One of the things about L.A. I’m really going to miss is reading the shrunken, vestigial, adware-addled Denver Post instead of the rich and lively LA Times, and one of the writers I’ll miss most is art critic Christopher Knight. Here’s his review of Caitlyn Jenner’s big reveal portrait by Annie Leibovitz on the cover of Vanity Fair published yesterday.
For all the advance buildup, the picture feels flat — a pedestrian celebrity pastiche of rather tired visual cliches. That’s too bad. Jenner’s courage in taking control of the public process of coming out as transgender is bold, and this will be the most widely seen initial image.
. . . . .
[T]he Vanity Fair photograph seems a missed opportunity — a picture from the past rather than the present. Maybe that’s because all its conventional, glamour-girl signals weigh down the lively fluidity swirling at the center of gender identity.
After describing work by photographer Catherine Opie and Judith Butler, and explaining that a more expansive and complicated vision of gender performance has been part of both the feminist and LGBT movements’ DNA since the early 1990s, Knight writes that the VF cover appears to have missed these conversations entirely. Instead, it’s a portrait of a 60-something woman by a 60-something woman that feels dated and conventional. “Leibovitz’s Caitlyn Jenner is a newfangled Vargas girl, one of those airbrushed cuties from the old pages of Playboy. Is that all there is?” Continue reading
Not my typical morning run.
On days when I haul my butt out of bed at 5 a.m. and get out for an early morning run, I have lots of energy the rest of the day and can even stay up a little longer in the evenings. On days when I can’t manage to get rolling early and when I don’t go for a run, I have much less energy and frequently must go to bed early. We hear that it’s the exercise that causes us to be more focused and alert for the rest of the day, but I wonder: Continue reading
Go check out this Amazon review of Charles Francis Adams’s Three Episodes of Massachusetts History (BiblioLife, 2009)–click and scroll down to Editorial Reviews towards the bottom of the page (h/t Peter Mancall). I’ll wait. Continue reading
Is age the next new category of analysis in history? I think it might be, and not just because I’m one of the contributing authors. From an email from co-editor Nicholas L. Syrett I received this weekend:
Age in America has been published (New York University Press, 2015)! I’m at the Organization of American Historians’ annual meeting this weekend in St. Louis and the very first two advance copies made it here just in time (and both were sold by conference’s end). The assistant editor at NYU Press will send you your copy as soon as the books stock at NYU’s warehouse (Cori and I don’t even have ours yet). I have attached a photo of the book sitting in the NYU Press booth. Within a couple weeks it should be available to order through bookstores, etc.
The co-editors of the volume, Nick Syrett and Corinne T. Field, worked hard with contributors to get a good mix of established and emerging scholars and to cover a pretty broad swath of American history (table of contents here.) My essay, “‘Keep me With You, So That I Might Not Be Damned:’ Age and Captivity in Colonial Borderlands Warfare,” is the first essay in the collection after Field’s and Syrett’s introduction. There are thirteen other essays in the volume, which covers not just the expected modern markers of age and how they came to be (age of suffrage, the drinking age, the age of retirement and Social Security benefits), but also essays by Yuki Oda on age and immigration politics (“‘A Day Too Late:’ Age, Immigration Quotas, and Racial Exclusion,”) Stuart Schoenfield on age 13 for American Jews, and Norma E. Cantú on the quinceañera for Latin@ girls. Continue reading
All the best history is written from a reclining position.
Apparently, there are no desks in the standard rooms at the conference hotel used by the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians, and many at the OAH see this as a pretty big deal.
I was first alerted to the curious absence of desks from the hotel rooms in a mysterious Tweet from Victoria Wolcott from the University of Buffalo, and then found that this is the major conference issue highlighted in a blog post by Rick Shenkman over at History News Network, which posted a photo of a room:
[T]here has been a problem.
Notice anything missing from this room?
It’s one of the rooms at the newly renovated Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis where OAH members are staying during the convention. It’s lovely but it’s missing a desk and chair! As someone on Twitter posted, that’s rough on historians who are used to working during a convention: typing up notes for a talk, emailing friends, reading the New York Times online. The hotel reportedly says that Millennials don’t want desks in their rooms. Welcome to the future!
I’m a typically disaffected Gen-Xer and no Millennial, but I have to ask: who uses a desk anymore, anyway? At the next major conference I attend, I think I’ll host a salon in my hotel room and invite historians up to loll around on the beds in my room (fully clothed and perfectly chaste, of course.) It could be the best unofficial session of the conference! Continue reading
A Narcisco Rodriguez dress that looks surprisingly comfortable.
I’ve been talking with a number of the other long-term fellows about the amazing fact that many of us have managed to gain weight while on sabbatical. Here we are, in Southern California, with its lovely weather and year-round fresh produce at local farmer’s markets several times each week, and we’re getting fatter! We’re getting fatter as we walk and bike to the library, and as we do yoga in the Chinese garden twice a week together (with classes taught by me and another fellow), and we’re all of us–or most of us, anyway–getting heavier!
Most of us live in places with winter cold and summer humidity in our real lives, and most of us drive a lot longer and further on a daily basis in our work commutes. Then there’s all of that day job tedium of teaching, meeting with students, and committee work that gets in the way of our running, walking, hiking, biking, and yoga, or what have you. Women and men alike have remarked on this unhappy side-effect of our residency here.
What is up with this? Continue reading
So many European medievalists and early modernists have Latin tattoos that I’m now declaring that this is A Thing. (I know: I’m probably the last to notice!) First, we have the example of the late, great (in bloggy terms) Squadratomagico, whose tattoo is on the back of her neck & which I have met in person (scholar, neck, tattoo, and all.) Then when I got to the Huntington, I noticed that a medievalist here has a mid-thirteenth century quotation from a manuscript tattooed on the inside of his left forearm.
Finally, we have Flavia, who has celebrated her fortieth birthday and her retirement from the job market alike by getting a Latin tattoo, also on the inside of her left forearm. Her tat says “Omnia mutantur, nihil interit,” or “Everything changes, nothing perishes,” which is a thought so lovely that it makes me cry. Of course it’s from Ovid’s Metamorphoses–what else? (Why the inside of the left forearm? I get the inside part, as it’s more protected from the sun and other injuries, but is the choice of right versus left merely a personal one or dependent on right- or left-handedness?)
I asked my tattooed Huntington colleague if he thought so many of his medievalist colleages had tattoos because medieval scholars in particular are accustomed to ink on skin through their work on vellum documents and manuscripts. (Vellum is a fine parchment made from lamb or kid skins, and is among the oldest paper-like technology we have for recording and preserving information.) He agreed that this might be an interesting connection, and also said that it’s pretty popular for people to get textual tattoos these days anyway. He also connected his tattoo to a major life change–in his experience, winning tenure, whereas for Flavia it was her fortieth birthday. Continue reading