An interview between Naomi Zurevinski and Deborah Gorham, author of “Liberty and Love? Dora Black Russell and Marriage,” on early feminists and the challenges of being a woman in academia. To read more about Gorham’s work for her article in the CJH/ACH, click here. Gorham’s article appeared in the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire in 2011, and is available here to read for free for a limited time.

Deborah Gorham, Carleton University.

Deborah Gorham has done a lot of work on feminist thinkers, writers, and scholars from the first half of the twentieth century. Although these women might seem far off in a distant past, Gorham thinks their work is still relevant today.

“I think it’s important that we know their history, because it is our history,” she said. “It is our history whether we are women or men, black or white, immigrants or people born in North America.”

One such feminist writer that Gorham has been particularly interested in, is Dora Black Russell (1894-1986), a British author, feminist, and social entrepreneur. Black Russell considered herself to be an exemplar of modernism — she wore black to her 1921 wedding, covering up her nine-month pregnant belly, she was highly educated, and she was forward-thinking in terms of equality between spouses and supporting freedom over the female body.

Many feminist thinkers and writers at the time in Britain often had to choose between a career or having children. Black Russell, by comparison, had a career, four children, and two marriages. Some of her main feminist concerns included birth control for women, the need for female education on their bodies and sexuality, and motherhood.

Although the struggles Black Russell faced might be different from the ones of today, Gorham acknowledges that we still have gender inequality in our society.

“It was difficult being a woman professor years ago. It is easier now, but there remains in the academy, as in the world, a bias against women themselves, and, in the academy, a bias against work on women. We are not in a ‘post-Feminist’ age: not in the world, and not in North America. Women suffer injustices in the family, in the workplace, and in our culture. We must continue our struggle to achieve genuine equality for women,” Gorham said.

Gorham also notes the gendered nature of archival work — something that not all academics may be aware of. The “archive” is a product of the professionalization of historical research in the nineteenth century, most often associated with the German academic Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886), who supported the idea that history was to be “scientific,” meaning rooted in archives. However, the majority of those who supported the turn to archives were male historians.

“Since the mid-twentieth century, some historians — especially if they wanted to work on marginalized groups — have been critical of the 19th century notion of the ‘archive.’ Researchers need to ask themselves how the archival collection they are working on got to the library or archive where it is housed,” Gorham said. “The majority of archival collections are those of men, not women; white people, not people of colour; well-to do people, not poor people. Why is this the case?”

Using a critical eye when examining the past is important, but as we can also see, so too is the way we approach sources and documents of the past.


Gorham’s work, “Liberty and Love? Dora Black Russell and Marriage” is free to read for a limited time. Click here to read the article on CJH Online – http://bit.ly/CJH462_Gorham

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An interview between Naomi Zurevinski and Deborah Gorham, author of “Liberty and Love? Dora Black Russell and Marriage,” on her experiences working in the archives with Russell’s letters, and the play Yours, Unfaithfully, which was inspired by the Russell marriage. Gorham’s article appeared in the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire in 2011, and is available here to read for free for a limited time.

Deborah Gorham, Carleton University.

Deborah Gorham, a history professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, has always loved teaching, even from a young age.

“I was a big sister, with a younger sister and brother. I would make them play school, and I was always the teacher. I loved teaching. I loved research too, but for much of my career, teaching came first,” Gorham said.

One of the research topics that has sparked her interest, is the life, marriage, and work of Dora Black Russell (1894-1986). Black Russell was a British author, feminist, and social entrepreneur, who was famously married to Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), an English philosopher, mathematician, writer, and political activist, among other things. The two were married in 1921, but divorced 15 years later.

In 2011, CJH/ACH published an article by Gorham titled “Liberty and Love? Dora Black Russell and Marriage,” which examines modernist marriage in the interwar period in Britain, by looking at Black Russell’s experience. Gorham became interested in Black Russell because of her work as an educational entrepreneur, and spent a lot of time researching the archives of both Black Russell and Bertrand Russell.

