cofax7: No such thing as too many books (Too Many Books -- Ropo)
[personal profile] cofax7
Many apologies for not posting on this earlier!

I propose a very loose set of texts for this discussion. I also propose a tiered discussion, with multiple opportunities to talk about history, themes, and colonialism.

Click here for links and preliminary discussion )
damned_colonial: Austen-esque young lady reading a book with ships in background, saying "I read history a little as a duty." (reading history)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
It's July 1st. Let the "Plagues and Pandemics" discussion begin!

I'll be posting some questions/prompts for discussion over the next month, at least one a week and hopefully a bit more than that. If anyone else has points for discussion, please feel free to post with them. I am responsible for making sure *some* discussion posts happen, but I'm happy to share!

For now I'd like to open up with something very general:

What have you noticed are the main similarities and differences between the various plague stories you've read?

What impressions did you get regarding the author's historical research? How do you think the author's understanding of the period in question affected the way the story was told?
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
I read "Fever, 1793" for the first time, and re-read "Year of Wonders". I have Hambly's "Fever Season" on request at my library (just coming from another branch, so I should have it in a couple of days), and I'm plugging through the "Journal of the Plague Year" audio book but finding it pretty heavy going. Too. Many. Statistics.

How's your reading going?
damned_colonial: View of the stern of a frigate in Sydney Harbour, and the words "My fandom is vulnerable in the stern" (vulnerable)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
I just read "Fever 1793" last week which is about Yellow Fever, and then this week I'm reading Patrick O'Brian's "The Commodore", part of the Aubrey-Maturin series, in which Stephen himself (the ship's surgeon) gets yellow fever from wandering around a river on an island off the west coast of Africa. (He thinks the cause is miasmata, incidentally, but of course it's spread by mosquitoes.)

Here's the scene from the book. Note the quotations which, knowing O'Brian, are from some period medical manual.

They called it the black vomit, or sometimes yellow jack... )
damned_colonial: Flirty-looking Napoleonic soldier saying "nice boots" (nice boots)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
It's official. [personal profile] wychwood is away for the second half of August, so the theme will be [personal profile] cofax7's "Roman Britain".

A poll for September will follow shortly.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
So, this is the first theme ever for [community profile] readingthepast! I'm kind of making this up as I go along.

The theme for July will be Plagues and Pandemics. It's a broad theme, not tied to any particular period of history, but obviously quite topical right now.

Some Wikipedia background:

Pandemic tells us about what a pandemic is. In short, it's an epidemic that spreads across a wide geographical area and through much of the population. The Wikipedia page has a list of pandemics and notable epidemics, including:

* Plague of Athens which killed 25% of the population in 430BC
* Black Death, a pandemic of bubonic plague in the 14th century
* Great Plague of London ca. 1665 (bubonic plague again)
* Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793 which killed 10% of the population of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (then capital of the fledgling United States)
* Various cholera pandemics in the 19th century, starting with the First Cholera Pandemic which mostly hit Asia. The second pandemic hit western Europe (you may have heard of the Broad Street cholera outbreak of 1954), and there are numbered pandemics up to 7, which lasted until the 1960s.
* 1918-1919 Influenza epidemic aka Spanish Flu, in the wake of WW1
* AIDS pandemic ca. late 20th century to present

There are plenty more links to follow!

But now onto the historical novels. We had many suggestions, set during various epidemics/pandemics. Let's take them in historical order!

