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The Myth of Blubber Town, an Arctic Metropolis

- July 10, 2019 in arctic, blubber, blubber town, Culture & History, Dutch whaling, exaggeration, Featured Articles, legend, smeerenburg, whaling

Though the 17th-century whaling station of Smeerenburg was in reality, at it's height, just a few dwellings and structures for processing blubber, over the decades and centuries a more extravagant picture took hold — that there once had stood, defying its far-flung Arctic location, a bustling urban centre complete with bakeries, churches, gambling dens, and brothels. Matthew H. Birkhold explores the legend.

Walt Whitman in Russia: Three Love Affairs

- May 29, 2019 in Featured Articles, Konstantin Balmont, Kornei Chukovsky, Literature, poetry, russia, translation, Vera Ermolaeva, walt whitman, walt whitman reception in russia

Walt Whitman’s influence on the creative output of 20th-century Russia — particularly in the years surrounding the 1917 Revolution — was enormous. For the 200th anniversary of Whitman's birth, Nina Murray looks at the translators through which Russians experienced his work, not only in a literary sense — through the efforts of Konstantin Balmont and Kornei Chukovsky — but also artistic, in the avant-garde printmaking of Vera Ermolaeva.

Walt Whitman in Russia: Three Love Affairs

- May 29, 2019 in Featured Articles, Konstantin Balmont, Kornei Chukovsky, Literature, poetry, russia, translation, Vera Ermolaeva, walt whitman, walt whitman reception in russia

Walt Whitman’s influence on the creative output of 20th-century Russia — particularly in the years surrounding the 1917 Revolution — was enormous. For the 200th anniversary of Whitman's birth, Nina Murray looks at the translators through which Russians experienced his work, not only in a literary sense — through the efforts of Konstantin Balmont and Kornei Chukovsky — but also artistic, in the avant-garde printmaking of Vera Ermolaeva.

Progress in Play: Board Games and the Meaning of History

- February 20, 2019 in Art & Illustrations, board games, colonialism, Culture & History, Featured Articles, french revolution, games, history of board games, nationalism, progress, soviet union

Players moving pieces along a track to be first to reach a goal was the archetypal board game format of the 18th and 19th century. Alex Andriesse looks at one popular incarnation in which these pieces progress chronologically through history itself, usually with some not-so-subtle ideological, moral, or national ideal as the object of the game.

Progress in Play: Board Games and the Meaning of History

- February 20, 2019 in Art & Illustrations, board games, colonialism, Culture & History, Featured Articles, french revolution, gameboards, games, history of board games, nationalism, progress, soviet union

Players moving pieces along a track to be first to reach a goal was the archetypal board game format of the 18th and 19th century. Alex Andriesse looks at one popular incarnation in which these pieces progress chronologically through history itself, usually with some not-so-subtle ideological, moral, or national ideal as the object of the game.

“O Uommibatto”: How the Pre-Raphaelites Became Obsessed with the Wombat

- January 10, 2019 in Art & Illustrations, australia, Cheyne Walk, Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Featured Articles, Jane Morris, poetry, Pre-Raphaelites, Rossetti's wombat, Top the wombat, william morris, wombats

Angus Trumble on Dante Gabriel Rossetti and co's curious but longstanding fixation with the furry oddity that is the wombat — that "most beautiful of God's creatures" which found its way into their poems, their art, and even, for a brief while, their homes.

Rambling Reflections: On Summers in Switzerland and Sheffield

- December 11, 2018 in Featured Articles, flâneur, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl phillip moritz, Literature, Philosophy, romanticism, Rousseau, w.g. sebald, walking, Yorkshire

In the footsteps of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Philipp Moritz — from the peace of Lake Biel to the rugged Peaks — Seán Williams considers the connection between walking and writing.

Mesmerising Science: The Franklin Commission and the Modern Clinical Trial

- November 20, 2018 in animal magnetism, baquet, benjamin franklin, Featured Articles, Franz Mesmer, history of clinical trials, hypnosis, magnetism, mesmerism, placebo, Science & Medicine, suggestion

Benjamin Franklin, magnetic trees, and erotically-charged séances — Urte Laukaityte on how a craze for sessions of "animal magnetism" in late 18th-century Paris led to the randomised placebo-controlled and double-blind clinical trials we know and love today.

Divining the Witch of York: Propaganda and Prophecy

- October 24, 2018 in apocalypse, Culture & History, English Civil War, Featured Articles, henry viii, mother shipton, occult, poetry, predictions of the end of the world, propaganda, prophecies, prophecy, Religion, Myth & Legend, witch of york, witches

Said to be spawn of the devil himself and possessed with great powers of prophetic insight, Mother Shipton was Yorkshire's answer to Nostradamus. Ed Simon looks into how, regardless of whether this prophetess witch actually existed or not, the legend of Mother Shipton has wielded great power for centuries — from the turmoil of Tudor courts, through the frictions of civil war, to the spectre of Victorian apocalypse.

Grandville, Visions, and Dreams

- September 26, 2018 in Art & Illustrations, Books, caricature, Featured Articles, grandville, illustration, J.J. Grandville, satire, surrealism

With its dreamlike inversions and kaleidoscopic cast of anthropomorphic objects, animals, and plants, the world of French artist J. J. Grandville is at once both delightful and disquieting. Patricia Mainardi explores the unique work of this 19th-century illustrator now recognised as a major precursor and inspiration to the Surrealist movement.