“Dora Black Russell’s papers are at the Institute for Social History in Amsterdam. Bertrand Russell’s papers are at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. It was wonderful, as well as exhausting, to use the Dora papers in Amsterdam. They are voluminous. The archivists there were so very helpful — they all speak English,” Gorham said. “I stayed in the house of one of the archivists — she’s now retired — and we became really good friends. I wrote on index cards, then typed on my laptop, and photocopied a whole lot. I made several trips, and spent weeks and weeks and weeks there.”

As part of Gorham’s work on Black Russell, she was asked to give a talk for the “Enrichmint” program as part of the play, Yours, Unfaithfully, by Miles Malleson, which was put on by the Mint Theatre Company in New York.

“Miles Malleson’s play — wonderfully recreated by the Mint — is about ‘free love’ in the 1920s and 1930s. Is it about the Russell marriage? In part. Anne, the character in the play, and Dora in real life, did support free love. The lesson is that this is never going to work out for women as long as we live in a patriarchal society. It may not work out even then: jealousy is a powerful emotion,” Gorham said.

Free love is the idea and practice that you can have sexual relationships according to choice, even within a marriage, which was something that Dora and Bertrand believed in and participated in, which contributed to the eventual demise of their marriage.

Although she garnered fame through her marriage to Bertrand Russell, when it ended in 1935 Black Russell continued writing and participating in feminist causes, becoming known for her activism and work.


Gorham’s work, “Liberty and Love? Dora Black Russell and Marriage” is free to read for a limited time. Click here to read the article on CJH Online – http://bit.ly/CJH462_Gorham

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Written by guest blogger, Shayna Skakoon-Sparling.


 

Young Canadian adults know that using a condom is the best way to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like syphilis, chlamydia, or HIV. Yet, many struggle to consistently use a condom when they have sex. There are many factors that can influence an individual’s decisions about condom use during a sexual encounter. Individuals may be influenced by: how well they feel they know their partner, how “at-risk” they perceive themselves to be, whether or not they are intoxicated, and, importantly, how sexually aroused they are.

I chose to investigate the effects of sexual arousal on elements related to sexual decision-making because sexual arousal is such an important and common aspect in consensual sexual encounters.

Sexual arousal is known to interfere with our ability to make good choices (e.g., Ariely & Lowenstein, 2006; Ditto et al., 2006; George et al., 2009; Skakoon-Sparling, Cramer, & Shuper, 2016), but little is known about why or how this occurs. I set out to explore whether sexual arousal has this cognitive and behavioural effect because of its impact on the mechanisms underlying our decision-making abilities. In particular, for this study, I wanted to know whether it has an impact on our self-control, and sexual self-restraint.

Participants were invited to view either four sexually arousing (experimental condition) or four non-sexual video clips (control condition). After viewing each video clip, participants responded to a random selection of items drawn from (1) a self-control scale, (2) a sexual self-restraint scale, and (3) a motivational state scale.

In comparison with control participants, I found that sexually aroused participants scored lower on my measure of self-control and on my measure of sexual self-restraint. This suggests that when we are more sexually aroused, this state may deplete our stores of self-control or otherwise interfere with our access to this resource. Additionally, the correlation between decreased self-control and decreased sexual self-restraint highlights a link between decreased self-control and increased sexual risk-taking.

When we become sexually aroused, we have more difficulty engaging in self-control and show lower sexual self-restraint, which could very easily lead to increased sexual risk taking and difficulty seeing the importance of engaging in the negotiation of condom use.


Shayna Skakoon-Sparling & Kenneth M. Cramer (2016). The impact of sexual arousal on elements of sexual decision making: Sexual self-restraint, motivation, and self-control. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality (Volume 25 Issue 2), 119-125. Available to read on CJHS Online or on Project MUSE!

