Saturday, March 1, 2014

I'm alive! And a Review of Sue Starke's The Heroines of English Pastoral Romance

Hello, Dear Readers,

I apologize for my long absence! But I am alive! With school starting back up, it has been rather difficult to find the time to actually sit down and post about things. That being said, I have a sewing project in the works, which hopefully will be finished in the next couple of weeks or so. It's a pair of pirate pants (yay costuming!) which would be fun for Halloween, or whenever one so wished to dress up like a pirate. It will be a full tutorial with pictures, so hopefully I can have that up soon.

I mentioned some posts back that I might start reviewing books I'm using on my theses if I didn't have time to read for fun (which I don't). So, for a lack of better ideas, I shall review one of the texts I'm using on my English thesis. 

Some background first, on my thesis. I'm looking at female agency in John Milton's Comus (formally referred to as A Maske at Ludlowe) by looking at tropes in the pastoral in relation to the political nature of masques. It's a topic that I'm really enjoying writing about (moreso than my history thesis, at the moment).

Since this is an academic work, rather than fiction, I'll review it slightly differently than the other books I reviewed. 
The Heroines of English Pastoral Romance, by Sue Starke
Available at the link above

Topic: Sue Starke looks at the history of English Pastoral Romance, and investigates the connections between certain works as well as the history of the influences that would have impacted either the genre or individual works. By looking at the works of various authors such as Spencer, Fletcher, and Milton, just to name a few. The summary from describes the book thus:
"The genre of pastoral romance flourished dramatically in Renaissance England between 1590 and 1650. One of its key elements is that it is the daughter, not the son, of the gentle family who increasingly becomes the subject of the romance's attempt to define and illustrate heroism. The pastoral heroine's task is paradoxical: to break out of her pastoral paradise in order to ensure its reconstitution. She is the princess, the shepherdess, the Lady, or the virtuous daughter who becomes a repository of honor and virtue in a changing society where traditional chivalric definitions of honor hold decreasing purchase. This groundbreaking book examines the typical challenges faced by the pastoral romance heroine as she matures within the pastoral locus amoenus: the foundling dilemma; the loop-shaped quest: the rhetorical battle; the chastity threat; the reconciliation of beauty to virtue; and familial reunification. It illustrates how the allegorical, symbolic, and psychological characterizations of pastoral heroines in the works of Sidney, Spenser, Wroth, Fletcher, Milton, and Marvell anticipate developments in the representation of female subjectivities normally associated with the novel."

Thoughts: Even if one isn't writing about the pastoral, but is interested in a very specific and often-ignored subset of English Renaissance literature, this book provides a comprehensive look into this genre. Starke's writing style is easy to read, fast-paced, and comprehensive without being cumbersome. It's immensely helpful to me for my English thesis, and even as just as light reading, it is thoroughly fascinating. 

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Smart, easy to read, and helpful beyond measure to my thesis gives this book a 5/5 rating. 

In other news,
I've finished my law school applications, and am turning my full focus to my school work, and more importantly, these two theses. I'm hoping to find time here and there to make pretty things (mostly skirts, because 1) they're easy to make, and 2) because I like skirts). I'm still looking for supplies to my Xena costume, but as a student, spending money is something that I'm trying to avoid. I'm hoping that once I get back to my summer job, I'll be able to put aside enough to spend on projects like my Xena costume, or full Ren Faire garb (which has been on my bucket list for a while, for costuming).

I'll try to post the pirate pants tutorial soon, hopefully by next week. I'm planning on finishing my second chapter for my history thesis by this week, so that should free up some time for sewing and the like.