Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Note about Podcasts

Hi! Thank you for stopping by to listen to the Podcast series. You will notice that some of the podcasts are more "introductory" than others. This is because the lecture notes, themselves, come from copyrighted material. Therefore, the lecture notes exist beyond the walls of WebCT in compliance with copyright laws.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The White House Christmas Tree

Hey Everyone,
I just wanted to let everyone know that my family is supplying the White House with the National Christmas Tree this year. This has been a crazy last couple of months but we managed to make it to the White House on Monday of this week to presen the First Lady, Laura Bush, the Christmas tree and we got to meet her and spend the day at the White House. This has been such an honor for my family and my children. We have been on countless news programs and my husband will be on the Martha Stweart show on Wednesday of this week as well to talk about the National Tree and how to care for a "real" christmas tree. While we were at the White House, we got to meet Laura Bush, play with the presidential dogs, Barney and Miss Beasley, have tea and cookies with Laura Bush, see the presidential gingerbread house and sit in President Bush's chair in his private movie theatre. I can not tell you the honor that this was and if anyone would like to read about this expreience you can look up the information on our website at or go on any of the news station on line and there will be articles and pictures of our family presenting the tree to Laura Bush.
I hope everyone has a great holiday season and Happy New Year as well.

Brandy Botek

Saturday, November 18, 2006

"Elizabeth" movie review

1. There was friction between Elizabeth and Mary, in part, because of their different religions (Mary being Catholic and Elizabeth being Protestant). Mary also seemed to contest Elizabeth’s throne as Henry’s marriage to Ann Boleyn was not sanctioned by Mary’s catholic church.

2. The Anglican church was utilized to quiet the fighting between Catholics and Protestants (a dispute that still rages to some extent in the Europe of today). As ruler, Elizabeth could control this body. Although she seemed somewhat neutral at times in matters of religion, the Anglican church was a mechanism that could bring her people closer together. Compared to modern American politics, where religion seems to divide more than unite, this was an interesting aspect of the story.

3. One site I researched lists as many as 34 suitors who were interested in Elizabeth’s hand in her lifetime -
However, in the movie the King of Spain and the Duke of Anjou (of France) are the primary suitors. Elizabeth’s lover Robert Dudley can also be considered to be courting her, however he can never attain her hand because he is not considered fit to marry a queen due to social ranking. Spain and France had a vested interest in marrying into the English throne for geo-political and religious reasons.

4. Her lover, Robert Dudley, is not killed since he is the only person who originally courted her sincerely and did not conspire to attain power through courting her as others did.

5. “Virgin” did not have the same meaning in the 1500s as it does today. Obviously she had been with Robert Dudley, but “virgin” referred to her being unmarried. She decides to stay unmarried to gain favor with her subjects, and instead “marries herself” to her country. This is significant because even though there are disagreements between Catholic and Protestant religions, the pure Virgin Mary is still regarded as sacred in both. She takes on the pure white, haloed appearance of the Virgin Mary as part of her devotion to the role of England’s wife and mother.

6. The movie shows Elizabeth’s growth from a girl who is ruled by her heart, lacking the sometimes cold logic needed for strong leadership, into a woman respected by her countrymen who unifies her country (as best it can be). She represents a pivotal shift in England’s history, and deserves to be considered one of England’s most influential queens.

7. From ‘s description of Elizabeth as an individual: “Elizabeth had a rigorous education. She was fluent in six languages, including Latin, Greek, French, and Italian. She once remarked to an Ambassador that she knew many languages better than her own. She was taught theology, history, philosophy, sewing, and rhetoric. She also loved such activities as hunting, riding, dancing, and playing. As a girl, she was often thought of as very serious, and she had inherited characteristics of both her mother and father such as cleverness and firmness. Elizabeth was incredibly intelligent, and admired her tutor Ascham, who remarked that she had the intelligence of a man, for it was her memory and intellect that distinguished her above others, men and women alike.”
With an education and level of personal experience like this, she was destined to change her country in a time when women were not given equal treatment, not even royals. When she learns to set her emotions aside to rule with her intellect, she becomes a powerful person capable of flushing out her would be conspirators. She also refuses a groom king, and shows that she can rule on her own without the assistance of a man. Her ability to do these things undoubtedly showed England the power women possessed, and paved the way for generations of women after to be respected in their rule.

