Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Aly-Als on Science

·         The Scientific Revolution (Alyson Leedy)

o   MOVING AWAY FROM THE CHURCH                                     


Tanner on Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Tanner Luffman)

Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau_%28painted_portrait%29.jpg
            Jean-Jacques Rousseau (June 28 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a prominent French philosopher, writer, and composer during his time. His political philosophies had an influence across Europe, which brought him critical acclaim, and helped with the overall development of modern political thought. In particular, he had a large influence on sociological, philosophical, educational and cultural thought in the eighteenth century. In regards to philosophy, Rousseau generally focused on political and social philosophy.
Like other philosophers of his time, Rousseau used the hypothetical idea of the state of nature as a guide for some of his major philosophies and publications, such as his book The Social Contract. The Social Contract outlines Rousseau’s belief that while people do give up their natural rights to live in society, people do not give up their freedom in society, unlike Hobbes who believed the opposite. Rousseau reasons that every person lives free because of the general will. The general will is roughly defined as something that is desired (in some capacity or another) by every person in society for the sake of common good. In The Social Contract, Rousseau states that, ideally, the general will is essentially what legislators should be striving to appease. There are 3 levels of general will: private will, collective will, and corporate will (according to plato.stanford.edu). Simply put, Rousseau reasons that citizens who obey the law are obeying their own wills, and as such are remaining free.
Rousseau also has an educational philosophy outlined in his treatise titled Emile or Treatise on Education. His philosophy is about a child’s development in regards to their moral compass and character and how teachers should act accordingly. For example a teacher teaches early on, and then becomes a trusted adviser later on in life. A tutor also has control over how a child can come to interpret general will. He uses a hypothetical boy named Emile. Emile’s purpose in growing up is to be able to cope with the world around him through virtue and self-mastery, because of the unnatural tendencies and imperfections society. In the treatise, he defined a child’s development in 3 different stages. Stage 1 is from birth to 12 and states a child is guided by emotion and impulses. Stage 2 is from ages 12 to 16, where the child starts to develop reasoning. Stage three is from age 16 onwards, when the child starts to develop into an adult.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tara on Women and Art

Women & Art (Tara Olivero)

Mary Beale’s Self-Portrait of Mary Beale with Her Husband and Son

Well-known female artists were uncommon but did exist in Enlightenment Europe. A number of Dutch women who were still life painters found moderate success, such as Louise Moillon (1610-1696) and Maria van Oosterwyck (1630-1693). In France, women were admitted to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture), although there was a numerary cap on their membership. In the 1780s, the Académie had four female members, and three of them regularly exhibited their painted work. Female royals and aristocrats became these painters’ patrons; for example, the daughters of Louis XV, Adélaïde and Victoire, often commissioned painter Anne Vallayer-Coster for portraits and figure painting.

England contained its fair share of female visual artists as well. Mary Beale was born in London in 1633 as the daughter of a clergyman. A surviving notebook belonging to her husband, Charles Beale, lists her paintings, their subjects, and the techniques employed for each piece of artwork, indicating that she (along with her husband) mostly desired to test out different painting methods. Art UK notes that her paintings were “mostly bland derivations from Lely,” but she nevertheless found substantial acclaim. Beale was able to help financially support her family through the sale of her portraits to nobility, clergymen, and friends; in 1677, in particular, she was commissioned for 83 works.

Susan Penelope Rosse (1652-1700) was another noteworthy female English artist. She received her training from her father, Richard Gibson, from whom she learned to paint miniatures. Rosse’s miniatures were sometimes smaller than one inch in length, and the subjects of the portraits were typically members of Charles II’s court.

Not all women were “famous” artists, but evidence from women’s journals of that time period explore the various roles that art played in the lives of women throughout Restoration England.
Some women were employed as painters to decorate royal housing, and others painted altarpieces at religious institutions. In addition to painting miniature portraits like Rosse, women were also commonly involved with the arts of calligraphy. Overall, however, “women painters chiefly emanated from ‘artistic’ circles,’” meaning that they were commonly from already-artistic families, and “elite women did not paint or draw for a public audience,” only usually by commission for private consumption of their art (O’Day).

