Women & the Canon — 1000 visitors!

We’ve now had over 1,000 visitors over at Women & the Canon, and the call for papers is still very much open (until 15 September), so do send in abstracts and keep an eye on the blog for further updates.

Source: 1000 visitors!

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Ode to Bolt (on defeating Gatlin)

Oh we have decided that this is what good and evil mean

what they look like running from the blocks

one untainted, one polluted by memory

(and extra testosterone)

and so the commentators and the fans decree

that just in time the day is won, the sport is saved

by the power of recovering legs pounding track

strides covering ground, arms and knees and core

all in a chorus of perfected equilibrium

singing between white lines in national colours

— Jamaica — in the personal capacity of an obligatory reference

to mythologies and weather, by Jove he’s done it.

A Divine Comedy: adaptations & new (in)versions

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately, except for a fair few reblogs from the Women and the Canon Conference blog. In my defence, I’ve been writing those too, but it doesn’t quite feel the same!

So, as the dust settles from the Edinburgh fringe, I just wanted to nod to an interesting adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Mike Maran’s A Divine Comedy, which BroadwayBaby gave ★★★ – one for each realm?

“Dante Alighieri. Lost love. A load of puppets. Whilst that might all seem an odd combination, Mike Maran brings it all together admirably in A Divine Comedy: a stand-up storytelling parody of the immortal works of Dante Alighieri.”

Maran’s sounds like a far more apt adaptation than the forthcoming movie scripted by Dwain Worrell, which, Warner Brothers tell us, sees “Dante [descending] through the nine circles of hell tosave the woman he loves” – a grimly chauvanist inversion of the narrative that I’ve ranted about before, when it formed the crux of a 2010 videogame adaptation of the poem.

Maran’s approach, which I hope he takes on tour, so I get a chance to see it, sounds like its based on a love for the source and a genuine desire to adapt rather than misogynise the text. This approach, along with some of the reporting of the new movie happily demonstrate that at least not everyone is buying into this revisionist claptrap.

Of course, there’s something quite appropriate about revisionist adaptation, as that was one of Dante’s specialties and I talk about one such example in this article on the episode of the Siren in canto XIX on Purgatorio. The gist of the article is that the Siren represents Dante’s past errors of writing and reading which he attempts to revise through the figure of the hag who becomes a siren and then is revealed once more to be hideous. OK, so perhaps the text isn’t entirely non-misogynist itself… In fact, the Comedy buys into plenty of the misogynistic tropes of its day, but it does also do some rather radical things in terms of ascribing full rational agency to its female characters (not a trifling thing for a text of its period to do) and, of course, placing an authoritative women, Beatrice, at the heart of its narrative. Beatrice who teaches Dante about the ways of grace and the heavens, Beatrice who saves Dante, NOT the other way around.

Source: A Divine Comedy: Broadway Baby, Brighter Coverage.

Why do we hear the work of so few female classical composers? – Features – Classical – The Independent

A follow-up on recent discussions about women composers in A-Level syllabi…

Gender & Authority

A very insightful piece by Caroline Criado-Perez for the Independent, questioning the idea of canon formation in light of the recent protests around the failure to include ANY female composers in Edexcel’s A-Level syllabus:

“It is hard not to conclude that more lies behind Edexcel’s all-male list of set works than simply the inheritance of a sexist past. Rather, their failure to include women from any epoch suggests the continuation of a perennial problem faced by women artists, whose work has been historically dismissed as little more than domestic, decorative trifles, in contrast to the meaty, hefty works produced by their male contemporaries.

If Edexcel does not wish to collaborate in this tradition, now would be the time to make a change.”

via Why do we hear the work of so few female classical composers? – Features – Classical – The Independent.

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9 Pioneering Feminists In History Who Were Way Before Their Time, Because Strong Women Have Always Existed | Bustle

Something my talented wife wrote for Bustle and which is super-relevant to ongoing conference thoughts!

Gender & Authority

How does feminism intersect with the idea of women and the canon? This might seem like an odd question, but given that canons are a bit like geology (slow-forming, sedimentary, or sometimes violently eruptive…) a large number of the women who are already ‘canonical’ or will/should become so existed and operated in intellectual contexts which had no conception of feminism while still exploring/expressing/living some key feminist tenets. This may all seem a bit commonplace, but really it’s at the heart of the question of what we expect from our canons. What are the criteria for a canon, for a canonical woman, for women’s interactions with the canon? This piece on  9 Pioneering Proto/Pre-Feminists, by JR Thorpe over at Bustle points to some of the women we might consider canonical and women who certainly had a lot to do with the canons of their day – from the defence of women’s…

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Examining the canon – Student demands female composers on A-level music syllabus | Education | The Guardian

And here’s the original!

Gender & Authority

How do exams shape canons?
One A-level student has questioned the make-up of a music exam which features 63 male composers and not one single woman.

The exam boards response ‘women were not prominent in the western classical tradition’ is not only somewhat inaccurate – McCabe (the student in question) herself pointed out Radio 3’s programming on music composed by women – but also indicative of an approach to canonicity which fails to ask why we make certain assumptions about who should be studied/taught/revered.

via Student demands female composers on A-level music syllabus | Education | The Guardian.

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Student demands female composers on A-level music syllabus | Education | The Guardian

This post was originally written for the blog of Women & The Canon, an interdisciplinary conference to be held at Christ Church, Oxford on 22-23 January 2016:

How do exams shape canons?
One A-level student has questioned the make-up of a music exam which features 63 male composers and not one single woman.

The exam boards response ‘women were not prominent in the western classical tradition’ is not only somewhat inaccurate – McCabe (the student in question) herself pointed out Radio 3’s programming on music composed by women – but also indicative of an approach to canonicity which fails to ask why we make certain assumptions about who should be studied/taught/revered.

via Student demands female composers on A-level music syllabus | Education | The Guardian.

Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon @ Women and the Canon

Exciting update, Women and the Canon will be joined by @medieval_women (http://www.surrey.ac.uk/medievalwomen/) for a roundtable on their project, Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon.

Gender & Authority

We’re very excited to announce that the Leverhulme Trust-funded International Network, Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon will be presenting their ongoing work through a round table on Friday 22 January as part of our conference activities.

We’ll be being joined by project leader, Prof. Diane Watt (Surrey), and Network members, Prof. Denis Renevey (Lausanne), Dr Christiana Whitehead (Warwick), Dr Sue Niebrzydowski (Bangor), and Amy Morgan (Surrey), who will be presenting work in dialogue with our conference themes.

This roundtable represents a fantastic opportunity to engage with the rich discussions of women and the canon ongoing in UK and global scholarship.

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