Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Some Comments on PW's "It's Still Complicated; A Review of Romance Publishing

 I am the author of a book that is a literary critique of romance novels and Barbara Pym's books called The Subversion of romance in the Novels of Barbara Pym (The Popular Press/U of Wisconsin Press, 1998). A good friend, J.R., herself an author, recently pointed me to this article from PW: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/b.... Among other things, the article's theme is that rape and rape fantasy as depicted in romances now require consent, and the author talks about "the Weinstein" factor among other things. I'm also a romance writer at times, and my book The Wild Horse Runs Free is on Good Reads, and Amazon. I would like to say that novels of all type are fiction, and many genres besides romance depict rape, especially murder mysteries, thrillers, and horror novels. It is just that, fiction. We make it up. It doesn't mean we advocate anything. I personally don't write romance any more because I don't like writing sex scenes, but that's me. The First Amendment should still apply to art, which is what creative fiction is. Publishers and editors are among the last great censors; we get it. They may reject anything, and can often tell writers to write or not write, anything. But putting a "consent" clause in a romance novel where one element may involve depicting rape, well, I just don't know. This is an interesting and well written article, and food for thought. I read The Flame and The Flower in college, and later, as research for my dissertation. I took this and Woodiwiss's other novels and read the whole, not stressing on plot details. If found the plot to move quickly, and her heroines to have some depth and personality. Her research was always very good. That's all I have to say. Read the article if you are a fiction writer.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Solar Eclipse and Maria Mitchell

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Maria Mitchell, Astronomer, Public Domain

The Solar Eclipse and Maria Mitchell

By Ellen Tsagaris

Popular Astronomy Club

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Eclipse 2017 Public Domain


On March 20, 2015, the next solar eclipse will be visible.  NASA’s Solar Eclipse Page provides tables of past and future solar eclipses, along with graphics and other pertinent information. 


A solar eclipse takes place, of course, when the moon passes between the sun and the earth.  Once this occurs, the moon partially or totally hides the sun.  Then, the moon casts a shadow on the earth.


For a solar eclipse to occur there must be a new moon because the eclipse can only take place during the phase of the new moon, which makes it possible for the moon to cast its shadow on the earth.


Such an event has been billions of years in the making, truly awesome when one considers that since its formation almost 4.5 billion years ago, the moon has been steadily pulling away from the earth. According to Space.com, the moon has been moving away from the earth by about 1.6 inches each year.  Furthermore, the writers at Space.com point out that “right now the moon is at the perfect distance to appear in our sky exactly the same size as the sun, and therefore block it out. “


The Bible mentions a solar eclipse in Amos 8: 9, “I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the Earth in the clear day.”  Other references from Ancient China and Nineveh have also been documented. 


Most solar eclipses are very short, with some of the longest recorded at 7 minutes 31 seconds. During this time, the corona, the outer atmosphere of the sun, is visible.


The March eclipse will not be visible in the Quad City area, unfortunately. A total solar eclipse will be visible in Svalbard, Norway and the Faroe Islands, while a partial solar eclipse will be visible in Europe, northern and eastern Asia and northern and western Africa


The last solar eclipse was only a partial eclipse and occurred on October 23, 2014.


Celebrated astronomer Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) made the study of solar eclipses her specialty.  Mitchell was born to Quaker parents who believed in educating equally their sons and daughters.  She learned to love astronomy through helping her father, and one evening, she helped him calculate their home’s position by observing a solar eclipse. Mitchell became famous after she discovered a comet in 1847.  The King of Denmark awarded her a gold medal for her discovery of the comet.  In 1856, Mitchell became a professor of astronomy at Vassar College.


Maria Mitchell was an admired and beloved teacher who inspired her students and believed woman could achieve the same accomplishments that men did, if they could only be given a chance.  She believed creativity and science worked well together, and one quote attributed to her reads: “We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.”




Friday, October 13, 2017

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Theriault's Octoer 28029 Bittersweet Auction!

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Theriault's Octoer 28029 Bittersweet Auction!: Today at 10:12  AM      Courtesy, Theriault's Dolls from the Private Collection of Lorna Lieberman of Leawood, Kansa...

Chance to Publish

Subject: Student Writing/Publishing Opportunity: The Dangling Modifier Newsletter is Accepting Submissions!
From: Karen-Elizabeth Moroski <kxm5044@psu.edu>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2017 10:24:54 -0400
X-Message-Number: 3

Hi, friends!

The Fall 2017 Issue of Penn State/NCTPW's Peer Tutoring Newsletter -- The
Dangling Modifier -- is now accepting submissions. Please encourage your
tutors to submit!

This year's theme was inspired by the upcoming MAWCA 2018 Conference themes
of identity, narrative and honoring intersectionality/voice in writing
center work.

