The Ramonat Seminar: Arrivederci!

All good things must come to an end! The image above is from Fabiola (1918) when the titular character is baptized in the end. I thought it fitting to wrap up Fabiola’s story with the second half of her legacy in film. As I’ll be studying in Rome next year, I looked to the very academic source of Italian for Dummies for help to say goodbye. I was told arrivederci means goodbye, as well as Ciao! Ciao! It was tough writing a 25+ page paper but, I am happy to summarize my findings below.

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The Ramonat Seminar: Defeat

My experience receiving feedback on the first draft was smooth enough but, actually implementing said feedback has been a challenge. I’m overwhelmed as the semester draws to a close, as other assignments pile up with this paper still looming in the distance. Similar to Saint Sebastian as he was portrayed in Revolt of the Slaves (1960), pictured above, my Professor’s comments felt like I was going toe to toe with a formidable foe! The sense of apathy I’m feeling towards my paper is probably why it was so difficult to go back and revise. Nevertheless, I buckled down and hammered out a second draft and will undergo the process yet again very soon.

One of the biggest areas of struggle for me was revising the unfinished sections, namely Fabiola’s Legacy Through Text (combining the novels and plays surrounding Wiseman’s novel), and Fabiola’s Legacy Through Film (I just finished the last movie Fabiola; or, The Fighting Gladiator (1949) a week ago as I needed the version with English subtitles). Compared to the rest of my revision process, which was more or less just grammatical and clarification issues, these two sections gave me the most trouble for two main reasons: I feel like I’m not doing them justice, and I don’t have the language to talk about some elements.

For the text portion, with Fabiola itself clocking in at 600+ pages, I simply didn’t have the time to do any significant literary analysis of Callista, Hypatia, Two Plays, and Fabiola’s Sisters as well. While that’s obviously not expected as my focus is on the original text, I feel as though anyone reading through will have a lot of questions I can’t fit into the paper. Having already cut some text such as outside reviews, and a retelling, I’m starting to think I should have done the paper on Fabiola and (maybe) one other text, so I could more accurately capture what’s going on. The movie section is outside of my realm altogether. While I’m an avid movie buff, I don’t have any academic language to discuss these films without it coming down to “here’s a picture and this is what happened.” Even discussing something as simple as the choice of actress, the musical score, or the historical context surrounding a film could be papers in of themselves.

Another issue my Professor brought to my attention is the lack of secondary sources I have to back up, or and clarify some statements I make. For all the notes I took on the original text itself, I don’t feel like I did my best in that area either. Overall, if I were to take on something like this paper again, I’d stick to what I know best (literary analysis) and something like one other primary source. Trying to tackle such different formats all at once was a little much as a sophomore who’s never written this much or and so formally.

Despite these worries, I still know everything will be okay. I just have to buckle down with the rest of my assignments and do my very best till the final version is out of my hands. Now it’s time to rebuild! Hopefully, when I post my last blog assignment, my paper can be something I’m proud of rather than a source of anxiety and regret.


The Ramonat Seminar: Conquering the First Draft

Pictured above is St. Taricisus by Alexandre Falguière, a french sculptor that I found while writing my first draft, who was directly inspired by the child/teen saint’s death scene in the novel Fabiola. While my lamentations overwriting the rough draft were by no means on the same level, his expression mirrored my own when I finally turned it in around 3AM. Over spring break, I was on an Alternative Break Immersion in the Bronx, so had no access to laptops or the like to start my rough draft. But, if I were to be honest with myself, I should have started writing earlier on!

Before I dive into the frustrating aspects, here are some of my triumphs. For one, I finished. It did not hit the 25-page minimum requirement but it’s currently 21, and still something to be proud of. It was 18 pages long, and Prof. Roberts gave me a few days to clean up some scenes I’d left unfinished. Another accomplishment was the fact that I more or less stuck with my thesis and my outline’s structure. While I’m still tweaking my thesis, the overall flow of the paper is good, I believe. And, finally, I am proud of the number of different sources (images, primary text, etc.) I was able to include.

Now, onto the bad in the 6 major sections of my paper (excluding my introduction and conclusion). In general, I definitely need to do more work with integrating my sources in a more natural manner, backing up my statements with more direct citations, as well as not straying from my main argument. More specifically… Continue reading “The Ramonat Seminar: Conquering the First Draft”

The Ramonat Seminar: Outlining & Challenges 

How is it that a fictional Roman martyr, written by a British theologian in 1854, ended up as a sword swinging, tragic romantic heroine debuting in 1960 in LA?

