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Today I have nothing to share for Book Reviews You Won’t Care About.  This is mainly because I’ve been spending my Spring Break mostly reading articles, and the two books I have to read for next week have largely fallen by the wayside (although I need to crack down this weekend because I still have over 400 pages to go for one of them).  And although I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and highlighting, my focus has generally been on journal articles.

And this book:

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I bought this book as required reading back in 2008 (not really reading so much as reference), and it has become my pseudo-Bible for this semester.  You see, before I can write the paper, I need to do an annotated bibliography.  For those of you who chose not to click on that link (can’t say I blame you), an annotated bibliography is a fully-cited list of all the sources you plan on using for a paper, with a little summary or abstract about each one.  This paper is due a week from yesterday.  It’s three pages long, and I’m not even half-done with it.

You see, back in the day (in undergrad, a full 10 years ago…ugh), I wasn’t a History major.  I was an English major.  And English majors use the MLA method of citation.  So I spent four years of undergrad memorizing MLA.  By the time I wrote my senior thesis, I knew MLA so well that I could bang out a citation without double- or triple-checking it.

And then I became a history major.  History majors, btw, don’t use MLA.  They use the Chicago Method.  I do not know the Chicago method.  Therefore, I spend a LOT of time flipping through that book up there (also known as “that horrible Turabian book”.

I really, really don’t understand why there are multiple methods of citation.  Couldn’t the whole academic world get together and agree on ONE method?  Wouldn’t that be so much easier?  I will admit I felt slightly vindicated when I checked out Turabian’s profile on Goodreads and saw the following review:

“Why does this Turabian lady get to say how I document and cite my history papers and why, why, why can’t English, History, and Education people just get together and pick one style they can all agree on?! (frustrated sob)”

I feel your pain, I really do.

Fortunately, this weekend, the husband and I are going to have an absolutely delicious Saturday!  He’s promised to cook pancakes on Saturday morning, and then we’re going car shopping with my dad.  Then it’s off to see the Hunger Games movie (!) and then out to dinner.  I’m very much looking forward to an exciting, relaxing afternoon.

With no Turabian.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, school is leaving me very little time for knitting.  This project isn’t going quickly, and if it wasn’t for the yarn, it would be utterly boring (variegated yarn always thrills me for some reason; I’m probably simple-minded).

Hat is a standard, roll-brim baby hat with variegated yarn knit on US 4 DPNs.  Hopefully for my upstairs-neighbor’s baby girl, due next month.

The book is Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America by Ellen Chesler.  It’s an easy read, but it’s almost 500 pages, so this was the book my teacher required as reading over our Spring Break.  I’m about a fifth of a way into it, and I’m liking it thus far.

Hooking up with Ginny over at Small Things…

Random Historical Fact of the Day — March 19: In 1941, the Tuskegee Airmen, the first unit of the United States Air Force comprised of all African-Americans, was activated.

I didn’t blog this weekend because I was, in all honesty, too busy.  And I’m ashamed (sort of) to say that nothing I was doing had anything to do with my homework, or research, or papers.  Time to buckle down this week and work, I say!  Instead, I spent my Saturday cleaning everything in sight and making Irish soda bread and Car Bomb Cupcakes for our St. Patrick’s Day get-together.  Which IMO was a rousing success.

Image(My Irish-American husband, an expat from north of Boston, agrees)

Exciting things happened of the sewing variety this weekend as well.  First off, I’m almost finished with the pink skirt for my outfit for Connecticon.  I worked on it Friday afternoon at my parents’ house.  It’s show here (not a great picture), missing only a hem and a waistband.

Image(Sorry for the poor photo quality.  I really have to start taking pictures with my camera and not my cell phone.)

Other exciting news — my father found me a temporary sewing machine!  He found a used 1960’s model on Saturday and brought it home for me.  It’sancient, it’s huge, it weighs about 60 lbs…and it’s mine 🙂  I’m so excited.  My mom says that for all its years, it works perfectly, and she just needs to remember how to thread the bobbin on it and show me before I take it home.  Yay, my first grown-up sewing machine!

ImageIt’s awesome and ancient and mine, all mine.

It’s been absolutely beautiful up here in New England lately, and I hope it lasts.  Spending the afternoon at my parents’ house yesterday meant a lot of walking around outside, helping my mom wash her car, just enjoying the sunlight and warmth.  I managed to get a picture of their single lone crocus.

ImageSometimes I wish spring could last forever.

Random Historical Fact of the Day — March 16: In 1660, the Long Parliament in England was dissolved.

It’s time for another round of Book Reviews You Won’t Care About!

In BRYWCA, I will review the latest history-based book I’ve had to read for class (or chose to read, because I’m me and I love that sort of thing.  BRYWCA books will always be nonfiction, and will always be historically factual (or theoretical).

This week, we’re delving into the scandalous topic of the Kinsey Reports, with Miriam Reumann’s American Sexual Character: Sex, Gender, and National Identity in the Kinsey Reports.

