Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thesis Ponder #1

Disclaimer: In my thesis writing efforts I think it will be helpful for me to sort out my thoughts in a non-thesisy ways. My final thesis be filled with fancy words (I learned what encomiastic means today) and opinions backed by fact and good (hopefully!) analysis so my more personal motivations and thoughts and ah-ha! moments will be left out. This is sad, but ultimately very good for the quality of the thesis. So I apologize if this is boring, or random, or completely irrelevant to your life (you can stop reading now),tbut his is my blog, and why not share my thesis ponderings in a public forum?. My future thesis audience will minuscule anyway, so I might as well include my many faithful blog readers (Dad, Mom, Grandpa) on my thesis journey. 

I'm writing my thesis on how female chastity is enacted as successful political strategy in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure  and Margaret Cavendish's short romance Assaulted and Pursued Chastity (what a romance, no?). 

When I've brought up my thesis topic to friends and family so far, it's well, a conversation killer. I wish it weren't. It should be a conversation starter. But I'm only just now getting to the point where I can articulate  my topic a little more coherently (wowza--I should be much further ahead in the thesis-game). 

But the thing is, chastity is a BIG deal.  As a Mormon, I put a lot of religious and personal stock into the importance of chastity even though sometimes talk of "chastity" can degenerate into Mormon religious jargon.Then try throwing chastity (the word) into everyday colloquial conversation and it becomes this sterile (punny!), antiquated, obsolete relic. Chastity? That's religious nutsiness and no-sex-education-in-schools. Which it isn't. It's better than that. But just last semester when I proposed a term paper topic to a professor (at BYU mind you) about how un-chaste women are treated in late Romantic literature I was gently mocked and asked if I supported chastity belts (see Men in Tights). 

So yes, chastity is important to me and the ideas, concepts, and doctrines surrounding it are interesting, and. I believe, very relevant today. But definitely not in a creepy metal-underwear sense. And if I believe and personally accept what can currently be considered radical and restrictive ideas of abstinence before marriage, and fidelity within marriage, why not become a little more academically as well as religiously versed in the subject?

So moving back a few centuries (1550-1670ish), I've decided to examine literary chastity when chastity was extremely relevant not just religiously/spiritually but economically, politically, etc. Queen Elizabeth I--one of the first female rulers--does a whole lot of power maneuvering around her role as the Virgin Queen and (regardless of whether her virginity was bonafide) she has this extra power and potency she attributes to her presumed virginity. And then there's Queen Henrietta and King Charles who, (before, you know, his head was chopped off) backed the idea that a chaste, companionate marriage between husband and wife was an important symbolic precedent for a unified, healthy, thriving political body/kingdom. And these rulers used chastity (in its varying forms) to legitimize and maintain their power because hey, chastity was a  BIG deal. 

So against this historical backdrop I'm examining Isabella, the uber-chaste, rhetorically witty nun in Measure for Measure who refuses to sleep with the slimy Angelo despite enormous familial and political pressure to do so. And then there's Travellia, Cavendish's kick-a heroine who shoots her would-be-rapist, unsuccessfully poisons herself, and then runs off dressed up as a man and becomes a military general all in the name of preserving her chastity. (Disclaimer: Both stories end with marriage or presumed marriage of these heroic virgins. And yes, Travellia does end up marrying her reformed would-be rapist, but we'll get to that). But my biggest point (at the moment) is these women become powerful through their respective quests to preserve their chastity. And the idea that power--actual power in terms of spiritual, social, and political power--can come from keeping (and we'll slip into the Mormon here) the law of chastity? Well that's awesome. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Motley Update

I'm the worst at blogging. But sometimes not only is it hard to find the time and motivation to blog, but once I even get up the gumption it becomes ridiculously hard to find something meaningful to say, or to write some interesting news update that isn't too boring, or too irrelevant, or too-much-like-I'm-trying-to-look-cool-and-interesting.  (Here I am with a unicorn in Connecticut! Totally relevant, interesting, and suave, no?)

So here's what's up.

I submitted my Thesis Prospectus. That is good. But I have not continued to work on it, which is BAD. The goal is to get a good, solid draft written before January. We'll see (and hope and pray). I'm writing on "Chastity as Strategy in Margaret Cavendish's Assaulted and Pursued Chastity and William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure." Boom?

Connecticut is purty.

I signed up for classes next semester with Matt which is CRAZY because it means our Connecticut sojourn is almost over. (Have we really been here for six months? No lo creo.) We're going to take beginning soccer together come Winter semester. Awww.

Purtiest part of Connecticut. 

I substitute teach now. And tutor. I am not good at classroom management. But I try. OH MY WORD do I try. And sometimes I cry.

I need to buy more socks because Fall is a-coming strong and my toes are always cold.

Here is a picture of a bee who does not yet know it is Fall-time. (I had to get my Canon all up his grill to shoot this. And use the macro setting. Exciting, exciting times.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Oh eternity, ain't it grand?

The blog post title comes from a phrase I read years ago on a friend's blog. 
It was the loveliest juxtaposition of nonchalant gravity.

Our Marriage--the marriage of Matt & me--was begun in spring at the LDS Bountiful, Utah temple. 
They day was obligingly wedding-weather perfect, and full of family, friends, and good food (of which we ate unfortunately little). The wedding ceremony was short and sweet, the sealing room full of Mums, Dads, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and closest friends, who witnessed how in one fell, and long-prepared for swoop, there we were for time and eternity.

