oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
I'm not entirely sure if I'm actually intending to follow my self-created reading challenge or not, but I did update that list with the things I've happened to have read so far.

It's interesting how unusual it feels to me to have 'so many' 20thC titles on my "read" list. By that I mean, I've been putting through PG Wodehouse and Dorothy Sayers, which is really not a wide range of 20thC literature. Though it is fascinating, looking at their publication dates, to see that they're within just a few years of each other, and the Jeeves stories are closer to WWI chronologically. It hadn't occurred to me until just this moment to see them as sharing a core structure of "wealthy, dandyish gentleman and his butler live a life of unattached adventure", probably because they do extremely different things with that core structure.

Does this mean that there are more "dandy and his butler" stories from the 1920s? Was this a subgenre?? If so I would LOVE to read the ones that didn't famous!

whisperspace: Wednesday is my Very Long Work Day this term so Reading Wednesday will have to be a Wednesday-independent phenomenon for me, for a while.
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)

I have been reading The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought, and I'm currently dragging myself through a painfully dense and jargonistic chapter on religious debates that mean very little to me, and I was startled and alarmed by what seemed to be a colloquial sense of humour suddenly stuck into the middle of the following paragraph:

However close these doctrinal and devotional similarities, the two reli- gious phenomena diverged in precisely those areas most pregnant with polit- ical possibilities. To be sure, Pietists, like Jansenists, frequently appealed to the individual conscience or Gewissen and later evolved into ‘patriots’, but in Pietism’s case neither of these translated into adversarial politics. Unlike eighteenth-century Jansenism, which persisted in arguing Augustinian grace against Unigenitus, Pietism’s quarrel with Lutheran ‘orthodoxy’ was not really doctrinal. While Pietists may have wanted less emphasis on doctrine, they did not call for a different doctrine. Their de-emphasis of reason in favour of the heart gave Pietism the political consistency of pudding. That absence of polemical edge extended even to the domain of ecclesiology where, despite Spener’s inaugural condemnation of caesaropapism and a marked impatience with rigid hierarchicalism, Pietism did not really call for structural reform. Nothing in Pietism corresponds to Richerism or conciliarism.

I share basically so you can all sympathize with me that I am trying to make my way through this writing. Why is that the only sentence in 35 pages that seems like it was written by a human??

oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
... both turning to the same part of a novel, to reveal simultaneously that you both wrote in the margins "no ethical consumption under capitalism."

Relatedly, I am falling completely in love with Ursula K LeGuin's The Dispossessed!
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)

Cecilia, by France Burney: This has been my primary reading occupation since I began it mid-February, as sometimes happens when I sink into a long 18thC work: they move so slowly that I need to spend all my time on them to get anywhere. I've been gradually falling in love with Burney as an author who I can't believe isn't more widely read: Cecilia, as a character, is completely unlike Evelina, the protagonist of the other Burney novel I've read (titled Evelina), but Cecilia is equally fascinating and endearing to me.

(Incidentally -- I really like how the convention of naming books after their heroines imbues the book itself with something like personhood: one can talk about 'spending a nice afternoon with Cecilia' and it really does feel like, by picking up such a large book focused on just one person, one is spending time with the narrative person of Cecilia.)

The premise of Cecilia is unusual: Cecilia is an independently wealthy heiress (whose virtue is, naturally, matched only by her beauty) whose only problem on the marriage market is that her husband must take her last name or her wealthy estate will pass to the next person in line for it. The first half of the book takes us through a range of interesting suitors, but actually settles on a clear favourite roughly halfway through, and from there the plot is concerned with the difficulties of getting their marriage sorted out to everyone's satisfaction.

I'd highly recommend this novel to someone with the patience for a long 18thC work -- I think it demonstrates the satisfactions and strengths of this literary tradition really well! Also, I'd love to be able to talk about it with someone; maybe I can write a more spoilery post in the future.

Puttering along: I always have a few books that I'm making my way through a page or two at a time; these are The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought (up to p 133) and La Nouvelle Heloise, vol 1, which I am reading in French a few sentences at a time (up to p 49).