Connie Willis, "The Doomsday Book" is an SF novel about a near-future where Oxford University's history department has time travel. It follows the adventures of the first student to travel to the 14th century, and the difficulties face in the "present" as they deal with an outbreak of an unknown disease.
Amazon | Powells | Worldcat

Geraldine Brooks, "Year of Wonders" is about a village that quarantines itself through the Great Plague of 1665. The protagonist is a woman who tends to the dying in the isolated village.
Amazon | Powells | Worldcat

Laurie Halse Anderson, "Fever 1793" is a YA novel set during the yellow fever outbreak in Philadephia. I grabbed this from my library the other day, and it's a quick read and well written.
Amazon | Powells | Worldcat

Barbara Hambly, "Fever Season" I haven't read this one, but was looking for more varied perspectives. Looks to be a historical mystery novel with a black surgeon as protagonist, set during a cholera epidemic in New Orleans in the 1830s.
Amazon | Worldcat

Anne Roiphe, "An Imperfect Lens" Another one I found when searching for plagues and pandemics outside of Europe and the US. Cholera in Egypt in 1883. Looks like literary fiction, I think.
Amazon | Worldcat

May Agnes Fleming, "The Midnight Queen" is a late 19th century Gothic novel about the Great Plague of London. I know nothing more about it!
Gutenberg | Worldcat

Daniel Defoe, "A Journal of the Plague Year" is an early 18th century account of the Great Plague of London. Reads like non-fiction, but is actually fiction. See Wikipedia for details.
Gutenberg | Worldcat

Allesandro Manzoni, "The Betrothed" is an early 18th century novel which contains a description of the plague in Italy (ca. 1630) in chapters 31-33. Wikipedia compares Defoe's novel to it, and has a plot summary which may be useful as the novel is long and the plague only appears at the end..
Free online version (non-Gutenberg) | Worldcat

The above list is basically what I'm going to try to read. (Hey, I'm ahead, because I have read the first three already! It's my theme, after all!) Other books mentioned in comments on the theme suggestion post, but about which I know little or nothing and didn't have time to investigate, include:

O'Nan, "Prayer for the Dying"
Ann Benson, "Plague Tales" and "The Physician's Tale"
Naomi Wallace, One Flea Spare (play)
Kim Stanley Robinson, "The Years of Rice and Salt" (post-Black-Death Alternate History)
John M. Barry, "The Great Influenza" (non-fiction)

Perhaps those who recced them can offer a little more detail in the comments. And please, if anyone has any more suggestions, keep them coming.

As I understand it, the plan now is for us to get hold of these books and start reading them, with the discussion of them officially running through the month of July. Though if you have thoughts/comments prior to that, please feel free to post them, and tag them with "theme: plagues and pandemics". In a week or two, when I've got a bit more of a handle on the books I haven't yet read, I'll be posting some thoughts on possible areas of discussion.

Happy reading! And remember, wash your hands regularly.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
It's official. The them for July will be Plagues and Pandemics. I'm down to run it, so I'll be posting a theme intro shortly.

The theme for August is still somewhat up in the air; Roman Britain and Women at War (WW1) are neck and neck, so I'll be contacting the people who offered to run those and seeing whether either of them has schedule clashes or something that would solve the problem. Otherwise, there may have to be a tiebreaker poll!
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
It's looking pretty clear that the theme for July will be Plagues and Pandemics, as it currently has more than twice the votes of any other theme, so let's kick off voting for August. This is the same list except for Plagues and Pandemics being dropped from it. Starting with the September poll, I'll bring in the "issues" ones (Judaism and anti-semitism, Homosexuality). Please feel free to keep suggesting new themes, or filling out not-yet-eligible ones, too! Master theme suggestion post, up to date list of eligible/ineligible themes.

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 40


Theme for August (CHOOSE UP TO THREE)

View Answers

Jacobite Rebellion
10 (25.0%)

Roman Britain
16 (40.0%)

Crimean War
4 (10.0%)

Tudor England
9 (22.5%)

Nelson's Navy
7 (17.5%)

Golden Age of Piracy
10 (25.0%)

Wars of the Roses
4 (10.0%)

US Civil War
4 (10.0%)

Industrial Revolution in Britain
3 (7.5%)

Women at War, WW1
17 (42.5%)

WW1 in general
7 (17.5%)

Gold Rushes
5 (12.5%)

19th century New Orleans
10 (25.0%)

Restoration
4 (10.0%)

damned_colonial: Austen-esque young lady reading a book with ships in background, saying "I read history a little as a duty." (reading history)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
It's time to choose a theme for July!

