It’s been a slow time on the blog, lately, with the majority of postings gesturing towards interesting reads in other parts of the virtual universe. But that’s not to say that BIG THOUGHTS aren’t circulating, because they are. They’re just working their way out in different venues.
Most of my formal research and writing over the past few months has been of two kinds: cleaning up and exploratory. Neither is particularly useful for blog posts. One is about smoothing out all rough edges and polishing everything to a shine, and the other is about newness, discovery, and wonder. But the middle stuff – the juicy, rich, broth flavoured with complex spices – is missing. As a result, I’ve not had as much to say here.
And so, perhaps it’s time for a bit of an update, in the event that you’re interested in reading other things that I’ve written on the topics of bodies and citizenship and life writing.
My book, the research and thinking for which spawned this blog, should be out in the Fall 2015 with McGill-Queen’s University Press. The book, which is based on the letters that eighteenth-century individuals wrote to Tissot, takes the blog’s title: Telling the Flesh: Life Writing, Citizenship and the Body in the Letters to Samuel Auguste Tissot. I’m currently in the final, painful stages of book labour – pushing it out with all my might (forgive the birth reference, but anyone who has delivered a baby vaginally will recognize it for what it is. Also like childbirth, I became obsessed with the generation of the book and with the marvel of the final product, and had forgotten just how miserable this part of the process was).
Proofreading the page proofs is a most vexing task (particularly when one has read the manuscript 20-plus times), and indexing is a challenge that has me constantly thinking about the politics of knowledge production. Which stories shall I record? And what story, in turn, will my recording tell? I applaud those indexers who have chosen to make it a career.
I also have a forthcoming book chapter that draws on my work with the Fonds Tissot. “Mothers and Others: The Politics of Lactation in Medical Consultation Letters Addressed to Samuel-Auguste Tissot” explores the thorny relationship between ideologies of motherhood, breastfeeding, and wet nursing and lived experiences of illness as they emerge in the letters to Tissot. This chapter forms part of the book, The Secrets of Generation: Reproduction in the Long Eighteenth Century, forthcoming in August 2015 with the University of Toronto Press (look here for more information). I’ve already read a few of the essays in this collection but am very much looking forward to reading them all!
Next, a pair of articles that deals with the bodies, citizenship, identity, autobiography and motherhood, but in completely different venues.
First, my colleague and friend, Beth Pentney (you can see her here) and I co-authored an article (open access) on breastfeeding selfies that will appear in the International Journal of Communication sometime around the end of May. This article forms part of a special section of 18 essays dedicated entirely to the politics of the selfie, the first scholarly collection of essays on this topic. Again, as with the edited book, I’m really looking forward to reading the other essays. It promises to be an intriguing collection of thinking and writing about selfies, identity, theories, and representation.
Second, I tackle the topic of infanticide and maternal subjectivity in an essay (open access) that will appear later this year in the European Journal of Life Writing. Here, I consider the autobiographical traces of motherhood as they emerge in eighteenth-century infanticide trials. My ‘data set’ for this work? The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, which are available online here. It’s an incredible archive, freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
All of this stuff that I’ve been working on – selfies, infanticide, medical consultation letters – deals with the very issues that interest me most: bodies, identities, life writing, citizenship, stories.
A side project, spawned last summer together with my colleague and friend, Jocelyn Thorpe, resulted in a multi-authored article on teaching the intro course in women’s and gender studies. “Reflections on the Intro Course: A Pedagogical Toolkit” will appear in Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture and Social Justice in Summer 2015.
Finally, I’ve been thinking through a new research project as this one comes to an end. I’ve taken two preliminary research trips (to two different continents). I’ve been reading. I’ve been thinking. Things are percolating. Brewing. Steeping. Stewing. Stuff is happening, but it’s not quite ready to be unleashed yet. Stay tuned.