On the horizon: The downside of having a Good 18thC Novel on the go is that I make it through fewer distinct titles than when I'm reading more voraciously; I have a long backlog of things that I want to get to. For pleasure I'd like to do the next Lord Peter Wimsey or the next Jeeves & Wooster, but I think actually I will try to dive into some books I've hastily checked out on Japan. After spending the last several years agreeing with a friend of mine (who used to teach English in Japan) that we should go visit together some time when there was a deal on plane tickets, I have surprised myself by actually buying some extremely cheap tickets to Osaka, and we will be in Japan in April! So I don't have much time to orient myself to the country before we are there -- I'd like to have more knowledge than a teenage fondness for manga has provided me.

oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
I have submitted chapter 1 of my dissertation to the department! It is "competent"!! I can stop writing now!!!
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
#overlyhonestmethods: The touchstone authors of this dissertation are Ann Radcliffe, Charlotte Turner Smith, Hannah More, and Mary Robinson, because I didn't feel like writing about men.
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)

This is an accountability post! I will update it until I have submitted my draft!

MY MISSION: produce a 9,000 word "competent draft" of a dissertation chapter by "March 1" (which I interpret to be, 'before noon on March 1').

10pm Feb 27: 5,069 words written; 93 todos remaining

I have, as of this moment, 5,069 words and a to-do list that is 93 items long. I have thirty-six hours with nothing else on my calendar. I can do this!!!

11:30pm Feb 27: 5,230 words written; 88 todos remaining

I'm already kinda fidgety and bored and Don't Wanna! Which is probably a symptom of the fact that, at this pace, I maybe Can't... I'm gonna worry less about the structure I originally thought this chapter was going to have, and focus on just generating words from the ideas I have lying around close to hand. Those are probably things that belong in the introduction anyway.

3am Feb 28: 5,626 words written; 81 todos remaining

Where has the time gone???

3:30am Feb 28: 5,711 words written; 77 todos remaining.

If I maintain this pace, I have 20 hours of work remaining -- impressively, both the words/hr and the todos/hr work out to a total of 20 to go! With 30 hours left on the clock, that is....... theoretically possible, but still very alarming.

3:45pm Feb 28: 7,303 words written; 77 todos remaining

I got a full night's sleep and took a slow morning, and then in the last hour I powered through nearly 1,600 words!!!! YES!!!!! This was mostly me remembering that I could just use my thesis proposal for the entire "describe what each chapter will do" part, but that TOTALLY COUNTS (and I had to edit the proposal so it sounded less proposal-y). I can probably eliminate some of those todos without actually doing them just because I don't need the words any more...!

9pm Feb 28: 7,564 words written; 75 todos remaining

It's going in fits and starts... mostly I'm discovering that I really like my research, so much so that I'd like to do it more slowly and thoroughly.

11pm Feb 28: 8,482 words written; 47 todos remaining

The word count is nearly within my grasp!! Basically all of my new words are in sections that I had not actually put into the to-do list (I am detecting some limitations in this highly-experimental to-do list methodology...) but I still have hopes and dreams that I can just........ cut a bunch of that stuff completely, if the new stuff can substitute for it.

It does seem like completion in the next 12 hours is very possible, but I am also very tired.

11:30am March 1: 8,482 words written; 47 todos remaining

I got a full night's sleep again, so it looks like I will be stretching the definition of "March 1" a little further than I'd originally intended... but all I have to do now is smooth out all the seams between the stuff I already have (a process which will surely bring me another 600 words naturally). Away I go!!

1:30pm March 1: 8,930 words written; 33 todos remaining

My new target is to submit by 4pm today; ideally, this means I will begin the formatting/post-processing of this draft by 2:30pm. This..... MAY be possible?? I've plowed through an impressive amount of polishing in the last two hours!

3:45pm March 1: 8,305 words written; 23 todos remaining

As this draft gets more and more competent, it also gets shorter and shorter and shorter....!!!! If I weren't hemorrhaging words in the polishing process I think I could put something together that was, overall, competent. But as things stand, I am, alas, forced to admit that it is not possible for me to meet this deadline.


I've contacted the relevant people in the dept to ask if they'd prefer to receive a draft that is on time but much too short, or something that is the correct length but a few days late. My advisor is pushing for the 'more time' option. We'll see!

4:30pm March 1: 8,305 words written; 23 todos remaining

Verdict from the department: "Word count is not of the essence. Wrap up with what you have and send it along." So I'm just gonna... flag the fragments as fragments, format all my headings and footnotes and citations, and call it a day. This is less useful dissertation-wise than extending the deadline would have been, but on the plus side I can play video games with my little brother tonight. Off I go!

