...Which is to say, yesterday was Buonarotti's 248th birthday.
Joyeux anniversaire Buonarotti ! (Même s'il est un peu en retard.)
In other news, I registered for classes for next semester today, and I have to say I'm incredibly excited. I'm taking:
The Other in the Enlightenment (which is taught by the Robespierriste French professor I mentioned a while back).
Cicero in Speech and Letters
The City in Europe: 1100-1789
and, somewhat less exciting, Calculus 1b
And then my lessons, which I have no intention of stopping any time soon, even if it means I can only take 4 classes.
And now back to studying for my Indian History exam. Wish me luck!
...Which is to say, yesterday was Buonarotti's 248th birthday.
Sorry for the semi-absence. I've been a bit on the busy side. Still, I'm back at school now and have not forgotten my obligations. :D Which is to say, article-translating is still on, though it will probably take longer than it would have over the summer.
And I am still working on your (now unfortunately rather late) birthday fic, . I'm just trying to work out the political context - you and I will both be happier with it if it has some political context - which means at this point that I'm trying to work in a short discussion of the federalist revolts, since they are referenced in That Song. I'm thinking the time-frame should be sometime in August-September 1793. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Among the other things I did not forget are Saint-Just's 242nd birthday on the 25th and David's 261st on the 30th. Let it be recorded that I wish both of their memories as well as ever.
So. Classes. I'm taking Roman History, History of Ancient India, Latin 201: The Aeneid, and French Lit from the Middle Ages to the Revolution (or more precisely from la Chanson de Roland to le Mariage de Figaro, which means we don't really make it to the Revolution).
Having been to one of each (they're all on the same days), here are my notes:
I'm really not sure what to make of my Roman History prof. This was her first day teaching here and she seemed like she was on the verge of tears several times during the lecture. Which I can relate to. What I can't relate to is what seems to be her strange affinity for dictators. She spent the introductory lecture fawning over Octavianus (I refuse to call him Augustus), which, while far from laudable, is also far from uncommon among classicists of a certain stripe. It was when she started speaking of Mussolini in rather similar terms that I began to get freaked out. I really hope I'm imagining things, or this could turn out to be an, er, interesting semester.
On the other hand, I have no complaints about the Indian History prof. The class was highly recommended to me and it seems not without reason. The prof's first lecture was informative and interesting and he let us know from the first things like where the emphasis of the course is going to be (he's more a historian of culture/religion/philosophy than economics). And once I've taken this course, my non-Western history requirement will be out of the way.
My Latin class is definitely going to be my hardest this year. I know already I'm going to have problems with the meter... And well, let's just leave it at that for now. No complaints about this professor either. So far, anyway.
The French lit class was and will likely continue to be pretty basic. But I promised the professor I would take it and I haven't read all the books on the syllabus, so I might as well. One potentially good point: When the prof asked us what periods/historical figures/currents/etc. we liked most in the period 800-1800, another girl said the Revolution. I must try to find out her perspective... Oddly, the class was all girls. Which is especially bizarre when you consider our gender ratio is supposed to be perfectly even. Oh well. Another unfortunate point is that several people expressed fondness for the monarchy. What is that?
Anyway, off to eat tarts with the rest of the Maison francophone. I'm sure Maxime would approve.
Why? Because this exists. ^__^
In other news, I'm dropping Architecture of the Enlightenment. I had to do it; my professor believes, with the Frankfort School, that "Enlightenment is totalitarian." Ironically, this class doesn't really offer any space for disagreement... In any case, I'm trying to replace it with History of Greece, but I've been wait-listed. Horrors. :O Hopefully I'll get in anyway.
Latin, meanwhile, continues to go well; I got a 91 on my final, which is pretty good, I have to say, considering I learned the entire semester in three weeks. I've got a quiz tomorrow, but it's only on comparatives and superlatives, so really, I should be golden.
