Sunday, January 6, 2008

History Carnival # 60: Galloping into the New Year

Step right up, folks, to the 60th edition of History Carnival. The Victorian Peeper is pleased to host this month's round-up of the world's best history blogging.

Our pace will be set by the lovely (if somewhat demented-looking) Tidman horses that are part of the beautifully restored Jubilee Steam Gallopers carousel (c. 1895) operated by Carter's Famous Royal Berkshire Steam Fair, which is currently encamped at Warwick Castle as part of "A Very Victorian Christmas" (through 6 January). For more information about Victorian carnivals, visit the Fairground Heritage Trust.

The next History Carnival will be published in February by Marcin Wilkowski at Historia i Media, a Polish blog that explores the place of historical thinking in media, especially the Internet. This is the first time that the English-language Carnival will be hosted by a non-English-language blog. Submit your entries here.

Now on with the show!

The Ancient World
Three depictions of the "Ancient World through Maps" are discussed at Varnam, including a map of the world made in 1507 by Martin Waldseemüller, the last surviving print of which was recently purchased by the Library of Congress for a cool $10 million; the Tabula Peutingeriana, the only known Roman map of the road from Spain to India; and a 7,000-year-old rock painting on a cave wall at Jaora in India that may be a map of the cosmos.

At group blog The Agonist, Sean-Paul Kelley describes the challenges of researching the campaign of the Han emperor Gao Tzu against the nomadic Xiongnu in 200 BC and requests assistance with Chinese histories of the Han and T'ang eras. In "A Meditation on Central Asia" he takes issue with the standard histories of the settlement of Central Asia, noting the migratory impulse that gave rise to a lust for "the next horizon, the next pasture, the next home."

Many anthropologists believe that heating food became commonplace a few hundred thousand years ago, when Neanderthals developed earth-oven cookery to help them cope with an ice age. In "Cooking and Human Evolution," however, Greg Laden is convinced that "there is sufficient evidence in the early Paleolithic [era] of fire" and that "controlled use of fire may well date to nearly 2 million years ago." In a separate post, Laden considers "Ancient Jade Exchange in Southeast Asia," noting a new study that analyzes the practice among the prehistoric cultures of Taiwan and the Philippines and those of the early Iron Age across a large swath of the South China Sea.

The Middle Ages
In "Some Thoughts on Chaucer, History, and Englishness" at In the Middle, J J Cohen describes how the study of Chaucer has been embedded in an educational system that owes much to British colonial encounter: "The fact that [Chaucer] monsterized Jews and Muslims, that his vision of Britain (or perhaps more accurately, his complete lack of interest in attempting to envision Britain) means that he has created a world almost empty of Welsh, Scottish, and Irish content, did not disturb scholars for whom timelessness and universality were synonyms for a contemporary kind of exclusive Englishness."

Seventeenth Century

The history of America's first Thanksgiving has an interesting twist, according to Ian Welsh at The Agonist, who notes that the Puritans who were helped by the Indians resisted, to the point of excommunication, the destruction of their benefactors.

Eighteenth Century
Romeo Vitelli at Providentia tells us about the 1725 raid on the Holborn molly-house of Margaret ("Mother") Clap. Molly-houses were secret meeting places for homosexuals during a period of English history in which the punishment for those convicted of sodomy was death.

New Hampshire historian Christopher Benedetto is interviewed in a post about the 1739 hangings of Penelope Kenny and Sarah Simpson at Executed Today, a blog that provides an "arresting view of the human condition across time and circumstance from the parlous vantage of the scaffold." Kenny and Simpson were publicly hanged for “feloniously concealing the death" of their illegitimate newborn children. The post is one of a four-part series on the spectacle of public hanging in America.

The notorious female "pyrates" Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who live on as part of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" theme park ride, are profiled by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon at Scandalous Women.

Over at Philaahzophy, Aahz tries to get to the bottom of the infamous tea tax that inspired the Boston Tea Party and helped set the American colonists on the road to revolution.

Mrs. Mecomber's curiosity about a big hunk of syenite rock at the side of a road sets her on a trail of discovery that leads to an Oneida chief who played a role in the American Revolution in "People of the Turning Stone: Skenandoah Boulder, Oneida, NY" at New York Traveler.

