Shades of Victorian Fashion: Pretty in 19th Century Pink

Lovely article by Mimi Matthews

Mimi Matthews

Individual Images via Met Museum, Cincinnati Art Museum, and MFA Boston.

During the Victorian era, pink was considered a sweet, feminine color, suitable for the gowns of young ladies in their first season.  It was also fashionable for more mature Victorian women, who often wore evening dresses made of fine pink satins and silks.  Most commonly of all, pink was an accent color used for trim and accessories.  Ladies carried pink parasols and pink fans.  They decorated their bonnets with pink ribbons and flowers.  And, in the summer, their light cotton gowns were brightened with pink stripes and pink floral sprigs.  In today’s article, we look at some of the loveliest examples of the color pink in Victorian fashion.

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Australian Contributions in Fashion

Zoe, Mrs Mary, Marjorie and Chloe Gullick, outside Altoncourt, Killara (ca. 1909). Zoe, Marjorie and Chloe are wearing wide-brimmed sun hats, a look which Margot Riley says Australians pioneered. ALARMINGLY, WHEN I ASK historian Margot Riley what Australians have contributed to fashion, she immediately brings up a classic combination – the safari suit and […]

via “Fashion in Oz”. — Old Guv Legends

Why do I like leaves?

Leaves 2

Why do I like leaves? And it’s not just any leaves. It is the red, gold, and yellow leaves of autumn. The thin, fleshy skin with translucent veins. Something about the beauty in those details just fascinates me. I have always loved fall, but it almost seems I’ve loved it from a distance. The trees in our front and back yards did change colors, but that was about all the experience I got seeing leaves change colors. My favorite pictures for backgrounds are of nature and especially of beautiful photographs of trees in autumn. It seems so enchanting. That first crisp breath of change. Of the air of “elsewhere” coming to blow away the muggy, blistering heat.

Path

Is there anything more magical? Some might argue that the beauty of spring or the snow of winter are more magical. Birth and death. If Spring is the time of birth and renewal, of youth and beauty, and Summer is adolescence and life and action, and Winter is sleep and cold and death or hibernation; then Autumn must be the time of maturity; of knowledge, of knowing that the year and time of life is drawing to a close, and we must acknowledge what precious little time we have left.

Autumn is the time of harvest, of plenty, of nutrition and health. Such richness, such warmth of color. Autumn is the only season where the trees make a sound. In spring and summer, it is animals and insects; in winter, it is ice, snow, and wind. Autumn is the season of the trees. The trees shed their leaves and the bittersweet music of crunching foliage itself is the sound of presence, of being in the moment. Maybe fall is magical for me because I have never had to really experience the harshness of winter. South Texas is not the land of seasons.

Perhaps it is my distance from the true experience of fall that makes it so enchanting. I’ve never had to rake the yard covered in fallen leaves. I’ve never had the misfortune of stepping on hidden dog poo. Still, the romantic in me refuses to surrender to the realist. See? Autumn brings out the poet in me. Warm peppermint mochas and an evening at Barnes and Noble surrounded by books and the smell of coffee. Burning mesquite wood scenting the breeze from the few people with fireplaces taking one of the few opportunities we get to use them. The lightness of foreign air that carries the smell of other places and people before it, pushing away the heavy, dreary, weighted heat and humidity. Crunching of leaves under leather boots. Frisky dogs running and jumping across the yard. Your life’s breath manifesting and then disappearing before your eyes. Cinnamon, pumpkin, and chocolate on your tongue and in the air. The fresh tingle across your face as the chill of the wind whips past.

I never really feel at home until it’s fall. I feel like a stranger in a strange land living in this hot, tepid corner of the world. The first cold fronts that migrate all the way from Canada and finally, I feel like myself. Like all is right with the world and this is how it should be. I should feel this fresh and alive and at home all the time. If only I could carry around a jar of autumn air with me all year round, and it would never run out. When I need to feel refreshed and energized, I could just open it up and take a deep breath.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” – George Eliot

12 Years a Slave – A landmark in United States Cultural History

I saw this film from the point he reached Michael Fassbender’s plantation onward, and it still had such an impact. It has so many layers that it would take a few entries to discuss this film to the fullest extent.

TBC

Without Ritual, Autonomous Negotiations

12 Years a Slave follows the life of Solomon Northup, an African American who lived in the North and who was not enslaved, from directly before he was kidnapped and sold as a runaway until he was reunited with his family.

Films based on true events have to be analyzed or approach in a slightly different way than (more overtly) fictional films. In the case of 12 Years a Slave, we have over a decade of time condensed into slightly more than two hours. As a result, everything is highly selective. Rather than looking at what is actually true, we have to examine what we are shown and why.

Two, somewhat overlapping, key questions, then, should guide our initial analysis.

First, does the film speak to historical truths, as supported by evidence? Are scenes realistic based on the film’s time and place?

Second, does the film legitimately force viewers…

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One-Star Amazon Reviews of Pulitzer Winners

Great info for aspiring historians.

