post-thesis thursday

So yesterday at 4:57pm Eastern Standard Time, I sent the following tweet to my twitter account:

And then Hanna and I put on our sneakers and sandals and walked out into the beautiful spring evening to visit our local Staples and print out two complete copies of my Master's thesis, "How to Live?: The Oregon Extension as Experiment in Living, 1964-1980."

I'll be presenting my work at the Simmons College History Department's graduate colloquium on May 9th. At some point shortly after that, I plan to post details over at my OE Oral History blog about acquiring a copy of the thesis and viewing the presentation online. I'll cross-post or link out from here, so those of you who are interested can stay tuned for further details.

Meanwhile, I offer this music video in self-congratulations for the past four years of work. I don't know why this was the song I found rattling around in my head during these final days of revision. I haven't listened to this album in ages -- not since shortly after I moved to Boston. Maybe it's my subconscious trying to come full circle. Anyhow. As someone who's always found her work to take longer than originally planned, and who has (as my mother wrote in a recent email) found myself living an "unexpected life," I like the underlying message of this song.

More soon!


ficnotes: impact

So it was brought to my attention on the thread of last week's ficnote that people are actually taking my recommendations seriously. Well, goodness people! I'm flattered. Though it also makes the act of selecting and highlighting my favorite bits of fic a little nerve-wracking!

I feel a little like Gregory Lestrade ("Study in Pink," Sherlock 2010) in this screen cap.
Not that I'm going to let this stop me!

So for this week's ficnote, we have a three-part fic brought to my attention by Minerva, my goddess of "Mystrade" (or Mycroft/Lestrade) fanfiction. Which really is, as a body of fic, full of the adorable.

Title: Impact
Author: Elfbert
Pairing: Mycroft Holmes/Gregory Lestrade
Author Rating: NC-17
Author Summary: "Impact: The action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another."
Length: 3 parts
Available At: LiveJournal and AO3.
This week's fic is set prior to Lestrade's interactions with Sherlock, which allows for Lestrade and Mycroft to meet on their own terms. Terms which involve Lestrade on a motorcycle being run over by Mycroft's inattentive driver. And then taken back to Mycroft's townhouse in order to clean up. Which is when Mycroft notices that D.I. Lestrade has nipple piercings.

Everything else is really just details. Although it's worth mentioning a couple of things I think this fic does really sweetly and skillfully. One is that Elfbert doesn't ignore the class difference between the two men, and gives them space within the fic to negotiate the inequality in financial resources without those inequalities automatically meaning that Mycroft is the one calling the shots. One of the ways she levels the playing field for the two characters is, actually, the other key bit of character development: Lestrade is Mycroft's first date.

As in, ever.

Holmes stared at his 'phone. It wasn't often he didn't know what to do. Usually he wasn't even aware of any 'wrong' options – he was confident in himself, his decisions, his knowledge. But now ... now he wished that dating (and exactly when it had turned into 'dating', rather than a formal business arrangement in his mind, he wasn't quite sure) was simply a matter of asking your secretary to phone their secretary and put everything into place.

Not that Detective Sergeant Gregory Lestrade had a secretary, which was the first stumbling block.

Which allows, natch, for Greg to be the assertive, initiating partner ... at least at first.

As always, have fun! That's what fic is for. And if any of you all have fic you think I'd enjoy (self authored or otherwise), please do leave links in comments. I'm always looking for new stories and authors to add to my list of bookmarks.


harpy fortnight: musing about sex & other things

Angel in Black
Over the past two weeks, I've written a handful of posts over at Harpyness and of course my colleagues haven't been slackers either. To recap:
Other Harpies shared thoughts on bidets, Canadian politics, finishing their PhD thesis (congrats PhDork!) and Italian art. Click on through to join the conversation.


booknotes: stuff I've been reading

With one week (!) left until I hand in my completed Master's thesis, my brain for writing blog posts has wandered away somewhere ... hopefully to return. In the meantime, I thought I'd take the opportunity to clear out the backlog of unfinished "booknotes" in the queue via one omnibus booknote highlighting some of the titles I have actually been reading, in and around thesis revising and fanfiction perusing.

1) Sara Vowell, Unfamiliar Fishes (2011). My father sent me a signed  (have I mentioned my dad is awesome?) uncorrected proof of this latest book by NPR essayist Sarah Vowell for my 30th birthday. I considered saving it until after thesis revision, as a treat, but it didn't last that long. Vowell's last book, The Wordy Shipmates explored the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Unfamiliar Fishes takes up as its subject the U.S. relations with Hawaii, beginning with the arrival of the first American missionaries (from Boston, unsurprisingly) and ending with the forced annexation in 1898. If you enjoy Sara Vowell's style, then I'm pretty sure you'll like this book. As an historian, I appreciate the way she takes history seriously and doesn't shie away from the contradictions and paradoxes inherent in human interactions.