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This book was not strictly about the Kinsey Reports (Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female), but rather about the public reaction of Americans to both reports, and how true the reports actually were.  We tend to look back on the late 1940s – early 1960s as an idyllic time (Pleasantville, anyone?), but Reumann’s study proves without a doubt that the nostalgia for the 1950’s is somewhat skewed.  American culture during the post-World War II era was definitely not as sterile or as sexless as television programs such as Leave It To Beaver would have us believe.  Between World War II and the Cold War, America was caught up in a “sexual revolution” — where what went on behind closed doors was very different than the wholesome images that men and women were portraying for themselves.  The Kinsey Reports threw open the doors and windows onto sexual ambiguity, and opened the eyes of America to the fact that what was done in the bedroom and never spoken of was not inherently sinful or unspeakable.

Thus far, of the books I’ve read this past year, this was probably my favorite.  It’s mostly readable, despite some cryptic notes about the reports themselves.  The author also sprinkles in pieces of pop culture to emphasize the shock of the American people in reaction to the Kinsey Reports.  Some of them, such as cartoons mentioning the reports themselves, are satirically humorous; others (including one of a man striking his wife after readingSexual Behavior in the Human Female) are downright shocking.  Equally surprising (to me) and somewhat bleak is Reumann’s analysis that, while men were completely willing to believe the “sexual deviance” they found in Kinsey’s study of male sex behavior, they were quite willing and able to paint all of Kinsey’s female subjects as liars, embroidering tales of their lurid sex lives.  Sad, but in that day and age (hell, even today, I guess) not very surprising.

Rating: ****

Random Historical Fact of the Day – March 15: In 1956, the musical “My Fair Lady”, derived from George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion”, debuted in New York City.

Last September, I talked briefly about my short foray into learning how to sew.  I want to learn how to sew (sort of desperately), and as time has gone on, the urge to learn has nagged at me more and more.  My mother loves to sew and quilt, and my father is one of those old-school types that thinks that sewing is a trade that all women need to learn (I assure you that my father is quite liberal; he’s not the sort of man to advocate “barefoot, pregnant, and chained to the stove”, he just grew up with women who knew how to sew).  They’ve been talking about getting me a sewing machine for a few years now (although it looks like I’m going to be inheriting my mom’s machine when she upgrades soon).  In any case, a few weeks ago I bit the bullet, bought a pattern and some material on Joann’s red tag sale, and decided, this is it.  I’m going to learn to sew.

…in my spare time (*cue hysterical laughter*).

In any case, I have an “event” coming up this summer.  Try not to laugh at me.  For years, David and I have been going to Connecticon, which is a multi-genre convention in Hartford, the largest of its kind in Connecticut, and we go every year (or almost every year — I skipped 2010).  I have a soft spot in my heart for Connecticon, because that is where David and I met (or rather, we were cast in a play that debuted at Connecticon, andthat is how we met).  It’s just as bad as all those Star Trek conventions that people mock endlessly.  Go ahead and laugh, I know you want to.

My outfit for Connecticon this year currently looks like…this:

Yep.  Pattern pieces cut out?  Check.  Pinned to fabric and cut out?  Check.

Next comes the hard/scary part…actually sewing them together.  Which will probably happen tomorrow, since I still don’t actually have a sewing machine.  But David’s working a double shift tomorrow, so I’ll be spending the afternoon/evening at my parents’ house, working on this.

I don’t plan on using any sewing skills I develop for exclusive costume-sewing.  My dream is to one day have an entire closet of vintage-style 1950’s swing dresses.  Kind of like the whole wardrobe from “The Help”.

Hilly Holbrook: Completely evil...and completely fabulous.

But before I start working on that wardrobe…I gotta learn how to actually, you know…sew first.  And I’ll be documenting my progress here.

Tomorrow, the return (once again) of Book Reviews You Won’t Care About.

Random Historical Fact of the Day — March 14: In 1794, Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin.

Happy Pi Day!  The Neophyte Historian (as you can imagine) is not a huge fan of the maths, but I can still appreciate a good pun (and good pie).

Hooking up with Ginny for today’s Yarn Along

ImageStill knitting on, yes, Selbu.  Unfortunately the knitting is taking a massive back seat to homework and research.  Hopefully in May I’ll be able to finish Selbu 😦  Book today (Thursday’s homework) is American Sexual Character: Sex, Gender, and National Identity in the Kinsey Reports by Miriam G. Reumann.  I have one chapter and the epilogue to go, and thus far it’s been a very good, enlightening read.

Random Historical Fact of the Day – March 12: In 1912, Juliette Gordon-Law created the Girl Scouts of America (celebrating their 100th anniversary today).

Well.  This can only mean one thing.

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Yup.

Research paper season has officially begun.  I spent an hour on JSTOR today, looking up articles, and went to the local library today to take out seven books (which is probably only the beginning, really).

I finally managed to come up with some paper topics.

Modern World History: The American Revolution and its effect on British Imperialism in the 19th Century.

History of Gender Studies in America: American Liberal Catholics and the Backlash Against Humanae Vitae in the 20th Century.

What do you think?

In any case, my soul is now sold to the history department from now until the second week of May.  If you’re looking for me, I’ll be under a rock somewhere.  Taking notes.