Searching for blog posts tagged with 'early modern'

i love autumn

Sep

13

I used to love school when I was a kid. New clothes, new shoes, new pencils and bookbags and things... now I'm finally getting back to it. I've spent the last two years working for a living, and I'm so glad to be going on to get my MA. I've got everything settled. All I'm waiting for now is the British consulate to approve my visa and send it back to me. It's the last thing on the list, so I'm kind of paranoid that I've forgotten something, even though I triple- and quadruple-checked my paperwork. I'm excited and terrified. Moving to a different country, living with people I don't know, getting back into the swing of writing papers.

I haven't written anything in over a month. That's crap, but I've got so much on my plate right now, I don't see myself getting back to it until I move to Brighton. I'm going to be working long hours my last two weeks here, and when I'm not working, I'm sleeping.

I need a plan for my arrival. My travel is all set up, but I've no idea what I'm going to do after I get to Brighton, besides probably take a long and much-needed nap. I've got to get a bank account opened, finish my registration, pay my fees, register for courses... I really want to take the "On (Not) Being Able to Write" module in addition to my Early Modern stuff, but I'm not sure if I can. It doesn't exactly mesh with the rest of my modules, but I really want to take it. I'll have to speak to the tutor about it. Not too enthused about the Idea of the Renaissance module. At least I've got a head start on the reading. Er, well, I will have one, once I actually start reading the books I've gotten. I have to finish Jason Scott-Warren's Early Modern English Literature first. I hope we don't have to do too much with theory and philosophy. I hate that crap. I'm looking forward to "Sexualities in Early Modern England" and the "Dissidence and Marginality" modules. What was the other one... oh right, "Sexuality, Fiction, and Subculture." I hope those are offered in terms where I can take them all.

Reading list:

Montaigne's Essays

Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages

Erasmus, Praise of Folly

Castiglione, Book of the Courtier

Machiavelli, The Prince

More, Utopia (Already read it and don't want to read it again.)

Levack, The Witchcraft Sourcebook (Not actually required for the courses, but it looked interesting, and witchcraft is one of my interests in the period.)

Not looking forward to trying to pack all these books in addition to my clothes and things. I'm thinking at least one bag is going to go over the weight limit.

communication, technology, and DIY

Oct

12

One of the things I love most about studying early modern literature is how relevant it seems to modern life. My readings lately have been about the print revolution and how it completely changed the face of human existence. That's not an exaggeration, either. Can you imagine a world without printed media? I certainly can't. It's one of the things that Elizabeth Eisenstein says makes it difficult for us to really understand just how much the advent of the printing press changed the world.

I think there are quite a lot of parallels between Gutenberg's invention and the rise of the internet. It's not a perfect comparison by any means, but the similarities are there. Opening up communication to a whole new group of people, the loosening of one particular authority's grip on information, and the addition, for good or ill, of a whole new range of human experience. People slag off the internet-- hell, I slag off the internet-- but I really feel that it has a lot in common with the printing press in that it's a new form of communication that has quickly become ubiquitous. How many young people now can remember life before the internet? I was around then, and I can barely remember it. I definitely recall doing research the hard way, with actual books and paper library catalogues, instead of with the internet. A world of information is at my fingertips. I wonder if this is how some early modern scholar felt, walking around the churchyard of St. Paul's.

The problem we encounter in a culture where everyone gets to speak up is determining which voices are worth listening to. If Authority no longer dictates who gets a say, it falls to us to be our own Authority. And sometimes we're pretty crap at that. Critical thinking skills don't really come naturally to human beings, much as we like to preen about being The Rational Mammal or some such nonsense. When it comes to it, we're pretty much just jumped-up monkeys with bigger, sharper sticks.

I'm going to have to look into this idea and investigate whether anyone else has drawn these parallels between the growth of printing and the growth of the internet. I think there might be a dissertation there. Or at least a term paper.