HotM: Daniel Mendoza Monday, Mar 21 2011 

In an effort to get back to my book project, I’ve been reading about the eighteenth-century Jewish boxer Daniel Mendoza (1764-1836), pictured here.

I’m interested in representations of Jewish masculinity in English literature from around 1680 to about 1820. Mendoza seems like a natural fit for such a project.

Currently I’m reading his memoirs, which were published in 1816. I’m about halfway through them. What stands out so far is the interesting mix of his sense of honor combined with his willingness to thrash anyone who he deems worthy. On the one hand, he’s very gentlemanly in his description of his life and the reasons for his fighting. On the other hand, he clearly seems to relish “trashing” his foes.

Sometimes these early fights are the result of prejudice, people calling him names or demeaning him or someone he knows for being Jewish. But often they seem the result of a general lack of civility in English culture at this time, which stands in marked contrast to my general sense of the period’s politeness and sensibility. It makes me want to go back and reread Anna Bryson’s book, From Courtesy to Civility: Changing Codes of Conduct in Early Modern England, which was published by Oxford in 1998.

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Getting Back to My Roots Monday, Mar 21 2011 

Today I started a second blog, one dedicated to my job. Creating it made me think about I wanted to start it, which made me think about why I have this blog. I originally started this blog when I was on sabbatical. It was going to chronicle my progress towards finishing the second book project as well as record my responses to various scholarly and pedagogical works I was reading.

After teaching Tristram Shandy a couple of times, I decided to evolve this blog to include a larger picture of my thoughts and opinions. Now that I’m an administrator, it’s mostly become a record of my tastes in music and movies.

I don’t have a problem with that, but I would like to get back to my roots. I started off blogging about the eighteenth century, my scholarship, and my teaching. I want to do more of that again. I’m not going to stop writing about movies and music — I still have a lot to say on those subjects — but I also want to be more academic.

So, let’s get to it ….