Thursday News: PRH UK to pay “students,” stepmothers, what romance is, and where to find it
PRH UK to pay work experience participants in diversity drive – Each year, 450 individuals have the opportunity to “work” at Penguin Random House UK for two weeks. In the past, those experiences would be unpaid, except for travel and food. Now, though, participants will be paid £262.50/week, which is significant because outreach and greater transparency have made it so that work experience “students” comprise a more diverse cohort than, say, paid interns. The hope, of course, is that younger participants, especially, will first find the opportunity compelling, then find the industry appealing, and potentially seek a career in publishing. Universities have certainly found that outreach can positively affect diversity, so why not industry? Does U.S. publishing have anything comparable?
Internships at the publishing house are already fully paid. The difference between work experience and internships, as PRH defines it, is that the latter offers interns “the opportunity to immerse themselves in the company for a longer period of time and deliver a specific work project”. As such, interns undergo an application and interview process, similar to applying for a job at the company. Work experience candidates, by contrast, are “randomly selected”, without any pre-requisite skills or experience necessary, and are referred to as “students” in so much as they are there to learn rather than to work.
As part of the “random selection” process, all personal referrals for work experience were banned last year when it “professionalised” the programme, which also intended to ensure selection was fairer and more transparent. As the result of the changes, PRH says its work experience applicant pool now reflects the ethnic diversity both of London and the UK, reaching and appealing to more young people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, while two thirds of its applicants have grown up outside of London or the South East. – The Bookseller
In the Shadow of a Fairy Tale – A really interesting piece from Leslie Jamison on the complex relationship between the literary and cultural representations of stepmothers and her own experience as a stepmother. The figure of the stepmother is, of course, almost as fundamental to genre Romance as she is to fairy tales, and her own reflection of motherhood makes her doubly important to both genres. The effects of “bad” mothering, as opposed to the value of “good” mothering are all over Romance, tied as they are to all the baggage around what it means to be a woman of value and worth.
The evil stepmother is so integral to our familiar telling of “Snow White” that I was surprised to discover that an earlier version of the story doesn’t feature a stepmother at all. In this version, Snow White has no dead mother, only a living mother who wants her dead. This was a pattern of revision for the Brothers Grimm; they transformed several mothers into stepmothers between the first version of their stories, published in 1812, and the final version, published in 1857. The figure of the stepmother effectively became a vessel for the emotional aspects of motherhood that were too ugly to attribute to mothers directly (ambivalence, jealousy, resentment) and those parts of a child’s experience of her mother (as cruel, aggressive, withholding) that were too difficult to situate directly in the biological parent-child dynamic. The figure of the stepmother — lean, angular, harsh — was like snake venom drawn from an unacknowledged wound, siphoned out in order to keep the maternal body healthy, preserved as an ideal.
“It is not only a means of preserving an internal all-good mother when the real mother is not all good,” Bettelheim argues, “but it also permits anger at this bad ‘stepmother’ without endangering the good will of the true mother, who is viewed as a different person.” The psychologist D.W. Winnicott puts it more simply: “If there are two mothers, a real one who has died, and a stepmother, do you see how easily a child gets relief from tension by having one perfect and the other horrid?” In other words, the shadow figure of the fairy-tale stepmother is a predatory archetype reflecting something true of every mother: the complexity of her feelings toward her child, and a child’s feelings toward her. – New York Times
What is Romance? – It’s always fascinating to see how different people conceptualize romance, or, perhaps more properly, what they find romantic. These definitions often change, depending on our life circumstances, relationship experience, and maturation, but I do wonder sometimes if we’re sufficiently contemplating the difference between a generic structure (romance) and the values espoused through the architecture of story (what is romantic).
The suspension of everyday life is what sounds particularly romantic: doing something together unrelated to work, bills, chores and stress. It seems amazing to be considered and thought about, to have someone plan something just for me. It is wonderful to be known, seen, and loved enough for someone to care and personalize a gesture directly for me. There’s no romantic checklist or one-size-fits-all approach to romance. Romantic gestures are all about the dynamic the couple shares and their inside jokes, desires and interests for each other, and time together. The whimsical aspect to romance is huge, allowing reality to be suspended and letting love win. – After Defeat
Hotels and Resorts for Romance of All Kinds – You can really see the diversity of romantic ideas in the selection of getaway places here, from the luxury of Le Barthélemy in St. Barts, to a place called the Anvil Hotel in Jackson, Wyoming. – New York Times