Internet Bibliography #4

Frankly, I don't have much to report this week. Or, I have lots to report and not the energy to do the reporting. You know those times of your life when you are so busy busy busy, but at the end of the day you can't really remember what's gone on, or where you are? Yeah, hello from that land. Land, I dub thee "Frenzilandia". Apparently, this is the (parallel universe) land where I have not foresworn kale or green smoothies. That feels like a confession I should have saved for an actual, proper, literal confessional booth. Anyway, think of me in the rolling green-smoothie-filled lands of Frenzilandia whilst you pore over the topnotch internet artefacts below. Enjoy!

- On medieval peen:

From Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Français 25526. Via Lucy Allen's  blog post .

From Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Français 25526. Via Lucy Allen's blog post.

o   Just to be clear, by “peen”, yes, I do mean “penis”. Yes, medieval people had genitals too! Thanks to the glory of Twitter, and medievalist Gillian Kenny, I can present to you the medieval, wearable and whimsical version of modern-day dick pics. How about a fourteenth or fifteenth-century lead badge showing three humanoid phalluses carrying a vulva on a litter? Or a mid-fourteenth-century lead badge featuring a peen-on-legs bowing to a noble vulva-on-legs? Or – hold the phone! – an illustration of a fierce nun HARVESTING PEEN from a PEEN TREE, from a fourteenth-century French manuscript? Yup, that's the image above. Fabulous. If you fancy learning a bit more about the image, its female illustrator and the manuscript its in, check out a blog post by Lucy Allen.

 

- On images (not just of cute animals, promise):

o   On a particularly stressful day, I vented my tormented spleen to my dearest friend, a sterling and stalwart companion who I’ll call Mo. As ever, she was brilliant, providing sympathetic listening (i.e .agreeing wholeheartedly with my nebulous rant), a pep talk, and a link to some soothing and cute internet animals. Everybody needs a Mo on their speed dial. I’m passing on the love by sharing a link to Sheldon the Tiny Dinosaur, a web-comic about a tiny dinosaur who thinks he’s a turtle. Joy!

o   In the Guardian, Jess Cartner-Morley writes about the evolution of the Pirelli calendar since its beginning in 1964. The pin-up calendar, packed full of women half-naked to promote tyres (at least in theory), – has become a lauded artistic artefact, attracting top-flight models and photographers. Cartner-Morley sketches out the power dynamics (and negotiations) between ostensibly down-market low-class brand (Pirelli make tyres, after all) and goddesses of the runway, noting that:

Pirelli’s triumph is a masterclass in image management, one that leverages basic instincts in a sophisticated marketplace. Its power lies in the fact that being acknowledged as sexually attractive is a valuable asset to women in the public eye, whereas being seen as sexually available is demeaning. So the deal Pirelli strikes with photographers and models is that they get to be sexy, and Pirelli gets to be classy. 

. 5.19 tue "Sandbag" . 「今日はボクシングの日だジョー!」 .

A photo posted by Tatsuya Tanaka (@tanaka_tatsuya) on

o   Since 2011, Japanese artist-photographer Tatsuya Tanaka has posted a picture of miniature tableaux daily, featuring tiny human figures posed with banal household objects. (You can buy Tanaka’s coffee table book here.) The pictures are clean, witty, and intelligent – making the viewer rethink their relationship to the quotidian objects pictured, and recontextualise the objects themselves, teasing out alternate values for this regular stuff we all take for granted as “not-art”. I adore Tanaka’s mission statement, on the “About” page:

Everyone must have had similar thoughts at least once.
Broccoli and parsley might sometimes look like a forest, or the tree leaves floating on the surface of the water might sometimes look like little boats. Everyday occurrences seen from a pygmy’s perspective can bring us lots of fun thoughts.
I wanted to take this way of thinking and express it through photographs, so I started to put together a “MINIATURE CALENDAR” These photographs primarily depict diorama-style figures surrounded by daily necessaries.
Just like a standard daily calendar, the photos are updated daily on my website and SNS page, earning it the name of “MINIATURE CALENDAR”
It would be great if you could use it to add a little enjoyment to your everyday life.

