I haven’t blogged in a few days because my summer job has started in earnest. I’m spending many afternoons reading Henry Huggins with fourth graders and many evenings reading The Fellowship of the Ring with high schoolers. In between I am thinking about teaching, emailing with my supervisor about teaching, and sleeping. Oh, and driving to and from Clear Lake.
(Last night I was nearly locked into a church fellowship center after my last class. I managed to alert the gentleman setting the alarm and turning off all of the lights by yelling very loudly. Those fellowship centers can be huge! This one had a coffee bar called Holy Grounds.)
Anyway. When I staggered through my front door around 10:30 in my bad-idea high heels, I found Danny at his drawing table, putting the final touches on a new pen-and-ink drawing:
He had used as reference a reproduction of a photograph I have pinned to the bulletin board behind my desk, an 1857 portrait of Prince Arthur by Leonida Caldesi:
I love this photograph of Prince Arthur and, really, any photograph by Caldesi. You can see more here. I’m always interested in nineteenth-century photographs of children, but Caldesi’s portraits of the royal family make me want to write an article on… well… photographing the royal family. (I have done no preliminary research on this, so the article is perhaps already written by someone with a sparkling publication record at a prestigious research university.) This photograph stands out to me in particular as minimalist — the dark backdrop, the simple pose, the prince’s bare shoulders — especially when compared to other photographs of royals or even of Arthur in particular, which employ props or elaborate costumes (like this one). It’s interesting to me that children were often photographed in painstakingly staged costume scenes (a la Lewis Carroll) or in the simplest of styles, the photographer relying on their youth to carry the portrait.
The Caldesi photograph also reminds me that this moment in my academic career — when I’ve finished the dissertation but need a break before book manuscript edits, and when I have finally secured employment for August but have not yet begun the insanity of the job market again — is a really exciting time. I want to find a manageable research project that I can transform into an article. I want to find something fun. The most likely candidate is my already-begun research on nineteenth-century painting books, but who knows. Maybe I’ll be publishing on Prince Arthur in the future.
Allrighty. Off to Clear Lake!