The process of outlining has been pretty rewarding though it’s had its challenges! Above I’ve posted a tentative (because everything other than my topic is at this point in time) introduction to my research paper. Before I dive into unpacking Fabiola as a text, I must begin by having a clear road map aka an outline. I don’t have a lot to say on this topic but, what I do say hopefully shines a light on the process.

I loved the way my ideas finally came together. It’s been hard trying to map it out in my head, however. While I’ve done my best to gather good sources, I started to feel overwhelmed by them all. Which ones were good and which ones were bad? Which ones are still relevant and which ones aren’t anymore? It was getting harder and harder to slosh through it all, as my Zotero and notes in my word doc. grew.

I had a lot of trouble, at first, getting the outline arranged due to these factors. But, after carefully selecting the handful of sources I absolutely needed, things got much easier for me. Below, I’ve posted a small snippet of the outline. It’s not very long (about 3 pages double-spaced). Despite this fact, it does contain a lot of useful information. I went for a blended style, underlining my own words I hope to refine and use inside of the paper, along with italicized/bulleted list of outside sources to support my arguments.

It has helped me see what my paper will become, a somewhat chronological tale. I’ll begin with a little introduction and move into a historiography of 19th-century literature studies by senior scholars (with an American and English focus). Then, I’ll transition into a bit of history on historical fiction, as a genre, when it was “established” in the early 1900’s. From there, it’s Fabiola from roughly its publication date, to its last film version in 1960/61.

There’s much more to come! March 21 will be how I approached typing up the first draft. Hopefully, it goes as smoothly, more or less, as this outline did.

As always, till then.

P.S I hope all of your birthdays were awesome, any leap year babies out there 🙂

The Ramonat Seminar: Fabolia; or, The Church of the Catacombs

Oh, how plans fall apart! I was originally going to do my project on the portrayals of Catholic females by Catholic authors in the 19th century. However, after stumbling across a work of historical fiction by Cardinal Wiseman, my research project has taken a rather abrupt u-turn. The featured image above is from the 2012 reprint of the novel. 

Written at a seminal moment in English Catholic history, with the reestablishment of the Church’s hierarchy there, Fabiola is a strange text in of itself. It’s a part of a small segment of fiction by a church official, chiefly concerned with theoretical musings, with an ultramontanist(pro-Pope), anti-Protestant lean. Wiseman’s other works of fiction called The Witch of Rosenburg and The Hidden Gem, A Drama in Three Acts are the only others I’ve found. First discovered in a primary source (a collection of works written by Catholic authors up to that point in England, Ireland, and America), I then tracked down a version of Fabiola in HathiTrust.

So far, I’ve been reading my main primary source as a reflection of the author’s worries and hopes for English Catholics at the time. I believe he’s using the Early Church as an analogy for their present situation. Studying the history of this book will be a challenge but, one I hope is rewarding in the end. Below is the cover of the 1880 version published in New York that I’m reading. As I read through the actual text, its impact as a cultural work has raised some interesting questions.

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The Ramonat Seminar: Catholic Fiction in the 19th Century

Hello everyone! I hope your new year was wonderful, and your holidays festive. You can view a full outline of what I and my cohort will be doing for the Ramonat Seminar this semester here.

Now, I come to the purpose of this blog post. Since reading a book entitled Faithful Passages: American Catholicism in Literary Culture, 1844–1931 by James Emmett Ryan (containing Catholic authors such as Jedediah (or Jedidiah) Vincent Huntington, Anna Hanson Dorsey & Mary Anne Sadlier), I’ve been really hooked on the idea of Catholic lit. Seeing as I’m a writer and am going to school so that I can write full time in the future, it’s no surprise this topic interests me so much! I’m a big fan of typography and book cover design, so used one version for Flowers of Love and Memory found below for the header image.

That all said, I’ve decided to study Catholic fiction literature, roughly around the time period spanning 1850 to 1890. I have not decided if I will do a selection of novels (which I’m leaning towards but would limit how many I can realistically read and analysis fully), or a combination of short stories and poetry (which I have found some examples of already). But, this broadly defined research topic brings up many questions still.