- On women kicking ass and/or navigating life:

Jess Zimmerman postit.jpg

o   I shared a piece by Jess Zimmerman in my last Internet Bibliography, and am happy to have another incandescent article to share this time around. On Hazlitt, Zimmerman details her decision to leave her husband in 2012. It is - as we have come to expect from Zimmerman - an elegant, insightful and incisive piece, a meditation about what it is to be a woman in our society as much as it is about one specific woman’s hard and necessary choices. She writes:

It felt inexplicable. Sometimes I called it “my early midlife crisis.” Other times I called it “my nervous breakdown,” but in a tone that made it clear I was joking even though I also wasn’t. I often thought of those fungi that infest ants, take over their bodies, and make them march from the nest to wherever the fungus wants to go. Zombie ants.
But it wasn’t really inexplicable. It was, in fact, fairly mundane. What had happened was this: I realized that, like many women, I had made all the  decisions of my life on someone else’s behalf. I knew how to figure out other people’s expectations, and how to try to dodge their disappointment, and how to stay out of the way and not nag and not need things. I didn’t know what I actually wanted, at all.

In small, tidy caps, I’ve scrawled out my favourite line on a purple post-it put it up on  my wall (see the picture that above): ‘…nobody tells you the phoenix is born as a tender, featherless baby bird.’ Something to keep in mind when we go about this terrifying business of life.

o   Over at Metafilter, user dublin asks what she – as an established female engineer – should say to new female engineering students at university. Mefites, as ever, chime in with an array of useful content, and share some personal stories about navigating a traditionally male field. Useful and engaging resource for all female academics and all of us who interact with students.

o   In New York Magazine, Kerry Howley profiles female big-game hunter Rebecca Francis, shamed on Twitter by Ricky Gervais for happily posing with her latest kill, a magnificent giraffe. The story was published – somewhat unfortunately – shortly before reports emerged that American hunter-dentist Walter Palmer had shot and killed beloved Zimbabwean lion Cecil. This scheduling near-miss, however, doesn’t detract from the verve of the article, which teases out the various discomforts people have with Francis, the ways in which she herself views hunting, and the potential dichotomy of Francis’ approach to femininity. As an important bonus, read a series of tweets by Ijeoma Oluo unpacking the horrific absurdity of mass mourning for Cecil, swift justice planned for his killer compared to apathy and nonchalance in response to American people of colour. For example:

o   This month, Captain Kristen Griest and first lieutenant Shaye Have have become the first female army rangers in US military history. The testing to become a ranger is beyond brutal: Griest and Have deserve the highest respect, irrelevant of gender, for attaining ranger status. Nick Palmisciano – a West Point grad who went through Ranger School himself – presents his response to the Grist and Have’s achievement. It’s an interesting viewpoint into the way in which negative/misogynist views can and do shift when an individual is exposed to the reality of women in their (working) life. Whilst Palmisciano initially considered female soldiers weaker, less than their male counterparts at West Point, he quickly discovered that this is just not the case. Now, he trumpets his pride for the first female rangers, and concedes that they are, quite simply, tougher than him.

o   I am so jealous of Lacey Donohue. She had a killer idea for a reflective article for Jezebel: reviewing the story of her 20s life through the prism of Amazon purchases. Fantastic idea, really brilliant. Sigh. Anyway, Donohue remarks:

"Meet Danbo!" by Sally Crossthwaite. Via  Flickr

"Meet Danbo!" by Sally Crossthwaite. Via Flickr

Our Amazon order histories are not versions of ourselves we share often, but they offer a rare glimpse into our gloriously messy and occasionally embarrassing life stories. In these orders, it’s easy to track life’s twists and turns: presents sent to names long deleted from our phones, boxes shipped to houses we’ll never see again, books sent to friends who have since passed away. A glance at all our purchases—every single one—tells a far more compelling story than any Facebook feed ever could.