5:45pm March 1: 8,713 words written; 22 todos left undone

IT IS FINISHED. I have sent it off to the department!! Right now I am more keenly aware of all the things that are not done, but it is, overall, "competent", and I honestly think I've done a lot of work on a very cool project!

I am also really looking forward to enjoying my weekend now, totally free of this task! Thanks for cheering me on during the last.... three straight days of flat-out writing, friends!

oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)

I’ve been wanting, for a while, to “look more queer,” and the more I contemplate this as a direct goal, the more annoyed/fascinated I become at the disconnect between the signal I’m trying to send (“gay femme here!!”) and the actual actions I have to spend my time on in order to SEND that signal. Every time I see someone and love the way they look, I think to myself, "I wanna look like that! But without having to take any of the actions which lead someone to have that appearance."

By that I mean— if I want an eclectic and fabulous wardrobe with lots of accessories, I have to spend a lot of time SHOPPING. But I don’t particularly like shopping! It’s not a love of shopping that makes me gay! Or if I want a hip, queer haircut (rather than looking I belong in the movie for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), I need to schedule regular haircuts. But making, and then showing up on time to, recurring boring appointments isn't gay! The things which would help me look queer actually have nothing to do with being queer. Taking clothes to a tailor isn't gay! Waking up early to have time to put on makeup isn't gay!

Maybe if I was already investing more time and errand-power in my appearance, it would be simpler, to just buy gayer things when I go shopping, ask for a gayer haircut when I go for my regular haircut, add a bit of sparkle when I do my morning skincare routine, etc. But as much as I like feeling cute, I just... think of myself as a low-maintenance person. I actually might be a shabby side character in a Dickens novel, I'm maybe-too-little-maintenance.[1] But right now I can go from unconscious to walking out the door in 10 minutes.[2] This pleases me! This should be reconcilable with people being able to detect that I am gay??

So far I've taken the strategy of, when I am no longer able to avoid purchasing new clothes, I make sure to pick something as queer-looking as possible, so that my low-maintenance no-thinking routine is at least drawing from a more fabulous base pool of options. Also I wear a trans flag on my lapel and a rainbow stud earring in one ear. This is working, slowly but surely, but even its effectiveness feels perverse somehow: I am no gayer than I was before, but I look gayer over time through semi-begrudging investment of effort in unrelated tasks.[3]

ALL OF WHICH IS TO SAY, I have been getting kinda into painting my nails, and I think I like it in part because the actual underlying work of producing the fabulous femme appearance actually suits who I am as a person. Once a week or so I can take an hour or two at 4am, with an audiobook on, to do something that feels like "crafting" (i.e., painting something fussy), all of which is already stuff I like to do. And then I have something very cute about my appearance to be proud of!! (See: my first complete manicure, left, of which I was VERY proud!!!) So I guess this is a problem I've "solved."

Nonetheless, it still feels odd, somehow, that "self-expression" clearly seems to require supporting labour that may or may nor be at all harmonious with a natural "self."

[1] At any point in time I only have one pair of shoes that don't have holes in the soles (my special shoes for when the ground is wet!). I routinely wear clothes that are missing buttons, because I never quite get around to sewing them back on. I would fix these things if I minded them! (I fix things in my apartment every day! I polish the bathroom fixtures several times a week so they are always shiny! I straighten all of my doilies before bed at night!) But I don't mind, particularly!

[2] I get food and coffee on the way -- if I place a mobile order while walking down my hallway before my phone is out of range of the apartment wifi, it will be ready for me exactly as I walk through the Starbucks on my corner, so I literally don't even have to break my stride.

[3] There's a comparison to be made to home decoration, actually, in the "restore a castle" vein -- beautifying slowly over time... that's the approach I've taken with my apartment, which has been accumulating bits of ribbon and lace and doilies to encuten its generic IKEA furniture. I still don't love shopping for home goods but they feel easier to acquire, and I definitely enjoy putting them around the house and looking after them.

oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)

I was reminded, the other day, of one of the most exhilirating and surprising stories I've ever read, Margaret Cavendish's Assaulted and Pursued Chastity (1656).

I'm attaching it to the "false novels" shitpost prompt because it has an incredibly misleading title and introduction. Well, ok, the heroine's chastity is occasionally pursued, but it is not successfully assaulted (so no trigger warning for assault, though do expect..... seventeenth century cultural norms).

It begins with, as I recall, an incredibly boring discourse on how women should never travel anywhere, especially not alone, and probably shouldn't even want to travel anywhere, and the moral lesson of this book is definitely to stay at home. My friends....... that is not what the rest of the story is about.

