woman_with_crown

Design of “princess” by Meredith Eliassen, 2016

Englishwoman Sarah Fielding (1710-68), the younger sister of author Henry Fielding, created an innovative work that included whimsical stories of fairies, giants, and animals that taught lessons about controlling vanity, envy and pride. Her novel, The Governess, or, The Little Female Academy (1749), taught didactic lessons to girls from eight to twelve years of age. The Governess has been called the first novel for children, but it was actually the first novel written for adolescent girls. Fielding’s logic appeared in genres familiar to females — the fable and fairy tale. The Governess became a textbook; its clean logic was perfect for teaching fundamental critical thinking to girls, its innovative feminine rhetoric remains seminal to understanding early fairy tales published in the United States between 1790 and 1820.

In her Dedication, Fielding referred to John Locke’s pedagogical theories when she asserted an inclination toward moral excellence might be gained with the suppression of passion. John Locke (1632-1704), one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers, suggested children could be educated to conform with a shift from the physical coercion to more modern psychological maneuvering. Fielding adapted the traditional practice of a tutor (or governor) teaching sons into a suitable literary text designed to teach daughters: “The design of the following Sheets is to endeavour to cultivate and early Inclination to Benevolence, and a Love of Virtue, in the Minds of young Women by trying to shew them, that their True Interest is concerned in cherishing and improving those amiable Dispositions into Habits; and in keeping down all rough and boisterous Passions; and that from this alone they can propose to themselves to arrive at true Happiness, in any of the Stations of Life allotted to the Female Character.”

The Governess was the first novel to depict realistic juvenile characters in recognizable settings. Its frame story centers on daily activities in a boarding school for adolescent girls. The action of the novel begins when Mrs. Teachum’s students resort to violence over apples. The initial conflict creates the justification for imbedding tales that lead to character development. The governess, Mrs. Teachum, employs persuasion rather than force to instruct. Mrs. Teachum encourages the girls to read stories to each other, and then instructs her assistant to point out morals in the stories: “The misses all agreed, that certainly it was of no Use to read, without understanding what they read.” Fielding concluded, “This I have endeavoured to inculcate, by those Methods of Fable and Moral, which have been recommended by the wisest Writers, as the most effectual means of conveying useful Instruction.”

British essayist Joseph Addison asserted that fables flourished during periods “when Learning [was] at its greatest Height.” Readings provoke pupils to confess incidents that build upon themes of how passion, lying, cunning, and envy adversely affect chances for happiness. Fielding led a movement to utilize oral traditions including fables to teach girls good moral conduct. “The Story of Caelia and Chloe,” an exemplary tale, warned of the danger of using deceit and exerting will. Twin sisters, twenty-two years old, meet an intelligent lieutenant colonel named Sempronius. He cannot determine which sister to marry, so he goes to Chloe and explains to her that he loves Caelia and wants to marry her. Chloe dissuades Sempronius by lying about Caelia’s character. Chloe tells him that her sister is prone to horrible fits of rage, and that she would make him a poor wife. Confused by this poor report of Caelia’s character, Sempronius next goes to Caelia with the same message, telling her that he loves her sister and wants to marry her. Caelia, who has a sweet and loving temperament, is disappointed by this confession, because indeed, she loves Sempronius deeply. However, unable to speak badly of her sister, Caelia blesses the union. Sempronius leaves when he notices the difference in behavior between the two sisters. He returns to explain to Caelia how Chloe badmouthed her, but Caelia refuses believe him. Chloe becomes ill when she realizes that Sempronious has caught her in a lie. As Chloe’s lies weigh on her conscience, her “dis-ease” grows. Sempronius leaves with his regiment, and Caelia remains by her sister’s side to nursing her. Chloe grows worse under the weight of her guilt, until she confesses her transgression. Caelia blesses Chloe’s engagement to Sempronius, and peace is restored when the truth because both are equally provided for in the story’s resolution.

The Governess equates happiness with conformity and group cohesion. Mrs. Teachum instructs her assistant to choose fairy tales that illustrate how patience can present opportunities to prevail in adversity: “But neither this high-sounding Language, nor the supernatural Contrivances in this Story do I so thoroughly approve, as to recommend them much to your Reading; except, as I said before, great Care is taken to prevent your being carried away, by these high-flown Things, from that Simplicity of Taste and Manners which is my chief Study to inculcate.”

COMING IN SEPTEMBER… a discussion of media ecology in relation to childhood… stay tuned.

