All posts tagged class-reading

Book Report: Dred Scott’s Advocate

Published February 28, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros


It’s taken me a long time, due to various things (mostly class-related), but I’ve finally gotten through Challenge #10 “Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.”


Yeah, that’s the biggest file size Goodreads had for the cover image.  (Not a well-traversed page.)  Since the image is so small, I’ll spell out that it reads Dred Scott’s Advocate:  A Biography of Roswell M. Field, by Kenneth C. Kaufman.

Obscure choice, yes.  But I’m doing my final project this semester on the Dred Scott case, and this makes for an interesting perspective.  And although it’s twenty years old (1996, so technically 21), it’s still much more recent than the book my professor recommended, which is from 1978.  (Because that’s obviously at the forefront of the most recent research…)

Anyway, Roswell Field is one of the several lawyers who represented Dred and Harriet Scott in their freedom suit, an unnecessarily complicated process that took eleven years and ultimately failed.  (Normally, freedom cases like the Scotts’ were an open and shut affair, and they should have been released after their first court date. )  Field is often — and certainly within this book — credited with coming up with many, if not most or all, of the later approaches that took the case all the way to the US Supreme Court, and as such, it’s interesting to see how his background and earlier life may have led into the way he handled the case.

But to back up a minute, you may be wondering why not read a biography of Dred Scott himself?

The short answer is that we don’t really know all that much about him.

Read the rest of this entry →

Top Ten Tuesdays – Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR

Published September 22, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Oh, this won’t be pretty.  Even leaving out assigned reading for class, it’s not a pretty sight…

Anyway, so this is part of  The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesdays event.  The last time I did this, it was for the Summer TBR list.  Well, I actually made a decent dent in the list, it turned out.  Got through books 1-5 (though I’ve yet to write up my reaction to #5) and I’m most of the way through #8.  Over the summer, I also read To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, plus all too many volumes of manga, so…uh…yeah.  Anyway, the following list is needless to say not so much stuff I necessarily want to read as stuff I’m going to be reading as research for the final papers in my classes.  (Yeah, I’m already researching papers not due until December.  Such is life.)  Some of them should be pretty good reading, despite being research.  I’ll try and focus on those….

The list’s order is pretty random; they’re all of equal importance but all equally my own choices for my papers.

  1. The Female Review:  Life of Deborah Sampson by Herman Mann.  First written in 1797, this is a biography of a woman who dressed up as a man in order to fight in the Revolutionary War.  And lived to tell the tale:  Mann interviewed her in order to write her life’s story.
  2. My Dearest Friend:  Letters of Abigail and John Adams
  3. Letters of a Loyalist Lady by Ann Hulton.  A nice counter-point, I’m hoping, to the more typically repeated pro-Independence point of view that will be expressed in the previous two books.  Also, one of the few primary sources I have for women during the revolutions in the Spanish colonies is a letter from the royalist sister of Simon Bolivar, so there should be a nice parallel there, too.
  4. Virgil’s Empire:  Political Thought in the Aeneid by Eve Adler.  (Assuming that whoever has it eventually returns it to the library, that is.  It’s several days past due at this point.)
  5. Playing Gods:  Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the Politics of Fiction by Andrew Feldherr.  Technically, I’m supposed to be focusing on Virgil, but I want to use contrasting examples of other contemporary poets who treated the Trojan War material differently.  Though in Ovid’s case, it was post-Aeneid, so it’s a bit different than someone like, say, Catullus, writing a generation earlier.  (But I don’t plan on looking at Catullus too closely…)
  6. The Politics of Latin Literature:  Writing, Identity and Empire in Ancient Rome by Thomas N. Habinek.
  7. Reading after Actium:  Vergil’s Georgics, Octavian, and Rome by Christopher Nappa.
  8. Poetry & Politics in the Age of Augustus, edited by Tony Woodman.
  9. Latin American Independence:  An Anthology of Sources, edited and translated by Sarah C. Chambers and John Charles Chasteen.  You have no idea how tough it is to get good primary sources for this stuff in English translation.  Source books like this for the American Revolution exist aplenty (and I’ll be reading bits and pieces of a number of them, let me tell ya!) but English versions of ones for the revolutions in South America and Mexico?  Nope.  Just about zilch, apart from this and a few collections of the writings of Simon Bolivar.  And Bolivar is not likely to be a good source for my topic on how life was for women during the revolutions.  This is, of course, why one normally speaks the language of whatever one studies as a graduate student.  But I’m not planning on making a career in studying Latin America.  I’m focused largely on ancient Greece.  (Admittedly, my ancient Greek is twenty years rusty and was never good anyway, but…I should be able to pick it up again.  I hope.  German will be easier to regain.  And there’s a lot of German scholarship on ancient Greece.  Latin will also be easier to relearn — one of the easiest languages ever, in my opinion — but will not be as useful.)
  10. Sally Wister’s Journal:  A True Narrative.  This one will be hard to read, because it’s in-library-use-only, being over a hundred years old.  But it’s the journal of a “Quaker maiden” and her interactions with the officers of the Continental Army during the early years of the Revolution, so it’s likely to be very informative.  I’ll just have to figure out a time to sit in the library for hours on end reading it.  (Well, obviously, I’ll want to bring along my iPad to photograph any passages that seem important, which will help, but still…it’ll be an unusual experience for me.  But a good learning experience, too.  This is the sort of thing a professional historian is expected to deal with.)

Well, that jumped all over the place, didn’t it?  I should’ve tried to organize it by class, instead of going back and forth from one to the other and back again.  Oh well.  At least this time I’ll actually get to all the books on the list!

After I write that bloody paper for Thursday.


I don’t wanna write it.  It’s awful.  I hate the topic.  And I didn’t understand word one of the reading.  (Hey, I never signed on to study economic history!)

But I’m already halfway done, so I just have to knuckle down and finish it, right?


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