fluidity of sensibilities" (672)

Finally - all the other concepts have a lot of theoretical baggage that sensibilities does not have.

Why not sensibilities? (673)

1) It avoids discussions of POWER
- "posits deep structure of mind" where "meaning is not negotiated, but is already given"
- concerned more with description than with explanation

this can of course be seen as an advantage too - coz it lets us talk about culture that is not implicated in power - "culture is not power, nor is power the most important element of culture" (674)

2) focuses more on what than why - bad for folks who want causality

3) propensity for use in a sweeping and over-generalizing fashion
- tends toward "consensus" history since it easily portrays a uniform culture
but it doesn't HAVE to be like that - you can change elements that are outdated - [so I wonder why this is not theoretical baggage and the outdated elements of other concepts are not - maybe it is easier to broaden a concept and add complexity than to narrow a concept and take out complexity?]

Good examples of sensibilities:

William James who distinguished between tender minded (rationalistic - going by principles - intellectualistic, idealistic, optimistic, religious etc) and tough-minded (empiricist - going by facts - sensationalistict, materialistic, pessimistic, sceptical, irreligous). James believed though, that these were psychological habits of persons , rather than cultural habits of collectives so he is not a historian. (677)

Richard Hofstadter who is one of the primary architects of consensus history, described what he called the paranoid style in American history (one particular kind of conservativish conspiracy theorist)

Jackson Lears whose history of advertizing became an entre into changing sensibilities. Like Huizinga he describes a paradise lost where people felt differently, but the important thing is that he asked readers to "look beyond the 'what' of consumer culture ... to see the 'how' - the separation of desire from the embodied world.

David Brion Davis who wrote about the humanitarian spirit that developed in the 19th century and challenged slavery among other things. Haskell criticized Davis writing but never quite dealt with the sensibility issue - "In order to emphasize the supposed new ways of imagining causal sequence provoked by the market, Haskell had to downplay the moral ideas and feelings of the new sensibility (680).

Thomas Laqueur demonstrated that realistic representation of concrete details .. drew a moral connection between concreteness, immediate sensation, and ameliorative action. Realism fosters moral impulse to intervene (hmm - - - is that really what happens? Is that why we have all the reality shows?)
In these footsteps follow Karen Halttunen who works on horror and the 'pornography of pain' and Elizabeth Clark who works on humanitarianism.

Also there is the history of emotions as researched by Stearns, and a history of the senses themselves (visual sense has been privileged so we need to consider other senses and how "the significance of various forms of sensory experience is culturally variable")

Sceptics will say that sensibilites will be found only in representations - that it is only in discourse or texts of some sort that we can see these sensibilities - and they are right. But instead of collecting texts about slavery and insist that they are saying things about slavery we should see that they say something about HOW those people said things in general. The humanitarian sensibility is not a response to slavery - rather slavery came to be represented as a moral evil in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries at least in part because of the development of a humanitarian sensibility. [I don't know that I buy that causality - I DO think that the humanitarian sensibility deter .... THis is where my computer did not save stuff ... rewrite

footnote 29 is a whole universe by itself: nomothetic or ideographic discipline - social science or humanistic discpline? Sounds a little bit like the distinction between lumpers and splitters (and Isaiah Berlin's categorizing thinkers as 'Hedgehogs' (lumpers) and 'Foxes' (splitters) in his essay on Leo Tolstoy, 'The Hedgehox and the Fox'.)

from Britannica:
"question of whether it is better to study groups of individuals and attempt to draw general conclusions (termed the nomothetic approach) or to study the behaviours that make individuals unique (termed the idiographic approach)…"

from Wikipedia:
Nomothetic and idiographic are terms coined by Kantian philosopher Wilhelm Windelband to describe two distinct approaches to knowledge, each one corresponding to a different intellectual tendency, and each one corresponding to a different branch of academe.
Nomothetic is based on what Kant described as a tendency to generalize, and is expressed in the natural sciences. It describes the effort to derive laws that explain objective phenomena.
Idiographic is based on what Kant described as a tendency to specify, and is expressed in the humanities. It describes the effort to understand the meaning of contingent, accidental, and often subjective phenomena.
Usually, nomothetic approaches are quantitative, and idiographic approaches are qualitative.

Citizenship and cartoons

organize a topic on gender and citizenship - the texts and my thoughts.

find texts on visual representation of gender in the period.

To do list for ABD group part 1

These are all things I need to do for my dissertation:


Sharon Arnault's article - write thank you note

"Ordering the World"

Dan's article in AHR - DONE

Dan's article on intellectual history - DONE

Biographies of Macaulay and Montagu

Make outline of diss - DONE

Organise books according to outline --- started

Figure out what I can find in archives
in London
in New York
in Google books
download History of England volumes 1-8

Adress the following questions/issues:
- gender history - where is it headed?
- do I have a position on the change in assumptions in the middle of the 18th c?
- follow up on the issue of authorial humility (responses on C18L)
- reread stuff on CITIZENSHIP that goes in chapter one (I think) and write it up
These are all things I need to do academically:
For article:
Finish Kerber
Finish People's History of America

For conferences/grants:
- Do roundup of submission deadlines
- Say no to British Scholar
- Register for WCBS in Albuquerque

Sunday, August 26, 2007

To do this week

Organise my articles - done

Finish Dan’s articles - done

Write for Higher Ed

Finish Kerber’s book

Finish Am History of People

ILL book copies - done

Cancel British Scholar attendance - done