As for my other classes... Well, I haven't been in them long enough yet to know. My Jewish history class should be fine, as far as surveys go. There's an option of doing a research paper instead of the final exam, and I'm definitely doing it on Jews in the French Revolution. I know, I'm so predictable. XD;
My historical performance, music of France, class isn't on as high a level as I expected. My old French prof came to give a lecture on the tension between the heart and mind in the 17th century. Which led, if nothing else, to my learning a lot of random things about the Jansenists. And Pascal.
The next class we basically watched a bunch of clips from movies featuring 18th century aristos (all of which I had already seen, but whatever, Ridicule and Dangerous Liaisons remain good movies), so we could get a sense of who the audience for French baroque music actually was. This was to explain why it's largely so formal and unemotional. It's a pity this class doesn't cover classical music in France, because that started having a lot more sentamentalism in it....
The worst was probably when one of the historical performance profs felt the need to read from A Tale of Two Cities, of all things. Fortunately, it was from the beginning part, of which a fair paraphrase would be "aristos are useless/ridiculous, especially if they're French," which, that last part aside, is really okay in my book. (Maybe if Dickens had stuck to that, A Tale of Two Cities wouldn't be such an awful book. Then again, maybe not; he doesn't exactly have the most fortunate way of expressing himself, does he?) In the same class, this same prof made a comment which amused me greatly: he said that he didn't (of course) want to make assumptions, but that he presumed, given Oberlin's political leanings, that we would be on the side of the Revolution. Come to think of it, I suppose it's a bit sad the way he thought it was necessary to qualify that statement in order to avoid potentially stepping on anyone's toes. >.>
Also, one of the French profs helped me defend Robespierre against another prof from the conservatory (who called him a Jansenist, which I assume is the French equivalent of calling him a Puritan--*sighs*) at our French breakfast today. It pwned. :D
(One more thing: I joined an exco ("experimental college") class on the tv series "Rome." I resent its portrayal of the senators who assassinated Julius Caesar. Especially the implication that Brutus only participated because his mother wanted him to, and his mother only wanted Caesar dead because he had spurned her. Whatever. I know they want everyone to think they're the new "I, Claudius," but really, that series was much better, even if it did give Claudius a much more sympathetic portrayal than he probably deserved. The one thing I will given "Rome" credit for, however, is the fact that it portrays more or less "ordinary" Romans, in a way that "I, Claudius" failed to... But still, it really can't compare.)
I can only take one of the following classes next semester and I have no idea which one to take. Any recommendations? Which sound most interesting to you?
ANTH 102: Human Origins
"This course focuses on paleoanthropology and is an introduction to the evolutionary development of humans. We will examine biological relationships between humans and other primates, primate behavior and classification, and the fossil evidence for human evolution. Emphasis will be placed on the methods used in the study of prehistoric human biological and cultural development."
ARTS 305: Architecture of the Enlightenment
"History of architecture and architectural theory from emergence of academic theory in France in latter quarter of 17th century through French Revolution will be covered. Emphasis will be given to central importance of French architectural culture for European architecture as a whole. Significant architects and writers from England, Germany, Italy and Portugal will be covered in detail. Among historical themes covered will be integration of applied sciences and archaeology into architectural theory, meteoric rise of bourgeois culture, philosophies of sensation and rationalism, birth of the police, and 'revolutionary architecture.'"
ARTS 345: Roman Art and Architecture
"All roads lead to Rome. Once the ruler of the entire Mediterranean world, Rome remains a central element in our culture consciousness through its legacy of political, cultural and artistic achievements. This course provides an introduction to the art and architecture of Rome and her empire from its Italic beginnings, through the Republic and into the late Imperial period (8th century B.C.-A.D. 400)."
POLT 136: Understanding Political Community
"This is an introductory course in political theory. It involves a study of classical, and classic, texts of political thought by thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Edmund Burke, and John Stuart Mill. Through an examination of their reflections on the nature of political community, it explores the meaning of concepts such as justice, the good life, liberty, toleration, equality, and political obligation."