From a young age, drawing was often intertwined with writing in schooling, and girls were most likely taught drawing more commonly than boys because of two reasons: they were not confined to classical curriculum, and drawing would actually be helpful to girls’ embroidery and tapestry skills. Most amateur female artists copied works of other painters, like Mary Beale did. One woman, Mary Waller More, painted at least nine copies of Hans Holbein’s portrait of Thomas Cromwell; copying work was a way to improve technique and work on honing skills such as mixing colors and portraying lighting. Elite women, especially, were able to use the more illustrious paintings in their own homes as examples to copy.
Mary Astell dismissed art as part of the “mindless occupations which kept women from real learning.” Disregarding Astell’s blindness to the value of personal fulfillment through art, documents from the time period prove that art served many purposes in women’s lives beyond simply personal enjoyment. Art occasionally acted as a vehicle for intellectual study. Although flower painting was typically for decorative purposes, some women such as Louise Gurney or Mary Gartside were able to explore their interests in botany through careful study of plants as subjects for their paintings.

Furthermore, the works of female artists served a practical purpose. Women’s portraits of family members were gifted to relatives and friends, serving as a “photo album” of the way that loved ones appeared. Landscape paintings by women also served to record the appearances of their homes, or of locations to which they and their families travelled. For example, in the late 1700s, Elizabeth Howard Manners illustrated her husband’s diaries of their time abroad, in which she was able to visually depict their architectural tours and the landscapes they visited. Female painters were, essentially, “the equivalent of the modern family camera” (O’Day).

On the whole, art served as a way for women to involve themselves in creative, intellectual, and practical endeavors, despite their varying levels of ability or traditional success.

O’Day, Rosemary. “Family Galleries: Women and Art in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 71, no. 2, June 2008, pp. 323-349. JSTOR


Alicia on Fanny Burney

Frances "Fanny" Burney (Alicia Shupe)

Frances “Fanny” Burney

Virginia Woolf called her “the mother of English fiction” and she is widely recognized as an influence on the works of Jane Austen, yet Fanny Burney’s fame outside academic circles has diminished significantly with time.

Born in Norfolk, England in 1752, Fanny was the daughter of the musician, Charles Burney, and was one of six children. She would go on to have three step-siblings and a half-brother as well. The Burney children were quite accomplished with Fanny’s older sister considered a harpsichord prodigy and her brother a renowned traveler, yet Fanny was not formally educated. Her father disapproved of her literary pursuits, and “still could not read the alphabet by the age of 8 and was called the ‘little dunce’ by a family friend” (nytimes.com). None of this deterred Fanny, however, and she educated herself by reading omnivorously and by writing at a young age. Burney’s earlier works were lost to her dramatic flair when she burned them in what may have been a reaction her father’s disapproval at the age of fifteen (library.unt.edu). At the same time, Fanny began writing a diary which would span seventy years and would eventually be edited for public consumption.

Fanny’s family home was often host to gatherings which included the likes of Samuel Johnson, Richard Sheridan, and David Garrick. It was at gatherings such as these that Fanny developed her talent for the sharp, witty social observations which would be the hallmark of her first novel Evelina. Burney published the manuscript anonymously in 1778 at the age of 26. The novel “concerns the development of a young girl, unsure of herself in society and subject to errors of manners and judgment” (Britannica.com). The novel was well-received, incredibly popular for its satire, and “celebrated for depicting the pretentious, the vulgar and the roguish with the same animation as the morally uplifting characters” –an attribute which, according to Burney, led Dr. Johnson’s to exclaim of one of her vulgar characters “…there is no Character better drawn any where – in any book, or by any Author.” (nytimes.com).

In the course of her life, Burney would follow Evelina with three more novels, Cecilia, Camilla, and The Wanderer, but she would not make her fortune as a writer and spent some years in the court of King George III and Queen Charlotte during the French Revolution. It was during this time that she met Alexandre d’Arblay, a French immigrant, whom she would later marry and with whom she would share one son, born in 1793. Fanny and d’Arblay visited France and were “forced by the renewal of the Napoleonic Wars to stay for 10 years” (Britannica.com) from 1802-1812. Eventually, they were able to return to England and settled in Bath where, Mr. d’Arblay passed away in 1818. After his death, Fanny and her son moved back to London where she remained until her death in 1840.