I’m compelled to wander through my own Amazon order history, and see what it throws up about the past iterations of me. I suggest you do the same, so we can swap notes over a cheeky daiquiri (straight up, no ice).


- On trigger warnings:

o   In response to a series of articles by Kate Nonesuch discussing the use of trigger warnings in classrooms (1, 2), Mefite conspire offers an excellent, insightful piece of critique. They elucidate the misogyny inherent so frequently in push-back against trigger warnings, and analyse the rejection of such warnings more generally. For example:

One thing I've observed about the development of trigger warnings in the mainstream consciousness, is how much of it is wrapped up in misogyny and rape culture. Historically, the push for trigger warnings really originated with war veterans experiencing PTSD. As someone who frequently consults on accessibility, when I introduce trigger warnings in this context to people, no one really has any real objections to warning people that there might be gunshots or war scenes or blood - because hey, nationalism, we need to respect the folks who served our country. But veterans are not the only people who suffer from PTSD - the other really big demographic is women who have experienced rape or domestic violence. Yet, when we shift the dialogue from veterans to women, somehow trigger warnings become much more controversial.


- On disability issues:

"Portrait of a young boy holding a walking stick/cane (undated)" from pellethepoet. Via  Flickr . I searched Flickr for "fashion walking stick" and this was the second result. Hahahahahaaaa

"Portrait of a young boy holding a walking stick/cane (undated)" from pellethepoet. Via Flickr. I searched Flickr for "fashion walking stick" and this was the second result. Hahahahahaaaa

o   Liz Jackson blogs at The Girl with the Purple Cane about her life as a cane-user, designing for disability with fashionable and functional styles, and experiences from her life. I whole-heartedly support her campaign to make US retailer J. Crew sell a fashionable cane in their stores, thereby destigmatising mobility devices in the public imagination and providing those who use canes with more decent, fun, stylish choices. I’m working through her archive, but my favourite post of hers, so far, is a breakdown of the real phenomenon of “Post-Traumatic Growth” – the positive (yes, really) consequence that can flow from traumatic life experiences.

o   As a sort of counterpoint, over on This Body is Not an Apology, Cara Liebowitz explains – with wit and verve – the massive problem of “inspiration porn” for those with disabilities. In essence, “inspiration porn” objectifies individuals with disabilities – they are viewed solely as a means for inspiring those without disabilities, who often coo and oooh over memes and images of the disabled “beating the odds”. Ick. Read Liebowitz’s piece and act accordingly please people.

Internet Bibliography #2

This week, I’ve mostly been enjoying the delights of Cardiff at the SFS annual conference. Much coffee, bara brith, and stimulating Frenchy chat. Also, the HEAT, which has felt like a thousand suns’ worth of irritation thrown strategically at our fair isles. The picks below have helped to distract me from melting into a puddle and/or violently calcifying into a pile of caffeine. Enjoy!

 

-          On women, representation and film:

o   The Dissolve team spell out the 50 most daring movie roles for women since Ripley of Alien fame. I’m vaguely annoyed that the need to have such a list exists – can’t women just have interesting movie roles as standard now, please? In any case, I like the bite-size chunks of comments that anchor each entry, and there’s not an entry that made me choke on my toast or anything. Feels a bit like the beginning sketches of a decent film/gender syllabus…

"Chola" by Koala MeatPie. Via  Flickr .

"Chola" by Koala MeatPie. Via Flickr.

-          On appropriation:

o   Obviously, I have binge watched Orange is the New Black’s season 3. If you haven’t seen it, hold all your calls and go and watch it now. NOW. This season, I’ve been particularly enamoured of Flaca and Maritza’s killer eyeliner. At some point, somebody mentioned “chola style”, and I had to look it up. “Chola” refers to a highly specific Mexican-American form of female representation, of which one part may be the kind of eyeliner Flaca and Maritza rock. So, I’ve been thinking about issues of appropriation in this context, particularly after reading Barbara Calderón-Douglass’s recent piece for Vice, The Folk Feminist Struggle Behind the Chola Fashion Trend; Phillip Picardi’s comments on Givenchy’s autumn 2015 “chola Victorian” runway show; and a personal response to “cholafication” on the Cultural Appropriation on Tumblr site.