The Junto

Portrait Of Joseph PulitzerWe talk a lot about accessibility in historical writing. Many of us worry whether the academic historical profession has much to say to a broad popular audience. It’s a pretty old form of anxiety. But what do the general public in the United States really want from their history books?

A few days ago, I decided to try an experiment. I collected all the one-star customer reviews at Amazon.com for the last twenty years of Pulitzer Prize winners in history. (No award was given in 1994, so I included books from 1995 to 2014.) I wanted to see whether I could identify common complaints. Obviously, this wouldn’t be a very scientific experiment, but at least it would be reasonably systematic—slightly better, perhaps, than relying on anecdotes from acquaintances.

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NaNoWriMo: Do you have it in you??

It is nigh on the third day of the National Novel Writing Month challenge, and I am 289 words into my “novel”. I attempted this mountain of a challenge two years ago mostly as a way to jump start my writing, and barely made any headway as I was up to my eyebrows in graduate school madness for the past two years. To be fair, my novel this year is just the continuation of the one I began two years ago. Until 2012, I never in a million years would have believed I would be interested in writing, as a hobby at least. The life of academics is the stuff of writing for work, because you have to and you want to be published, and it’s pretty much mandatory. I never thought I would write for “fun”. Me? A creative writer? Please.

And then it happened. A little over two years ago I came home from a bar with my roommate, still drunk from a night of awkwardly standing around as she and her friends played pool or danced salsa, and posted what I thought would be a ‘one-shot’ sort of thing online that I had written on a whim all in one sitting a few days before. (Whew, can I run on, or can I run on?) The next morning, a miraculous thing happened. I had my first review. It is still to this day, my favorite, longest, and most detailed review of my work. I was in awe. I could not fathom how some stranger, some faceless phantom out there in the void of the internet not only found my work, read it, liked it, but took the time to write a positive, constructive review on in. I’m not gonna lie, it was kind of a Sally Field moment. They like me! They really like me!

But then, as soon as the wonder and joy washed over me, I was hit with what is much more of my natural state of emotion: anxiety. Oh my gosh. People expect me to write more. I had not even thought of it. Can I even do that? Do I even know how? I’ve never written anything creatively in all my life. AND IT HAS TO BE GOOD. BECAUSE I AM AN OVERACHIEVER.

Well.

Come to find out, I did (do?) have a gift for writing, and I was able to formulate an actual plot with characters and goings-on and so forth. I wrote and posted steadily from about June to October. I still remember the day of my last posting, October 18th. I still don’t know if it was me running out of steam, or becoming even more overwhelmed by school and life and whatnot. Had I psyched myself out by putting too much pressure on myself? I had gone from doing this for fun, for me, on a whim, to obsessively checking my writing stats several times a day. Checking my email again and again for even the slightest review. I started to worry what those faceless phantoms in the void would think about what I wrote next. I wanted to please them. And therein lay my ruin.

I continued to receive sporadic reviews and comments over the next two years. Every so often I would get a “omg i love it! pllleeezzzeee update soon!” And I would chastise myself mentally. Bad me. Why hadn’t I updated? My public was waiting. I did have ideas for plots, but I suddenly became stuck. All along, I had really just sat down and written whatever came into my mind at that moment. The story took shape as I wrote it. There was next to no planning involved. Then, the more I wrote, and the more chapters and characters that appeared, it was absolutely necessary to at least have some kind of end game in mind. My friends who were writers would ask me, after I had drummed up the courage to show them my work, this is good, but what is your plan? Who is the villain? Where are you going with the main character? All completely legitimate questions one would ask a proper writer. But I didn’t really know.

Once I began to think about it, I realized that the writing had been so much fun for me at the time because it served as a creative outlet, an escape from the tedium of my classes and the melancholy that had enveloped me for so long. When I sat down to write I felt a rush that I had not felt in a long time, and different from the one I experienced when writing about a subject I liked for class. Then, I began to feel depressed about not finding joy in something that had made me so happy for so long out of no where, and not only that; but having that outlet become a source of anxiety and stress over time.

To round things out because it is late and tomorrow is Monday and I have to face the world with some semblance of purpose, I figured out something about myself that I had only just touched on before. I cared too much about what people thought (including myself) and was suffering from analysis paralysis. The enemy of creativity is over-thinking. Not that creative things aren’t edited or reviewed; but that one needs to find a place of serenity, a place of “flow”, or the zone, as I call it. Just let it be. Be in the present, and let go. From there, comes the flow, and before you know it, your’re in the zone. I’m going to use this self-pep talk this week as I attempt to chip away at my “novel” that is really just an experiment in ‘creative being.’ Calling it a novel makes me feel like a phony. I don’t have an extensive plot line and I have no idea how it ends, so in a way it’s sort of like real life. My writing happens in real time. And the only way to live, to be in the moment, is to let go and let flow. Hopefully that is where I will find myself at a few points this month.

Wish me luck! And good luck to all other writers and creative spirits sending a piece of their souls into the void. We’re all in it together. Just like life. Let go and let flow.

Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day

Confessions of a Creative Writing Teacher

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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