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Kendrick Lamar’s Prophetic Hope

by Lauren Naus on April 18, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Matthew Linder.
@kdotscholar


 
What Kendrick’s Music Tells Us About Paul Tillich’s Theology…

Kendrick Lamar Blogpost (1)

When I presented a paper, as part of a panel exploring how Paul Tillich’s The Courage to Be can help interpret Kendrick Lamar’s music at the 2016 American Academy of Religion Conference, Dr. Stephen G. Ray, Professor of Systematic Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, in his response to the panel asked us to consider the inverse, “What can Kendrick’s music tell us about Tillich’s theology?”

Building off the three main themes I explored of Tillich’s theology in relation to Kendrick’s music ([1] self-affirmation, [2] forgiveness of sins, and [3] death/resurrection), I want to attempt to briefly address Dr. Ray’s question.

First, Kendrick defines self-affirmation through a lens which views the dignity of all individual black bodies as divinely-bestowed and uses this framing of self-affirmation as a means of communal bodily resistance to living under a system of white oppression. One thing that Tillich reacts to in The Courage to Be is the hyper-individualism of capitalist societies and the hyper-communalism of communist societies. Tillich rejects both extremes and looks for a better way to be which doesn’t devalue the individual self or the community to which the self belongs. Kendrick’s personal narratives of sin, forgiveness, and redemption (particularly on good kid, m.A.A.d city) is not simply meant to be taken as autobiography but listeners (specifically the black and brown kids in Compton) are encouraged to hear their struggle in Kendrick’s. The “I” in Kendrick’s music operates as an indication of the self but also as the communal “I”, which uses Kendrick’s experience as both the reality of black and brown folks living in a desolated urban space and pointing to a hope grounded in a robust faith in the Christian God. Thus when he sings, “I love myself” on “i” from To Pimp a Butterfly, this phrase is meant as a term of empowerment (counteracting the devaluing of blacks by white oppression) that is further encapsulated within the God-given dignity of his black audience, as Kendrick expresses, that their black selves are “illuminated by the hand of God”.

Secondly, for Kendrick, the acceptance of the forgiveness of his sins is not only a daily and individual practice but a communal one. Tillich views accepting the forgiveness of sins “as the fundamental experience in the encounter with God,” but this is framed as an individual posture towards God not one that is also community-driven. Kendrick’s model of repentance and forgiveness follows the pathways of Old Testament prophets, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, who both sought forgiveness for individual and corporate sins. By allowing individual sins as well as those of his community to burden him, Kendrick can rap in “Alright” (from To Pimp a Butterfly) about the recognition of both within the context of a God that forgives, “Nazareth, I’m fucked up / Homie you fucked up / But if God got us we then gonna be alright,” and provide hope through communal repentance and forgiveness.

Thirdly, Kendrick views the resurrection as a communal hope for the collective good of the community not simply as eternal security for individuals. Tillich states that self-affirmation of the individual arises because one accepts not only eternal security in “the Christian symbol of resurrection” but faces “one’s having to die”. On the Flying Lotus track “Never Catch Me”, Kendrick contemplates his own death but at the same time he has hope inside his bones grounded in the Christian belief in the resurrection.

“In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body — it is heritage” ~ Ta-Nehisi Coates

As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, “In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body — it is heritage” but Kendrick’s presentation of the resurrection in “Never Catch Me” provides a bodily hope, for now and in the hereafter, where the black body will be eternally restored, never to be destroyed again.

Overall, Kendrick’s music blackens Tillich’s theology, by exploring the existential despair of the reality of individual black bodies in America and seeking to impart a prophetic communal hope — within the story of Christianity — for all black bodies who suffer greatly under a system of white oppression.


Matthew Linder’s article, ‘Am I Worth It?’: The Forgiveness, Death, and Resurrection of Kendrick Lamar,” is now available Ahead of Print! Read it today on TJT Online or on Project MUSE!
Follow Linder on Twitter @kdotscholar!

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An interview between Naomi Zurevinski and Amy Bell, author of “Women’s Politics, Poetry, and the Feminist Historiography of the Great War,” on work on the history of emotions and her experience using literature as a historical source. To read more about Bell’s past work on the Great War and feminist writers in Britain at the time, click here. Bell’s article appeared in the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes in 2007, and is available here to read for free for a limited time.

