This week’s roundup is posted from the London, where your favorite Radical has done six bookshops in 24 hours. The last two were in the company of fellow blogger and Cliopatrician Rachel Leow, of A Historian’s Craft, who also led me on a terrific quickie tour of Cambridge University. We stood on a bridge and watched punters on the Cam, and she gave me the inside dope on the punt racket, which has taken a vicious turn lately. On her advice, as we traipsed through the ancient enclosures, I did not step on the grass. This practice is forbidden to all but fellows of the colleges (I have a friend who was reprimanded for walking on the grass the day prior to taking up his fellowship.) You get a real feel for England’s highly advanced visual practices for staking out hierarchy as you walk the long way around these inviting emerald squares of weedless turf. I imagined, for example, a single member of the Cambridge faculty lunging across the green, robe flapping behind and fluffy white hair rising to meet the breeze, even as lesser mortals trudge the periphery to get to the same place — but more slowly.
While many of the colleges are open to the public, the one I wanted to see – Trinity, built by Henry VIII with proceeds reaped from the dissolution of the monasteries — is not. But this was no barrier to an escort who may have been emboldened by our delicious vegetarian lunch. “Walk briskly and look like you belong,” she advised. “Try not to stare at the cupola as if it is anything out of the ordinary.” We marched through the gates of Trinity College, strode authoritatively past two bowler-hatted porters stationed there to keep the riff-raff out, took a sharp left past the largest stone cupola I have ever pointedly not looked at, swept by a “Private” sign, and pushed through a centuries-old door into our object, the Wren Chapel.
Ahhhhhhh. It was just as beautiful as I had always imagined. The Wren Library was, unfortunately, closed. They are redoing the electrical systems, which is probably a good thing as it was completed in 1695.
Today wasn’t just a blogger meet-up, of course: we had work to do (aren’t bloggers always working? I’m writing this on a train, for crying out loud.) Watch out for issue 22.4 (winter 2010) of the Journal of Women’s History, where a roundtable featuring May Friedman, Jennifer Ho, Ann Little, and Marilee Lindemann will be introduced by your favorite Radical and commented on by Rachel Leow.
In other news:
Lesbian Garden Alert: The Radical News Service just received news of a great new blog, Grow and Resist. It was described to me as being “about gardening, raising a baby, recipes, canning, anti-toxic households, queer politics, keeping sane, you know, radical Pacific Northwest lesbian stuff.” Well, I was hooked, and you will be too: celebrate women’s history month by adding a few well-written, feminist non-academic blogs to your sidebar, and start with this one. There is a particularly awesome post about building a raised bed with cinderblocks, which is a particularly good idea, since we aren’t allowed to use pressure treated wood anymore and everything else rots and falls apart.
And Speaking of Flowers, Did You Know… That when Lynn Hunt was doing the research for her first book, she kept all her index cards in a flowered suitcase that she lugged from pillar to post? This and other delightful writing hints can be found in the most recent essay in the AHA Perspectives monthly feature, “Crafting History.” In How Writing Leads to Thinking, Hunt reveals the sordid truth behind most successful books and articles: there is no one way to do it well. Writing feels like chaos most of the time, and that if you keep working on a book or an article you will finish it eventually.
You hear that? Sending your dissertation to its room will accomplish nothing! Nothing! And finally:
“Little Gels, You Are The Creme De La Creme:” Go here to read a call for “Queer Girls in Class: Lesbian Teachers and Students Tell Their Classroom Stories,” to be published by Peter Lang. The anthology “will collect personal narratives by lesbian teachers and students who speak about sexual identity and its effects on the teaching and learning process. The mission of this anthology is to provide, through personal stories, an analysis of how sexuality (specifically, how being a queer woman) can influence classroom dynamics in the high school and university setting.” Deadline for Submissions: July 1st, 2010.