Movie Review: Elizabeth

Mary Tudor was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, while Elizabeth was born to Henry and his second wife Anne Boleyn. Henry divorced Anne and had her charged with adultery and treason, for which she was executed. Subsequently, Elizabeth’s birth was considered illegitimate and her title of Princess was removed, which is why, in the movie version of her life, Mary refers to her as a bastard and Anne Boleyn a whore. Elizabeth was also a Protestant, while Mary was a Catholic, and Catholicism was basically the proclaimed religion of England. During this time, Protestants were savagely persecuted, and greatly at the direction of the Pope in Rome. Elizabeth was claimed to be a heretic and accused of being part of a conspiracy against Mary, probably mostly as a ploy to keep Elizabeth from having any claim to the throne should anything happen to Mary.

The Anglican Church was completely rearranged when Elizabeth took reign. Elizabeth, being a Protestant, took action to change the national religion, although she was tolerant of and fair to Catholics. She tried to unify England and allow both religions to exist, regardless of her personal choice. The church bishops were upset and felt threatened as Elizabeth made herself Supreme Governor of the Church of England, which put her directly between the church in England and the Pope in Rome.

The movie portrays King Phillip II of Spain and François, Duke of Anjou as candidates for marriage to Elizabeth. Both proposals were based on political aspirations and were not romantic gestures. Both Spain and France looked forward to possible alliance with England, which could result from marriage to the queen. The movie depicts that marriage to the Spanish king was a suggestion made through mediators, while d’Anjou was personally introduced to and spent time with the queen, although she supposedly finally denied his offer upon learning of some of his “recreational” activities (such as wearing dresses). Elizabeth was reluctant to marry either of them because she did not want her country to end up becoming a part of either France or Spain as a result of an alliance.

The one gentleman Elizabeth wanted to marry was Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. They had a passionate affair, but she was advised against marriage to him because he was merely a subject and not royalty. Robert loved Elizabeth dearly, but was not exactly faithful to her, in fact, he was already married. He cared deeply for Elizabeth and was upset that he couldn’t be in a committed, open relationship with her due to her role as queen. He was fearful that her throne and her life were in jeopardy, so he agreed to try to convince her to marry Phillip of Spain. Unfortunately, part of the bargain for him was that he swore to the Spanish ambassador that he would be able to be of influence in reinstating Catholicism in England. In the end of the movie, while all of the others who were found to be conspiring against the queen were put to death, Elizabeth decided to spare Robert’s life to keep him as a reminder to her of “how close she came to danger”.

After conspiracies to have her removed from the throne were brought to light, and especially after her love affair with Robert ended so badly, Elizabeth decided that she would reinvent herself in a likeness similar to the Virgin Mary so that the English subjects would have something divine on Earth to worship. She considered herself “married” and completely devoted only to her country, and, therefore vowed to never marry any man. She has herself painted white to reflect her purity as a “born again” virgin, so to speak.

Elizabeth was probably one of the best English monarchs because she was very intelligent, and finally learned to rule without letting her feelings influence her decisions, particularly after her transformation into the Virgin Queen. Elizabeth’s role changed the definition of women in power by proving (to the world) that women possess the same intellect and skills as men. Her reign as queen for 45 years is a great example of what any woman, or man, can achieve.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Movie Review 1: Elizabeth

1) Mary Queen of Scots believed she had a legitimate claim to the throne. I am unsure if the movie explains this raging resentment against Elizabeth. Although very watchable, at times, the film was richer in textiles than historical data. History has it that the Mary, whose family name was Stuart, was related to the Tudor line and therefore a strong candidate for Queen of England. In the movie, when Mary refers to Elizabeth as that "illegitimate, heretical whore, she also expresses the Catholics’view of Elizabeth’s unfitness to rule. As the church did not endorse Henry VIII’s annulment nor his subsequent marriage to Ann Bolyn, this would render Elizabeth’s claim as void and Mary, who was Catholic, as the favored contender. Interestingly, I believe Elizabeth appointed Mary’s son, James I, as her successor.