*What is The Dangling Modifier?*
Why, I'm glad you asked! The DM is a peer tutoring newsletter by peer
tutors, for peer tutors. It's a fantastic opportunity for your
students/tutors (grad and undergrad alike) to get published and to be part
of a rich history of tutors writing about tutoring.

*How does it work?*
Explained more in full on The DM's website, peer tutor authors will submit
works via email. Selected writers will be contacted by our editorial staff
(comprised of PSU tutors) and our editorial staff will collaborate (through
Skype, Google Docs, email, etc.) with the writer to refine the final piece.
Then, we publish it to the web!

*If you're interested: *
In the Spring, we offer the possibility for The DM to be hosted by a guest
university. It's great experience for the tutors who work on the newsletter
-- if you're interested, let me know: kxm5044@psu.edu.

*And now... the CFP! (Also attached as a word document)*

*Issue Title: Keepers of Collaboration: Upholding Civil Discourse in
Writing Centers*

*What does collaboration mean to you? To your Writing Center? How do you
define “discourse” in a tutorial? There are times where tutees and
professors both might push against our approach to working with writers
rather than solely working on papers: How does collaboration engage
conversation and growth in ways that line-editing cannot?*

*Sometimes, that conversation and growth can be tough to navigate: as
writing tutors, we sometimes encounter hostile papers, hostile students –
maybe even moments our own beliefs, experiences or backgrounds are called
into question. But a spirit of radical openness runs through the current of
writing center work, and there are ways in which foundational parts of
tutoring pedagogy enable us to be good listeners, good community members
and good humans when we engage in challenging tutorials. The
Dangling Modifier wants to know about times when you’ve felt challenged to
grow during a tutorial, as well as times you needed to use your writing
tutoring skills to navigate a controversial difficult moment in the Writing

*Writing tutoring, civil discourse and collaboration all share the core
tenets of respect, listening, and engaging. What does it mean to be a
Keeper of Collaboration? How can writing tutors use these skills to
preserve and promote community in a tempestuous world?*

*We are also open to creative submissions of artwork, poetry, photography,
book reviews, etc. related to our Fall 2017 theme. If selected, these
submissions will not be listed as newsletter articles but will appear on
our website in our Entertainment Category. Writers can submit to both the
Entertainment and Article sections!*

*Submissions are due no later than November 15, 2017.Email submissions to
danglingmodifier.psu.edu@gmail.com <danglingmodifier.psu.edu@gmail.com>*

*Click here for submission guidelines.

Monday, October 9, 2017

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Dark Angel; PBS story of Mary Ann Cotton, Victoria...

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Dark Angel; PBS story of Mary Ann Cotton, Victoria...: Nothing but husbands and children and demands, states Mary Ann Cotton in the PBS version of her life.  This less than excellent woman died o...

This is Jane Eyre gone very, very wrong. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Remembering 9/11

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Remembering 9/11: 16 years ago the world changed forever.  It is also the 5th anniversary of the Bengazi attacks.  Please take a moment to remember.  Below, i...

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Remembering 9/11

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Remembering 9/11: 16 years ago the world changed forever.  It is also the 5th anniversary of the Bengazi attacks.  Please take a moment to remember.  Below, i...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Visiting Ancient Sites

When I was very little, I traveled extensively with my family. I stood at the Oracle of Delphi when I was nine.  Now, I watch television shows of ancient archaeological sites.  It thrills me when I am lucky enough to visit these places, and to stand where ancient people once stood.  I feel their footsteps through the soles of my shoes.  Did they in turn, wonder, when they stood on ground that those even more prehistoric than themselves, stood--there has to be a great connection, a collective memory or consciousness of humanity.  It must live through the sands around the great pyramids, on Acropolis, at Delphi, and so many more places now real estate for ghosts, but once as active and lively as our own Chicagos, New Yorks, and Denvers.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Girl of Glass and Snow

The Girl of Glass and Snow:


Feminist revision of fairy tales is not new.  Interpretation of any story is to be expected.  Literature dies without vision and revision. 


Pointing out the negative archetype aimed at older women in fairy tales is not a bad thing.  Remember, “older” could mean late twenties.  I was shocked last week at a wedding shower of friends whose family belongs to a strict religious denomination.  I heard comments describing her as an “older” bride.  She’s 26.  I was older than that when I married.  I must be a Methuselah bride.  Or corpse bride.  Another friend at 30 said she was called a Cougar.  My response was, “If you’re a cougar, then I’m a saber-toothed tiger!”


Seriously, I’m not considered old.  I still think the way I did in my twenties, and I don’t dress like I’m old. 


