Sources

WHAT ARE SOURCES? WORDS – OBJECTS -IMAGES. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2017.

What is re-search?

Doing research is the process of investigating evidence from the past; it can also involved surfacing and examining memories of individuals who resonate with our own values… or challenge them. Re-searching can be a valuable and transformative experience that compels us to check our own pulse and to be accountable. Detachment allows us to watch events unfold so that we can understand how a community’s character developed. We cannot look at our own past in anger. Our motivation to research directs our energy; questions channeled only with anger do not reveal truth that heals. As a society, we are who we are, and what we are because of events that happened in the past, and understanding the past can help us to develop maps of social justice for the future.

 Where to begin… what is essential

Always begin research with resources that are available. Secondary research materials contain interpretations of evidence can provide essential overviews. Once you have an overview of your topic, you can then go to primary sources: words… objects… images…

WORDS

It is tempting to rely upon moving images to understand how events unfold, but they rarely tell the entire story. When critically thinking about broadcast news content consider who tells history and who collects history. Research must be comparative; relevance continually shifts in a changing world. Adjacent communities may be operating with and reacting to similar challenges to our own.

OBJECTS

A reset, retracing experiences from the past… Values shape the development of society and culture, and these factors change over time. What we care about can change radically, dramatically, and irrevocably with a single event.

IMAGES

Images from button pins to posters to photographs place ideas and events into context.

Power to the People Symbol

“Power to the people” was a powerful symbol of Third World student activism during the late-1960s.

Happy Halloween!!!

October 31, 2016

skull

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.” Words by Thomas Merton (1915-1968), design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Over the next few days this site will explore the Mexican Day of the Dead that emerged from the ancient pre-Columbian traditions.

Notecard

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.

 

 

Norma (1831) composed by Vincenzo Belini (1801-1835) and based upon the libretto by Felice Romani (1788-1865) tells the epic story of a Druid priestess who breaks her vows and bears two children of a Roman soldier only to discover he has fallen in love with a younger woman. This quintessential bel canto opera was one of the first to be performed in Gold Rush San Francisco.

Norma

Design featuring Celtic motifs from the “Book of Kells” by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

The Trade Wind Opera Company has gathered for a short summer run… in the San Francisco fog.

Susanna

Hint… see the smoke in the fog? Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016.

Susanna has a secret habit… Il segreto di Susanna is an intermezzo in one act by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) with a libretto by Enrico Golisciani (1848-1919) that premiered with a German translation in 1909.

So the Trade Wind Opera Company concludes its first season with this singular Mascagni operetta in three acts is based upon Carlo Lombardo’s operetta La duchessa del Bal Tabarin and Felix Dörmann’s libretto for Majestät Mimi.

Si

Portrait of Si wearing a strand of millefiore “trade wind” beads from the operetta by Pieto Mascagni (1863-1945) and librettist Carlo Lombardo (1869-1959), design by Meredith Eliassen, 2016

This design depicts, Si, a woman with the romantic spirit of a nomad, someone who is initially carefree in her romantic life. Inspired by the design concept of the “girl head” or “gypsy” tattoo, Si has a colorful, bold, pretty face with detailed adornments. According to tattoo historians, this form of tattoo design is traced to nomadic gypsies, also known as the Romanis that migrated to Europe.

Stay tuned for more operatic designs…