POLT 216: THe Political Economy of Advanced Capitalism
"This course is an introduction to comparative political economy, broadly defined as the ways in which the triangular relationship between the state, labor, and capital differs from one advanced capitalist country to another. Thie course will examine the political economies of Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, the United States and Japan, paying particular attention to international economic integration, the position of women and minorities, and challenges to the welfare state and trade unions."
I could also potentially try to get into a class that's already full like "History of Greece," "Greek and Roman Mythology," "History of Medicine," "Deductive Logic," "Intro to International Relations," or "Marxist Theory," but I'm thinking that may not be worth the effort given the choices I already have.
It might also be helpful to know the rest of my (tentative) schedule:
HPRF 111: Historical Performance in Context: Music of France
HIST 132: Jewish History from the Spanish Expulsion to the Present
LATN 102: Introduction to Latin Prose (I'm taking accelerated beginning Latin over Winter Term, which is essentially the month of January.)
A private reading in French, hopefully on something Revolution-related.
And then I'll be continuing my voice and harpsichord lessons, unless by some amazing chance I'm able to get into the chorus for The Magic Flute. (I am auditioning, but the probability of my getting in is rather slim, considering I'll be competing not only against students of the College like myself, but the entire voice department in the Conservatory. :/ )
In other news, I finally got a copy of Olivier Blanc's Les hommes de Londres: histoire secrète de la Terreur through the interlibrary loan system. This is a book that, despite having been published as recently as 1989, is not for sale *anywhere* on the internet. Literally. Just *try* to find it. Compare this to Simon Schama's travesty of a book, published in the same year, that one would be hard-pressed *not* to find in any given store. Coincidence? I think not. D:< (Olivier Blanc, for those of you who don't know, is a Robespierriste historian ♥.)
...But I haven't actually had any time to read the above book, because my assigned reading never ends. This weekend alone I've finished Walden Two (that is, I read the last 150 pages or so) and started The Dispossessed (ie, I've read 90 pages so far and have another 100 to go) for my Utopian Thought class, read excerpts from Petrarch and Vergerius and Rabelais for my history class, done about 15 pages of grammar exercises for French, tried to figure out what classes I'm taking next semester, e-mailed three professors and copied 20-odd pages of sheet-music from a score that has to be returned today (I'm still not done with it, either).
Now I still have, as I said, another 100 pages to read for Utopian Thought, another 15 pages or so of music to photocopy, a score to return, a French paper to write, and research to do for my paper on May '68 for a mini-course I was foolish enough to actually enroll in when I could have just gone to the lectures. It's not as if I need any more French credits and it's driving my crazy. But I digress.
I suppose I could say the upside is that there are only 4 more weeks in the semester, but that has a downside too: in those four weeks I have to write another history paper, three more French papers, that paper on May '68, and two more papers for Utopian Thought. Not to mention the vast amounts of reading and practicing I'm going to have to do. It never lets up--and this despite the fact that I'm taking only three relatively easy academic courses. Next semester I'm going to have four, and they'll be harder! *shudders*
My history professor said the above quote, which convinced me, despite the somewhat unusual context, that she is awesome. (She was explaining how the nobles came in as protection from Viking raids, but turned out to be a far worse problem in the longterm--like those poisonous frogs they imported to Australia to get rid of an insect problem.)
Which reminds me, I haven't even shared the classes I'm taking yet, have I? (And next week is midterms!) To remedy that, I have:
Pratiques de l'écrit, which is basically this awesome class in which I get credit for writing essays on literally whatever I want. My topic of choice will come as a surprise to no one. Also, I got to write the lyrics to the Marseillaise on the board today and everyone had to sing.* 'Twas amazing. ^__^
*Except I pretty much had to fake it, my voice being uncooperative at the moment. (See below.)
Medieval and Early Modern European History, a course which sadly only goes up to 1740. I figured I ought to brush up on that period, since I really know nothing about anything pre-late 16th century. (And my knowledge decreases generally going backward from the late 18th.)
