Monday, January 31, 2005
Say what you will about the Norton Anthology of English Literature (and Norton in general)--in fact most of it needs to be said--but their online companion to NAEL is just lovely.
Have started playing Baldur's Gate II; is infinitely preferable to a) my own reading, and b) my marking. This is either good, or bad.
Likely the latter.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Query: Would it be evil of me to mark papers using a D100?
For those of you not in the D&D loop, a D100 should be, theoretically, a hundred-sided die. Mine, however, is much more practical/clever: it's a large, clear plastic D10 that has a smaller, opaque D10 inside, so when you roll it, you read the 10s column number off the clear dice, and the 1s column off the coloured dice. It's actually really fun. And sadly, I am not actually marking papers that way...
Saturday, January 29, 2005
This marks the 5th or 6th time I've tried to update in the last few days, all of which have been abandoned, forgotten, or eaten by my computer. (Predominantly the latter.)
So. Things I will not be posting about include my dad's reviews of the books the sisters wrote as children, marking, teaching, my life in general.
My enjoyment of tea is increasingly greatly this term, as I find myself drinking amounts that are starting to border on the ridiculous--let's just say that if coffee was my hot beverage poison of choice, I'd be absolutely manic, rail thin, and would not have slept in the past two weeks. Actually, you know what's crazy? i find myself occasionally craving coffee now. I hate the way it tastes (and I know that I hate the way it tastes), but I find myself wanting it--same with beer, actually.
I went to an art auction for the Guelph Jazz festival earlier this week, and it was really fun. The food was fabulous (if a bit sparing, but then, I got there late) and the art was as well. It was interesting to see the 'who's who' of the Guelph arts community, in a lot of ways. It was also fun because it was a dressy occasion, and my silk skirt has so few occasions that it can bring itself out for. Sadly, however, a dressed-to-the-nines Rhi means that all of her classmates in attendance won't recognize her.
Lots of reading this weekend, none of which I have any real desire to do. I know plays aren't long, but I just can't bring myself to care too much. And I should care--I have a response paper due this week on that reading.
I'm really hoping next week will be better--I need to cheer up a bit.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
It's rather a wonderful thing to find yourself falling in love with your new school and city, and actually being disappointed that you only have another seven months to spend there. The UGoo sports teams are the Guelph Gryphons, and our school colours are gold, scarlet, and black--is it any wonder that sometimes I secretly pretend that I am a student at Hogwarts? (Of course, technically I'm a Ravenclaw, but a girl can dream, can't she?)
The sock minkey obsession rages on through various parts of Ontario. I have made two monkeys (with the help of my lovely baby sister) and a socktopus so far; it's really interesting to see how quickly they develop their own characters...although perhaps that is simply my silly, overactive imagination. The socktopus, in particular, who is destined to control the sock minkey army my family is slowly building (even mon pere is involved), has developed a very dictatorial style and several vicious attack strategies. As the Squidge says, this is what you get for naming him General Socktopus. Alfred, my other minkey, is fun too--he's made from a very small set of socks, and has a correspondingly very sweet disposition, and doesn't mind when I forget that he's on the chair and sit on him.
School is soldiering on at the moment. Am not too panicked yet as am trying to save that for a future date (current prediction for this will be in a couple of weeks).
Thursday, January 20, 2005
And the weeks unfold, slowly but surely, and i am starting to do better with stuff like not making all of my assignments due at the end of the term. It's awesome. Sort of. Interesting observation for the week: The majority of the profs I have encountered this year are extreme Type A personalities. (Which I can respect, having parent(s) who could fall into that category, and, dare I say it, potentially exhibiting some of those tendencies myself. A lot.)
You should really hop on over to Knot Again and see what I made tonight. It's awesome. A sock minkey army couldn't hold me back.
I bought the first Thursday Next book today. It makes me--thus far--very, very happy. I also got a Galileo thermometre. They're so pretty.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Argh. Nothing is more frustrating than when your best laid plans are upset by the sudden onset of sickness (and also when your mother neglects to send your bathing suit via the mail). Insomuch that tonight is my first swimming lesson, I'm going to suck it up and go, but I think I will have to forgo what I have termed "Monday Night Club" and just pack myself into bed early. Sore throats are the pits.
The weekend was uneventful, in ways both good (restful) and bad (unproductive).
The Canadian Legends people sent me a very nice email thanking me for the link to their website. Lets hope they are still nice once Campaign Brebeuf gets underway.
Friday, January 14, 2005
I taught today for the first time. No. I didn't actually teach for the first time. I taught literature today for the first time, and it was the most wonderful, most glorious thing.
