Monday, July 31, 2006

Naming continued. . .

My name on the shower invitations is listed as MB rather than MGB. I am finding the whole thing rather amusing, but C is very, very irritated. . .

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hyphenation and other naming issues

I am a hyphenator. Let me just put that out there. I know there are lots of mixed feelings about "hyphenating," especially in the academic world, but when I married C (my husband) I chose to hyphenate my last name for a variety of reasons. I primarily chose to hyphenate b/c at that time I thought any children we'd have would just take C's last name--I've since changed my mind about that and we're STILL trying to decide what our child's last name will be. My reasoning for this was that my mom (who divorced my biological father and married my dad, taking his last name) had a different name from me the entire time I was growing up. Despite being a feminist and having a strong desire to keep my own name, I remembered what it was like to constantly have to explain to teachers, friends' parents, etc. Why my parents had a different name than I did. Despite being an educator, I don't think it is a child's responsibility to educate the world as to why s/he might have a different name from his/her mother or father. I reasoned that if I hyphenated, keeping my own name and adding my husband's name to it, my child could avoid some of this confusion. I was and still am very happy with my decision to hyphenate.

But my decision to hyphenate offended C's family from the beginning. His mother even went so far as to ask me if I thought I was too good to take his name. I ignored most of it, letting C field the most offensive and irritating inquiries. Now, my mil and I are very different (obviously, right?). She is very traditional and very Southern, so I resigned myself to receiving mail from her addressed to "Mrs. C-- B---" for the rest of my life. After all, if it makes her happy, what do I care? But about 2 years ago, I received a gift from her; it was a huge canvas purse monogramed with my initials. After I got over the shock of its size (HUGE) and feigning how much I loved it (we are VERY different), I noticed that she'd had it monogramed in my initials--MGB--recognizing for the first time that I'd hyphenated. I was ecstatic and even carried the bag a few times to express my happiness at her recognition of my name.

Fast forward 2 years to our pregnancy. All recognition of my name by C's family is gone. C received a phone call yesterday from his sister; she was at a store trying to access our baby registry (she is very kindly throwing us a shower in a few weeks). She was frantic; she couldn't find the registry. Had something happened to it, she asked? C calmly asked what name she was searching under; she said yours. He said that we had been told that at this particular store you had to search under the primary registrant, and we had listed me as the primary. He reminded her to look under my full name. She did so and quickly found it without incident. She then informed him that very few of the people invited to our shower would know that I had hyphenated and most wouldn't think to look under my name; they were after all his family and friends. She then asked that we change it to which he very smartly responded "No," explaining that was my name and since we'd been married for 6 years most people should know my last name.

So now, after thinking my in-laws were comfortable with finally comfortable with my decision, I am left feeling alienated again and reminded that they still view me as somewhat of an oddity. And I will be reminded of this fact at the shower (which we're traveling 1500 miles to attend) when every gift I open is addressed to MB rather than MGB or even just plain old M. Of course all of this brought our inability to reach an agreement on the baby's last name to the center again!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Day 2

As I sit here still in my pajamas at 1:45 in the afternoon (convincing myself, as I often do, that I am more productive in comfortable clothes), I contemplate the nature of procrastination. So this week has been better than others. I've finished 2 books, including 1 today (see, staying in the pjs works), but I still haven't done any real work revising my dissertation proposal. I know why--I am completely intimidated by my topic, which, if I can praise myself for a moment, is quite good.

As I wrote yesterday (sorry, can't bring myself to use any "blog" terminology), my dissertation deals with the separation of spheres and lack thereof in 19th-century American women's lit. For decades, or I suppose I could say centuries since the notion of separate spheres originated in the late-18th century, scholars and authors alike have argued that women were relegated to the private sphere. But in the 1960s and 1970s scholars began reevaluating thier opinions, as they were wont to do in those decades. Since then the notion of separate spheres has been basically thrown out the window, and rightfully so as the very 19th-century women who advocated the separation of spheres violated that separation by writing, publishing, and lecturing. My dissertation deals specifically with the division of space and the notion that some spaces were public and others were private. Despite the fact that the separation of spheres has been proven to be less pervasive than originally thought, the actual separation of physical spaces still holds true in many instances. I am looking specifically at what I call interstitial spaces, spaces which are neither wholly public nor wholly private but somewhere in between. I am interested in how women writers' manipulate these spaces both in their fictional works and in the narratives. It seems to me that women writers use the spaces to argue that women so want to transgress the spheres and rolles that have been enforced upon them. In most instances, I see these spaces as positive, but in some cases the spaces are negative. I am in the process of sketching out chapters and trying to determine how much I want to discuss actual architecture, i.e. porches, stages, gardens, public parks, attics, etc.

My procrastination stems from my inability to articulate in a paragraph or less what I want to write on, but since I seem to have done just that, I think I'll make better use of my time and actually go write something to show my advisor. . .

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My first post

So most of my friends seem to have started a blog, and since I'm technologically inept, I thought I'd embrace technology for a change and give this thing a try. My primary reason for starting this is a recurring need to journal. While the public nature of a blog does bother me a bit, I also think it will be easier to journal at my computer.

The title of my blog comes straight out my dissertation research. Much of the scholarship on 19th-century American women's writing deals with the notion of separate spheres--public for men, private for women. The scholarship of the past 20 years or so has been focused on the idea that these spheres aren't as separate as scholars once thought. In my dissertation, I am focusing specifically on the separation of spaces, architectural and otherwise, arguing that women often manipulated spaces in order to traverse the divide between public and private spheres. As an expectant mother, I'm interested in the divide of public and private in my own life. I anticipate that I won't be able to keep the "spheres" separate, and I don't know that I want to keep them separate.

So we'll see where this blog goes, where my research goes, and where my life goes.