Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some valentines for academics from Tweed. You can send them via e-mail to your own primary source:


Additionally, here are some previous posts about Valentine’s Day:

Depictions of love and Valentine’s Day shopping

Honest valentines

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links via your news feed. They’re almost as good as chocolate.

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Slate’s history blog, The Vault, features a selection of “vinegar valentines,” explaining that:

Vinegar valentines were a socially sanctioned chance to criticize, reject, and insult. They were often sent without a signature, enabling the sender to speak without fear. These cards were sent not just to significant others, friends, and family, but to a larger social circle. People might post a vinegar card to a store clerk, a teacher, or a neighbor.

The tradition was quite popular. Art historian Annebella Pollen points out that these cards were often produced by the same companies that made the frilly, beautiful valentine cards adorned with hearts and flowers, but cost much less. Some historians argue that comic valentines—of which vinegar valentines were one type—made up half of all U.S. valentine sales in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Many vinegar valentines were used to enforce gender roles. Senders would use the anonymity of the card to comment on the inappropriate behavior of a couple, or the distasteful political views of a feminist friend. Women seemed to be the targets of many of the surviving examples, but balding men, pretentious artists and poets, and smelly fat guys made appearances as well.

This one from the 1870s even reinforces the idea that reading novels is a waste of time:


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“Romantic” vs. “Practical” depictions of love from Ann Swidler’s research via Sociological Images.

And my typical Valentine’s Day shopping experience via xkcd:

Of course, Easter candy and a jar of hammers is still probably better than $182.

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Following my recent manifesto about relationships, I noticed an article by Casey Johnston at Ars Technica focused on online dating. Dating websites are apparently now the second most common way for couples to meet (behind, I assume, the meet cute), more than doubling in the past ten years. The authors of the meta analysis Johnston discusses note that this makes meeting people less intimidating but can also cause us problems because we don’t know what we really want:

According to the surveyed studies, users can list things they like to see in a potential date’s online profile, but often a completely different set of preferences emerge in real-life encounters. When users selected dates, the degree to which a person’s profile “matched their ideals” did not predict their romantic interest after a meatspace encounter. People can go on and on about what they like, but they have a less-than-perfect idea of what they will be attracted to.

The authors also found that it was better to meet in person after a short time (I unscientifically agree – context-free texts seem like a terrible way to get to know somebody).

Coincidentally (or not, given that Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching), a friend of mine also posted a few articles about love on her blog (this is the same friend who initially asked for the manifesto, bringing things full circle). The third post that she links to demonstrates the way that our digital communications can provide a (potentially devastating) record of our past relationships. The first post she links to, by Jonathan Franzen, echoes my call for honesty (I’m choosing to ignore Franzen’s love affair with birds):

The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life.

Suddenly there’s a real choice to be made, not a fake consumer choice between a BlackBerry and an iPhone, but a question: Do I love this person? And, for the other person, does this person love me?

There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of. This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie. But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of. And this is why love is such an existential threat to the techno-consumerist order: it exposes the lie.

Unlike Crazy, Stupid, Love, this is an approach to relationships that I can support.

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