Famous for her novels as well as for her diaries which included the time spent in the literary circle of Dr. Johnson, English Heritage erected a plaque at her 11 Bolton Street home in Mayfair in 1885. It “is the earliest surviving official London plaque to a woman.” (English-heritage.org.uk).


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Samuel Johnson's _Lives of the Poets_ (1783)

Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Poets (1783): "The Life of Pope"

                                        (Dr. Johnson, by Sir Joshua Reynolds)

Samuel Johnson (1709-84) was probably the foremost literary person in Enlightenment England. A polymath, he wrote a play, Irene (performed 1749); compiled his famous Dictionary (1755); wrote neoclassical verse, such as "The Vanity of Human Wishes" (1749), a widely-praised imitation of Juvenal's tenth satire; founded the journals The Rambler (1750-52) and The Idler (1758-60) and contributed over 300 essays to them; produced a respected edition of Shakespeare (1765), most famous for its Preface; wrote travel literature, A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland (1775), a trip he took with his future biographer, James Boswell; and finally The Lives of the Poets (1779-83), a six-volume account of almost every important poet and literary movement in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

(The title page of the first volume of the Lives)

The Lives combines biography and general literary criticism, written in Johnson's periodic, balanced, aphoristic style.  The sections on Jonathan Swift, Joseph Addison, John Milton, John Dryden, Thomas Gray, and Alexander Pope are sometimes considered the finest of the lot.  His "Life" of Richard Savage, a struggling poet, might be the best. A study of the entire collection of biographies provides a history of literary issues in English literature over a century's time. Johnson was hardly unbiased and read his writers with his mode of thinking always intact, which means that he did not value or appreciate some writers we value now, and vice versa.

 (Alexander Pope, by Michael Dahl)

Excerpts from "The Life of Pope" might provide an idea of Johnson's theoretical stances on literature.  These are taken from pp. 2956-58 in our textbook.

Here is a link to volume 4 of the original 1781 publication for Pope's biography

Of his intellectual character, the constituent and fundamental principle was good sense, a prompt and intuitive perception of consonance and propriety. He saw immediately, of his own conceptions, what was to be chosen, and what to be rejected; and in the works of others, what was to be shunned, and what was to be copied.

Pope had . . . a mind active, ambitious and adventurous, always investigating, always aspiring; inits widest searches still longing to go forward, in its highest flights still wishing to be higher; always imagining something greater than it knows, always endeavoring more than it can do.

he . . . was never content with mediocrity when excellence could be attained. . . . to make verses was his first labor, and to mend them was his last.

From his attention to poetry he was never diverted. If conversation offered anything that could be improved, he committed it to paper; if a thought, or perhaps an expression more happy than was common, rose to his mind, he was careful to write it; an independent distich was preserved for an opportunity of insertion.

The method of Pope . . . was to write his first thoughts in his first words, and gradually to amplify, decorate, rectify, and refine them.

When he could produce nothing new, he was at liberty to be silent.

Pope was not content to satisfy; he desired to excel, and therefore always endeavored to do his best: . . . expecting no indulgence from others, he showed none to himself. He examined lines and words with minute and punctilious observation, and retouched every part with indefatigable diligence, till he had left nothing to be forgiven.

Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid; Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden's page is a natural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation; Pope's is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and leveled by the roller.

