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Romance Amongst The Dunes?

19 Jul

Inspired by my previous post – Archaeology, I was thinking, “should I write a story of archaeological adventure, romance and bygone eras?” Perhaps I will. I started doodling with a drawing of sand dunes and some prose popped into my head – “She came to me from across the sand dunes. A lone figure amongst the vast desert. My heart beat faster. I longed to hold her and show her my finds…….”

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Archaeology

18 Jul

Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t entertain the idea of a career as an Archaeologist.

I am fascinated by history. I am a scientist by nature and training (analytical, inquisitive, skeptical, a critical thinker). I would love to time travel back to the 1930’s and 1940’s a be an Archaeologist in the vein of Indiana Jones. Oh for the adventure and romance (yes with tough, beguiling adventuresses or glamorous femme fatales)!! I do have ideas for a story / novel along these lines.

Over the last year and a half, while assessing applications from PhD students with a background in Archaeology or reading about Archaeological researchers in the Faculty I work in, I have contemplated my question. “Why didn’t I study Archaeology at university?”

In the final years of school I dreamt of being a Forensic Pathologist or Forensic Biologist. I was still fascinated with history. When I came to start my science degree (after a year of a Bachelor of Arts trying to concretely decide what I wanted to do), I headed down the path of applied biology and animal biology. Lack of Archaeological subjects where I wanted to study and a few other factors decided for me. And as I progressed though undergraduate science, I figured out that I wanted to either pursue Forensic Biology or Microbiology, and ended up following the Microbiology path though postgraduate research studies.

Now, with thoughts of Archaeology in my mind (thanks also to a recent news story about the discovery of 50 million year old crocodile, fish and other animal bones at a contraction site in a Brisbane suburb – Workers Make Surprise Fossil Find in Brisbane Suburb, although the find was not archaeological, but paleontological, it started me thinking about the study of ancient life), I wonder how different my life and career may have been.

I might not have been travelling around the world in vintage aeroplanes, romancing glamorous women nor going on digs in exotic locales, but I may have made some fascinating discoveries of the past lives of humans. I can dream and write about it in novels. Maybe one day I may write about Archaeological research as Science Communicator / Writer – this is my career goal now.

20130718-175949.jpg (Source – Internet Movie Database)

20130718-180150.jpg (Source – Internet Movie Database)

Bastille Day

18 Jul

Bastille Day, the French National Day, anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution, was a few weeks ago. I did nothing to celebrate it, nor did I hardly give it a thought. I was preoccupied with an unexpected photographic assignment – photographing competitors in a muddy obstacle course run.

I’m not French, but I do love the commemoration of the French Revolution and the French national motto – Liberté, égalité, fraternité (Liberty, Equality and Fraternity). And I adore the unashamed use of the colours of the French tricolour – red, white and blue. When I was younger I used to wear red, white and blue on the 14th of July. Nerdy I know. But I suspect there are other Francophiles and history buffs out there that do the same.

Maybe one year, I may even be in Paris for Bastille Day – now that is a dream!!

20130719-171420.jpg(Source – parislogue.com)

18th & 19th Century Historical & Fictional Women – Inspiration for My Novel Characters

28 May

Eliza de Feuillide – Jane Austen’s cousin / sister in law, raised in India, married to French aristocrat murdered in the French Revolution

Philadelphia Austen – Jane Austen’s aunt – I know very little of her life, but the anecdote (from a book on Jane Austen) that she was sent to India as a young woman to find a husband struck a cord with me – the practise of sending young women to find a husband to a far away exotic land seemed exotic, exciting and indeed comodifying of women

Anne Lister – English gentlewoman and diarist – famous for her coded diaries depicting her affairs with women

Olympe de Gorges – French Revolutionary and advocate for the rights of women. Executed in the Reign of Terror

Theroigne de Mericourt – French Revolutionary, female militant and advocate for the rights of women. She was known for wearing a man’s riding habit and a belt of pistols at her waist