We discussed what would make up the 5 Most Influential Works in English Literature, intertextuality, poetry, and gender and sexuality. It was marvelous. One of the poems that was discussed was William Carlos Williams' Red Wheel Barrow, and one of the students had it on her in an anthology, so I wrote it in the board, and we talked a little about why it was neat. After class, she came up to me and said that our discussion had convinced her to keep the anthology, which apparently she was going to sell to the bookstore.
Lots of reading this weekend, including some academic work by Robertson Davies for my Politic of the Cross-Dressed Body class, on boys in Elizabethan theatre. I also get to review Twelfth Night...skippy.
Yay, refund mon-ay from the school. I am no longer broke.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
For all my fellow Canadian history buffs (all, er, two of you), you absolutely must check out the sheer, unadulterated genius of Canadian Legends. And before you ask--it isn't a joke, I've actually seen the Sir John A. figures at the bookstore here on campus.* I want a Mackenzie King, please!
I would also like to point out that I did a similar thing for my final project for my first year history course back in the day, which prompted my history prof to push me for grad school (in history).
*but really, how accurate can a Sir John A. figure be without a fifth of whiskey as one of his accessories?
Today has turned out to be much more perilous than I had anticipated. The buses stopped running this morning because the city is pretty much black ice all over; I (foolishly) decided to walk downtown (about a 25 minute walk from my apartment) to catch a bus downtown (as 2080 was this morning) and got one of the last buses to the school. The university campus has become what I've decided to term 'The Giant Skating Rink...of Death!1!' (typos intended, of course) and it is absolutely treacherous out there, so I think that once I get my lunch I will come back to MacKinnon and park my ass, with my mp3 player, my sweater-in-progress, and my reading.
I finished the His Dark Materials trilogy, and am completely and totally in love. Now that I have read them, I am absolutely boggled by the potential that the film adaptations might be made with no references to the Church. I got a really nice Dell boxed set of the books, which makes me very happy. I am still seeking a nice set of The Chronicles of Narnia, but my criteria are too demanding, I suspect: I'd prefer individual books, and I'd also prefer *not* to pay $90 for the set...
Sarah Harmer will be playing a tsunami benefit concert here in Guelph next week, and I am quite excited for it.
Ah well. Off to lunch, my beauties...
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
I just finished reading the first of my readings for Lit and Anthro, the introductory chapter to E. Valentine Daniel and Jeffrey M. Peck's Culture/Contexture: Explorations in Anthropology and Literary Studies. I have lots to say about it, I think--it's a lot to take in at once, but so interesting--so I think I will start with a tiny, near-throwaway reference that Peck makes to the destabilization of the canon in the mid-1980s (and its potential relationship to the intersection of literature and anthropology):
With the surge of social and pollitical criticism in the eighties, the breakdown of the canon, and the exposure of white, Western, male, and heterosexist authority, English departments began to open up to "foreign" literatures and cultures (Native American, Afro-American, Latino, gay and lesbian literature) and to the different languages of popular culture (advertising, political pamphlets and speeches, newspapers and televison), accodomdating thereby a neew subfield called "cultural studies." But they all remained under the privileged eye and authority of a dominant academic English (department) culture. (Daniel and Peck, 14)
Peck's argument is a little ambiguous at this point; he points to the breakdown of the canon but then reverses himself and says that it didn't go far enough in its destabilization. Back in December, I spent a week in Sudbury, and went to the campus bookstore at Laurentian University to check out what their English department was like (which I felt could be done simply from looking at the books for the courses they are offering this term).
This was a particularly interesting exercise for me, as many of the books were ones that I studied in undergrad myself, or ones that I am teaching here at the university. So, with a tacit commonality between three of Ontario's universities, does this not point to a recanonization of some kind?
In yesterday's lecture for the class I am TAing this term, the prof discussed her inclusion of Aphra Behn's The Rover in the syllabus rather than Oroonoko, saying that to her, it seems as though Oroonoko is taught in every second English class at the university. (I should note that I am in no way complaining about this; Behn's novel is dull, dull, dull, and I don't relish the idea of having to teach it some day.) What I am suggesting here, or at least trying to suggest, is that rather than a 'breakdown' of the canon, we are simply seeing the canon mould itself to different expectations, and that "margin" areas of literature have developed a sense of 'canon' as a result. The idea of 'breaking down' the canon implies a malleability to the choices that the canon proffers, which isn't (I don't think) borne out by the reality of the situation. Rather, what we see are almost 'token' inclusions of the marginalized.