As a side note, for the above class, I just finished reading the autobiography of a medieval monk... from l'Aisne, as it happens. A large part of it is devoted to discussion of the uprising of the commune of Laon--which he naturally condemns pretty unequivocally, though he does acknowledge the corruption of the local nobility and clergy (he can do this, being 20 miles away)--and it really makes me wonder what an observer who wasn't l'abbé de Nogent-sous-Coucy would have to say about it... Not that such a person probably exists; that’s the problem with the 11th and 12th centuries: the only people educated enough to say anything about anything were monks. -__-;
Utopian Thought, a class in which we read works of utopian and dystopian literature and compare and critique them. It's fun, despite the distressing lack of non-Anglo-American authors (the only one on the reading list is Plato). Oh well, you can't have everything. :/
Women's Chorale, which isn't too bad, though I can't say I'm too fond of the repertoire: too much German, Church Music, and Modern pieces for me, and not enough French and Early Music. *sighs* I suppose it's my own fault for not being good enough at site reading to get into the Collegium Musicum. One of these semesters...
I'm also continuing to take voice and harpsichord lessons. The first look promising in terms of repertoire and in terms of having been assigned a teacher who knows what she's doing, even if she is only a grad student. -_-; The second... well, again with the German. I've had to put aside my Couperin and take up Bach, which, while I've nothing against Bach (except that he's generally harder to play), irks me greatly. I miss my French composers. D:
In other news, I have a rather bad cold at present, and have since Tuesday. This is chiefly inconvient in that I can't do anything for more than a minute without having to blow my nose, I have this incredibly painful cough, and I can't sing.
Also, against my better judgment, I did decide to download Saint-Just et la force des choses, and though I've only seen a little over ten minutes more so far than what was offerred for free, I've had time to note several things (beyond maelicia's observations about the first ten minutes, which I strongly second). The first is that just about everything is wrong to the point of being farcical--Saint-Just sounds like he's having a temper-tantrum at the tribune, while his bizarre hairdo bounces like jello and he stares at the ceiling. I really wish I were making this up. We already knew Maxime's appearance and characterization were all wrong from the free clips, so I won't go into that too much, except he told Saint-Just in this episode (among other things) that he would be his political "godfather." I don't know about you, but that phrasing strikes me as weird. Especially in the context of the scene, which was just generally so OOC for both of them.
There were, however, a couple of good points: sisterly love between Éléonore and Élisabeth, which was very cute, and then a Danton and Desmoulins who actually resembled themselves (which needless to say, is not true at all of the rest of the cast). Also, Danton said Saint-Just had "the face of a girl," which, while it made me facepalm, is I suppose, appropriately dantonesque.
That's all for now, but perhaps I shall update again when I have more to say about the film.
Edit: I forgot to mention, during Saint-Just's speech, someone--perhaps a Girondin?--asked who he was and whoever was sitting next to him called him "Robespierre's creature." -__-;;
Edit 2: Worse and worse! Now Saint-Just is saying he wants to support the people who are protesting the high cost of living (in particular of bread), and their Robespierre is telling him they could be secret aristocrats and his desire to support him shows his "lack of experience." D: D: D:
Edit 3: And now Robespierre manages to get even more OOC, if possible. He starts yelling (yes, literally yelling) about how the people are anarchists because they "pillage stores" and how they can't support them because the Girondins would start calling them anarchists too. But then he seems to start agreeing with the Gironde and (again) yells that Saint-Just's line of reasoning could lead to an attack on property! When did Maxime become a rabid Girondin, I wonder? And when did he start to shout? My brain, it bleeds.
Also, I don't know whether he said this historically, but Danton just said about the dumbest thing ever: "Respect poverty and poverty will respect opulence." >___< But a few things I liked about his speech: one, I recognized at least a few historical phrases in there, which was nice; two, Robespierre made a historical comment about Danton (though it doesn't date to that era--that is, to the formation of the Revolutionary Tribunal); three, the expression on Robespierre's face when he and Danton embraced afterward was priceless. You would have had to see it.
