about the author
Hello! I’m Emily Rutherford, a historian of ideas and intellectual communities in the long nineteenth century, and a graduate student in Modern British and European History at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. I was an undergrad at Princeton, where I majored in History (with a healthy dose of English literature) and focused primarily on the intersection of intellectual history and the history of sexuality in the modern West. I wrote a BA thesis on the life and work of a Victorian intellectual who shaped the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’ discourse about male homosexuality, entitled “John Addington Symonds: Humanism, Love, and Sexual Identity in Victorian Britain.” My current project uses the life of a Victorian teacher of classics, Arthur Sidgwick, as a case study to look at connections between theory and practice, in personal and professional life, of liberal philosophy and Liberal politics. You can find out more about my professional identity on my Academia.edu profile.
In other lives, I’ve been a magazine journalist, a manager of university library holdings and databases, an editorial and a research assistant, a translator, a copy-editor, an activist, a member of many university policy committees, and an enthusiastic participant in communitarian institutions from residential colleges on both sides of the Atlantic to a vegetarian cooking co-op. My favorite novelist is E.M. Forster, and if I had a superhero alterego she’d be a classical philologist.
I began to keep this blog in the spring semester of my first year of university, and since then I have erratically posted long personal essays about what I’m doing with my life. To a reader, they might often seem unnecessarily self-absorbed. But I think there’s a certain value to thinking through in the public sphere one’s reasons for living as one does, and that many of us don’t acknowledge as much as we perhaps should how much of the human condition is irrational and emotional, and how much of our supposedly dispassionate academic work comes from something impulsive and vulnerable within us. If this blog is about anything, it’s about why the communitarian and self-bettering ideals of liberal-arts education matter, what they have taught me about myself, and why I believe enough in their social good to occupy my life with doing what I can to help them endure and flourish.
Comments, questions, criticisms, corrections, greetings, or queries about John Addington Symonds? Contact me.