Megan on British Colonialism

Colonialism (Megan Baeumler)

Picture: http://sites.psu.edu/afr110/2014/10/08/african-and-american-colonialism-under-britain

The European nations were of the quickest in the world to develop. This led them to explore the world to expand and to grow even bigger.  At the start of the 16th century Great Britain took its first steps in establishing oversea settlements. Maritime expansion was driven by commercial ambitions and by a competition with France. By 1670 there were British American Colonies throughout New England, Virginia, and Maryland. The British Empire also had settlements in Honduras, Barbados and Nova Scotia.  England established two trading companies the Hudson Bay Company, focused more on commercial exploitation in Northwest Canada and the East India Company, established trading posts all around India.  The East India Company’s activities added four new territories under the British Empire, they are referred to as the Straits Settlements.  The Empire also established its first settlement in Africa in 1661 and gained control of the slave trading region of Sierra Leone in 1787. And in 1806 The Cape of Good Hope was added to their arsenal

The British American Empire was mainly expanded through war and colonization. The Empire gained New York after the Second Anglo-Dutch War during negotiations. The American Colonies kept journeying westward for new agricultural land. In 1760 Britain gained even more control over North America after defeating the French at the Plains of Abraham and capturing all of New France during the Seven year’s War. Later the entire Australian content was claimed for Britain and the settlement of it and New Zealand crated a major zone of British migration. 

Almost all the early settlements arose with hardly any effort from the Crown. Magnates (wealthy and influential people) and the Enterprise of companies did all the work. In fact the colonies were self-managing enterprises, but the English crown did have some rights of supervision and appointment. One of the main areas of control over the colonies was trade and shipping. Colonies were just a source of raw materials for England. The Navigation Act of 1651 and other subsequent acts set up a closed economy between Britain and its colonies; all exports had to be shipped on English ships to the British market, and all colonial imports had to come by way of England. This arrangement ended around the start of the 19th century due to the combined effects of the loss of the American colonies, the growth of free-trade in Britain and a book by Adam Smith the Wealth of Nations.

So in the end England acted like an octopus with many, many arms. Reaching across land and water to place hands all over the world to claim the most land and trade to expand their growing Empire. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Chris on Stradivarius

Antonio Stradivarius (Chris Graham)

Antonio Stradivari, or Stradivarius, was born in 1644 in Cremona Italy. There is little known about his childhood, however, based on documentation found along with his instruments, historians can accurately place his birth around that time. His family had been established in the town for nearly five centuries. Cremona was most known for being a town home to extraordinary violin makers, its most notable artist being Niccolo Amanti, a third-generation master violin maker. Antonio was probably apprenticed to him by the early 1660’s. By the late 1660’s he had formed a business of his own and was making instruments of his own design. He continued to follow Amanti’s mentorship until the man’s death in 1684. In the years prior, Stradivari had created a wide variety of stringed instruments, including guitars, harps, lutes, and mandolins.

Stradivari and his family moved to a new house in 1680, which became his workshop for the remainder of his life. Here, he would work on new ways to perfect his craft, moving away from his old mentor’s style and forming new, more solid-looking, pieces made of new materials and finishes. Stradivari’s violins rapidly gained a powerful following both in and outside of Cremona. Upon Amanti’s death in 1684, Stradivari had become the new most famed violin maker in the city.
Despite his wide renown, Stradivari was constantly looking for new and better ways to make his instruments. He created a fuller, deeper tone than any of the other instrument makers in Cremona had ever been able to achieve. He only took a leave of absence in 1698 when his first wife passed away. He remarried the following year. In total, Stradivari had eleven children.

Between the years of 1700 and 1720, Stradivari entered what is known as his “Golden Period”. This was the time during which he perfected his design and created what is almost universally accepted as the finest stringed instruments of the time. his choices of wood and varnish would give some of his pieces almost an identity of their own. Some of the most famous include the 1704 "Betts" violin, now in the United States Library of Congress; the 1715 "Alard," which is considered the finest Stradivarius in existence; and the 1716 "Messiah," an instrument that Stradivari never sold and is now in the best condition of any of his surviving pieces.

Stradivari continued to produce instruments until his death in 1737. The number produced began to rapidly dwindle and his work began to show the tell-tale signs of an aging craftsman. Only a precious few remain known today. His work is considered by many to be the finest example of instrument making in the past few hundred years. His pieces, when they do come up for sale which is seldom, consistently bring in the high seven figures. A viola recently put up on offer was entered with a minimum bid of 45 million dollars.