I hesitate to say that, as in saying it in this fashion implies a certain devalualing of the texts and authors that I have in mind (names like Behn, Zora Neale Hurston, Coetzee, Thomas King, and Gloria Anzaldua), and I don't intend to devalue their works--Coetzee and King in particular are favourites of mine, and all have made valuable contributions to English, as writers or scholars or both. What I am critiquing, here, is the impulse by which the canon allows so few works to integrate themselves; where one work (or one author) becomes representative of all of texts that could find themselves under the banner of that particular marginalization. For example, King sometimes seems to reside the Canadian public's literary conscious as The Only Native-Canadian Writer Ever (which is ironic, both in that he's "technically" Native-American, and that, well, he isn't).
Of course, the canon wouldn't be the canon if it wasn't what it is. If only the institutions would recognize that...
Class the first looks fabulous. The work load is not ridiculously intense, the prof is quite personable, and a good number of the people in the class are well-spken and interesting. It is a largish class (13 people) but I have high hopes for it.
I signed up for an adult swimming class today (junior level--despite several years of swimming lessons as a child, my aquatic skills are pretty low) and for a Pilates class. This makes me busy three nights a week, but I think it will be a lot of fun.
Went out drinking last night (which for me, means wine with dinner and two Strongbow...I adore my low alcohol tolerance) and forgot how rough the morning is when I've been drinking Strongbow. I've only been drinking it for a year and a half or so now, and it and my body just don't get along sometimes.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
And so the grind begins again tomorrow morning--although, as I was saying to Ms. Starlite earlier, can it still be called the grind if there's only one hour of class tomorrow? But I do have other stuff, meetings and doctors and such, so it should be a full day.
What a lovely, quiet weekend. I read four books (loved three--His Dark Materials--and was sorely disappointed by the other) and watched a few movies...took a satellite phone call from the mid-Atlantic. My webcam is now functional as well, and I think I have decoded the mysteries of the socktopus.
And so I begin the new term, cautiously optimistic. I am taking two and a half courses this term--Sky Gilbert's The Politic of the Cross-Dressed Body (Aspects of the Theory of Drama, Theatre, and Performance):
This theoretical course will look at two different eras and their approaches to cross-dressed performance, and make inquiries about the fundamental political implications of the cross-dressed body. We will start by examining historical documents concerning the performances of men dressed as women (particularly English Renaissance anti-theatrical texts) and (by careful reading of extant primary sources) consider the sociological necessities (particularly the banning of women from the stage) that precipitated cross-dressed roles before the nineteenth century. What effect did the appearance of real women on the stage have on theatre in the Restoration? When we jump to modern times, we will compare and contrast Farquar’s The Recruiting Officer and Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good. What did the cross-dressing mean then, and what does it mean now, in a theatrical context? We will look at some modern theoretical texts, including Judith Butler, Kenneth Plummer, and Judith Halberstam which discuss the radical, performative and political nature of gender disruption in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Is a performance on stage different from the performative in real life? (Simone Benmussa’s The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs will help us in this discussion, as we examine a contemporary play about a real life nineteenth-century instance of female to male cross-dressing.) We will not ignore nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century English music hall (as well as Vaudeville and contemporary comedy) when we ask the question: is it possible for cross-dressed performers in contemporary culture NOT to have a political effect? Finally, we will examine the different political consequences of male to female and female to male cross-dressing, and the relationship each has to the performative.
and Jennifer Schacker's Between Literature and Anthropology (Special Topics in Literature):
This course will explore the dynamic interrelationship of cultural theories and textual practices involved in the representation of oral traditions. Our reading list will cross some disciplinary boundaries, foregrounding theories of culture and creativity in which conception of a distinct “folk” or “oral style” are salient–from the seventeenth and eighteenth century philological tradition (Lowth, Wood, Herder), through Victorian folklorists and anthropology (the Grimms, Dasent, Müller), early twentieth-century ethnography (Sapir, Jacobs), and more recent cross-disciplinary work on “verbal art” (Finnegan, Tedlock, Hymes, Bauman, Briggs). Our goal throughout is to denaturalize “folk style” and to explore its indexical relations to gender, genre, narrative authority, and the politics of culture. Towards that end, we are likely to return to a core set of questions: In what terms is folk style constructed, and to what is it contrasted? In what contexts is the concept invoked, and to what end? To what extent do such conceptualizations construct folklore as modernity’s “Other”? Does the theorizing of difference necessarily produce imaginative narratives, or conjectural histories? Does the theorizing of folk style heighten scholars’ attention to their/our own styles of expression? What textual practices, cultural policies, and allocations of intellectual energy might such conceptions implicate?
