Saturday, July 7, 2007

Research in Rockport

Yes, tomorrow!

Looking at this photo, you may think I'm kidding,

but this expedition really is partly related to one of my summer projects.

Life is rough.

A Summer Series post.


johnieb said...

Hmmm. This is the Poe Gambit "Purloined Letter": very difficult to execute; she's really going for it all out, folks!

"Research on the coast of Maine in July" for an academic or a "public figure": yes, I do have some idea of how often this one has passed review committees handing out grants and such, sometimes with good results.

It is so remarkably brazen that anyone who gets away with it usually does something worth noticing. What's da subject? Ya ready to tell?

Jane R said...

Dear JohnieB,

Yes, I can tell you. This particular little chunk of research is unrelated to my (previously mentioned in a vague sort of way which needs to stay vague for now) big summer projects and is for a new course I am teaching (new to me -- it's a coure I'm taking over from my predecessor, who was still on the faculty part-time and continued to teach it the past two years but is now fully retired) this fall (our fall semester begins mid-August!) on "History of Religion in America." At the Religion 101 level, so it's for total beginners (beginners in college and beginners in religious studies, and in many cases beginners in any kind of critical thinking). A colleague who has in the last few years become quite the expert on religion and culture in the North Atlantic region (what we now call New England plus bits of what we now call Canada) in the period 1550-1750 is currently living and writing in Rockport, Massachusetts (though she also does other work in another part of the Greater Boston area) and today is when our schedules meshed and I could get up there.

So we had a bibliographic and historiographic consultation. We happen to be friends, too, but it was definitely a consult trip. Now of course I have to read about seven new books! Hope that answers your question.

That period is only a chunk of the course, which obviously is about the U.S. from then until now, but I am redesigning the course and re: this particular topic, have been persuaded for some time that this person's approach is one of the best. There was a lot more religious and cultural mixing in those early, pre-Revolutionary years that many of us learned or than many of the classic historians of the period have written -- mixings between and among Native peoples and English and Dutch settlers, among Puritans and Native peoples and Catholics, etc. etc. And of course Protestant historians have tended to ignore Catholics and almost everyone ignores Native peoples. Nuff said for now. My colleague is still working on a lot of things and so am I. But there are some good recent books out and some of them (not all) are beginner-friendly. Gotta be student-friendly and think about how people can best learn.

(Same as writing a sermon. As one of my beloved divinity school mentors used to say about "sermons with the seams showing" --my term-- and too much undigested detail: "Don't give the people the ingredients in a recipe; give them bread!")

P.S. I also had the local chowder. You know by now I would never ignore the foodie dimensions of an expedition.

johnieb said...

There has been good work in the early history of the European incursion for some time; I think it possible someone may have inferred some aspects of indigenous religious expression from it, though most of the work is secularly based, and therefore has a bias. It would involve a close, and possibly alternate reading of settler documents, also the changes in the land itself: forest growth patterns, etc., might reveal a choice morsel or two.

Speaking of which, I'm sure Maine chowder is a joy. One of my favorite food memories is walking over the hill to the Atlantic side of the last inhabited island in Casco Bay to pick up dinner from the holding tank each afternoon, with the house Bette Davis and Lillian Gish used as a set for *The Whales of August" a few hundred meters further around the shore. It's the only time I could truly say "Enough" to lobster; what could I do? A simple country student's tummy has limits.

Deirdre said...

Come on up to Maine! Its got chowdah! And lots more...

Jane R said...

I wish I could. My travels for the summer are pretty much over. I was in Rockport, MASSACHUSETTS as I mentioned above. And just for the day -- otherwise mostly with my 88-year-old parents and today in Cambridge (Godde bless the HDS library, I just found out they have much better alumnae/i privileges than I thought) and tomorrow I am back to G'boro to hide out and write some more. (And work on a brand new course syllabus, akh.) Back to New England only briefly next month for a quick family reunion (not in Maine or Vermont alas) and then back to the salt mines since our academic year starts ridiculously early. But let's plan on something for next year -- will write you off blog. Hope you are having a glorious time. Have some blueberries for me when they come into season.

And maybe I'll see you in NYC over the winter. I usually end up there at some point. (Gotta get that big-city fix.)

I need to catch up on your blog. Have been in slow dial-up land for a while, plus travel. But it's been great to touch base with my West Coast and Beantown homes (not in the house sense, I own nothing, but we are rich in friends).

Jane in the HDS library :-) (hence, high-speed connection) about to have a happy time searching Hollis; geekdom forever!

johnieb said...

Speaking of American Religion, do you know the Anonymous Four's recording *American Angels* Harmonia Mundi HMU 907326, of the Anglo-American hymn tradition? I have not yet examined the textual and traditions history they acculumated; I grew up in it, so it's like breathing to me: still first naivte. :)

I trust music fans will know their awards-winning work in the English Ladymass Mary Tradition, et al.