This installment of the History Carnival opens with Laura James' brilliant post on the "The Lost Art of Writing True Crime Headlines." I would quote selections from it, but her post is cut of a single cloth and should be read as such. Or maybe I'm upset with Laura. Maybe I just don't want to quote from her post. Maybe I hold a grudge against her for having to spend the past week sleeping on the couch. "HEADLESS BODY FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR"? It could have been anybody. Where's Hugh Dod when you need him? (Sharon mumbles something) Dead three hundred years now? Really? (more mumblings) Right then. On with the Carnival!
Jamie reports on rampant postwar British randiness. Said BBC Magazine commenter Darren: "My nan reguarly gets tipsy at christmas and proceeds to inform the
entire family about all the American soldiers she 'had' during the war." On an entirely unrelated note, Natalie Bennett unearths a wartime article from Good Housekeeping urging "All Thinking Women" to make "home life so warm and full and rich that husbands, sons, daughters,
wherever they may be, even if miles away, will feel its call stronger
and more compelling than any temptation." Why? "The toll of V.D. must be arrested, and it is we wives and mothers who can do much to help." If all else fails, there's always the desert:
John McKay examines the contours of T.E. Lawrence' s recently discovered vision for the Middle East and wonders how the border disputes of the 21st Century would have looked through Lawrence's eyes. Sepoy recounts the journey through the desert to Lawrence (and his eyes') immediate left in a post about Hassanein Pasha and Rosita Forbes' travels through the Sahara. I recommend this entry despite Sepoy's reluctance to dish how long grazing camels can go without water. Thanks to PK, however, those long weeks of studying German will finally pay dividends. Copy of George the Farmer's (nee Georgicus Agricola nee George Bauer) De Re Metallica in hand, I'm likely to take my place among the greatest medieval metallurgists of all time any day now. I may not know how more kilometers I can get beforing refreshing my camel, but at least I'll be able to enrich a mean ore. But what will I do with it? How about some old-fashioned imperial expansion?
K.M. Lawson demonstrates the importance of working from multiple sources by means of an extended dialogue between various histories about the Japanese annexation of Korea. That the Japanese annexed a country in possession of a perfect alphabet (according to Language Log) is quite the technological achievement. There may not seem to be any hard and fast connection between military prowess and an alphabet with no subphonemic distinctions, but that's only because there aren't any. Or are there? No, there really aren't. But that doesn't mean there's no connection between conquests military or spirital and matters linguistic or literary:
The intimacy of historical and literary traditions comes to the fore in Kristine Steenbergh's explication of Clifford's "mourn in steel" in Henry VI. Citing Robert N. Watson's suggestion that when "prayers for the dead were discouraged in churches...revenge on behalf of a ghost would be performed in theatres," Steenbergh recounts the historical logic behind the sudden popularity of revenge plays. I find the suggestion fascinating—the very manner of historical explanation for the formal properties of a literary text I strive mightily to create in my own work—and would love to press her to explain this transformation in more detail. That said, Evan Roberts reminds us that there are other more pedestrian but no less important forms of literary leg work available. Speaking of feet and legs and arms and other skeletal material:
John Hawkes updates his earlier entry on skeletal material from Liang Bua in a series of posts. His extended discussion Homo floresiensis—or Hobbit habilis, had Hawkes had his druthers—should interest historians (and historians of science) for numerous reasons, foremost among them the dialogue carried out between evidence and theory. (This debate may interest me more than most because I'm writing a dissertation in which 19th Century theories of speciation play a significant part. That said, watching Hawkes work through the evidence—countering probable scenarios with possible then possible with probable in a spectacular display of reasoning through the evidence—has something valuable to say to anyone who stares at piles of evidence, written or otherwise, and wonders how best to sift through them.) Of course, Justin Kahn could settle this debate in an instant, but he has papers to steal and Santayana to quote. (Kahn's also on David Davisson's short-list for October's "Patron Saint of Patahistory." An important fellow, President Kahn is. How to best worship him? We could take a page from Phil Harland's books and worship our "Revered One" Roman-style.)
When he finishes divesting himself of all his shares of ExxonMircoMobileSoft and officially accepts the Sceptor of Supreme Leader of the United Continents of the Americas, S.L.U.C.A. Kahn could help Sylwester Ratowt find Percy Harrison Fawcett, the gentleman naturalist who lost himself while trying to find the lost city of Z. Or he could use his Supreme Ultimate Fiat to declare "." a shorter sentence than "Z." (It is supreme and ultimate after all.) Or maybe he has too much work to do: lives to save in grand coincidental fashion, as Scott Elliot reports; complete copies of Presocratic papyri to smuggle to pacify Alun Salt; and sooner of later he will have to ease Brett Holman's mind and right the R101 disaster. But our Overlord cannot be in all places at once. Case in point: I still remember the Civil War. So does everyone else:
Mark Grimsley's review of The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture addresses the impact of the "American Iliad" on American culture. Starting from the paraphrased premise the "public memory" is "a fable agreed upon," Grimsely traces the way the volume's contributors imagine that negotiation having happened and speculates how it may be improved upon. Scott Neigh wishes Joseph Mensah's Black Canadians: History, Experience and Social Conditions contained the same quality of historical investigation for which Grismley praised The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture, but concedes that the chapter it did spend delineating Canada's colonial heritage well-written and informative. On the subject of Canada:
I once lived there in a place called Ft. McMurray. That was to be my clever transition to my own contribution to this History Carnival, but a quick scan of my posts from the past two weeks reveals no viable candidates. So no entry from the host. In its stead I present to you Alterior's account of the appeal of Casanova and let you make of this juxtaposition whatever you like. (It should be noted though that I don't need Papal dispensation to purchase my pornographic books. My copy of Ulysses came straight from the Noble Lord Barnes.)
This Carnival closes with a dose of meta-Carnival blogging. Ben Vershbow follows Henry Farrell's "The Blogosphere as a Carnival of Ideas" with a simple question: Henry, given the title of your article, why did you neglect to mention "the phenomenon of the 'blog carnival,' an interesting subculture of the web that has been adopted in certain academic, or semi-academic, circles"? Since Henry's an occasional reader here, perhaps he'll answer the question himself.
The next installment of the History Carnival will be hosted by Rebecca Goetz at (a)musings of a grad student. Email potential entries to:
rgoetz [at] fas [dot] harvard [dot] edu
This post has been officially linked The Truth Laid Bear's Uber-Carnival page.