Edit 4: There's also a Girondin (I don't know which), who looks very similar to historical!Maxime. If they had only made a casting switch there!...
Edit 5: The Fall of the Gironde as here depicted has also made my brain bleed. For some unfathomable reason, it's clear the scene is trying to frame Vergniaud as some kind of hero. Meanwhile, Couthon only speaks after Robespierre whispers something in his ear--I guess we're supposed to gather that all Robespierre's friends are really just his puppets--and, of course, we've already established that Fred Personne unfortunately looks nothing like Couthon.
Edit 6: Okay, whoah. Whoah. Danton, in leaving the CSP, has just warned Barère that Robespierre just wants power and is using Couthon and Saint-Just as pawns to get it. (He refers to them as the "Holy Trinity: a cripple, a child, and Maximilien.") According to Danton he's incapable of anything but political intrigue, but at that he's "unbeatable". Remember, first, that we're still talking about summer 1793 here... If Danton ever thought that, which it's quite possible he did, or at least professed to by spring of 1794, it wouldn't have been directly after leaving the CSP. That doesn't make any sense. This movie's logic is, however, *special* in general, so I don't know why I'm surprised. The real problem though, is that the whole scene seems to be designed to portray Danton as the voice of reason... Which has so many problems I'm not even going to start. He does, however call Éléonore Cornélie Copeau, which, while I can't say it's a detail I *like*, per se, is at least accurate.
Edit 7: There's some guy following Couthon around carrying a pug. Just thought you all should know. XD;
Edit 8: So Marat just got stabbed... Without any context whatsoever. It just sort of happened. What I mind more though, is that it happened after Robespierre joined the CSP. WTF. D:
Edit 9: I would just like to point out that Carnot looks nothing like himself. Then again, neither do 90% of them, so I don't know why it really matters at this point.
Edit 10: Finally, something I liked: they included Robespierre's defence of the 73 Girondins. Though then they have Barère say that they've "put Terror on order of the day"... Except that, as Jean-Clément Martin's work Violence et Révolution so eloquently points out, Terror was never officially put on the order of the day, and therefore it's a bit absurd to have Barère referring to it as if it were. And then there was the extremely disconcerting way in which Billaud stares straight at the camera right after Barère says that. I have no idea why. O.o;
Edit 11: A bunch of soldiers, who have decided they are tired of being asked to fight on an empty stomach, just changed the words of the Marseillaise to go like this: "Allons enfants de la patrie, le jour de soupe est arrivé." XD;;
Edit 12: This is just not okay. Saint-Just and Le Bas have just gone on mission together and we still haven't been introduced to Le Bas as a personage. We only see him from the back, and the other reason we know it's even him is because his signature is on a decree that's read along with Saint-Just's. >:(
Edit 13: On the other hand, Saint-Just does seem to know Élisabeth. And he just completely pwned Desmoulins, so they get points for that, assuredly. And he just hugged Robespierre, which would have been cute if they weren't so otherwise OOC. What, however, do you think is the likelihood that Robespierre would have the anonymous portrait of himself from the Carnavalet, the one by Labille-Guyard, the sketch by Gérard and one of Deseine's busts all in his room? Extremely small even if you believe the (Thermidorian) story that he had his portraits everywhere, you say? Well, the filmmakers here don't seem to think so. Though they just hugged a second time, and that was rather cute.
Edit 14: Schneider's Fête de la Raison just literally degenerated into an orgy. It was, um, special. Saint-Just (and presumably Le Bas, since he was there, though he still hasn't been introduced) picked that moment to arrest him. It was priceless, truly.
Edit 15: By the way, I forgot to mention that while Saint-Just is pwning Desmoulins, the girl I've been assuming was Élisabeth was flirting with the guy I assume was Le Bas in the background. So that at least was a good detail.