Amy Bell Faculty ProfileHistorian Amy Bell uses literature – specifically poetry – to get an inside look at what people were thinking and feeling in different time periods. One of the challenges with using literature as a historical source is that the authors were writing it with a specific audience in mind.

“I think historians working with literature especially face a challenge because it’s often not clear whether the author is speaking in their own voice or not,” she said. “The more widely you read and develop your critical faculties and ability to distinguish different tones in writing, the easier this gets.”

For Bell’s 2007 article in the CJH/ACH, “Women’s Politics, Poetry, and the Feminist Historiography of the Great War,” she looked at a number of poems by British women during and after the Great War to analyze their feminist and political undertones. Poetry, at the time, was very popular among the public as it was seen as a consoler of sorts.

“My favorite poem that I used for this article is by Charlotte Mew, called The Cenotaph,” Bell said. “This poem is beautifully written, and also speaks to so many of the themes of the Great War: the high cost borne by women, the contrast between the abstract words of glory, which the war was celebrated [for], the simple family lives of most of those who died, and the sense of the betrayal of the young men of a whole generation.”

After finishing research for this article, Bell moved on to looking at the Second World War and the role of the civilian at home. After looking at the experience of fear on the home front, she became interested in the field of the history of emotions, and her new research project will examine concepts of love and grief through personal writings, spiritualism and photography.

“In the spiritualist séances popular in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s, a medium would often make people believe their dead loved ones were speaking through them. I want to uncover how love and grief t drew people to séances like this, and the conditions in séances – dim or no lights, music, hand holding, apparitions – that helped to maximize these emotions among the viewers.”

Bell is also looking through photographs to see how love was represented in the 1920s and 1930s.

“I’m looking at representations of maternal love and how mothers were pictured holding babies and children, and how this echoed wider beliefs about the emotional bonds between mothers and children,” she said.

Bell’s work shows us that from photographs to poetry, there is certainly a wide variety of sources that can be tackled by historians to learn about that past.


Bell’s work, “Women’s Politics, Poetry, and the Feminist Historiography of the Great War” is free to read for a limited time. Click here to read the article on CJH Online – http://bit.ly/CJH423_Bell

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An interview with Amy Bell on feminist writers in Britain and the Great War

April 7, 2017

An interview between Naomi Zurevinski and Amy Bell, author of “Women’s Politics, Poetry, and the Feminist Historiography of the Great War,” on her historical work on the Great War and feminist writers in Britain at the time. Bell’s article appeared in the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes in 2007, and is available here to read […]

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Soccer, Ontario’s Beautiful Game

April 4, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Eric Bronson.   Eric Bronson, York University Soccer is known as “the beautiful game.” I’ve always believed it. As a coach, I instill it in my team. My faith in the game was never tested. All that changed the day I watched our goalie, my six-year old son, play a critical […]

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Introducing “Conjugal Friendship”

March 20, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Giacomo Sanfilippo.   Father Pavel Florensky Wendy VanderWal-Gritter’s Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church, which I was asked to review for the upcoming issue of the Toronto Journal of Theology (Volume 33, Issue 1), serves an important “pre-theological” purpose. She has written not a work of theology per […]

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An Interview with Nicole St-Onge on oral history and pursuing your interests

March 16, 2017

An interview between Naomi Zurevinski and Nicole St-Onge, author of “He was neither a soldier nor a slave: he was under the control of no man” : Kahnawake Mohawks in the Northwest Fur Trade, 1790-1850, on the importance of oral history and what can happen if you study material you find interesting. To read St-Onge’s […]

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There’s More to Resilience than a Thick Skin

March 14, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Jenny Moffett.   Jenny Moffett “It was in my head as a really, really thick wall and no matter how many times you ram something against it, you would chip away and chip away but it would always fill itself back up.” This is the voice of a first year veterinary […]

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