Bollywood Jane Austen

by Chris Bertram on July 11, 2003

It seems to be Jane Austen day here at Crooked Timber, as the BBC brings news that Bend it Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha – announcing that Jane Austen must have been a Punjabi in a previous life – discusses her forthcoming Bollywood adaptation of Pride and Prejudice:

Chadha’s film, renamed Bride and Prejudice, stays faithful to Austen’s original story, although the Bennett family become the Bakshis, and Mr Darcy becomes a wealthy American. Aishwarya Rai takes the lead role in the film His unsavoury friend Mr Bingley is still an Englishman – in this case a barrister – and according to Gillies, who plays him, his character will be “more despicable”.

Ah, those national stereotypes …. a pity they couldn’t get Alan Rickman.

Facing the future

by Henry Farrell on July 11, 2003

Form letters

by Henry Farrell on July 11, 2003

Grumpy US readers, who would like Congress to push the administration harder on what it did and didn’t know about WMD, should breeze over to “Brett Marston’s”: blog for a nice example of how to bother your Congressperson, by framing the problem in terms of Congress’s powers and responsibilities. Tho’ readers with Republican congressional representatives may want to skip the bit on Republican hypocrisy and Clinton-bashing in their own letters.

Slash fiction

by Henry Farrell on July 11, 2003

The WP’s “review”: of _Pirates of the Caribbean_ has some useful insights into the scriptwriters’ authorial intentions. It informs us that in the “production notes”: to the movie, one of the film’s authors says:

bq. We wanted it to be a very classic, Jane Austen-style, bodice-ripping romance.

This is, I have to say, a rather lovely idea, which should be developed further. We already have “Jane Austen’s Terminator”: (courtesy of “Making Light”: Surely it can’t be difficult to sex up, say, _Pride and Prejudice_ a little bit? If Alastair Campbell can make weapons dossiers sound lascivious, Jane Austen should be a cinch. And why not include a congeries of cutlass-waving undead pirates too, while we’re at it. Friends, I hand the task over to you.

Nickel and Dimed at UNC

by Jon Mandle on July 11, 2003

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports (subscription required) that “several Republican state legislators and incoming students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill” are upset by the book chosen for the university’s summer reading program. This is the same program for first-year and transfer students that caused controversy last year when it selected a book on Islam.

This time it’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. It was selected, says the university’s interim vice chancellor Dean L. Bresciani, with the idea that it “would be a relatively tame selection.” Alas,

bq. “I am offended because I am a Christian and she [Ms. Ehrenreich] is an atheist,” said [State Senator] Mr. Allran, who has not read the entire book but disagrees with what he has read. “I don’t like the disparaging remarks made about Jesus. If I was there, I would sue the school for religious discrimination, and, in fact, I think someone needs to.”

Just to be clear: he doesn’t like the disparaging remarks made about Jesus, but he is offended because Ehrenreich is an atheist. And exactly who is guilty of religious discrimination?

Pop Conference

by Jon Mandle on July 11, 2003

Alex Ross attended something called the “Pop Conference” in Seattle and has an interesting piece on pop music and academia in the latest issue of the New Yorker. He’s pretty funny about some of the academic jargon on display:

bq. Some of the presentations, a few too many for comfort, lapsed into the familiar contortions of modern pedagogy. Likewise, in the many pop-music books now in circulation, post-structuralist, post-Marxist, post-colonialist, and post-grammatical buzzwords crop up on page after page. There is a whole lot of problematizing, interrogating, and appropriating goin’ on…. At the Pop Conference, I made it a rule to move to a different room the minute I heard someone use the word “interrogate” in a non-detective context or cite any of the theorists of the Frankfurt School.

My sense is that academic philosophers (like me) lapse into this kind of jargon less than members of certain other disciplines, often confused with philosophy. But this may be because we don’t get out as much as others. This is one of the things I like about blogs. I’m new to the blogosphere – new to this side of it, anyway. Here’s hoping I can follow the lead of my colleagues here and combine accessibility with a bit of insight.

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Emotional F—wittage

by Maria on July 11, 2003

The more things change, the more they stay the same. On the metro this morning I got to the passage in The Wings of the Dove where James beautifully describes why Kate Croy, “a young person who wasn’t really young, who didn’t pretend to be a sheltered flower” readily allows Merton Densher to call on her;

“…she was just the contemporary London female, highly modern, inevitably battered, honourably free.”

I revere James’ two great heroines, Kate Croy and Isabel Archer, and wish I was like them; admirably cool without being coy, analytical but not truly manipulative, reserved and self-reliant yet possessing great depths of passion. But I’m afraid Bridget Jones is a much more accurate self-reflection; gossipy, hapless and profoundly trivial! And BJ II (the Edge of Reason) follows my favourite Jane Austen, Persuasion, which shows that even spinsters pushing thirty can sometimes be nudged off the shelf…

Cor Baby, That’s Really Free!

by Daniel on July 11, 2003

The Cato Institute has published a new edition of its annual report on The Economic Freedom Of The World, endorsed by Milton Friedman and not to be confused with about a million other such reports produced by rival thinktanks (I seem to remember that Heritage were the first to get into this game, but their index is based on subjective scoring and is really bad, while Cato’s is based on publicly available economic and survey data and is only quite bad, from a scientific point of view.)

Lovers of liberty will be pleased to know that the forward march of human civilisation continues unabated and we are all precisely 0.15% freer than we were at the time of the 2002 Report; the Index of World Economic Freedom apparently increased from 6.34 to 6.35 in 2001. Is it me, by the way, or is it pretty pathetic that such a self-important document is only produced with a two year lag? Anyway, as usual the dominance of the rankings by a bunch of incredibly rich free-ports and tax havens at the top and a bunch of horribly poor kleptocracies at the bottom, means that they can publish their usual diatribe about how “economic freedom is closely correlated to wealth, equality, development, relief from aching piles etc”. But the interesting thing to me is the extraordinary level of philosophical incoherence of the whole exercise.

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Moving Images of Society

by Kieran Healy on July 11, 2003

I teach a course on 19th Century Social Theory [pdf] at the University of Arizona, of the kind often required of Sociology majors around the world. I usually begin with the question “How can there be a city as big as Tucson in the middle of the desert?” and go on to give them a sense of the differences between Europe around 1800 and the society they’re used to. Then we trace the development of the idea of the division of labor in the writings of each of the theorists.

There are other ways to approach a class like this. Rather than focusing on the authors, you can look at different images of society, basic metaphors or pictures of what the social world is like or how bits of it work. Thinking of how to build a course along these lines, I began to wonder what films could I show as part of the class to illustrate these images and processes?

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by Kieran Healy on July 11, 2003

Some of you out there, particularly users of Internet Explorer 5 for Windows, have complained that this page hasn’t been displaying properly for you. Now, if this were a more right-leaning blog we’d shrug our shoulders and tell you to go solve your own damn problems. But even though you use an old and broken browser, we’re a caring bunch here at CT and we don’t like seeing people get left behind. “To Each According To His Need, Even Though It Wouldn’t Kill You To Upgrade” is our motto. So thanks to the skills of John Yuda, we are experimenting with a new stylesheet that should fix things for IE5 users. Please let us know if this centralized solution improves things for you. Users who haven’t been having problems so far should of course see no changes in the usual high quality of service.