The Library Thing Blog
announces that Thomas Jefferson's library has been added to Library Thing, an online service that enables users to catalog their books. Now Jefferson's author cloud, tag cloud, author gallery, and stats page are available for all to see. You can also find out how many books your personal library has in common with our third president's.

Nineteenth Century
At Scandalous Women, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon relates the true story of Marie duPlessis, the woman immortalized by Alexandre Dumas fils as Marguerite Gautier, La Dame aux Camélias, and later by Verdi in La Traviata. The mistress of a series of prominent men from her adolescence, duPlessis parlayed her beauty into a life of luxury.

Lapham's Quarterly Online presents a brief biography of the American suffragist and pacifist Carrie Chapman Catt, who worked relentlessly for the recognition of women's rights at the national level and for human rights at the international level.

At Victorian History, Bruce Rosen gives us an account of the adulteration of food and drink in Victorian England and notes its ubiquity: "Among the items adulterated and the adulterants used were alum, added to flour in the production of white bread; sloe, ash, and elder leaves used to adulterate tea; peas and beans in ground coffee; alum to brighten wine; Brazil wood to colour Port; and sawdust and filbert husks to make red wine more astringent." Rosen also describes the Princess Alice steamer disaster on the Thames in 1878 that killed 600 people and the penny gaff, favored form of entertainment of the lower classes.

The Victorian Peeper describes New Year's Day charitable traditions in Victorian England, including Queen Victoria's annual gifts of meat, coal, and clothing to the poor of Windsor.

Twentieth / Twenty-First Centuries

Mark A. Rayner recovers "The Lost PowerPoint Slides (Race to the South Pole Edition)" at The Skwib ("May the explorer with the best beard win!") This post nabs the Governor's Award for Best Use of Humor in a History Blog for December 2007.

In "Real Progressives and War" at the group blog Progressive Historians: History For Our Future, badger admires the political courage of the early Progressives (e.g., Sen. Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin and Sen. George Norris of Nebraska) in opposing U.S. entry into World War I: "LaFollette and Norris chose to vote and speak their conscience rather than choosing a course of political expedience or ambition."

The rather lackadaisical manner in which the British used to protect their nuclear arsenal from the clutches of a lunatic bent on world destruction is described by David Tiley in "An Invidious Suggestion" at Barista. While American and Russian weapons were protected by tamper-proof combination locks that required the input of a code transmitted by military leaders, British bombs apparently could be armed simply by inserting a bicycle lock key into a switch and turning it 90 degrees.

The public's fear of a Dr. Strangelove scenario (and uncertainty over the mental stability of Barry Goldwater) was exploited by the Lyndon Johnson campaign in 1964 with "the most notorious 60 seconds in advertising history": the "Daisy" television spot in which a young girl picks the petals off a flower while counting out of sequence just before an adult voice-over interjects a "military" countdown which is followed by stock footage of a nuclear explosion. The group blog CONELRAD, which focuses on Cold War popular culture, examines the spot in detail in "Daisy: The Complete History of an Infamous and Iconic Ad."

A little-known aspect of mid-twentieth-century film history is illuminated in the Blue Skelton Production Blog profile of influential Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu, who made more than 50 films (33 of which survive). Many of Ozu's films dealt with subjects related to marriage and family in Japanese society.

In "Indonesia’s Economy in the 1990s: From Miracle to Crisis," Timothy Moreland offers an assessment of how Indonesia survived a financial crisis that began in 1997 and was exacerbated by severe drought. He concludes that "a corrupt and controlling overseer of the economy can lead to drastic problems," "a reliance on foreign investment and a growing foreign debt demands an economy to secure the trust of foreigners that the debt will be repaid," and that "even the most promising economies can be headed for a fall."

In "Jinnah or Saladin" at The Resurgent, Bilal Khan considers the current state of affairs in Pakistan, arguing that the country and its problems "are part and parcel of the problems that the Ummah is facing as a whole" and that "an honest investigation to find out the real cause of the War on Terror . . . would end at one problem, one issue, and one crime – one city and its capture – the city of God – Jerusalem," the site of historical and contemporary conflict between East and West.

Michael Meckler draws on the language of the founders of the American republic to respond to Washington Post op-ed writer Charles Krauthammer's assertion that presidential candidate Mitt Romney is being scrutinized for his Mormon faith in an unfair and unprecedented manner.

