Tuesday, November 7th, 2017...5:32 pmglassq

Lady Esther Popel Shaw

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There were several aspects of “Little Pope’s” diary I found interesting: the structure, the language, the in depth portrayal of events, etc. Esther Popel Shaw took readers on  with her as she went to school, to the bank, downtown, on out-of-state adventures and to bed. Her writing was paratactic. Lady Shaw wrote with elegance and precision. However, as her diary progressed her writing was not as legible. “Little Pope” went from occupying an entire page for a journal entry, to sectioning off a page for three diary entires. This fusing of entries in the later part of the diary communicates how action packed her life became; Lady Shaw knew that if she continued to dedicate an entire page to a single entry she would have to use several diaries. But, both of my previously mentioned points, pale in comparison to the language Esther Popel uses: “dead tired” and “time to retire.” Both of these colloquial phrases are still used! Yes, there exist different variations them today- “I’m dead,” “it’s quitting time,”- nonetheless the connote the same meaning. To me, this showed how unrestricted language is to time; it does not respect the boundaries of history. I am not too sure if Lady Shaw  knew this, but she was writing to a future generation, and she was using their language.


  • The look into Esther’s diary is truly a great resource to get a look at what her personal life was like in the most intimate sense. From what you have described, I would have to agree that language has served the same purposes over time, although phrasing may change. It also describes a coming of age story without the intention. As Esther’s life developed and she had less time to write, it becomes apparent that she is growing up and lacking the time a child would lavish in to write detailed entries.

  • I found your title for this blog post, “Lady Esther Popel Shaw,”as well as your usage of “Lady” to describe Esther, to be quite interesting, as it made me think about whether or not this naming decision stemmed from Esther’s achievements, her temperament, her writing style, and/or some other facet of her life.
    I too found Esther’s diary to be a fascinating archival resource, as it offered a first hand account of Esther’s coming of age story. While I do not know if I am entirely convinced by the idea that language is unaffected by time, I think it is correct to think that Esther wrote her diary largely for herself, opposed to writing it for future generations to read. Drawing similarities between the past and the present is definitely valuable not only in gaining an understanding of language, but in understanding our own campus today. Great post!:)

  •   Professor Seiler
    November 14th, 2017 at 1:27 am

    Quadrese’–really nice post here. I’m curious about your point that language is somehow outside of history. I wonder (genuinely) if attending to the historical developments of and within language might help you to think about how language–wondrously–is both deeply *in* and transcendent of time, both at once…

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