To tell you exactly what I'm working on would be to blow my anonymity bigtime. But I'm writing about sex and people talking about sex in a historical setting and today I deviated from my usual research path (highly empirical) to
start thinking about what people in this place were reading and how that might have shaped how they thought
about what was shameful or dangerous or acceptable. I devised a clever strategy for figuring out what they
read, found out that they were indeed reading racy stuff (including some orientalist classics that I never dreamed
that they'd have access to) and so now I have not only the doggerel they are writing and the parties they
attended and the sham/clandestine/handfast marriages, and the slander accusations
and the legal documents, but I have a little of their imaginative world too. And now I know that at a very early point,
these sort of titillating books moved out of the tavern (where they could have been read by anyone, or read
to an audience) and moved into a subscription library (where they could only be gotten by the better sort, with
reading becoming a private and refined pleasure).
So it all went very well indeed and I am going to get up early so I can do some more. I love this phase of the project, when ideas are all whirling around, everything seems relevant and interesting, and there's a ton of new secondary material
to read by smart people.
I find it ironic -- yes, this really is irony and not in the Alanis Morrissette usage of describing inconvenience or coincidence
as irony -- that the less I get laid (due to partner's prolonged absence in Dixie), the more my professional life is wrapped up in booty.