 

 

Maya

“Education is man’s most amazing tool… amazing toy, or effective tool, or it can be… man’s most effective weapon. Education” Maya Angelou “Blacks, Blues, Black!,” 1968. Design by Meredith Eliassen

“Blacks, Blues, Black!” (Episode 6: Education)

Conversely, Native Americans in California used baskets as if they are extensions of the human body; infants were immersed in water-holding baskets as they get immersed in culture. Basket makers are engineers who create amplified baskets from spiritualized raw natural materials; as children learned gendered tasks related to basket and net making, they learned cultural values. Here we perceive the concept of ecology as the study of environment and how its structure and content impact human beings. When the United States government attempted to eradicate the tribes in southern Oregon, they destroyed functional Native American baskets as a war tactic. In southern Oregon, during the Rogue River Indian War (1855-1856), vigilantes and army troops attacked Tututni villages employing a military tactic to undermine tribal stability by destroying all baskets and their contents that were use in every aspect of life, because without baskets, the tribes were unable to survive (See note).

In medieval European England, Biblical translator and reformer John Wycliffe (1338-1384) came to regard the scriptures as the only reliable guide to the Truth that came from God. Wycliffe maintained that all Christians should rely on the Bible rather than on the teachings of popes and clerics. He said that there was no scriptural justification for the papacy. In keeping with Wycliffe’s belief that scripture was the only authoritative reliable guide to living a good life, he became involved in efforts to translate the Bible into English as a means of empowering the common folk. Wycliffe asserted that not having English-language Bibles meant that it was not accessible to laypeople, therefore the common people were being deprived of God’s Word because it was written in the language of a foreign people.

Note: Stephen Dow Beckham, Requiem for a People: The Rogue Indians and the Frontiersmen (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 27.

British politician and orator William Gladstone (1809-1898) studied The Iliad and The Odyssey by the Greek writer Homer who was active during the eighth century BC, and came to the conclusion that Homer must have been colorblind. However more recently, scholars have come to believe that color perception must be evolving and that perhaps, the world saw in black and white until a human consciousness reached for the perception of additional colors over many generations; that our ancestors could see first black and white, followed by red, yellow, green and then blue.

Alma

Consider “boo” for blue… is the sky blue? Alma responds, “Blue, eh no, white, um no blue…” Design by Meredith, 2016.

My friend Ella turned me on to this program by Radio Lab…

Radio Lab: Why Isn’t the Sky Blue? http://www.radiolab.org/story/211213-sky-isnt-blue/ Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.

The program asserted that colors entered the human consciousness as they were manufactured, and the earliest manufactured blue pigment was created in ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egyptian Beads

Some ancient beads from Egypt.

Media Ecology: Introduction

August 26, 2016

Beads are an ancient medium for communication.

The earliest beads were produced in tubular, barrel, or disc-shaped forms; they were manufactured with technology and raw materials available. Once the technology was developed to make spherical beads, they dominated; though in many cultures, the earlier designs were never superseded. However, the sphere shaped bead was recognized as a small portable sculpture… whole and perfect… they could be joined together to form a circlet of, say, prayer beads, whereby the beads collectively became a primal extension of the human hand and consciousness. Thus, beads as an inanimate vessel medium that humans could be imbued with spiritual semantic with which to build human-object relationships.

 

Eye Bead

A photograph of a small Mediterranean glass eye bead (circa 6th – 3rd century B.C.) and modern prayer beads.

Introducing a new “eye bead” motif to this blog…

eye

Disiderius Erasmus (c. 1466-1536) “In region caecorum rex est luscus = In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” ~ circa 1500. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Disiderius Erasmus (c. 1466-1536) was a Dutch scholar considered by many to be the greatest humanist of the Renaissance era. At a time when children were thought to be unformed adults, Erasmus perceived them to be little “barbarians” in need of civilizing. He identified childhood as a period when children need different forms of dress from adults to fit function. In establishing a concept of adulthood, Erasmus was also credited with establishing the concept of childhood as discerned a distinct period of development when book learning during childhood was needed as part a the civilizing process needed to conquer animal behavior in humans.

tiger

“O Tiger’s heart wrapp’d in a woman’s body.” King Henry IV, Part III: York’s monologue: words by William Shakespeare, design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Visual Symbolism… Peace

August 15, 2016

The Peace sign is a graphic symbol representing peace, in the form of a circle with one line bisecting it from top to bottom and two shorter lines radiating downward on either side. If you turn the symbol upside down, it looks like a young tree.

Peace

“Now that all of your worry has proved such an unlucrative business, why not find a new job.” The words are written by 14th century Persian poet Hafiz, image by Meredith Eliassen, 2016. Hafiz: Find a Better Job Notecard

Meet “my cat”…

August 8, 2016

Meet my three-legged cat that has a whimsy that may not be appreciated by all, but to me is lovable. To me this quote speaks to posterity of an essential truth: that each generation has values that are dear, and each generation must define and fight for their truths.

Will-Need_Someone

“I will need someone to feed my cat when I leave this world, Though my cat is not ordinary. She only has three paws: fire, air, water.” Words by 14th century Persian poet Hafiz, image by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

More from Dante…

August 4, 2016

Dante_blue

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) “Puro e disposta a salire alle stella=Pure and disposed to mount unto the stars.” Purgatorio, canto 33, 1, 145. Creature of Celtic design, by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.