Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On the Sublime

Are we not, then, to hold that composition (being a harmony of that language which is implanted by nature in man and which appeals not to the hearing only but to the soul itself), since it calls forth manifold shapes of words, thoughts, deeds, beauty, melody, all of them born at our birth and growing with our growth, and since by means of the blending and variation of its own tones it seeks to introduce into the minds of those who are present the emotion which affects the speaker, and since it and by the building of phrase upon phrase raises a sublime and harmonious structure are we not, I say to hold that harmony by these selfsame means allures us and invariably disposes us to stateliness and dignity and elevation and every emotion which it contains within itself, gaining absolute mastery over our minds? (Longinus)
The sublime.  We've heard the term bandied about, and those of us who are familiar with underlying ideas of Romanticism will immediately think "Edmund Burke."  Well, Longinus thought it first.  My intent, however, is not to give a lesson but to urge you to think about what it that writing does to us.

What do words do?  When you read, what are the words stirring inside of you? If it sublime, it lifts and inspires heightened emotions.  If it's well-written, in inspires loftier things--it "seeks to introduce into the minds of those who are present the motion which affects the speaker."  And if it's successful, oh what can it do?  These words can create a work that "allures us and invariably disposes us to stateliness and dignity and elevation and every emotion which it contains within itself," and here's the rub: "gaining absolute mastery over our minds".

That, my friends, is why we read literature.  To feel that inspiration, that rush of emotion, the elevation of the mind and heart.  And why do we study writing and try to teach it?  I would hope it would be show our students that writing is powerful and that they too can grasp at least a measure of that power and wield it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

(Party) Dress

I had an engagement party last weekend (so fun!), so I decided to use some of my precious spare time (read: time I should be reading) to make a new dress.  I was at the new fabric store with AW and found a great Burda Style pattern (No. 7517) and some great discount material.  The dress only needed 2 yards!  To make a whole dress!
Anyway, so after deciding it was worth about $15 to buy pattern/dress (though, after zipper and other materials, probably closer to $20 or $25), I went home and made it.  I got quite obsessed with finishing and stayed up until 1 or 2 am, working on it.

It turned out, and it turned out exceedingly well.  You see, I actually took the time to carefully measure and resize the pattern to fit me precisely.  (It turns out that I'm a mix of three sizes, go figure).  The pattern was really good in that it was both easy and had a great size chart so I could figure it all out.  I also carefully sewed everything, so all the seams were in place and the zipper wasn't all crooked.

And when I zipped it up, I was surprised and delighted to discover that it fit me perfectly.  It was lovely.  After the picture was taken, I was able to adjust the front pleats a bit more to lay flatter (no additional sewing required!).  I want to make another out of cotton and maybe three more just for the hell of it.  It was stylish and wonderful, and it was the perfect thing to wear to a party to celebrate our engagement.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wedding Planning Recommences!

Lance and I have been engaged for three months now, but somehow I think we're a little behind on wedding planning.  Here are things I have done:

  • tried on wedding dresses (and ruled out buying one)
  • obtained a dress to take apart and make mine out of
  • picked wedding cake recipes for my aunt to make
  • figured out bridesmaids/groomsmen and officiant
Here are the things we probably should be doing but haven't yet:
  • set a date (well, we did this once already, but it fell through)
  • register
  • figure out a budget
  • decide dresses/suits/Lance's suit
  • food
  • photographer
  • engagement photos
 Luckily, thanks to an awesome friend, we may have figured out where the darn thing is going to be.  And now that we've figured out where, we can figure out the when.  And the budget.  For some reason, so much of our planning was hinging on that not-so-minor decision.  Now that we have a where (which I'm really excited about because it's going to be SO COOL. And budget-friendly!), I'm back in wedding planning mode again.  Lance and I have decided we're going to try for the cheap-yet-fun wedding award, and we're excited.  As you can probably tell from my overuse of the italics.

Let the wedding planning excitement continue!  I'm obviously out to make this as much fun as humanly possible instead of aggravating as it too often seems.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Post-Stabbing Shirt

When you accidentally stab yourself, you need to have a good story.  Oh, look.  I'm injured.  How'd I do it, you ask?  Well...that's a great story.  You see, there was a puppy, a crazed monkey, and a knife...

Anyway, I stabbed myself yesterday in the arm, near my elbow. Unfortunately, I don't have a great story.  Not even really a good story.  But here it is: I was washing dishes, and I was reaching around the other side of the dish rack to put a mug down when I clipped the utensil caddy.  In an attempt to catch it (while not breaking my mug), I flailed and ended up jamming my arm down hard on the tip of a very sharp paring knife, knocking the utensil caddy on the form and luckily dodging the other two sharp knives while keeping them from piercing my toes.  I called Lance in a panic, and he came home to find me in a slight state of shock, drenched in sweat from the adrenaline rush, pressing a paper towel to my bleeding arm.

After he patched me up, Lance finished the dishes while I calmed down and realized that my knife injury now limits my range of motion, meaning I pierced the muscle that controls my hand--thus inhibiting my ability to grasp things well, type, or lift things.

