East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Discovering colonial women

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As I think I mentioned in the past I’m currently following the University of Exeter‘s MOOC on the British Empire and its Controversies, hosted by Futurelearn.

My reason for joining this course are basically three.
First, MOOCs are to me much more fun than TV, and a pleasant diversion from reading or writing (two leisure activities that are turning into a job right now).
Second, I always had an interest in history, and British history in particular, and British Imperial and Colonial history at that.
Third, getting a more in-depth and structured instruction about British colonialism will be helpful in my work on the GreyWorld project.


So, both practical and leisure reasons.
This increasing overlap of leisure and work looks like the name of the game for me, right now.

The latest lesson (the fourth in the course) was particularly interesting and useful, as it had to do with issues of gender and the role of women in Imperial Britain.
Apart from the interest in the subject itself, what I picked up at the course, and a few of the suggested books, will be essential in covering one of the most “difficult” features of my GreyWorld game and short stories: the role of women.
True, the game will feature a Hindrance called “not suited for a lady” – which will basically simulate the social stigma of a woman doing “a man’s work”, and yet, the real problem is devising, and designing a post-Victorian society that actually allows women to do what they please without socially crippling them completely.
The course showed me a few interesting paths to follow, reinforcing my opinion that there’s always been adventurous, strong women, capable of navigating the social waves untouched.
Weaving those informations in my work will be fun – and will make me a little less worried.

One of the pluses of using a well-established University course to do this kind of research is, it helps maintain the balance, steering clear of the worst excesses of an increasingly vocal and worrying minority, that’s taking politically correctness and a rather dubious form of “social justice” to unpleasant extremes.
While the issues are important and need to be addressed, I’m beginning to feel that certain excesses are really hindering the discussion.
A well balanced, documented and unbiased take is exactly what  I need.
So there.

All in all, my choice of alternative to the TV keeps proving excellent.
Tonight, I’ll be taking a lesson on the archaeology of Stonehenge.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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