Notes:

I have included most of the themes that were "eligible", i.e. for which we had at least 3 suggestions of historical novels for that period, and someone prepared to run the theme. However, I removed the controversial/"issue" themes (on Judaism and Anti-semitism, and Homosexuality in Cold War America) because I think we should try for something easy for our first month.

Speaking of "easy", we only have 3 weeks advance notice on this theme, so I suggest you vote according to what you'd find easy to read up on and discuss at short notice. Perhaps a theme where you are already familiar with the period of history, or where you've already read one or more of the suggested books. Going forward, we'll have more time to prepare; I'll be posting the poll for August shortly after we decide on one for July.

With regard to the actual choice of theme, here's what we'll do: we'll allow a couple of days for voting, and then we'll look at the top few themes and contact the people who have volunteered to run them, to ask who's available to do it in July. Then based on that, we'll announce the first theme early next week.

In the poll below, you may choose up to three themes. Remember that you can come back and amend your vote at any time.

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 41


Theme for July? CHOOSE UP TO THREE.

View Answers

Jacobite Rebellion
7 (17.1%)

Roman Britain
12 (29.3%)

Crimean War
2 (4.9%)

Tudor England
8 (19.5%)

Plagues and Pandemics
24 (58.5%)

Nelson's Navy
7 (17.1%)

Golden Age of Piracy
8 (19.5%)

Wars of the Roses
6 (14.6%)

US Civil War
5 (12.2%)

Industrial Revolution in Britain
2 (4.9%)

Women at War, WW1
10 (24.4%)

WW1 in general
5 (12.2%)

Gold Rushes
5 (12.2%)

19th century New Orleans
9 (22.0%)

Restoration
3 (7.3%)



Here are links to the discussions of each theme, including the suggested reading we have so far:

Jacobite Rebellion
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=474#t474
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

Roman Britain
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=730#t730
Run by: [personal profile] cofax7

Crimean War
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=986#t986
Run by: [personal profile] jest (depending on schedule)

Tudor England
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=3034#t3034
Run by: [personal profile] holyschist

Plagues and Pandemics
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=5338#t5338
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

Nelson's Navy
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=5594#t5594
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

Golden Age of Piracy
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=13786#t13786
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

Wars of the Roses
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=15578#t15578
Run by: [personal profile] snakeling

US Civil War
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=5082#t5082
Run by: [personal profile] lookingland

Industrial Revolution in Britain
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=20698#t20698
Run by: [personal profile] naraht

Women at War, WW1
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=21466#t21466
Run by: [personal profile] wychwood

WW1 in general
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=24538#t24538
Run by: [personal profile] nightmareink

Gold Rushes
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=6106#t6106
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

19th century New Orleans
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=34010#t34010
Run by: [personal profile] al_zorra

Restoration
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=43226#t43226
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
I'm hoping to post a poll for July's theme tomorrow. This is your reminder to get your suggestions in here. For an up-to-date list of eligible themes, see this document.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
Anyone got tips for finding books from a range of perspectives? Many of the books we've been suggesting so far are by dead white guys (and dead white women). I'd be interested in any tips/ideas/thoughts people have on how to find books from other viewpoints.

[personal profile] rydra_wong suggested the following in comments elsewhere, for finding historical books by people of colour:

http://community.livejournal.com/50books_poc/tag/historical
http://community.livejournal.com/50books_poc/58797.html?thread=161965#t161965
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
I've seen a few themes suggested that are places rather than periods. If you're thinking of suggesting a theme like "Australia" or "California" or "Korea" please add an actual time period, eg. "Australia during the Great Depression" or "Spanish mission period in California" or "Korea in the 19th century". Otherwise it's way too broad!