Today, though, I was feeling a bit better, so I decided to do a little sewing.  I cut out a pattern for a cute shirt I'd been eyeballing (and had a piece of fabric picked up for super cheap!)  Lance came through, and as he has acquired many apples, he wanted me to make him a muslin press bag for his apple press.  So I cut out and sewed that, then decided to keep up the craftiness and made this:

It's stretchy and comfy and I really like it.  I look forward to wearing it out sometime soon!  When I'm less stabbed.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Women and Literary Production

I'm taking a course in feminist theory this semester, so I thought I'd share some of my reading journal from this week (we're reading from Feminist Literary Theory: A Reader, edited by Mary Eagleton):
            When men control the means of written production, how is a woman to speak publicly? Chapter 2 is concerned primarily with women and literary production: how it has been limited by men, by feminism, by society.  Eagleton indicates these factors kept women from speaking out, and if they did, often their writing was viewed as inferior to men’s.  The two excerpts from Woolf—Shakespeare’s sister and killing the Angel of the House—deal with the difficulties of being a woman who longs to write and wishes to write about her experiences in a woman’s body, but is prevented from doing so: either prevented from writing at all or from writing about ideas that are considered “improper.”  Olsen looks at the silencing of women, which begins at birth and prevents their entry into the class of writers.
            Eagleton’s introduction to Chapter 2 got me thinking about modern means of production, especially the Internet.  Women are among the most active writers on the Internet, with the advent of “mommy blogs” and other communities created by women for women.  Each year, a conference is held for female bloggers (called BlogHer), where they meet and mingle and discuss issues about being a woman and being a public writer.  Many of these bloggers are given opportunities to write books based on their blogs, meaning more women are producing books. While blogging seems empowering for women, since the means of production is removed from male hands, I have to wonder if this trend is simply another way to keep women writing only about “female” concerns: being a mother, cooking, housekeeping, etc.  And obviously among female bloggers there are a good number who are concerned with feminist undertakings (blogs like Jezebel and Feministing, for example) and publish books that question the status quo (I’m thinking, for example, about a book by Jessica Valenti called The Purity Myth, which examines the American obsession with women’s virginity and how it ultimately damages women).  Anyway, are we moving toward a time when women’s writing isn’t viewed as inferior to men’s or women are pushed toward writing about stereotypically female concerns, or does the growth in women writing on the Internet contribute to these trends?  Perhaps, as Woolf says, “So accurately does history repeat itself” (77).

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Today, I found the TA computer lab, to which I have a key.  It was exciting because I ended up hanging out with a bunch of other graduate students and not doing any work.  But there was the potential to do work, oh yes.  I did print a couple of things.  And e-mailed cake recipes to my aunt for the wedding I'm supposed to be planning.

Since quitting my job, I'm sitting at the computer a LOT less.  Which means all my sharebros on Google Reader are seeing a lot fewer recipes and cats in their shared items.  What it also means is that I'm moving around more and seem to be embarking on a successful graduate school diet, mostly because my graduate school friends are too poor to afford chocolate to share with me, so my sugar consumption has been way down since I also cannot afford chocolate.  I'm also biking to school daily--going on three weeks straight now.

Since I'm not on the computer as much, I'm relying on my phone for e-mail and Facebook.  But since the screen is very tiny, I'm not fond of staring at it too long, so I glance at it every now and then and return to work.

I am, however, going to be spending a lot of time on the computer tonight and tomorrow.  Because I have to do research.  It would seem that my computer-time will now be spent in the pursuit of more knowledge.  Right now, I'm looking at programs that teach science and literacy together--how interesting!  It seems that I cannot escape my science peeps.

It's raining, and I'm at the computer.  Time to do some science reading and head to bed.

P.S. Graduate school rocks.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Back to School!

It was the first day: I eagerly waited outside my classroom door, waiting for class to start.  When it did, the fifty minutes flew by so quickly that I was stunned when class was completed. The next day were the same: a flurry of notes and discussion and talking to professors about my new roles as a first year Ph.D. student.

I'm really excited to be starting back to school, and I've been reading and thinking and doing, and it's not even the end of the second week.  I'm no longer working at my old job; instead, my job now is to learn and think and write and research.  And I'm beyond happy.

I got a desk in an office, and I like my officemates.  I've already had discussions about Orientalism, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, cultural misunderstandings, and teaching techniques.  I've been learning about classical rhetoric (so fascinating!), how to teach freshman composition (also really interesting!), and feminist theory (I'm liking this one a lot too).  It's all really interesting, and even though I may be working longer days than eight-to-five, it flies by.  I come home energized, telling Lance all about Bahktin and his dialogical theories and how neat rhetorical theory is.

If I had any doubt that I was meant to be an academic, it was erased during the first week as the joy of being in school washed through me.  But it's not just about being in school; no, it's about being in the position to focus solely on academic pursuits.  My work ties into my studies.  I'm tutoring in the writing center, which is in line with my interests in teaching and researching pedagogy.  The projects that I'm working on for my adviser also tie into those interests.  Working full-time while going to school was difficult, and though I was lucky to be able to get into a good place financially before starting a Ph.D. program, I know I missed so much during my MA program by not being a full-time student.  This time, it's for real.  I'm a student all the way, and I'm fully immersing myself in the culture of academia and the mindset of being a scholar.