“What I want is for men to read my work and make the same leap of identity that we [women] have to make when we read one of the 99 percent of comic strips that star straight white men, boys, or animals.” – Alison Bechdel
As many of you know, for almost 2 years I worked on a book on Alison Bechdel, hence why we read Fun Home a few semesters ago. As a matter of fact, our class played a role in my writing process; teaching her graphic memoir helped me flesh out some key elements within the work. In the Acknowledgements section of my book, I even thanked Mike and Amy and our Spoilers class directly.
Well, now my book is (finally) available for purchase. I’m attaching the link to the publisher’s website and the flier for the book, just on the off chance any of you are interested in buying a copy.
In Circe we encounter both Titans and Olympians, as well as many stories related to these gods. Many of the gods we may already know; many of the stories we may have heard; some of the gods and some of the stories may be new to us. As a primer or refresher on the Olympian key players, I have found a great little text titled The Twelve Olympians.
A large number of women in Greek mythology exist, but we usually only hear or discuss a few; here is a fairly comprehensive list of all of them. It’s an extensive list and well worth spending some time digging through; it’s no small task. We will discuss the key ones related to Circe in class, but there are so many more than we generally realize.
Publishing anything centers on the hope that someone will read it. I publish my work with that same hope. Despite that hope, sharing my published academic works with friends, family, and colleagues is a struggle for me. To an even greater extent, I wrestle with sharing my creative work with anyone, not because my writing isn’t good (I’m a solid writer), but because my creative pieces are intensely intimate to me. Publishing and sharing involves the risk of rejection. Who wants such a piece of their soul rejected? But I wrote and published this short story, because I needed it to be written. I released these written words into the world, because I needed them to be heard. I placed this personal piece of me out there, because I needed the world to know this story is as relevant to today as it was when Kate Chopin published her novel, because this loss, this life, this lesson resonates for many of us still, because this is our yesterday, this is our present day, and this may be our tomorrow. So for these reasons, I also share it with you. This specific short story of mine connects not only to the content of what we read for this week’s class, but directly to the notion of artistry and courage of which Mademoiselle Reisz speaks: “The artist must possess the courageous soul that dares and defies.” And so, I muster my courage, defy my self-doubt, and plunge myself into the gulf… “Endlessly Repeating”
Many of you have previously read this week’s book. I first encountered The Awakening in high school. I read it again in my sophomore year as an undergrad. I returned to the text in two graduate classrooms. I teach the text as well. I re-read Chopin’s novel again this week. Each time I explore this small book I find another turn of phrase or idea or passage that I missed last time. As we begin to explore The Awakening tomorrow, I want to challenge you to read it anew as well:
I think that authors’ ghosts creep back
Nightly to haunt the sleeping shelves
And find the books they wrote.
Those authors put final, semi-final touches,
Sometimes whole paragraphs.
Whole pages are added, re-written, revised,
So deeply by night those authors employ
Themselves with those old books of theirs.
Explain the fact that maybe after years
Have passed, the reader
Picks up the book – But was it like that?
I don’t remember this … Where
Did this ending come from?
I recall quite another.
Oh yes, it has been tampered with
No doubt about it –
The author’s very touch is here, there and there,
Where it wasn’t before, and
What’s more, something’s missing –
I could have sworn …
(Muriel Sparks “Authors’ Ghosts” 2003)
(Side note about Muriel Sparks: today would have been her 100th birthday. If you haven’t read anything by her, I recommend you check her out. She’s one of my favorite Scottish authors. For more information on Muriel Sparks, check out this article from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/29/ali-smith-on-muriel-spark-at-100)