This goes double for areas outside of Western Europe and North America! It's easy to say "Let's read about China" but China has thousands of years of history, and the Qin period (~200BC, terracotta army!) is very different from the Boxer Rebellion (early 20th century) which is very different from Communist China (mid 20th century), to give an example.
damned_colonial: Austen-esque young lady reading a book with ships in background, saying "I read history a little as a duty." (reading history)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
Just an update regarding suggested themes for this community. I'm tracking them in a Google Doc here, which you can always check to see the current state of things, but from time to time I'll also post in the comm. This is the first of these posts.

The plan as I see it is this:

1. We keep collecting themes for a few more days
2. Sometime later this week, say Thursdayish, we run a poll to choose themes for July and August
3. We'll announce those themes in about a week (say around the 8th June)

That means that there's a short advance reading period for July, but if we aim our votes at something "easy" for that month, it should be doable. Going forward, we'll try and give at least 2 months' advance notice for themes so you have plenty of time to acquire and read books.

Anyway, here's the current state of theme suggestions. An "eligible" theme is one that has 3 specific fiction recommendations already, at least one of them being available for free online, from Gutenberg or similar.

Please feel free to add new themes to the master theme suggestion post, or add book suggestions to existing themes, or nominate yourself to run a theme.


Eligible, with people to run them

Jacobite Rebellion
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=474#t474
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

Roman Britain
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=730#t730
Run by: [personal profile] cofax7

Crimean War
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=986#t986
Run by: [personal profile] jest (depending on schedule)

Tudor England
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=3034#t3034
Run by: [personal profile] holyschist

Plagues and Pandemics
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=5338#t5338
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

Nelson's Navy
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=5594#t5594
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

Golden Age of Piracy
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=13786#t13786
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

The Caribbean
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=16346#t16346
Run by: [personal profile] al_zorra
(I have suggested this be split out into time periods, eg. Golden Age of Piracy (see above), Slavery in the Caribbean, Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the 20th century)

Eligible, needs volunteer to run

Wars of the Roses
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=15578#t15578

Ancient Rome, generally
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/760.html?thread=13304#t13304

Battle of Waterloo
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=3802#t3802

US Civil War
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=5082#t5082

Colonial-era Africa
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=5850#t5850

Not yet eligible

Regency Romances
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=13530#t13530
Run by: [personal profile] damned_colonial

Gold Rushes
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=6106#t6106

Homosexuality in the 1930s
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=10970#t10970

Cold War America
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=10970#t10970

The Boer War
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=10970#t10970

Fin de si├Ęcle Europe
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=10970#t10970

18th-century Korea
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=10970#t10970

Imperial Russia
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=10970#t10970

Egyptology in Fiction
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=10970#t10970

Science and Technology (changing attitudes)
http://readingthepast.dreamwidth.org/474.html?thread=11738#t11738
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
As mod/creator of this comm, I'm going to start off with some guidelines on what suggested reading should be provided for each theme.

1. You need to provide at least three works of fiction.
2. If possible, you should make one of these be freely available as an etext (thanks, [personal profile] katemonkey)
3. They don't have to be good.
4. They should, however, show different perspectives on the theme.
5. You may additionally offer non-fiction or other media suggestions (eg film, TV), especially for themes that are not well known, to provide additional background.

I'm happy to discuss/adjust/modify/throw away the above guidelines, if people have any other ideas.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
Please suggest themes you'd like to see covered here! Cut and paste the following into a comment:

ETA: please put your theme in the subject of your comment!

Theme:
Are you prepared to run it? Yes/No
Suggested books, if you have them already:


What does it mean to run the theme?

1. At least one month in advance, you'll let everyone know about the theme and your suggested reading for it. You need to suggest at least 3 works of fiction.
2. On the first of the month, you will post a welcome/introduction/kickoff for the theme.
3. Throughout the month, you'll take an active part in discussion of the theme.

You do not have to be an expert on the theme to run it. You just need to have an interest in it.
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