Category Archives: Miriam Jones

Now this

just doesn’t happen very often: Verlyn Klinkenborg has written a piece for the New York Times that connects the eighteenth century with speculative fiction. See “When Doris Lessing Meets Lady Mary Wortley Montagu” (Dec. 8/07) for an interesting read about the ways in which we tend to position writers from the past, and how re-imagining them can offer new insights. The wry Montagu is particularly suitable for this somewhat whimsical treatment, while conversely being enough of a heavyweight to survive a comparison with Lessing.


Teaching Carnival #19 up at Scribblingwoman

Another nifty bundle of stuff at Miriam Jones’s Scribblingwoman, at this address:

Enjoy, and thanks, Miriam.



Effeminate women

bradamante.jpg[Xposted to my blog]

Yesterday in my graduate seminar we discussed Margaret Cavendish’s Bell in Campo and The Sociable Companions. It was a lively discussion — they are an interested group — and at one point someone brought up the ways in which the two armies in Bell in Campo are described. “Masculine” is used to describe the army of men, while “feminine” and “effeminate” would seem to be used interchangeably to describe Lady Victoria’s army of women. It is also used to insultingly refer to men who prefer to stay home rather than fight. This led to a sweeping pronouncement from me about the ways in which the definitions of words often narrow and focus over time; it would seem that at one time “effeminate” could have been used to mean more or less “feminine” without any shading — though it was also used in our contemporary sense — but now it is used pretty exclusively as a pejorative applied to gay men who are perceived as lacking in “masculine” traits. We discussed various female equivalents and unpacked the some of the meanings “Amazon” held in the period.

This is one reason, among many, that I like the 18thc: English, always in flux, is just at enough of a remove after three centuries, give or take, that it is deceptively familiar. But upon closer examination there are significant little moments of vertigo, moments which can be useful as an entrée into a discussion of, say, gender roles.

[Speaking of language, awhile back on C18-L Jim Chevalier linked to a useful glossary of 18thc terms. I downloaded the list myself but have mislaid the link and invite you to post it again, Jim, if you are reading this.]

ESTC online

[Xposted to my blog]

Just found out that the British Library is offering free online access to the English Short Title Catalogue. Most, most excellent. Heads up from Stephen Karian on C18-L.

Royal Society Journals Online


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In case any of our readers does not subscribe to C18-L:

Over 340 years of landmark science available for first time: “The complete archive of the Royal Society journals, including some of the most significant scientific papers ever published since 1665, is to be made freely available electronically for the first time today (14th September 2006) for a two month period” (heads up from Kevin Berland at C18-L).

Coffeehouses/public sphere

[Xposted to my blog]

A couple of weeks ago Henry Farrell posted about Brian Cowan’s The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the English Coffee House. Fascinating review and illuminating discussion (in more ways than one) in the comments. Quibble, and not having read the book: I think Farrell overstates when he describes “the typical academic view of the coffeehouse” “as the empirical manifestation of Jurgen Habermas’s ‘public sphere’.” Surely anyone with a passing knowledge of the period knows that the ideals of rationality and civility were more honoured in the breach? I wonder just to what extent the Habermasian ideal has been taken literally, at least with regards to coffeehouses?

Upcoming courses?

At the risk of eliciting groans, I will observe that classes start for most of us, those who are teaching that is, in a few weeks. I would love to know what courses others are to teach and how they will organise them, so please feel welcome to link to your course websites. (And now that I think of it, a section in the sidebar that links to pertinent course pages might be a useful thing. Note to self.)

This term I have two courses, a second year course that surveys English literature until 1800, and a graduate course on women in the theatre in the Restoration and 18thc. As you will see if you visit, the pages are in varying stages of readiness:

Thalia’s Daughters for English 6365: Women Onstage in the Long Eighteenth Century
systematic deviation for English 2101: Literature in English I

Each is a new course (though the 2101 is really just half of a longer course that we recently divided, which I had taught several times). Any comments are most welcome, on course content, formatting of the course sites, or anything else.