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Don’t forget about The Folly of the World cocktail contest that’s going on right now! Two Three entries so far, one of which is poisonous, so if you folks want more books by Jesse it would behoove you to submit something…

Last night on the Lovecraft eZine Chat so graciously hosted by Mike Davis, I, perhaps not unexpectedly, got talking about my passion for 18th century lit, specifically women’s novels which reference slavery/the slave trade, a topic which took up most of my classes for my Master’s. Somewhat more unexpectedly, a viewer wrote in to ask what might be some interesting titles fitting that description that interested readers could check out! Holy moly, how awesome! 18th century novels are a passion of mine, and I think they’re under-read, so I was over the moon.

That said, rather than rattle off a bunch of titles for people to scribble down, I promised to post a list of some of my favorites that deal with Caribbean slavery, the middle passage, women’s interest in abolition/amelioration, etc. So, here is that list! It’s just a starting point, dear listeners and readers, thus once you plow through these, hit me up and I’ll dig up some even more obscure titles. And ones that do waaaaay more than that lone shout-out in Mansfield Park to the slave trade that always gets all the attention. Whee!

don’t you just love how this is EVERY COVER of EVERY BOOK written by a woman before 1900?

Belinda, Maria Edgeworth. 1801. Technically 19th century but whatever. Also features an eyebrow-raising parody of Mary Wollstonecraft, so that’s entertaining.

A Description of Millenium Hall [sic] and The History of Sir George EllisonSarah Scott. Love these books. So cray. Sarah Scott was really interesting so make sure to read the critical introductions, class!

The Adventures of David Simple. Sarah Fielding. This is long and weird but there’s a whole Jamaica connection, though one a bit less direct than the three above titles.

The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph. Frances Sherridan. This is probably my fave 18th c. novel, transatlantic connection or no! Glad to see it’s in print again. My copy is hideous and full of errors due to being a scan from some old microfiche. The things I do for love…

The History of Mary Prince. Mary Prince. Not a novel, but a fascinating account of the life of a liberated Jamaican slave in her own words (allegedly; again, the critical introduction is really interesting).

Oroonoko. Aphra Behn. A classic. “Long” 18th c. rather than the regular kind, but highly influential on later works about slavery.

Oh, and because I talked about it for way too long:

Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and his Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World. Trevor Burnard. One of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read, but highly informative about the conditions of 18th century Jamaican slavery.

This list might not have the best, or most representative books written during the (long) 18th century, but they are on the topic as asked! Hope they’re enjoyed. I babbled about a similar topic back when Historical Lovecraft debuted a million billion years ago, so you can check that out, too, if you like. Cheers, and thanks for the question! Super-fun to look up all these gems and think about the horror of humanity once again. It had been too long!

I am going to take a few minutes to be frustrated about something.

I really don’t understand what the heck is up with people trying to tell me it’s a bad idea to leave grad school, causing me to have to endlessly justify my decision over and over and over again and making me feel increasingly vexed about my choice. I don’t see really what the difference is between grad school and any other job– you work, you get paid (kind of), you deal with co-workers. In fact, grad school, and academia, to those who aren’t in love with the culture, is even more of a hassle than other jobs. Just like anything, it is fun for people who love it and annoying and terrible for people who wish they were doing something else. And for me, grad school has been interfering with my other goals and aspirations, and I don’t desire to work in an academic department. Or deal with writing papers. Or deal with department politics. So what is so terrible about leaving? I can go back if I want to. When I got my Bachelor’s degree I graduated with one of the top five GPAs in my entire graduating class. My GPA for my Master’s is a 4.0, and though I haven’t gotten my grades from this summer I assume I’ll have around that for my year of Ph.D work. I have fantastic teaching evaluations, professors who would write me letters of recommendation. I’m not leaving with my tail between my legs, failing my classes and skulking away because I can’t teach. I’m leaving because I want to leave grad school, I’m not enjoying it and I want to do something else for a while. My “family of choice” thinks it’s a good idea, as does one of the biggest deal professors at FSU, an awesome person who has guided me with the combined skills of a mentor, a father, a professor, an advisor, and a friend, thinks that my decision to try something else for a while or maybe forever is an awesome idea. I have another friend/professor who thinks I am following a “calling” by leaving and maybe that’s the case. It certainly feels right to leave. Why can’t everyone else just see that?

There is some sort of weird stigma with quitting school, as if choosing to leave an expensive, high-stress environment with uncertain payback, that I don’t enjoy, and don’t want to do for a living, is crazy and must mean I have some sort of psychological issue or some other tragedy. As if I am failing as a person because I am leaving. Any job has opportunities, but most people who quit a job because they feel unfulfilled aren’t met with “but you might have been promoted!” or “But you might have gotten a raise!” or whatever. Usually people who quit a job are met with “Congrats, awesome! Such great opportunities await you!” But with quitting school you get the concerned brow-furrow and the personal questions. “Is everything OK?” “Are you sure you want to do that? You’ll lose so much work!” “Why just give up now?” Let’s take stock of things for a moment: I have one year, and not even a complete year, of Ph.D work. I have a Master’s degree, which of course in this day and age is the consolation prize of degrees, chump change instead of a respectable effort. I dislike the elements of academia that are unfortunately its defining characteristics in this day and age. So where exactly is the tragedy?