2) Elizabeth not only established the "Uniformity of Churches Act" to quell the dissidence between Protestants and Catholics, she also helped define and unify the Anglican church of England. As monarch, she was also the ruler of the church. Elizabeth developed and distributed an accessible "Book of Common Prayer" to congregations (this was not in the movie). Even though Elizabeth was definitely Protestant - after all, she was "her father’s daughter" – she was neither overbearing nor intolerant about religion.

3) Upon her coronation, Elizabeth was besieged by suitors, most of whom harbored mercenary agendas. The King of Spain, or rather, his ambassador relayed a marriage proposal stipulating that the King would only be making two or three cameo appearances per annum in Elizabeth’s bedroom. The scheming Mary Queen of Scots sent her nephew, who was the Duke of Anjou and a flaming buffoon, to propose. Additionally, Lord Robert Dudley, Elizabeth’s passion, asked for her hand and, according to the film, she may have accepted.

4) Elizabeth’s romantic interest was Robert Dudley, Earl of Leceister. Although he broke her heart at least twice: he kept his marital status a secret and, later, committed treason against Elizabeth. Yet, she spared his life, claiming that Robert will serve as a "reminder of how close she came to danger."

5) Secular, romantic eros failed Elizabeth: her 'true lover' betrayed her; the Frenchman was an insensitive fool and a closet transvestite; and the notably absent King of Spain refused to share her life or bed, desiring only her wealth and power. She had no suitable suitors and to choose one country over another would create animosity. She abandons carnal love and declares "the country of England" her husband. The movie charts her physical and emotional transformation from a vibrant, lithe young woman to a regal stony figure – much like the alabaster statue of the Madonna. On the textile scene, the initial flamboyantly vivid gowns become more tailored, subdued shades of white. Both Elizabeth and the Madonna are virgins, they stand for high ideals and are unsullied by sex, sin, and secular vanities.

6) Elizabeth was a remarkable ruler: she advocated and passed the "Uniformity in Churches Act"; she maintained national pride; tried to evade war; she met and defeated several assassination attempts; and the queen showed genuine compassion for the people. Elizabeth guided a bankrupt, relatively defenseless state into prosperity and stability. Her era is still referred to as the "Golden Age of England."

7) Elizabeth dispelled the myth of women’s inability to govern. She was thoughtful, decisive, brave, and authentic. To me, her combination of intellect and action tempered with love and high ideals show monarchies as an attractive and viable form of leadership.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More's "Utopia"

More's "Utopia" is a proponent of 'humanism' as it was used during the English Renaissance. His perhaps 'perfect' society is based on ideals of the dignity of man, the power of reason, and, of course, Christianity. More's island harbors a communal society (no feudalism), practices religious toleration (although atheism was 'discouraged'), and even demeans the 'gold' standard (gold is used to chain convicts).

"Utopia" offers a critique on European society.
It emphasizes man's integrity and God's values.

John Donne

John Donne initiated a movement refered to as "metaphysical poetry". Elements of this style include unexpected, fresh - even bizarre -concepts and delivery. He used unusual verse forms and obscure reasoning.

As a note: He published a radical piece entitle, "Biathanatos" in which he rationalizes that suicide is not a sin in itself. He was a bit preoccupied with death.

Donne had a wild, riches-to-rogue-to-rectory life. I learned in a poetry class that before he became a chaplain, his nick name was "Jake the Rake". As a result, his work reflects a deep profundity which illustrates his divided nature. Donne struggled with physical carnality versus spiritual purity. Somehow, he made them both pretty wonderful.

The Shepherd and The Nymph

Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is an example of the "carpe diem" theme popular at that time. This shepherd has a hook - his is a seduction poem that offers passion, but no committment. There seems to be no thought of consequences.

Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" acknowledges and refutes the shepherd - using his very words. She is concerned about the future and 'husbandry.' She points out that roses lose their bloom, one must endure bad weather and the elements. Life gets tiresome; life gets old.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Age of Elizabeth (Movie Reveiw)

Queen Mary hated Elizabeth because, as she stated in the movie, “Elizabeth is my sister, but she was born a whore”. Even though Elizabeth was Mary’s sister, she hated her because she was born from a whore and she was against the Queen and the Catholic faith.
During Elizabeth’s reign, the church held a very high position and they were the ones in power. I found it interesting that the Pope himself put a hit out on Elizabeth because he thought she was against the Catholic faith. Elizabeth, being the queen, was in a position to overpower them with the people. She went to them on one occasion to persuade them to change a law and it worked, even though she put the highest priests in the dungeon and locked them up before the voting, so they could not go against her.
The King of Spain wanted to marry Elizabeth to have control over both countries. Also, the prince of France, but he was a little strange, if you know what I mean.
Lord Robert was Elizabeth’s lover. She did not kill him because she wanted to keep him alive to remind her of how close she came to danger.
Queen Elizabeth’s transformation was very significant because she wanted everyone to know that she will let no man tell her what to do. She was now married to England and that is her only duty, to England. The transformation took place after she went to the church and looked upon a statue of the Virgin Mary. She then cut her hair off and changed her look, painted her face white (which symbolizes virginity).
I think that Queen Elizabeth was one of the best English monarchs because she was loyal to England and the people of England. She kept saying through out the movie that her only concern was England and the people of England.
In the beginning, I was not sure how I was going to answer this question because she was not so independent as a woman should be. She was very dependant on what the men thought and they thought, her being a woman was the wrong thing for the country, hence the reason for everyone wanting her to get married so quickly and produce an heir. As the movie took hold, she began to come into her own and learn that what she wanted was no man to control her and that she was capable of making decisions for her country and herself. This is a great change in the role of women, especially during this time period, when women were the shadow behind the man.

Friday, November 10, 2006

John Donne Assignment

This poet, writer, was a little strange for me to figure out but I think I have gotten to understand the importance of him in literature. John Donne was a very promising poet at one point in his career. Until he married Lady Egerton's neice, which according to his biography effectively committed career suicide. He was thrown into prison for some weeks and eventually when he got out of prison there were many bitter years to come. He eventaully won the favor of the king and began publishing his works again. He was a very reluctant person for hids time but his style, symbolism, flair for drama, and his quick wit soom established him as a literary person of his era. After the death of his wife, he stopped writing love songs and poems and began to write about death and he eventually became obsessed about death.
Other than that information about John Donne, I am not really sure why he is so important. He wrote many love songs and poems and it seems that he was revolutionary for his time. He seemed to be well respected for most of his lifetime , with the exception of the time when he was married to Anne in the beginning. If I find anything else, I will be sure to add to this posting.

Christopher Marlowe Assignment

In the Passionate Sheherd to His Love, there was a sense of the love sick shepard wanting for his love to share all the pleasures of nature with him. This was written at a time when all the arts were fascinated by the theme of the love sick shepard in country settings (Norton The theme of the poem is related to the words carpe diem and the idea of immediate gratification of their sexual pleasures ( This idea of immediate gratification fits nicely with carpe diem because the shepherd was sayin to his love seize the day and live in the moment. This type of philosophy, during this time period, was against the normal for their society. There is no mention of marriage or courtley love only passionate love with, what seems to be, no limits.
The response to that poem was by Sir Walter Raleigh, called the Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd. In this reply there was the idea of carpe diem combined with tempus fugit, which means even though time flies we should NOT sieze the day. There will be consequences to having the passionate love that the shepherd wanted and longed for in the pasture ( We can see this by the second stanza of the poem when he writes, "Time drives the flocks from the fields, when rivers rage and rocks grow cold, and Philomel becometh dumb; the rest complains of cares to come" (Sir Walter Raleigh).
There were many reply's to the Passionate Shepherds plea for passionate love, the one hear by Sir Walter Raleigh is only one of the many.