Only a Being of Senseless Existence: The Continuing Story of Josiah Spaulding, Jr.

Metathesis

Josiah Spaulding outlived almost everyone in his family by many years. He was about age 81 when he died, and at that time had been put on display at the Deerfield Poor Farm, where admission was charged to see him. Massachusetts journalists traveled to the area to view Josiah and write articles about him, but the reality was that no one really knew much about his early life. There was no one in his family left to ask, and the villagers probably had little idea of what had happened back in 1812 when Reverend Spaulding caged his son, as it was an event that occurred behind the closed doors of the parsonage. Popular perception and belief in 1866 was that psychiatrically disabled people were “lower than brutes,” were insensate, and of course, not at all intelligent. One reporter however, wrote that he was surprised upon viewing the elderly Josiah Spaulding, who…

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Weekly Rant: A Letter to the Students of McGuffey High School

In case you missed it, McGuffey High School in Claysville, Pennsylvania, has entered the national news as a result of a group of students hosting an "Anti-Gay Day," which involved, according to reports, calling out LGBTQI peers on various social media platforms, pasting Bible verses to their fellow students' lockers, and even allegedly hanging a … Continue reading Weekly Rant: A Letter to the Students of McGuffey High School

“Show me a good time”?: Madonna, Drake, and Police Brutality

Metathesis

If you’re fortunate enough to have the self-control to avoid at least moving your cursor over the “trending” links on Facebook: apparently, Madonna kissed Drake at Coachella, and to paraphrase Drake “it was it was [sic] not the best.” I base that reading on Drake’s body language: stunned immobility, a wide what is happening gesture, and then hands on his lips, hunched over. Expertise in affect theory seems a bit unnecessary, here; his response could hardly be more overt.

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I’m interested in this kiss not for the celebrity gossip, but because I see it an important piece of the current conversation about racism in the United States—and most importantly, as an important site for thinking about how to think through the intersectionality of oppression.

Walter Scott’s murder two weeks ago should ameliorate any reticence about the reality of violence against black men. As I listened to the NPR story…

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Reading History: “Lady of the Eternal City”

I have been following the writing career of Kate Quinn since her debut novel Mistress of Rome caught my eye at a local Wegman's.  I'm always hungry for a new historical novel about ancient Rome, particularly one in the vein of I, Claudius and other delicious costume dramas that explore the sexual and viscerally violent politics of ancient Roman … Continue reading Reading History: “Lady of the Eternal City”

Fifty Seven Years in a Cage: A Story of Psychiatric Disability from the late Puritan Era

Metathesis

My historic work is not about famous able-bodied men, battles or presidents as many think of when they think of history; it is about women, epidemic disease, art, slavery, mental illness, reform and disability. It is about those were marginalized, the ones lost to history whose stories have been long forgotten or never told. The medieval anchoresses who lived in little rooms, those kept in towers, in prisons, in asylums, those who were physically or socially incarcerated. As a genealogical researcher in North Syracuse, I worked primarily with a collection of one hundred and forty four letters written by four generations of Massachusetts women in the late eighteenth through mid nineteenth centuries, which centered my work on Puritan New England. The collection had been long forgotten until its discovery about four years ago in an Arizona attic. Within the still pristine letters, preserved by dry heat, was the story of the…

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Screening History–“A.D.:  The Bible Continues”—“The Tomb is Open” 

In which it turns out that a queer agnostic CAN enjoy a straightforwardly biblical tale.  I have to admit to some degree of skepticism when I saw that NBC had greenlit A.D.:  The Bible Continues. Biblical films and television series can be quite a chore to watch, even for those, like me, with a sensibility … Continue reading Screening History–“A.D.:  The Bible Continues”—“The Tomb is Open” 

Screening History: “The Sign of the Cross”

Welcome to my official entry in the Pre-Code Blogathon!  Today, I will be focusing on Cecil B. DeMille's (in)famous classic The Sign of the Cross (1932).  Released just prior to the implementation of the Code, this film utilizes that freedom to paint the ancient Roman world as full of dangerous yet pleasurable sexuality and violence.  The film … Continue reading Screening History: “The Sign of the Cross”