2) Patricia Briggs, River Marked (2011). This is the sixth installment in Briggs' series starring shape-shifting car mechanic Mercedes Thompson. In the interest of avoiding major plot spoilers, I will just say that while this isn't my favorite of the bunch, I continue to like the way that Briggs balances Mercy's relationship with her lover (now husband) Adam Hauptmann with Mercy's own independent explorations of her shape-shifting identity, her family history, and her development as a new member of Adam's werewolf pack. The nature of the story took Mercy away from the usual cast of characters, which was a little sad since I've grown fond of following the lives of her supernatural friends. At the same time, we delved a bit further into Mercy's shadowy genealogy, which was an interesting new element. I'm hopeful that in the next installment, Briggs will take this new knowledge of Mercy's and return her to the extended family and friendship network I've grown to love. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the latest installment of her Alpha & Omega series (tentatively due out in January 2012).

3) Stuart BiegelThe Right To Be Out: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in America's Public Schools (2010). Biegel is on the faculty of the UCLA School of Law and an expert in the field of education and the law. In this highly readable volume, Biegel tackles the rights of students, teachers, and administrators to be open about their sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in the context of America's public schools. Through an examination of case law, Biegel argues that there is a growing precedent for youth and adults alike to claim the "right to be out," that is the right to be open about fundamental aspects of their identity, in the public sphere -- including public schools. Furthermore, they have the right to be out and to expect protection from persecution (bullying, workplace discrimination, harassment) for their beliefs. Biegel explores the legal ramifications for schools that will be held accountable for protecting their students and employees from discrimination and violence. It was a quick read, and I am glad to have it in my list of sources on the intersection of education, sexuality, and the law.

4) Michael Cart (editor), How Beautiful the Ordinary: Twelve Stories of Identity (2009). Our friend Diana picked up this anthology of short stories at a recent book swap and forwarded it on to Hanna and I. As is the nature of short story anthologies with multiple authors, I enjoyed some of the stories intensely and felt unmoved by others. I particularly liked David Levithan's "A Word from the Nearly Distant Past," Ariel Schrag's comic strip about attending a dyke march, and "First Time" by Julie Ann Peters, the story of two lesbians who are very much in love and in lust (positive depictions of teenage sexuality for the win!). It's a mark of how far queer YA fiction has come in the past two decades that the stories in this anthology are so diverse and multivocal. As Levithan observes (in the phrase from which the title is drawn), "how beautiful the ordinary becomes once it disappears."

5) Kage Baker, In the Garden of Iden (1997). And finally, now that thesising is winding down, I picked up book one of Kage Baker's science fiction / historical fiction series about the mysterious Company. The Company is a corporation of immortal operatives who travel through time and space supposedly rescuing the planet from human destruction while profiting enormously from their skillful maniplations of human history. I'm not far enough into the book (which Hanna assures me is both essential to understanding the series as a whole and also one of the clunkier installments) to offer much by way of informed review. I'll just say that as someone who has had a more or less life-long affair with novels involving time travel, the basic concept is definitely something I can get behind. And the handful of short stories I've read in the same universe definitely tell me I have something to look forward to.

That's all for now folks! Look for a "harpy week" post this Sunday, a ficnote on Tuesday, and perhaps in the next month or so a return to more regular narrative blogging. And actual full-length booknotes to boot!


ficnotes: the progress of sherlock holmes

via the culture concept circle
After last week's brief vacation in Potterland, we're returning to the equally delightful world of Sherlock (BBC) fanfiction. This week's fic is a full twenty-five chapters long and deals with the complicated emotional currents eddying around the three main characters: Sherlock, John, and Mary Morstan. Sherlock is in love with John, but isn't exactly sure what that means to him (or whether he's capable of pursuing a romantic and/or sexual relationship). John is in love with Sherlock but doesn't know how to deal with the fact this runs counter to his identity as a straight man (or also if a sexual relationship is what Sherlock wants). Mary marries John, but her motives for doing so are mixed at best and poisonously manipulative at worst.
Title: The Progress of Sherlock Holmes
Author: ivyblossom
Pairings: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, John Watson/Mary Morstan
Author Rating: Explicit
Author Summary: "Sherlock is head over heels for John, but you wouldn't know it by looking at him. First-person present-tense series of short scenes from Sherlock's point of view, borrowing heavily from Arthur Conan Doyle's stories."
Length: 25 Chapters (61,999 words)
Available At: Archive Of Our Own in chaptered or series versions.
What I adored about this fic, aside from the loving attention to Sherlock's inner voice (his attention to detail, his precise notation of observation and emotion), was that ivyblossom took three incredibly damaged characters, put them in a situation in which they manage to cause themselves and one another even further damage, and then wrote at least two of them out of that situation into a better place. With some really loving and lovingly detailed Sherlock/John slash along the way.


from the archives: fun with reenactment photography

Some things never change.

