November 13th, 2002

Two Things

I went to the gym today, to check to see what other exercises I could do. The session went quite well: I'm doing the exercises properly, I'm scaling up to different tasks properly, and everything just is going fine on that front. Also, the Body-Mass Index (BMI) isn't necessarily the best guide, since the relative proportions of body mass which are fat or muscle aren't measured by it.

I've also downloaded some Buffy mp3s. Yes, they exist, and some of them are good, though the "dance remix" version of "Give Me a Reason" justifies someone's imprisonment. Then again, Christopher Beck's Buffy-Angel love theme "Close Your Eyes" is, well, very emotive.
  • Current Music
    Christophe Beck, "Close Your Eyes" (Buffy-Angel Love Theme)

Proposal: History 261 Essay



A. Proposal

The 1856 cholera epidemic was one of the last major recurrences of cholera in Britain, as steady improvements in London’s infrastructure and the development of medical science limited recurrences of this dreaded disease, among other epidemic diseases. Indeed, the cholera epidemic of the previous year had ended largely because of the intervention of John Snow, who had earlier famously identified the contaminated water at the public pump in St. James’ Parish as the epidemic’s source. Snow’s example epitomized the development of the British state, in broader matters of public affairs as in the specific field of public health, as an essentially regulatory entity concerned with ensuring the proper functioning of the bodies of its subjects.
As Foucault demonstrates, western European governments in the early modern era were concerned with prohibiting improper behaviour on the parts of their subjects, whether sexual, religious, or political. When, in the 19th century, the growth of modern medical science allowed the regulation of contagious diseases, their scope promptly spread to encompass this new field. Following previous established precedents, the control of epidemic disease was manifested not only in terms of action against disease-causing elements—whether infestations of bacteria or virii or inadequate civic sanitation—but against behaviours, particularly those characteristic among working-class communities and the poor, which were viewed as causative or aggravating factors in illness. Indeed, the regulation and limitation of the biological and social causes of disease was seen as a major function of the 19th century state, demonstrating its new capacity in the modern era.
Even as the British state began its efforts to control the spread of epidemic disease, however, the British state demonstrated numerous signs of reluctance to intervene. This reluctance was the product of a pervasive laissez-faire ideology which was inherently hostile to the project of radical social planning and engineering associated with the modern state. In this ideological perspective, only slow, gradual change, was possible. This tension continued, in one form or another, well into the 20th century in the United Kingdom, leaving its legacy in popular attitudes and official state policies towards epidemic disease.

B. Bibliography

Bewell, Alan. “‘Cholera Cured Before Hand’: Coleridge, Abjection, and the ‘Dirty Business of Laudanum.’ Romanticism 4.2 (1998): 155-173. [database on-line] ; available from

Craddock, Susan and Michael Dorn. “Nationbuilding: gender, race, and medical discourse.” Journal of Historical Geography 27.3 (2001): 313-318. [database on-line] ; available from

Craddock, Susan and Michael Dorn. “Engendered/endangered: women, tuberculosis, and the project of citizenship.” Journal of Historical Geography 27.3 (2001): 338-354. [database on-line] ; available from

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Pantheon Books, 1977.

Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization. Trans. Richard Howard. 1967. London: Tavistock, 1971.

Foucault, Michel. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archeology of Medical Perception. Trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon Books, 1973.

Francis, Karen. “Service to the poor: The foundations of community nursing in England, Ireland, and New South Wales.” International Journal of Nursing Practice 7 (2001): 169-176. [database on-line] ; available from

Hamlin, Christopher. “Revolutions in public health: 1848 and 1998?’‘ British Medical Journal 317 (1998): 587-91. [database on-line] ; available from

Hamlin, Christopher. Review of Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830-1930, by Peter Baldwin. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 75.1 (2001): 137-139.

Krieg, Joann P. Epidemics in the modern world. New York: Twayne, 1992.

Kunitz, Stephen J. Review of Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830-1930, by Peter Baldwin. Journal of Interdisciplinary History 31.3 (2001): 434-436.

Lawrence, Christopher. Medicine in the Making of Modern Britain, 1700-1920. London and New York: Routledge, 1994.

Lemert, Charles C. and Garth Gillian. Michel Foucault: Social Theory and Transgression. New York: Columbia University, 1982.

McNay, Lois. Foucault: A Critical Introduction. New York: Continuum, 1994.