Flowers of Love and Memory

By: Mrs. Anna H. Dorsey

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The Ramonat Seminar: Final Reflection (Fall 2015)



What Has Made

Chicago Catholicism Distinctive?

21st Century Perspective

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The Ramonat Seminar #6: Saints in America

“Saint Philomena, pray for me!”

Kathleen Sprows Cummings of Norte Dame University came to speak to us about her new book concerning saints, and the race to find the first American born to be canonized (which of course is Elizabeth Ann Seton mentioned in a previous blog post).

Utilizing this list of female saints, I came across one that interested me a lot. Maybe it was due to her young age, or just because she had so much attributed to her, but I chose to do this blog on St. Philomena pictured above, a young virgin martyr, whose remains were discovered in 1802 in the Catacombs of Priscilla. Philomena is said to have refused the advances of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and had been brutalized various times before being beheaded in 304 A.D/C.E. She’s the patron saint of infants, babies, and youth. Beside her bones within her tomb was a small vial containing some of her blood. An inscription inside read “Peace be with thee, Philomena”, along with drawings of 2 anchors, 3 arrows and a palm. She has a church here in Chicago as well.

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The Ramonat Seminar: St. Ignatius Catalog

“For the greater glory of God (A.M.D.G)”

I got a chance to check out this course catalog from 1879-1880, about 10 years after St. Ignatius College’s (the predecessor to Loyola University) conception. Check out Dan’s coverage of the other catalog we used, and the other members of the seminar’s sources here. A general break down is as follows…

  • Pgs. 3-5 list the members of the board of trustees, and so on. The President and Faculty members are all Jesuits, as one would expect!
  • Pgs. 6-8 have Acknowledgments for recent donors to the school’s museum (which includes several pieces of meteorite by Miss Mary Walshe, and a pistol of the year 1805 by Mr. Patrick Mangan), as well as a general history, mission statement, and payment needed to attend
  • Pgs. 9-14 showcase the 3 courses of study, namely the Classics (broken into the Grammar and Collegiate departments), the Scientific, and the Commercial, as well as the Preparatory track for students who are literate and over the age of ten who want to prepare to enter the official courses offered
  • Pg. 15-20 spans the student directory
  • Pg. 20 shows that there were a total of 192 students registered at that time, 76 in the Classical Course (liberal arts if you will), 2 in the Scientific Course, 77 in the Commercial Course, and 37 in the Preparatory Department
  • Pgs. 21-22 cover three organization on campus The Chrysostomian Society (A literature society), The German Academy (language club), and The St. Cecilia Society (literary and religious festivals), with Faculty seemingly heavily involved with selection of the Presidents
  • Pgs. 23-34 covers various marks of distinction, akin to a deans list, with a Premium position (sometimes 1st and 2nd), and distinguished spot where multiple students could be placed as of June 30th, 1880, in each field of study under the Classical department major/degree track, than the Commercial department major/degree track
  • Pg. 35-38 is an Appendix section detailing the hopes for the Museum, and what is already in the collection (noting a more detailed list is to come even though this one seems pretty detailed already!)
  • Pg. 39 is a list of distinguished students for the Annual Examination, dated Monday, September 6, 1880, with scores ranging from an 100 to a .75* at the lowest end
  • Finally, Pg.40 covers what I assume is a two-part programme for the Annual Commencement Exercises, with selected poetry reading (some being Henry Longfellow “The Famine“), music, distribution of awards, and everything one would remember from their own middle school/high school graduation with an old timey style

*.75 is the lowest I could see

(Will add bold and italics to make the list easier to read later on!)

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The Ramonat Seminar: Using Data to Tell Stories

John, pay attention.

You and the two other John’s in your class raise their heads in confusion. You’re not sure if your teacher, an older Irish Nun, is speaking to you or one of the others. It’s winter time and the classroom is cool, and packed. Younger children and young men sit together, while she drills you all on math, reading, writing, and the Catholic way. You worry about the winter though, staring out the window. Your mother and father work as a housekeeper and shoemaker respectively, and you have three other siblings. While your tuition is reduced compared to the others at $50.00 a month, you know they can’t afford to put you through school for several more months. That means less time to absorb anything, more time spent locked away at home or working odd jobs with your Father… and the winter storms of Chicago are setting in.

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