This passed week at the MHS, some colleagues and I posed for mock Victorian daguerreotype photographs to promote our new photography exhibit on the blog. Here I am with my awesome boss, Elaine:

Anna (standing) and Elaine (seated)
at the MHS, April 2011
(The shawls are courtesy of Hanna's mom Linda.)

When I sent the blog post to my mother she responded by digging out these photographs, circa. 1988, when we created our own mock portrait studio and spent an afternoon posing for Edwardian-era black and white photographs.

Yes, before you ask, we were indeed that sort of homeschooling family.

Anna (age 7)
Brian (age 4)
Maggie (age 1)


ficnotes: tissue of silver

It's Tuesday, which means fic day!

by karli_meaghan
Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy slash is actually where I was (re)introduced to the world of fan-created fiction, when Hanna shared the saga of Underwater Light with me (now no longer available online, though you can read about it over at Fanlore.org). It was Underwater Light that convinced me that fan fiction was a genre worth paying attention to, not only as a "guilty pleasure" but as a literary endeavor that could actually sometimes be more skillful than the original creation to which it owed inspiration.

Tissue of Silver isn't Underwater Light though its characterization of both Harry and Draco owe a lot to UL author Maya. However, it's easily the most entertaining Harry/Draco fic I've read in a while. The downside is its lack of explicit sex (c'mon, you know that's a huge reason we're reading this stuff); the upside is the care with which author Fearless Diva constructs her post-series world, and the characters within it who have been given a depth that, really, Rowling never managed (I'm serious).

Title: Tissue of Silver
Author: Fearless Diva
Pairing: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Author Rating: R "for coarse language, brief drug use, some sexual content, and consideration of issues of sexual consent."
Author Summary: "A love story concerning possessed furniture, black silk pyjamas, courtroom drama, premonitions of doom, assassination attempts, Death Eater yoga, absinthe, bare feet and a sensible werewolf."
Length: 576K (one long chapter)
Available At: Fearless Diva's Harry Potter Fiction page (along with short pieces set in the same universe ... "Famous for Their Discord" and "Voluptas" come highly recommended) and also recorded by FayJay (for the win!) at AudioFic.

I'm not going to say a whole lot more about this, so as not to spoiler things. The basic set-up is this: in a post-series, post-war world Draco Malfoy (who served as a spy for the anti-Death Eater side) is testifying at a series of Death Eater trials. He is also flamingly gay and very Peter Wimsey in his affected non-chalance. When threats are made against his life, (ostensibly)straight tabloid sensation Harry Potter ("Super Auror") is assigned to keep him safe. Shenanigans ensue.

There are also letters to and from Draco to his godfather Severus Snape which are hilarious, and have I mentioned Remus and Sirius make cameo appearances as Harry's godfather and godfather-in-law?

And obviously the Chair of Evil. Go forth and read.


harpy week: omnibus edition II

KK isn't technically a harpy
but we're running with it anyway.
FreakAngels (Vol 5)
Another two-week round-up here.

The past two weeks have seen the following posts up at The Pursuit of Harpyness:
  • A Friday Fun Thread highlighting Freak Angels and asking folks to post links to their favorite web comics. The comments thread is a goldmine of new reading suggestions! I highly recommend browsing and link-hopping.
  • A review of data from the Califonia Health Interview Surveys that highlights the health issues for ageing queer folks. Some thoughtful reflections in comments about how we could provide better support for all elders.
  • A response to an advice column letter posted at the Guardian by a mother concerned that her teenage son was viewing internet pornography. There was a long, engaged discussion in the comment thread over the limits of young adult autonomy and the extent to which parents have the right (or ability) to restrict their children's exploration of sexuality in this way.
  • For a Thursday Night Trivia I requested readers favorite childhood picture books. (Again, have fun in comments!)
  • And I praised the women's health movement for encouraging women to become familiar with their own anatomy and become used to touching themselves in a way that can only help inform more pleasurable sexual experiences.
Other contributors offered blog posts on Canadian politics, wedding rings, shopping for bras, and being newly-single. All this and more over at The Pursuit of Harpyness! Come join us.


booknotes: serving LGBTIQ library and archives users

The most recent batch of Early Reviewer titles offered at LibraryThing included this collection of essays for library and archives professionals: Serving LGBTIQ Library and Archives Users, edited by Ellen Greenblatt (Jefferson, N. C.: McFarland & Co., 2011). Being a librarian, I naturally put my name in for a copy and, lo!, I recieved it in the mail earlier this week.