The half-course is my remaining research module, described below, which is apparently dealing with some aspects of Reader Response Theory. I suspect this will be an enormously stimulating semester; I have some interesting things that could relate to potential research projects for the summer...but all of this has yet to be discussed with my potential supervisor.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
The whole New Year's Resolution thing is perhaps silly, and probably overdone, but here I am anyway, as I definitely could use some improvement. So:
ii) stay organized and manage time better
iii) do not overeat
iv) manage money more effectively
v) update here more often and more relevantly
vi) turn Snipes and Gripes into something more regular and more funny
vii) see the finn brothers again
viii) submit at least one conference proposal
ix) maintain A average
x) do not get sticky stuff on keyboard
*To date, I have read 6 books in 2005.
Since I currently only have one Finn album kicking around my apartment, One Nil, it's a good thing that album is One Nil. (Why yes, Straitsy, I am looking at you.) Many of the songs that I've been hearing in my head as of late have been of the One Nil variety...although, Together Alone and I are starting to become much, much better friends.
I have returned to Guelph for the time being (the time being will be a period of roughly six weeks, I think, unless I take a trip to North Bay Rock City at the end of the month). Guelph is a good place, if (surprisingly) more snowy than that place I just left. School starts again tomorrow, and it should be a busy day. One of the courses that I was scheduled to take has been cancelled. (If you wanted to guess which one it was, it is of course the one that I had already spent $100 on books for....grrr...) So tomorrow (among my TA class, various meetings, signing up for swimming lessons, and a doctor's appointment) will involve trying to figure out what I want to do to replace this class. The options that remain largely don't appeal to me. (scroll down for the Winter05 courses) I would like to take Sky Gilbert's course on The Cross-Dressing Body, but it is technically listed as a drama course and so I am unsure if I am allowed to take it. The other option I am considering is a reading course, but I'm not really sure what that involves. So, needless to say, Monday will be busy...
Suppose I should go get reacquainted with the shower. Funny, because I haven't actually blogged about what I intended to. Perhaps later.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
It's been a lovely, busy few days. Youngest sister and I have been busy puzzling out a CSI mystery, curling (she as skip, me as spectator and official monkey clothier), and lunching with friends, which is quite eerie for me--they are all 16-17 years old now, and I have known a number of them since they were 4 or 5, and my goodness, are they all old. Youngest is also the local high school's athlete of month. Not sure where the athletic gene came from--it is distinctly possible that she is a throwback, as they would say in the 19th century.
Went to the Huronia Museum's Film Series last night with my nerdish compatriots to see Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself. The first thing that I should say about this film is that it is a collaborative effort between Scotland and Denmark; and really, what could be better than that? The Teen Nerd Squad and I enjoyed ourselves enormously (possibly more than other people there) and we even got to see the part of Glasgow where I threw up on the street back in 2003. Ah, memories. A few minor hiccups aside, Wilbur is a subtly realized, but enormously powerful movie...perhaps a bit in the vein of the delicious Harold and Maude.
Guys, I really want a socktopus.
Here's the synopsis for my second theory module at school:
Reading Readers Reading
For contemporary scholars in cultural, performance and media studies, as well as literary critics who follow reader-oriented theory, the meanings of a text do not inhere in the text itself but emerge in the set of responses making up the process of decoding. In this sense, meaning is a process of discovery, a result of inquiry, and reading is a journey, an act of critical investigation. To study such critical investigations requires new methods in qualitative research as it applies to performance, media, and texts--broadly defined. This session surveys theories of reception and response as providing the theoretical framework for applying qualitative methods in graduate research.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
So apparently it's been a few days since I have written here. It's one of the things that I dislike about being home--going from the free and easy access to my beloved Cortana that I have in Guelph to having to share this new and nameless computer with x-number of other people, who aren't used to having to share it with me. I think what I'm saying is that my internet access and email checking and such becomes very sporadic as a result of such. Not that it matters much, as I've had few emails of note in the last couple of weeks.
The last few days have been sporadic as well. I have hardly spent any time at home, what with New Year's, luncheons, Dungeons and Dragons (in addition to my now epic level, I got take a level in avatar for Bahamut!) and other such lovely things. Apparently my sister's roommate (who may be mine next year) also dabbles in the polyhedral dice, so there may be more playing next year if I end up in North Bay Rock City again.
I also purchased a copy of Diplomacy, which is exciting, though I have realized since that there is only a very small likelihood that I will actually get to play it sometime in the next year. Ah, how I love that game.
Stay tuned for a year end wrap-up sometime soon over here.