Monday, May 23, 2011

the 18th century: does it even matter?

so some of my friends have been wondering why this blog ended up being called "the 18th century guide to modern living" when i don't often write about the eighteenth century. well, the answer is that sometimes i do write about it, but that the eighteenth century isn't literally the focus. it's more of the inspiration. it's not all about substituting "s"s with "f"s, or about wearing tight knee breeches.*

in college i truly indulged my lifelong love of jane austen, and around her i built my knowledge of the eighteenth century in literature and history courses. from them i developed concepts of social justice, community activism, education between the sexes and between social and economic classes, and the modern application of those values. i also credit my dear alma mater, gettysburg college, for giving me a profound sense of my ability and responsibility to critically engage with the world.

but the eighteenth century’s sense of interconnectedness has incredible relevance to the modern world. it emphasizes that we are all part of a larger whole; that our self worth is reflected in the worth of the community to which we belong. modern crises in economy, education, environment, and human rights, require actions that are guided by moral character; we have the power and the responsibility to positively apply the insight gained through understanding our connectivity.

exploring these concepts in a historic and modern context is imperative in order to prepare ourselves to think critically about how we will conduct ourselves in our professional and personal interactions. austen was one of those people who cared about such things, and taught me to care.

these are lofty words, but i think you'd better start off high, or your standards will be too low to get anywhere worthwhile. so now i like to write about a dozen different topics–gender, marketing and consumerism, education, really anything that looks interesting. i never forget, however, that in the back of my mind i'm always shaping how i interpret social justice from my mental 18th century guide to modern living.

*although i am a firm endorser of tight knee breeches.

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it's not just for the classroom!