-          On history:

o   @AfAmHistFail anonymously chronicles the things tourists say when touring the historic plantation that she works on. Nicole Cliffe’s interview with @AfAmHistFail for The Toast is painfully eye-opening as to how far we still have to go to achieve racial equality, and the necessity of quality history teaching to show the horrors perpetrated in the past that shape everyday experiences for large swathes of the population.

"Le Mundaneum à Mons (Belgique) " by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra. Via  Flickr .

"Le Mundaneum à Mons (Belgique) " by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra. Via Flickr.

o   It turns out, Belgium invented the (paper only) internet in 1895 in their facility Mundaneum in Mons. (With this, TinTin and Lambic beer, why don’t the Belgians rule the world?) French-language Nouvel Obs has a fascinating interview with one of Mundaneum’s directors, which unpacks the history of the place and the ovewhelming obsession of its two founders. Plus some great pictures and drawings relating to the place’s history.

 

-          On academic matters:

o   Peter Dayan gave a great plenary lecture at this year’s SFS discussing the role of creativity in modern language studies. He cited persuasively from Stephen Benson and Clare Connors’ (eds.) 2014 volume Creative Criticism: An Anthology and Guide, showing that creative writing is a part and parcel of our working lives. I’ve wishlisted the book myself, and am looking forward to getting my hot little hands on it.

o   Relatedly, UCL has a “Creative Critical Writing” PhD pathway which directly targets the kind of self-consciously innovative academic work that is possible if we accept that we have always been “creatives” all along.

o   Rice University’s Joshua Eyler has written a breath-taking piece, “The Grief of Pain”, which interweaves a meditation on the deeper resonances of his teaching and a reflection on the sorrow of chronic illness, the joy of boundless love for another. I’m really struck by its blend of intellectual and emotional honesty, leaving me inspired and moved. Eyler is a founder member of the Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages, and edited a brilliant book on medieval disability, published in 2010.

"The Gift of Pain" by wackystuff. Via  Flickr .

"The Gift of Pain" by wackystuff. Via Flickr.

Internet Bibliography #1

I try to read the entire internet every 48 hours or so. Granted, about fifty per cent of what I mine from the digital repository gets stockpiled in Pocket or one of a kajillion tabs over three devices. What I’m saying is that I get to stuff in my own time, so I’m probably not one to follow if you want second-by-second reportage of breaking news. Hell, that’s why I decided to have an explicit “old news” tag for the blog for when I want to examine stuff that’s been floating around for weeks/months/years in online discourse. Anyway, this is the first in a regular(ish) series of posts chronicling stuff I’ve dug up and enjoyed online in the past week or so. Enjoy, dearest reader(s)!

-          On female bodies and food:

1962 Ad, Sucaryl Sweetener, with Pretty Secretary. Published in Good Housekeeping, October 1962, Vol. 155, No. 4.  From Flickr user   Classic Film  .

1962 Ad, Sucaryl Sweetener, with Pretty Secretary. Published in Good Housekeeping, October 1962, Vol. 155, No. 4. From Flickr user Classic Film.

o   Marcia Aldrich’s article “Weight” for The Butter – a reflection on her own experiences of body policing (externally mandated or otherwise), and the ways in which female weight affects everything. Quote: “Why does the subject of weight compel me? Because it connects me to others. Because it is a dynamic issue, not static, not something you solve once and for all and are done. It’s a process, it’s a lifetime objective. It intersects with other interesting and sometimes contradictory issues, and that’s interesting to me. It isn’t simple, no matter how simplified self-help approaches and diets try to make women and weight seem.”

o   Women Laughing Alone with Salad Tumblr - photographs spotlighting the aching absurdity of dieting / body control for women. Bless him, my feminist husband sent me the link to this: top work.

o   Model and comedian Sarah Hartstone has been photographed with salad, laughing and alone obviously. Her 2014 piece for The Guardian responds to the Tumblr, concisely breaking down why typical stock photographs of women, usually limited to four categories – the dieter, the multi-tasker, the mother, the sex-object – are so problematic.