Yet, there is a stigma that is ancient against older women, however older is defined.  There is not enough room here to explore the hag archetype, and how it has affected literature, myth and history.  Certainly, that archetype was aimed at Erzebet.  When her husband died, she was somewhere in her 40s, wealthy, alone, of a different religion.  Other women in her position were also accused of witchcraft and perversion as she was, their properties forfeit.


The same thing happened to accused “witches” everywhere.  Our own Salem Witch Trials followed the same pattern.  The old, the poor, the healers, the single, the too wealthy, the outsiders, these were denounced.  Sarah Good, the pauper of Salem, is regularly described as an old hag, yet she was young enough to have a five year old daughter.  The best account is Marion Starkey’s, The Devil in Massachusetts.


On a PBS special of Walt Disney last night, I watched their account of the making of Snow White, and the implications of the magic mirror.  Mirrors are huge in feminist studies, and in the myth of Erzebet Bathory.  In a play by Velasquez, Las Meninas, the painter was brought before The Inquisition for a painting of Venus in front of the mirror.

The hag, or evil witch, and Maleficent, were straight out of the examples in Sheila Jeffries’ excellent book, The Spinster and her Enemies.


Older women, widows, those retired in late Middle Age, the Marcia’s and Leonora Eyre’s of Barbara Pym’s works, her Miss Clovis’ and Excellent Women, there has often been no room for these in societies all over the world.  Native American peoples in some cases left widows out to die among the elements. James Michener told their story in fictional with his novel, Centennial.  Some Hindu societies had them die on their husband’s funeral pyres.  Even well meaning modern societies for orphans and widows marginalize them.  They are usually older, over 25, let’s say, and may have property which everyone else is only too happy to divest.


The story of Erzebet is a cautionary tale, universal in its tragedy, embodied in our fairy tales and retellings of “Snow White.”


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Happy 4th of July!!

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Happy 4th of July!!: The Star Spangled Banner Find all things patriotic at USA-Flag-Site.org Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light What so proudly w...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

For Pym's Birthday, The Language of Flowers

While I'm not sure that my simple pots and fairy gardens would be up to the standards of Miss Clovis or Leonora Eyre, I offer some photos in honor of Pym's June birthday.  So many readers enjoy her passages on flower arranging and decorating the altar, that I feel a few words on plants and flowers are needed.

Many books exist on the language of flowers, including a novel by the same name.  Kate Greenaway's' example has always been my favorite, but I also love Cicely Barker's flower fairies, and The Diary of an Edwardian Lady. I have written a lot on The Secret Garden, especially in my other blog, Dr. E's Greening Tips for the Common Person, but Burnett was not the only one to write of gardens and plants, and "stolen earth." Rumer Godden's An Episode of Sparrows is about a little girl in Post WWII England who finds solace in a garden she creates from nothing, and then from the network of friends it grows for her.  May you find peace in your gardens this summer, and joy in the flowers and plants that grow there. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Brief Review of a TV retelling of The Brontes' Story: To Walk Invisible- Happy Birthday, Anyway Charlotte

To Walk Invisible will air again tonight, 8 pm cst, on many PBS stations. Visually, lots of detail attracted the eye, but I found there was a modern slant put on the sisters' story that took away from their genius.  Hannah was left out, Elisabeth Gaskell mentioned not at all.  The attention to location, interior décor, costume, hairstyle, etc., was impeccable, but little was told of their juvenilia, other than flashbacks where Branwell's soldiers came to life. The original soldiers appear on the official website featuring Haworth. As an aside, I've tried many years to join The Bronte Society; live has prevented me from checking lately, but in the past, one had to pay in pounds sterling, still not easy to do.

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Anne, To Walk Invisible, Public Domain

For many years, I have read, reread, studied, written about, and created art about the Brontes.  I never got the feeling these filmmakers did.

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The Sisters, Public Domain image

The emphasis of this well-acted but depressing production was Branwell's drinking, his love affairs, allegedly with one Mrs. Robinson, an older woman [I know, true life is better than fiction!], and his dissolute behavior.  While he had these issues and more, the letters of Charlotte's I've read, and so many other primary sources and credible biographies, do not imply that the household was rendered completely dysfunctional by the only Bronte brother.   He was brilliant but troubled, yet this show makes him out to be "not that good", hence the cause of many of his issues.

Life isn't that easy.

Despite it all, the letters of the sisters and their papers indicate a happier, even mundane existence, with a lot of writing and creativity going on.   Emily, who was a genius, and amazing in her own right, comes off as a disgruntled bossy, ill tempered witch.  Charlotte, well, she's just weird, and Anne is a shadow.

I liked the idea of the program, but not the program itself.  Read Unquiet Soul by Margot Peters, or Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte.  Read Daphne du Maurier's The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte. These remarkable women were so much more than the abused caretaker of a brother who couldn't allegedly hold his drink. 

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Public Domain Image