Serving LGBTIQ... is a follow-up volume to Greenblatt's Gay and Lesbian Library Services (1990), now twenty years out of date. As Greenblatt observes in her introduction to Serving LGBTIQ, a lot has shifted in the queer community and in the world of library and information science during the past two decades.

Most obviously, the scope of the book has broadened to include more letters in the alphabet soup of sexual identity and orientation. Linguistically speaking, I really, really wish they'd just gone with "queer." The repeated use of "LGBTIQ" throughout the text was so clunky it made me want to scream ... plus it just makes me think of the identities they've left out (neither asexuality or poly make it in) rather than reassuring me they've been all-inclusive.  At the same time, there does seem to have been honest effort put into the contents of the volume to provide a diverse range of topics -- not simply essays about gay and lesbian folks under the guise of writing about non-straight communities in all their glorious iterations.

Another way in which the world of queer library services (indeed all library services) has irrevocably shifted since 1990 is the advent of the internet and the way in which online access to information and social networking has so rapidly saturated our culture. In 1990, few of us had heard of or made us of the World Wide Web; today most of my professional life is spent interacting in some fashion with the tools available to me via the internet (including the acquisition of this book and the blog post I'm currently writing about it). A significant number of essays in Serving LGBTIQ discuss the particular importance of internet access to queer folks as a source of information and as a space in which to connect with other queer people and explore their sexual desires. Given the popular concern about not only non-straight sexuality but also access to sexually explicit material online in general, a number of the essays stress the importance of ensuring that queer adults and teens (particularly) are not blocked from accessing needed information and social networking resources because of internet filters or other use policies.

I feel like I repeat this mantra a lot when it comes to anthologies, but it really is a truism: anthologies are almost by default uneven in nature. If you think this book might have something of use to you, I'd suggest at least browsing the table of contents before ordering ... unless you happen to have a book budget and this particular text fits the bill of a professional purchase. This is a book geared distinctly toward practicing librarians (and, to a lesser extent, archivists), with an emphasis on praxis over analysis or theorizing. There are a lot of essays that trend toward case studies or profiles light on analysis, and pieces which read more like policy recommendations rather than in-depth examinations of the topic at hand. I actually found the profiles of various institutions (such as community-based archives), initiatives (oral history projects, web-based history projects) and political case studies (attempts to ban YA literature with queer themes) to be the most interesting part and potentially useful part of the volume. The recommendations for collection development, outreach initiatives, and other ways to be "queer friendly" felt fairly boiler plate to me. Maybe for folks who feel intimidated by the idea of reaching out to, or supporting, non-straight patrons, the practical advice in this volume could cut through a lot of the anxiety or fear. As it was, I'm not sure I learned a whole lot I don't already know about the basics of being open and welcoming to all folks, regardless of orientation and self-presentation.

And ultimately, I suppose, the hope might be that guides like this will eventually become redundant or superfluous, as community spaces like libraries and archives move away from exclusionary practices (whether through intentional discrimination or simple thoughtlessness) and toward more democratic, inclusionary ones. It will be interesting to see what a volume of essays addressing these same (or similar) concerns will look like in 2031 - twenty years down the road.


ficnotes: transport

from the blind banker, capped by killcolor
I owe my friend Minerva @ Hypomnemata a big thank you for posting a link to this particular fic.
Title: Transport
Author: ThisPrettyWren
Pairing: Sherlock/John (Sherlock BBC)
Alerts: Bondage, Sensory Deprivation
Rating: NC-17
Length: circa. 10,500 words
Available At: ThisPrettyWren's the unattended kettle and the epilogue can be found here.

Where to begin with this particular fic. The first thing you need to understand is that this is definitely a kink fic in which Sherlock's chosen form of sexual outlet is bondage and sensory deprivation followed by anonymous sexual/sensual touch. At a sex club where John Watson occasionally provides his services as the doctor on call.

What I think this piece (amazingly enough the author's first pass at writing explicit slash) does brilliantly is convey the way that, for Sherlock Holmes, lack of sensory input serves to increase his capacity for relating and communicating with others (read: John) in an intimate way. In a way that make shim feel cared for, connected and grounded. By engaging in activities that many of us would see at first glance as distancing, as dis-engagement, as a refusal to accept human-to-human intimacy with a known other being ... Sherlock is actually able to experience intimacy on a profound level.  

Also: don't miss the epilogue, wherein the author explores the way that this intimacy between John and Sherlock serves to help Sherlock function in the world outside of sex -- how it helps him feel known in a way that keeps him present and focused where he might just fall to pieces otherwise.

Go enjoy!