 

-          On female self-presentation, feminism, and the patriarchy:

o   The inimitable Amy Schumer’s depressingly spot-on (and weirdly danceable)“Girl You Don’t Need Makeup” music video.

o   Alexandra Dal’s “Lady Problems” illustration, linked to from this AskMefi thread,  pictured left.

o   Megan Rosalarian Gedris’ pithy comic “Feminism is having a wardrobe malfunction”. Say it loud and proud with Gedris: Hey girl, have the whole pie.

o   Haley Motek for The Hairpin, asking “What are we doing about our facial hair?” As a woman with pale skin and mahogany hair, I welcome almost any reference to women’s body hair that drops the delicate veil and gets to the point: ladies be having the hair too!

o   Discussion of attitudes towards women shaving (or not) in a 2012 Metafilter thread, anchored around Mayim Bialik’s comments on her own decision not to shave her legs.

o   Sorta thematically linked: Soraya Roberts’ dissection of Alanis Morissette’s early incarnation as a pop princess (WTF!?), before consciously reshaping her identity and releasing (the perfection that is) Jagged Little Pill.

o   The Hairpin’s Sara Black McCulloch interviews Arabelle Sicardi, Buzzfeed beauty editor, on self-care and beauty as a means for women to create their own narratives, and overcome the restrictive banalities of everyday life. Quote “I [Sicardi] do these things because I have to survive, but survival isn’t progression—it’s the standard you need to keep. It’s like treading water, so if I don’t do self-care, then I’m just going to be stuck in my own head and detached from my own body.”

 

-          On history and meaning(s):

1968 Ad, Playtex Tampons, "The First-Day Tampon". Published in Redbook magazine, November 1968, Vol. 132, No. 1. From Flickr user  Classic Film .

1968 Ad, Playtex Tampons, "The First-Day Tampon". Published in Redbook magazine, November 1968, Vol. 132, No. 1. From Flickr user Classic Film.

o   Ashley Fetters’ history of the tampon for The Atlantic: “The commercial tampon as we know it has been shaped and re-shaped by a myriad of invisible forces—like genuine concern for women’s wellness, certainly, but also sexism, panic, feminism, capitalism, and secrecy.”

o   The coffin of Swedish bishop, Peter Winstrup (d. 1679), contains not only his exquisitely (and uncannily) preserved mummified body, but also the remains of a five-month-old foetus. So much going on here, including: 1) the mystery of how the foetus came to be placed there; 2) the agony of the imagined mother’s situation; 3) the very material reality of the Bishop, who is recognisable as a mummy in comparison to contemporary portraits; 4) the co-location of the foetus and the Bishop as a concretisation of the hierarchy tying laity to clergy. I concur with Mefite frumiousb: “I find this an incredibly sad story, because I see a mother who somehow wanted to help her child get to Heaven, and trusted the bishop to intercede on its behalf.”

o   Karinne’s “Clothing the Low Countries” showcases research into dress in the Low Countries in the period 1480-1530.  The glossary in particular is fab.

 

-          On the business of academia:

Call numbers on books (Library of Congress Classification). From Flickr user   CCAC North Library  .

Call numbers on books (Library of Congress Classification). From Flickr user CCAC North Library.

o   L. L. Wynn’s overwhelmingly useful guide to academic publishing from 2009, including encouraging words of wisdom, a breakdown of the whole process, free resources, and sample (successful) prospectuses and cover letters. Posted on Culture Matters, a forum for current and former students and staff in the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University, Australia with lots of good content.