I don't want to spoil it here, because it's very short and the surprise is half the fun, but if you happen to know it or check it out, we can discuss in the comments! (Or you can ask for a 'good bits' version and maybe I'll finally get around to making a wikipedia page for it...)

You can download a PDF here: www.public-library.uk/ebooks/74/50.pdf -- it's only 40 pages!

today's whisperspace comment is a complaint that I can't set my mood to "assaulted and pursued" because for SOME reason the dropdown hasn't predicted that I will want this option...

[inspiration from Shitpost February]

oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)

If I do two of these, does that make it more awkwardly apparent that I'm not actually doing it, or less? Really, I don't think I am ever going to make Dreamwidth my casually-post-stuff place, though I will probably keep trying for the next several years to make it a place I live.

Anyway, I picked the prompt "eigenvectors" because I've actually co-authored research that prominently uses eigenvector centrality, but then I realised that I can't explain what an eigenvector is because I don't really know.

Instead here is some interesting research (in blog form!) from someone who is willing to explain eigenvectors, and even apply them to eighteenth century literature.

Whenever I hear people in the digital humanities beginning to murmur about the hot new thing, word vectors, though, I almost feel despair at how little anybody talks to anybody else -- my mother did her dissertation on word vectors. This is a longstanding field! But that's in computer science, and nobody in literature wants to read a computer science paper.

This post brought to you by: My Career Strategy Of Reading Computer Science Papers Sometimes, To Incredible Acclaim

[inspiration from Shitpost February]

oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
... will be really hindered by the exciting title page of my book.

title page of The Monk, which summarizes the entire plot

(Though maybe it's fine, because the parts of this book that are the most bonkers don't actually make the title page!)

[inspiration from Shitpost February]
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)

I've been spending a LOT OF TIME messing around with future federated fandom, which is very exciting and all, but it's all happening in Discord and Hubzilla even though I'm supposed to be, like, co-moderating a dreamwidth community for post_tumblr_fandom. There's a LOT I'd love to say about my experiences starting up My Very Own federated social network instance, but I can't say it over THERE yet because it doesn't actually work well enough for me to invite other people to come play in it. (I still intend to ruin and/or delete it in the near future as part of my learning process.)

So Shiposting February is basically perfectly timed! I hereby pledge to deliver, as penance for my absence, a due quantity of shitposts.

Also currently helpful to me -- learning from jesse_the_k's helpful post here that I can write DW posts in Markdown! AND, changing the setup of my browser-redirect service (which I use so that when I try to go on facebook my browser just loads my to-do list instead) so that twitter and facebook redirect to DW instead.

So hopefully I'll see you around more over here!

oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
Yes, that says 2017 in the title: I never actually got around to looking at my data from last year's reading, and now that this year is basically over and I want to see how my reading challenge affecting things, I figured it's now or never!

A Tale of Two Tests

graphs! )


another graph! )

The Actual Books

even more graphs! )


My primary reading goal for 2018, after a cursory skim of my 2017 reading, was to increase the racial diversity of what I read. Like, maybe I could read one book by a non-white author? I also wanted to build up habits of reading for pleasure.

Having seen this data now, I'm also curious to see if I was more female-focused with my 18thC reading after I was done with my fields exam.

How did those go? Tune in next time to find out!

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Because life is meaningless without rules and spreadsheets, I've set myself a challenge to fulfill the following 50 prompts with my reading this year! Books can count for as many prompts as they fit.

Current Status: Mostly just reading whatever I feel like.

Promptsprompts! )

Books Readbooks! )My goal with this challenge is partly to read things that I wouldn't otherwise have picked up, but mostly to push myself to think frequently about reading.

Wish me luck! And give me reading recs filling these prompts (or prompts for next year!) in the comments!!
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
This year was my first year since perhaps elementary school that I didn't have a school-mandated list of books to shape my reading habits. Obviously I couldn't live without rules, so I've been doing the Popsugar Reading Challenge! I've finished most of the 50 prompts and have really enjoyed figuring out creative ways to fulfill the prompts[1] (especially finding obscure 18thC titles for them![2])

However, I am not really as excited for the 2019 prompts. Several of them look really similar to this year's.[3] And in general, I think I might have gotten what I wanted out of the Popsugar experience. I didn't really spend time chatting in the forums, so it didn't matter to me that other people had the same list; all I really wanted was something to make a spreadsheet about, and something to search Eighteenth Century Collections Online for.