Porter, Roy. Disease, medicine and society in England, 1550-1860. 2nd ed. 1987. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University, 1993.

Rees, Ronald. “Under the weather: climate and disease, 1700-1900.” History Today 46 (January 1996): 35-40. [database on-line] ; available from

Schmidt, Albert J. Rev. of The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Nation on Display, by Jeffrey Auerbach, The Great Exhibition, by John R. Davis, and The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Metropolis, by Stephen Halliday. Journal of Social History 34 (Summer 2001). [database on-line] ; available from

Smart, Barry. Michel Foucault. London and New York: Ellis Horwood and Tavistock, 1985.

Snow, John, M.D. On the Mode of Communication of Cholera. London: John Churchill, 1855. 23 August 2001, (29 November 2002)

Watts, Sheldon. Epidemics and History: Disease, Power and Imperialism. New Haven: Yale University, 1998.

Foucault Quote

Thoughts? This opinion, besides being quite culturally bound, doesn't take what women might think into account.


J. O'H: Would you venture an explanation for the fact that bisexuality among women today seems to be much more readily accepted by men than bisexuality among men?

FOUCAULTThis probably has to do with the role women play in the imagination of heterosexual men. Women have always been seen by them as their exclusive property. To preserve this image a man had to prevent this woman from having too much contact with other men, so women were restricted to social contact with other women and more tolerance was exercised with regard to the phyisical rapport between women. By the same token, heterosexual men felt that if they practiced homosexuality with other men this would destroy what they think is their image in the eyes of their women. They think of themselves as existing in the minds of women as master. They think that the idea of their submitting to another man, of being under another man in the act of love, would destory their image in the eyes of women. Men think that women can only experience pleasure in recognizing men as masters.

- from Michel Foucault, Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984. New York and London: Routledge, 1988. Edited with an introduction by Lawrence D. Kritzman. Trans. by Alan Sheridan and others. Interview by James O'Higgins. 299-300.
  • Current Music
    Depeche Mode, "Enjoy the Silence" (live)

Proposal: History 101 Essay



A. Proposal
In certain respects, the War of American Independence was a civil conflict waged between competing political factions in the British-settled areas of British North America, precipitated in part by the desire to assert authority over British North America's vast territory and dispersed population. The American radicals were particularly concerned by the question of the disposal of the frontiers of the Thirteen Colonies, whether the territories east of the Mississippi annexed from France in the Seven Years War, the St. Lawrence River-centred expanse of Canada, or the scattered settlements in Atlantic Canada. In each of these areas, American radicals--drawing from their ideology of popular representation--sought to appeal to local elites to join their sides and to legitimate the absorption of these frontiers into the emerging American nation-state. In all these areas the American radicals failed to gain this support owing to fundamental misreadings of the priorities of these elites. In Canada, for instance, the American revolutionaries failed to take into account the fundamental conservatism and traditional principles driving Canada's landholding and clerical elites. Theoretically, the radicals could have had more success in Nova Scotia, intimately linked to New England by recent migration and still maintaining active contact with the immigrants' communities of origin. Nova Scotia's innate sympathies towards the Thirteen Colonies--and those of its mercantile elites--were squandered as a result of American privateering in the area, among other forms of military action. American privateering disrupted the trade with points elsewhere in the British Empire that sustained Atlantic Canadian communities at very high costs in financial and human suffering, while the embattled Thirteen Colonies were in no position to provide the necessary exports to substitute for the British trade.

B. Bibliography
Anonymous. Rev. of Siege of Fort Cumberland 1776: an episode in the American Revolution, by Ernest Clarke. Nova Scotia Historical Review 16.2 (1996): 113-27. [database on-line] ; available from

Anonymous. Rev. of Siege of Fort Cumberland 1776: an episode in the American Revolution, by Ernest Clarke. New Maritimes 15.1 (September-October 1996): p.30-32 [database on-line] ; available from

Brebner, John Bartlet. The Neutral Yankees of Nova Scotia: A Marginal Colony During the Revolutionary Years. 1937. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1969.

