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Decoding the Morse: The History of 16th-Century Narcoleptic Walruses

Adam Green - June 14, 2017 in carta marina, conrad gessner, Culture & History, Featured Articles, morse, olaus magnus, Religion, Myth & Legend, walrus

Amongst the assorted curiosities described in Olaus Magnus' 1555 tome on Nordic life was the morse — a hirsuite, fearsome, walrus-like beast, that was said to snooze upon cliffs while hanging by its teeth. Natalie Lawrence explores the career of this chimerical wonder, shaped both by scholarly images of a fabulous north and the grisly corporeality of the trade in walrus skins, teeth, and bone.

Woodcuts and Witches

Adam Green - May 4, 2017 in Art & Illustrations, Books, christianity, crone, Culture & History, demonology, demons, devils, Featured Articles, king james, occult, persecution, printing, printing revolution, Religion, Myth & Legend, sorcery, witchcraft, witches, wizards

Jon Crabb on the witch-craze of Early Modern Europe, and how the concurrent rise of the mass-produced woodcut helped forge the archetype of the broom-riding crone — complete with cauldron and cats — so familiar today.

Woodcuts and Witches

Adam Green - May 4, 2017 in Art & Illustrations, Books, christianity, crone, Culture & History, demonology, demons, devils, Featured Articles, king james, occult, persecution, printing, printing revolution, Religion, Myth & Legend, sorcery, witchcraft, witches, wizards

Jon Crabb on the witch-craze of Early Modern Europe, and how the concurrent rise of the mass-produced woodcut helped forge the archetype of the broom-riding crone — complete with cauldron and cats — so familiar today.

Lofty Only in Sound: Crossed Wires and Community in 19th-Century Dreams

Adam Green - April 5, 2017 in civil war, Culture & History, dream, dreams, Featured Articles, paranormal, poetry, psychology, Science & Medicine, telepathy, us civil war

Alicia Puglionesi on a curious case of supposed dream telepathy at the end of the US Civil War, and the important role dreams played in how a traumatised nation responded to the conflict.

A Queer Taste for Macaroni

Adam Green - February 22, 2017 in Art & Illustrations, beau, captain jones, Culture & History, dandy, dandyism, fop, gay, georgian britain, georgian london, grand tour, homosexuality, homosexuality in the 18th century, london, macaroni, matthew darly, queer culture, sodomy, sodomy trial

With his enormous hair, painted face, and dainty attire, the so-called "macaroni" was a common sight upon the streets and ridiculing prints of 1770s London. Dominic Janes explores how with this new figure — and the scandalous sodomy trials with which the stereotype became entwined — a widespread discussion of same-sex desire first entered the public realm, long before the days of Oscar Wilde.

George Washington: A Descendant of Odin?

Adam Green - February 8, 2017 in Books, Culture & History, family tree, genealogy, george washington, george washington descendants, odin, Religion, Myth & Legend, scandina, vikings, washington descended from, woden

Yvonne Seale on a bizarre and fanciful piece of genealogical scholarship and what it tells us about identity in late 19th-century America.

“Let us Calculate!”: Leibniz, Llull and Computational Imagination

Adam Green - November 10, 2016 in artificial intelligence, calculating machine, calculator, computation, Culture & History, Featured Articles, language, leibniz, Philosophy, ramon llull, Science & Medicine, the first calculator, universal language

Three hundred years after the death of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and seven hundred years after the birth of Ramon Llull, Jonathan Gray looks at how their early visions of computation and the “combinatorial art” speak to our own age of data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence.

Richard Hakluyt and Early English Travel

Adam Green - October 26, 2016 in Assan Aga, Books, colonialism, Culture & History, exploration, Richard Hakluyt, Samson Rowlie, travel

The Principles of Navigation, Richard Hakluyt's great championing of Elizabethan colonial exploration, remains one of the most important collections of English travel writing ever published. As well as the escapades of famed names such as Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, Nandini Das looks at how the book preserves many stories of lesser known figures that surely would have been otherwise lost.

The Calcutta Pococurante Society: Public and Private in India’s Age of Reform

Adam Green - August 17, 2016 in Bengal, British Empire, British Raj, calcutta, Calcutta Pococurante Society, colonialism, Culture & History, india, kol, Kolkata, private, public, societies, supplement

Joshua Ehrlich on an obscure text found on the shelves of a Bengali library and the light it sheds on the idea of the public in 19th-century Calcutta.

“Unlimiting the Bounds”: the Panorama and the Balloon View

Adam Green - August 3, 2016 in Art & Illustrations, Culture & History, diorama, Featured Articles, history of ballooning, hot air balloon, landscape, panaroma

The second essay in a two-part series in which Lily Ford explores how balloon flight transformed our ideas of landscape. Here she looks at the phenomenon of the panorama, and how its attempts at creating the immersive view were inextricably linked to the new visual experience opened up by the advent of ballooning.