Mary Wollstonecraft – English philosopher, advocate for the rights of women and novelist. Famous for response to the French Revolution’s Declaration of the the Rights of Man, her radical beliefs, unconventional love life (she passionately loved a female friend, had an affair with a married man and bore a child outside of marriage) and being Mary Shelley’s mother

Martinette de Beauvais from the novel Ormond by Charles Brockden Brown – A soldier, Republican who fought in both the American and French Revolution who wears men’s clothes and enjoys the life and freedom of a soldier. The subject of same sex feelings

Marguerite St Just / Blakeney from the Scarlet Pimpernel series by Baroness Orcy – French Republican and actress married to the Scarlet Pimpernel (the saviour of aristocrats and royalists from the guillotine). Passionate, loyal, sassy

Charlotte Corday – French Revolutionary who stabbed radical revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat in his bath tub. She was executed during the Reign of Terror

20130528-180614.jpg Marguerite Blakeney

A Talk with Merle Thornton – An Australian Feminist Legend!

23 May

As part of Diversity Week (a celebration of different cultures, art and issues) at the large university I work at, I had a wonderful opportunity to listen to a talk given by a famous Australian feminist and activist, Merle Thornton.

Merle came along to discuss her involvement in the establishment of the gender studies (at the time ‘women’s studies’) major at the university in 1973, the first of its kind in Australia. She also spoke about her life story, particularly her early career in the male dominated public service in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and significantly her famous and influential activist activities. Merle and Rosalie Bogner changed themselves to the public bar in the Regatta Hotel (a famous historic pub in Brisbane, Queensland) in 1965 in protest of the law banning women from public bars. As Merle said today, these were not men’s bars or private bars, these were public bars, and women were not allowed in these areas, let alone have a drink. Following this Merle was appointed president of a newly established feminist group and tackled another massive issue, a law requiring female public servants to resign when they married. Merle said it took eighteen months, but they won with a law passed in parliament amending the act and also introducing maternity leave.

She is such an inspirational female activist and I feel privileged that I had a chance to hear her talk in person. The protest at the Regatta Hotel basically started the women’s liberation movement in Brisbane (Trove – National Library of Australia). As the National Library describes it, a defining moment in the feminist movement in Australia.

References –
http://trove.nla.gov.au/people/765073?c=people
http://www.uq.edu.au/news/?article=22774

20130523-183930.jpg (Source – Queensland Department of Communities – http://www.communities.qld.gov.au/q150-women/1960/index.shtml#item-public-bars)

Current Topics of Interest

22 May

These are a few topics of interest that I am currently reading about and researching for a couple of novels / stories I am working on.

– Same-sex love between women and romantic friendships in the 18th and early 19th centuries
– Novelists (female and male) that wrote about the above
– Cross Dressing women in the 18th century, particularly those that joined the military
– The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in relation to British and French relations in India

– Equality and women’s rights in 1930’s in the USSR
– British and French women and men who travelled (and moved to) the USSR in the 1930’s

Bookfest

9 May

I visited the Alumni Bookfest at the university I work at yesterday to have a browse and search for books on the French Revolution. I didn’t have much luck in regards to books on the French Revolution, but I was rather pleased to pick up three books for $2.50. I found a paperback version of Rita Hayworth’s biography which I read years ago for 50c. That was rather awesome. Rita is one of my favourite actresses. I also picked up for 50c a 1967 book on tips and moves in Striptease!! Now that I thought was very cool – a piece of history (the picture on the cover is very 60’s) and on something I want to learn more about (I’m really interested in burlesque). And to top it all off for $2 I bought a book I had been wanting to read for ages – ‘Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers’ by Lillian Faderman, which is a history of lesbian life in the USA in the 20th century (up to the early 1990’s). I think I will be getting stuck into this book over the next few weeks. As I headed back to my building I was thinking about what a great selection of books I’d just picked up.

Links –
Faderman, Lillian (1991) Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, Columbia University Press
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odd_Girls_and_Twilight_Lovers

20130509-072828.jpg (source – http://www.booktopia.com.au/odd-girls-and-twilight-lovers-lillian-faderman/prod9780231074889.html)

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