This week

I just returned from a week away visiting friends, during which I:

– spent an hour on a trampoline with L (age 8 ) and
G (age 5), during which time they performed the dance routine from Love Is A Battlefield.
– spent an afternoon and evening with young persons (see above) crawling on my person.
– was taken as a guest to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and also treated to lunch, and other sundry smaller treats, all because it was “Elsa’s birthday in Boston,” as in “No, you have to take the front seat —- it’s your birthday in Boston!” [See disclaimer.]
– learned that the Boston MFA freaking rocks.
– walked all unawares into a museum gallery only to discover that it housed the actual medieval Spanish chapel whose challenging and innovative transfer and installation I studied at some length last year.
– was regaled with (largely undeserved) accolades of my professional glory and graciousness by my
former boss and co-worker.
– got drunk, just once and only for about 25 minutes, but in the company of two beloved academics and their adorable 21-year-old research assistant, who just got cuter the more I drank.
– was offered one hypothetical job.
– got the shortest haircut my barber would allow.
– consumed one raspberry gelato topped with fresh raspberries.
– came home to a message from my sister asking if she could please bring me a birthday cake.

It’s been a pretty good week.

Disclaimer: it was certainly not my birthday, except in Boston, or so reasoned my companions, who are evidently more in tune with eddies of irregularity within the space/time continuum than I am.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and Elli’s falls two weeks from now. I suggest we spend two weeks in merriment: bring on the gelato, trampolines, cake, and haircuts, not to mention the occasional vodka & tonic.
Let us commence rejoicing.



So many bloggers keep a pretty sidebar with links to “Books I’m Reading!”, and I love to see that, since my usual broad-spectrum foraging technique for contemporary fiction is woefully unfocused. I typically go into the library and fling myself toward the new fiction shelves, castigating myself for not writing down that author’s name and hoping I can find something promising in the ten minutes before my bus is due.

I’d love to maintain a “current reading” sidebar myself, truly I would, but with the quantities of texts I’m reading for classes and research, it simply isn’t feasible to be entering and linking them here. No, really.

No, really.

Continue reading

NaNo and No NaNo

Congratulations to Jane, the only person I know (even virtually) who finished NaNoWriMo!

I topped out at a paltry 8,000 words, more than half of which I wrote after my decision in early November to quit, since I was then despairing over finishing my theses and projects.

I definitely plan to sign up again next year — it was marvelous for my morale to have one crushingly complex project I could simply jettison. Very cleansing.

Speaking of theses, tonight I turn in Human and holy: The terracotta Madonna reliefs of the della Robbia workshop. I’m very pleased with how it turned out, and I can’t imagine how I would have done it without the snazzy new computer that my mother thoughtfully gave me. How did I ever manage?

Least-loved children’s games

In my Renaissance art history class, the professor has trained us to play Council of Trent, extrapolating from existing records of the Council’s condemnation of certain artworks to make our own Trentian statements about other works. Not surprisingly, I am very good at being strictly doctrinaire and judgmental.

I spent a happy few days thinking this was was probably the least popular children’s game ever… until I found in one of my research texts a Renaissance account of a little Florentine girl and her friends, whose adorable form of play was to imagine themselves members of a flagellant confraternity.

They’re so cute when they’re that age.

Popular Madonnas

I’ve finally created a thesis statement. It is, like everything else, temporary.

I’m positing that the staggering popularity of Luca della Robbia’s terracotta Madonna reliefs arose as an indirect result of the increase in foundling homes, which fostered (no pun intended) a change in the cultural vocabulary regarding women, motherhood, and infants, as well as a growing devotion to Mary.

And, yes, I did choose this in part because the stuff’s so pretty.

Clash of theses

Despite the extra day off (thank you, imperialist swines of history!), I am exhausted and badly disorganized. I haven’t unpacked my winter coats and gloves, ordered my new computer, or written a formal thesis statement for my art history class.

In fact, I am very much afraid that my art history paper has taken a turn for the interesting. I anticipate so much trouble sticking to the professor’s strict page limit that I’m considering new but related topics:

> The Innocenta: The dowry as an index of honor for Renaissance Florence’s foundling girls
> Nekkid, nekkid, nekkid: Sexual license, adolescent confraternities, and Donatello’s David

My thesis statement is due in just a few days, so I plan to research all three simultaneously and see which argument emerges from the historical record fastest. Also this week, I need to start the heavy lifting on my anthropology thesis, for which I am (tentatively) researching the Westermarck effect in maritime societies. Zowie — college is fun!
Heaven help me, I mean it.

Paper Street

I’m supposed to be working on a paper right now. I would dearly love to blame my procrastination on the blog (and therefore on you, gentle reader), but that dog won’t hunt. I have only myself to blame.

I’m finding evidence to support the argument that the Renaissance shift in representation of the Christ Child was an indirect result of the establishment of foundling homes. With alternatives to infanticide and a concentration of infant morbidity and mortality in institutional, not domestic, settings, mainstream society could have experienced a dramatic increase in transfer of affect to the infants remaining at home, increasing adult identification of infants as human and encouraging Renaissance artists to adopt the Greco-Roman image of God-as-baby, complete with chubby cheeks and gentle demeanor.

This being my field of study, it is really impossible to claim that watching “Fight Club” this morning (instead of getting to the library by 8 a.m. as planned) was research.
Now you know I’m me and not Elli; she couldn’t make up this nonsense.