And so I have to go through the whole rigamarole over and over again: I’m too mentally exhausted at the end of most academic days to write, and I want to take a few years to try my hand at the writing thing. As a grad student I never have time for other things I love in the world, like painting, cooking, writing, knitting, whatever. I have to do those things on breaks instead of frequently. I want my evenings and weekends to myself again. I don’t enjoy writing papers. The fields I work in are currently dominated by academic trends I find unproductive, disingenuous if not (occasionally) downright despicable, and uninteresting. 

Grad school was an awesome experience for me. I can parse academic writing. I have boss research skills. I can read (to some degree) ancient Greek. And I am going to use those skills, hopefully, to write. I know it is an insane crazy dream and I will most likely fail at it, but I don’t want to look back at my life one day and say “I really wish I had taken the time to try the whole writing thing. I had an opportunity and I squandered it.” So that’s what I’m doing. I feel fine in this decision, except when I have to endlessly justify it to everyone I’ve ever met. So everyone just leave me alone!

I put a LOL-ed up version of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Maidens here. It’s even less exciting in the original!

Instead of just posting random links and insane rambling, this is just going to be a sort of state of the union-ish update.

1. I finished the semester having read all the Jane Austen catalogue except for the last few chapters of Persuasion (I was unpersuaded to finish it) and most of Sanditon. Also I finished teaching two great classes full of students who I already miss. It was a good semester overall, considering I managed to kick butt at ancient Greek, read a ton of Austen, and finish a personal writing project that I’ve been working on for a long time. 

2. I went down for a week to visit my and John’s family and cleaned out my closet down there. It felt good. Now I basically have family heirlooms that I don’t have space for right now (dishes, mostly), a one-person hammock that you have to bolt into the ceiling, my yearbooks, my diaries from middle school, and all my baby stuff. Other than that I am moved out. I also had some revelations as regards my personal life which have been productive, and it has inspired me to try to work on some of the personality traits I am less proud of. 

3. I have started the summer semester. I got completely and utterly overwhelmed within two weeks with the course of study/teaching I had set up for myself and actually had a bit of a breakdown yesterday. I emailed my professor and she kindly reduced my workload. That should be helpful. I am still going to have to work all day every day, but things are looking better. I have a lot of work instead of an impossible amount of work now, and on the upside my class this semester is awesome. They are reading and are either actually into the Iliad right now or they are excellent actors.

4. I have been very social of late, owing to the fact that I am going to be moving soon, and my dear friend Raechel is going out of town for about two months. This is contrary to every instinct I possess but I have been enjoying it for the most part. That said I am looking forward to going into my standard hibernation mode again.

Other than that, the usual– role playing, hanging with my two bad cats, and thinking about my next writing project. I think I’ve decided what I’m going to do next but I would be writing about a location I know nothing about, so research will be challenging!

I realized I never linked my new blog on this one. I have a new project going, translating Plato’s Apology. I’ve decided to create a blog out of it, where I post both results of said efforts and commentary on my experience doing the translating. It’s been motivating me very much, and I hope to use it after I finish the Apology and move on to more, uh, scintillating material.

There are times when I am just like wtf? about the world. Right now I need to be studying and writing papers and writing my final exam for my students and instead I feel like a sack of ass and want to do nothing but drink ginger tea and read crappy, crappy novels. Argh!!

In other news, I will have something (moderately) exciting to announce to the world in a few days. No, I’m not pregnant.

The good people at Apostrophe Abuse simultaneously amuse me and make me want to pull an Oedipus in order to never see such atrocities against punctuation and spelling ever again. Here, then, is a good Guide to Using the Apostrophe that I would link into the text of my blog but it is coming up all funny because it’s big. See what I did there? I used an apostrophe to join a subject to its verb.

I’ve been up here at All Saints for three and a half hours studying for my Greek test next week and I think my brain has turned into jelly and is oozing out through my ears, but in another half an hour I get to go have a drink at Fermentation Lounge with my friend Selena and the rest of my band of scallawags.

Then tonight I’m going to watch the Sense and Sensibility miniseries with John, which should be cool, except that my use of the term scallawag just there has given me a real urge to break out the Mount Gay and watch Pirates of the Caribbean. Hmm. Perhaps I should bank on the already-insane popularity of the not-yet-published Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and write Sense and Sensibility and Pirates, so future generations can combine the pleasure of Regency romance and swashbuckling.

Holy crap, nobody steal my stolen idea, OK? That actually sounds awesome. Yarr!

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Sometimes I feel like I am getting worse at Greek instead of getting better. I don’t know what’s been wrong with me recently, but everything seems cumbersome and nothing is fun. I don’t know why I’m doing this, spending so much time and effort on this language that only beats me like a dog in return. I’m leaving school after this year and I know myself, I know I won’t continue on with this. I get frustrated too easily. So that’s leaving me puzzling over why the holy hell I’m bothering. Bleh.

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