In "American Parallels" at The Agonist, Ian Welsh notes that the processes that created the great empires of England, Spain, Rome, and Athens hold lessons for the United States: "America, breathless with greed, is teaching others how to defeat it . . . It is this generation’s task to renew the tree of liberty and keep the American experiment going."

At CounterPunch, Peter Linebaugh asks "Can Liberty be Bought and Sold? A People's Penny for the Magna Carta." Noting that the Magna Carta was cited by name 407 times in 195 U. S. Supreme Court cases between 1790 and 2005, he considers whether the document's commodification and privatization (through, for example, the recent Sotheby's auction of a 1297 version), and the denial to Guantánamo Bay prisoners of the due process rights it contains, have compromised an essential, common sense of liberty.

In "Virtual Protest in China" at Frog in a Well, Alan Baumler reports on a digital sit-down strike undertaken by Chinese gamers, who seem to have learned a thing or two from the UAW.

Natalie Bennett reviews the Louvre exhibition "Chant du Monde, L’art de l’Iran safavide (Song of the World: The Art of Safavid Iran)" at My Paris, Your Paris. The curators note that the visual arts and the written word are closely linked in Iranian culture, where the ultimate theme is the world’s grandeur, a divine creation. Bennett describes the evolution of styles in Iranian art produced between 1501 and 1736, starting with the stunning tile mosaic “Banquet of Letters in the Garden,” which is "a picture of courtly, civilised life in a garden in which each leaf has its place" and concluding with “The Goldfinch and the Narcissus,” a work from the mid-seventeenth century inflected with the conventions of Western nature painting.

History Blogging
In "On Blogs and Frogs" at Digital History Hacks and Cliopatria, William J. Turkel wonders what bloggers can learn from the coqui, tiny Puerto Rican frogs whose mating calls are made more effective by "a special neural mechanism that follows the periodic calls made by other creatures, predicts windows of relative silence, and allows them to blast their own calls into the gaps." Imagine, he writes, "the blogger of the future, augmented by an artificial system that monitors discourse, predicts gaps and pops in your contribution when and where it's most likely to be cited. Over time, the system learns what you are capable of, and becomes more effective at getting your message out."

Cliopatria's History Blogroll seems to grow larger by the day, as does Wikipedia's "Academic Blogs in History" list and the History Blog list at BlogCatalog. Check them out if you'd like to expand your history blog-reading horizon!

Teaching History
In "Deep History?" at Revise and Consent, Alun Salt takes issue with Daniel Lord Smail's argument that history is taught as if it begins in Mesopotamia around 6,000 years ago.

EHT at History is Elementary describes a lesson plan using Arnold Friberg's painting The Prayer at Valley Forge to help students understand the concept of controversy and notes that "conflict has considerable value for educators and students when the controversy is managed constructively [by the teacher]. Controversial questions . . . can help to structure debate in the classroom and reinforce conflict resolution skills."

California high school teacher Larry Ferlazzo provides his list of the best social studies websites of the year, all of which are suitable for English-language learners, and notes a new series of humorous online animated movies inspired by historical events.

Libraries and Archives
In "Burning Books, Libraries, and Archives" at Reading Archives, Richard J. Cox reviews Mark Y. Herring’s Fool’s Gold: Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library (2007) and Lucien X. Polastron's Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries Throughout History (2007). "Just as some lamented the move from scroll to codex and others from manuscript to printed book, we have individuals lamenting the shift from print to digital information . . . Librarians, archivists, and other information professionals need to work together to ensure that the new digital forms represent enhancements to the way society can tap into its legacy of information and evidence."


john said...

Hi Kristan,

A most informative and excellent post. I shall certainly follow up and add a number of those links to

I look forward to reading your posts throughout the year. I am sure your posts and resources will enrich my teaching. Cheers,
John Larkin

ExecutedToday said...

Great stuff, Kristan. Thanks for the link, and more importantly, for hosting.

EHT said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful work categorizing and building links to the submissions. I can't wait to get started with my reading though it may take me a day or two.

Thank you for including my controversy post.

Sid Leavitt said...

An excellent menu for readers and thinkers. We at salute you.

Rebecca Mecomber said...

What a terrific post! It's so rich in content I can spend hours reading all this material. Thank you so much for linking to my own story, as well.

gee said...

love you and the blog

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