Creelman, David. “Conservative solutions: the early historical fiction of Thomas Raddall” Studies in Canadian Literature 20.1 (Spring 1995): 127-49. [database on-line] ; available from

Dull, Jonathan R. “Was the continental navy a mistake?” Loyalist Gazette 33.1 (Spring 1995): 16-18. [database on-line] ; available from

Knight, Russell W. “The ‘Headers in Life & Legend.” Marblehead Magazine. 1996, <>
(4 November 2002)

Knight, Russell W. “Selman’s Raid.” Marblehead Magazine. 29 October 2001,
(4 November 2002)

McIlwraith, Thomas F. “British North America, 1763-1867.” North America: The Historical Geography of a Changing Continent. Ed. Robert D. Mitchell & Paul A. Groves. Savage, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1990. 220-252.

Morris, Richard J. “Social Change, Republican Rhetoric, and the American Revolution: The Case of Salem, Massachusetts.” Journal of Social History 31.2 (Winter 1997): 419-433. [database on-line] ; available from

Murrin, John M. and David S. Silverman. “The Quest for Ameica: Reflections on Distinctiveness, Pluralism, and Public Life.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 33.2 (Autumn 2002): 235-246. [database on-line] ; available from

Paine, Ralph D. “The Privateers of ‘76.” The American Revolution: The Struggle for Freedom. <> (4 November 2002)

Pares, Richard. Colonial Blockade and Neutral Rights 1739-1763. 1938. Philadelphia: Porcupine, 1975.

Ranley, Philip. “In the Hands of the British: The Treatment of American POWs during the War of Independence.” The Historian 62.4 (Summer 2000): 731-757. [database on-line] ; available from

Wynn, Graeme. “The Maritimes: The Geography of Fragmentation and Underdevelopment.” Heartland and Hinterland: A Geography of Canada. Ed. L.D. McCann. Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice-Hall Canada, 1987. 175-245.
  • Current Music
    Depeche Mode, "Everything Counts"

Very Preliminary Proposal: History 391 Essay



In 1831, the British parliamentarian MacAulay addressed the British Parliament on the subject of the hotly-contested reform bill of that year, which would rationalize the British parliamentary system and increase middle-class involvement in politics. He argued that in order to maintain the basic stability of the political system of Britain–at the time, unusually stable compared to that Britain’s long-time rival France, which had only two years before overthrown its conservative king Charles X for the liberal-minded Louis-Philippe–the British political system needed to be modified so as to include the rising middle classes. Middle class households, MacAulay argued, were just as suited by education and temperament to partake in political life as their upper class counterparts, and indeed the middle and upper classes shared many interests in common as both were concerned with the protection of their property. However, if the British political system was not reformed to give the middle classes representation, there was a strong possibility that they might ally themselves with working-class radicals who would be more than willing to destroy the entire British political system. In short, to conserve the basic structure of British society a moderate degree of change was necessary.
Similarly, despite the radical underpinnings at the base of the New Deal, the package of reforms introduced by President Roosevelt over his first term were fundamentally conservative. Although the United States’ capitalist economy was widely seen as having exhausted its domestic territorial frontiers, and the bulk of American public opinion agreed with the Roosevelt Administration that American capitalism needed to be substantially reformed in order to limit the large inequalities of wealth and irresponsible spending seen as the root causes of the Great Depression, the root assumption of New Deal reforms was that the American system was fundamentally sound. The United States’ poverty was seen not as a natural outcome of capitalism and democracy, but rather as an instance of capitalism and democracy faltering, needing only reforms to make them once again serve the American people in an entirely new urban-industrial era.
This question is still fiercely debated. A brief conclusion can be reached that the New Deal simply shifted towards a state-regulated capitalism. Given the decentralization and diversity of American political life, and the experience of other stable democratic states with comparable experiences, it is quite unlikely that either capitalism or democracy were at serious risk, though it is quite possible that contemporaries would have legitimately feared a deterioration on the German or Japanese models. Americans were too individualistic for socialism to be preferred; indeed, they reacted to the New Deal by viewing it as a highly individualistic relationship, not a matter of state bureaucracy. The basic market institutions of capitalism were retained, only modified.
  • Current Music
    Depeche Mode, "Satellite" (live)

More on Cultural Exoticism

The names of the cities of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) seem to be, in the North American mind, to be firmly linked with some form of cultural exoticism and transgression, to be resonant in a way that local town names aren't. Yet, the literal translation of Buenos Aires is "good airs," a reference to the healthy porteño climate; the literal translation of Rio de Janeiro is "January River," a reference to the fact that the site of Rio de Janeiro was first reconnoitered in the month of January.

I wonder: How do Canadian names sound?