And now (yup, four month marriage pros are we) we are intrepidly happily-married in the face of, but mostly because of, that whole eternity thing, Matt is kind, good, sleepy-in-the-mornings, and I am sometimes kind of good and always sleepy, but together we are kinder and happier. Oh eternity, ain't it grand? 

Friday, July 26, 2013

DC, Utah, and the New & Old Englands

Things have been going swimmingly these past few months. Sorry dear readers (Dad & Grandpa) for not updating more regularly! There's been a lot of traveling a-going on with two visits to DC, two weeks in the Old England, a week in beautiful Utah, and some quick jaunts up to Boston. It's been lovely and exciting and I'm sad our traveling kick is over for the time being, but now we plan to actually enjoy and explore Connecticut which (subsequently) has been kind of neglected.

Also, I realize that just dumping photos of disparate places and travels is probably not the best blog posting/formatting technique, but I'm afraid if I don't post now, I never ever will. However, I reserve the right to re-post about our travels in more pithy and reflective forms. Here goes:

Our Nation's Capital

Busch Gardens in 100 degree humidity.

Fourth of July Fireworks at the Masonic Temple in Alexandria

The Most Beautiful Utah

These are the reasons Utah is the happiest state in the Nation.
Grandpa in spiffy new belt buckle & lovely cousin(s).

Hanging with the Grace. 

Assisting and presenting at the Margaret Cavendish Conference in Sundance. 
Pictures of tattoos of Cavendish frontispieces 
(that's how you prove you're committed to your research)

Eating lunch on the Alpine Lift.

I love Utah. So much. So much. So much.

The Old England (mostly Oxford)!

The Colleges of Merton & Magdalen.
 (And  the super famous people who went to said colleges, in this case T.S. Eliot & C.S. Lewis) 
In a related vein, whilst walking around Oxford I overheard students reciting 
"The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" just for fun.
This place is literary magic.

Alice's Door (the Alice of Wonderland) at Christ Church College (Lewis Carroll).

 Roses at Magdalen and the gardens of New College.

Reposing (with backpack?) at Blenheim Palace.

Sunset at Buckingham.

And finally, the newer England!

The LDS Boston Temple & hiking (on National Trail Day no less) in Middletown, Connecticut.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Moving after Marriage

I am married and live in Connecticut. Big Life Changes. I don't have any wedding photos to post yet (having sadly left the Wedding Picture CDs my Grandpa burned for me at my parent's house, but don't worry I'll be getting them this weekend), but I do have pictures of Connecticut! Additionally, I have a motley assortment of pictures I am going to proceed to dump all over this blog because I am lacking in subtlety and organization. Also, in lieu of a wedding photo here is a picture of Matt and I standing outside the Utah County Clerk's Office with our wedding license which is basically just as good. Exciting stuff.

After getting our wedding license we 


and then started driving across the country five days later. Utah, of course, was the prettiest state we drove through. (But honestly, how can you not love every bit of America in May?)

We stopped in North Platte, Nebraska. I thought of English 623 and the graduate school I had left behind.

We arrived in beautiful Springfield, Virginia to spend Sunday with my parents. I admired my beautiful husband, mother, and backyard.

Basically, Connecticut is very green. Matthew started work and got a nice ol' first day of work picture and I admired the chipping remains of my wedding pedicure. It's a little discombobulating to think how quickly life has swung from desperately planning a wedding and trying to write seminar papers to Connecticut, job searching, and marriage. But hey, that is life? Yes?

Monday, April 22, 2013

We're just a couple of kids

I'm getting married in twelve days. That's not very far away. And that's why I'm justifying this pre-wedding blog post in the midst of final paper finishing. Because I won't have much time left before all posting will be post-wedding posting. And even though that sounds rather fatalistic, it'd probably be more accurate to say I'm scared and happy and anxious and excited all at once. 

I've been thinking a lot about the Margaret Atwood poem "Habitation":

Marriage is not
a house or even a tent

It is before that, and colder:

The edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs 
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn

where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far

we are learning to make fire

This poem gives me a lump in the throat. Because marriage sometimes seems like the edge of ALL that I know and hey, I'm just a kid! But midst those images of cold and unknown I find immense comfort in knowing there is no one I'd rather eat popcorn with. And that I'm pretty sure Matt will figure out how to make fire because he's like a scientist. 

I also like knowing  that Margaret Atwood is not my end-all of marriage. And that there's this thing called eternity which even if I can't entirely understand, I can still strive for. And I like to believe that eternity was before even the tents and houses, and that it is actually warmer there. And ultimately, I hope that if I go into marriage believing in its sanctity and importance I will be able walk to the edge of the unknown 
(Matt will be holding my hand the whole time).

And that I think I can do.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Three Things

1) I really should be grading papers right now. Ugh for procrastination.

2) Today Matthew sprinted me some Extra Strength Tylenol so I could go to class headache-less. What a wonderful man.

3) On Sunday, while I was babysitting the brown rice casserole that was cooking in his oven as he attended Stake Priesthood Meeting, Matthew sends me this text:  "Would you mind taking out the porkchops I have in the freezer? I love you." If  the circumstances surrounding that text (and the text itself) are not signs that we are ready to get married I don't know what are.