THEREFORE, I am thinking of making my own list, and seek wacky prompts from you, yes, you! What kinds of books should I try to find?

I particularly enjoy prompts like "a book with X word in the title": what are some words I should go on a scavenger hunt for this year?

[1] My proudest prompt-fill is The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making for "A book that involves a bookstore or library," for which the library in question is a dragon.

[2] The best 18thC find is "The Effects of Tyranny & Disobedience!" by Lawrence Lovesense, for "A book by an author with the same first or last name as you." (Yes, it's true, my last name is Lovesense. Please don't doxx me.)

[3] "Nordic Noir" this year and "a book set in Scandinavia" next year; "a book set on a different planet" this year and "a book set in space" next year...
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
I have just finished grading all my final exams!! Now I just have 12 more final essays to grade: I THINK I might not have to grade on Christmas Eve??? I stayed up all night and now I have to clean the house I was catsitting in, clean my apartment, pack for a three week trip, and fly to America! In six hours!!! BUT I can drop off the exams on campus with a clear conscience!

whisperspace )
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I've been reading Tobias Smollett's 1748 book The Adventures of Roderick Random, and was really surprised to find, buried in chapter 51 as yet another mildly amusing mishap as the protagonist Rory fails repeatedly to make his fortune, an explicitly gay Earl whose attempts to seduce Rory are presented as annoying but not disgusting.

a slightly abridged ch 51 under the cut, with the extra-gay bits bolded )

The whole thing is kind of a wild ride! There are two aspects that particularly interest me:

1. Rory and Banter both seem to be much more upset about Earl Strutwell's false claims to wealth and influence than they are about his queerness. Gay sex seems both a known phenomenon and relatively unthreatening. Even when Rory thinks that Strutwell is worried that Rory has gone gay due to exposure to the continent, I get the feeling that Rory gives his anti-gay tirade mostly in order to please his patron, rather than due to sincere feeling. After all, we hear much more of Earl Strutwell's defense of gay sex than we do Rory's rejection of it! And Rory doesn't reject it in his own words, but rather recites a stock satire.

2. In the middle of all this, Rory flies home to his childhood friend Hugh Strap, with whom he shares lodging, finances, life schemes, and often a bed, and feels absolutely no need to reflect on or justify the love that the two of them frequently confess for each other. In retrospect he's able to see something kind of gay about Earl Strutwell's hand-squeezing, but this doesn't make him suspicious of physical or emotional intimacy with men in general.

I don't have any conclusions yet, except that this is way more chill about gay sex than anything I expected to read from 1748!
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
THIS WHOLE ARTICLE IS A WONDERFUL READ: ‘Make better choices’: Endangered Hawaiian monk seals keep getting eels stuck up their noses and scientists want them to stop
It all began about two years ago when Littnan, the lead scientist of the monk seal program, woke up to a strange email from researchers in the field. The subject line was short: “Eel in nose.”

There is an AMAZING picture, too.
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
I came across this article about how not only are life expectancies increasing, the number of "active years" that people have are increasing. Which is a good thing! But then it says "The question is whether society will adapt to make the most of this new labor pool," which is, I think, the worst possible question to pose in response.

This sentence in particular is horrible to me:
I’m in as good or better shape than ever. I hike and travel, and still have the energy to work 50- to 60-hour weeks.
Working 50 to 60 hours a week is not what health is for!! It almost pains me the way that a 60-hour work week is grammatically equated to hiking and travel.

It's interesting to think about ageism, and the importance of not prematurely shuffling people off to the kind of social isolation that assumes they're already basically dead, but surely a spry 75-year-old has better things to do than work 60 hours a week?
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
I just made a couple comments thinking about peer-to-peer systems, over in the [community profile] post_tumblr_fandom comm. This is the line of thinking that is most exciting to me, but also most pie-in-the sky. I'm just not sure if the technology of the legal frameworks are ready... but I'm excited and want to try.

Other touchstones for my thinking:

- this post [personal profile] cesperanza made for me, archiving some of her and [personal profile] lim's conversations about P2P that I couldn't get out of my head.

- basically everything at coolguy.website, and especially The Future Will Be Technical. This whole vibe just feels like fannish utopianism even though it's totally unconnected to fandom; I like it.

I figured I'd post about it here so it will show up in folks' feeds, but tell me what you think over in the comm!!

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