Happy Birthday

Filed under: — Joe @ 2:20 pm

Not to the blog, we haven’t got that far, yet, but to me.

Today’s my own and only birthday, and I’m very glad to be here! Planning to eat a whole lot of oysters, to celebrate, even though it’s a month with no “R” in it.


Famine and Fashion

Filed under: — Joe @ 3:06 pm

Famine and FashionThe official publication date is not until June 28, but we received our copies today of the new book, Famine and Fashion, edited (and including a superb article) by my favorite art historian. The book goes beyond art history, though, examining the rich theme of the seamstress through a wide range of disciplinary and theoretical lenses. I may have a personal connection, but I can still give an accurate back-cover blurb– “A fascinating and much-needed collection, an essential addition to the library of any student of labor history, Victorian cultural studies, or urban studies.”

Or you can trust the publisher’s description:

Like the figure of the governess, the seamstress occupied a unique place in the history of the nineteenth century, appearing frequently in debates about women’s work and education, and the condition of the working classes generally in the rapidly changing capitalist marketplace. Like the governess, the figure of the needlewoman is ubiquitous in art, fiction and journalism in the nineteenth century.

The fifteen articles in this book address the seamstress’s appearance as a ‘real’ figure in the changing economies of nineteenth-century Britain, America, and France, and as an important cultural icon in the art and literature of the period. They treat the many different types of needlewomen in the nineteenth century-from skilled milliners and dressmakers, some of whom owned their own businesses selling merchandise to other women (forming a unique ‘female economy’) to women who, through reduced circumstances, were forced into the lowest end of paid needlework, sewing clothing at home for starvation wages-like the impoverished shirt-maker in the famous Victorian poem by Thomas Hood, ‘The Song of the Shirt.’

This volume assembles the work of leading American, British and Canadian scholars from many different fields, including art history, literary criticism, gender studies, labor history, business history, and economic history to draw together recent scholarship on needlewomen from a variety of different disciplines and methodologies. Famine and Fashion will therefore appeal to anyone studying images of work in the nineteenth century, popular and canonical nineteenth-century literature, the history of women’s work, the history of sweated labor, the origins of the ready-made clothing industry and early feminism.

Available now (pre-order) at Amazon.com!



Filed under: — Joe @ 7:17 am

We’re right in the midst of our Integrating Technology in the Classroom Institute, and I have to say that I feel that it’s going pretty well. Can’t be completely sure until the evaluations (midway and final) come in, but it seems like there’s a good, positive, buzz so far. It’s always hard to run these things–given the diversity of levels of interest, and levels of skill and experience, among the participants, but I think we’re learning every time. Finding the balance between pedagogy (what we care about most) and technology (where we find the biggest deficits) is difficult.

One thing that works very well, though, is the cohort-building this kind of program can accomplish. Keeping people together, all day every day, through a lot of activities, feeding them (fairly well, at least by BMCC standards), and making sure that they get chances to talk to one another, online and f2f, formally and informally–that always has some kind of effect which grows as the days go by.

Each day I seem to think of something else that we should have/could have/would have liked to add–but there’s only so much time and so much capacity the human spirit can tolerate. And we still have them biweekly in the fall!

And I have to say, in all modesty, that I thought my keynote: “Imagination, Knowledge, Magic and Crap: Teaching (and Learning) with (and from) Technology” (alternately titled: “Gunslingers, Bankers, and Whores: Teaching, Learning, and Technology on the Frontier”) was very well-received. I had fun with it, anyway!


Kansas City in ’07

Filed under: — Joe @ 8:31 pm

Heinlein CentennialI’ve just volunteered to help organize the Heinlein Centennial, in Kansas City, July 7, 2007. Don’t know what I can really do to help, but it’s likely to be a huge event. Hope I can at least manage to attend! (Kansas City in July–lovely!). 100 years since the birth of the dean of SF. I’ve got a big Heinlein post to write, sometime–maybe soon, I hope.

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