The June 2011 History Carnival: Eclectic World

Welcome to the June 2011 edition of the History Carnival, a monthly showcase of history blog writing at its finest. My name is Andrew D. Devenney, and it is my honor and privilege to host this month’s edition at my eponymously named website. Many thanks to Sharon Howard, the History Carnival coordinator, for allowing me to play around in her sandbox.

For this edition, my selection is rather eclectic. I received a variety of nominations, most of which I included and a few of which I did not, and have supplemented that further with posts that I stumbled upon during the month of May. Although there is no particular theme beyond the eclectic mix itself, certain sub-themes made themselves apparent as I was compiling this. Thus we travel from Dallas-watching communists, archaeologists digging in dirt, and London mobs to book fetishization, historical kitsch photography and cartography, and meta-discussions about historians at work. Some selections come from old hats at the Carnival while others come from farther afield. Please give the writers linked below some well-deserved attention and kudos. Now on with the show!

(Unless otherwise indicated, all images come from the respective blogs)

The Host’s Picks

To start, I want to highlight a couple of personal selections. This is my prerogative, of course, but these are also excellent posts you should take a look at.

David Hasselhoff, Fur-tacular!

David Hasselhoff, bringing down communism with furry pecs!

First, a post that caught my eye when it filtered through my Twitter feed last week (and which I immediately knew I wanted to include in the Carnival) was Kelly Hignett’s discussion at The View East of the role popular culture may or may not have played in helping to bring down communism in Eastern Europe. Her post, “Video May Have Killed The Radio Star, But Did Popular Culture Kill Communism?” is certainly worth your time, as well as a perfect opportunity to post a semi-shirtless picture of David Hasselhoff to drive traffic from Germany.

Second, at The Pasha and the Gypsy, Gordon Taylor offers a nice little piece of historical detective work about locating and identifying a Roman fortress in Eastern Turkey (long a historically contested borderland between peoples, nations, and empires) in his post “South of Van (I): Diocletian’s Castle.”

The Elite Eight

The next eight selections vary in time and place; I have organized them somewhat chronologically by time period.

Dead Sasanian Warrior

Dead Sasanian Warrior from Dura-Europos

At Zenobia: Empress of the East, Judith Weingarten offers up another quality post (“The Death of Dura-Europos“), this time exploring an archaeological and international politics bruhaha over interpreting the remains of dead Roman soldiers who may have died in a deliberate gas attack at the ruined fortress-city of Dura-Europos (along the Euphrates river in Syria today).

At Aardvarchaeology, Martin Rundkvist shows off some post-conservation pictures of a Viking drinking bowl that are pretty amazing looking considering they’re of a thousand year old piece of wood.

At Medieval Woman, author Susan Higginbotham in her post “Lady Jane Grey, the Abused Child?” incorporates multiple period sources to challenge historical characterizations of Lady Jane Grey as “a pathetic young girl, viciously abused at worst and emotionally deprived at best by her cruel parents.”

Over at The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie explores the intersection of “Nations, Nationality, Nationalism, History and Historiography” in the cultural and political battles over the nationalist claiming of early modern scientists and thinkers like Nicolaus Copernicus and Gemma Frisius.

At Georgian London, Lucy Inglis examines the development of London protest movements throughout British history and how this became connected with May 1, the International Workers Day, in her post “On May Day, the London Mob.”

In the area of historical anecdotes, the Idle Historian offers up a favorite from the Battle of Waterloo, namely the story of Lord Uxbridge’s lost leg.

HMHS Britannic as a hospital ship (Wikipedia).

Jumping into the 20th century, Alan Flower at History and the Sock Merchant talks about various engineering and safety changes White Star Line made to the HMHS Britannic in response to the 1912 Titanic disaster in his post “What Britannic learned from Titanic.”

Lastly, Natalie Bennett at Philobiblon reviews Kwame Anthony Appiah’s The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, which uses case studies of dueling in Britain, footbinding of women in China, the ending of the Atlantic slave trade, and the honor killing of women in contemporary Pakistan to explore how shifts in conceptions of honor can affect moral change. Her review, entitled “Using historical examples to consider how to end ‘honour’ killings of women,” offers some thoughts on the use of history to bring about social change.

Images of the Past

In the batch of nominations this month there were a few image-heavy selections that caught my eye, so I hunted down a few more to fill out the section, and here you are.

California - Lumbermen conversing among fallen giant redwood trees, Scotia

California - Lumbermen conversing among fallen giant redwood trees, Scotia

Over at How to be a Retronaut, Chris Wild has posted a massive collection of stunning color photographs of the United States in the interwar years (“America, 1920s-30s, in Color“) drawn from National Geographic’s Stock Image Collection. There are tons of amazing images showing all manner of people, places, and things from across the US.

Shifting our gaze arossing the Atlantic, Caroline Rance, at her blog The Quack Doctor, digs up some amusing early 20th century newspaper advertisements related to the quack curing of hernial ruptures: “Dr W. S. Rice’s Rupture Method.”

At Irish History Podcast, the man known only as Fin has posted a selection of images (photographs and newspaper drawings) showing contemporary representations of the late 19th century Land War in Ireland. This is a companion piece to a nice post on the history of the Land War in general, which is also worth your time.

Figured we needed some cheesecake balance from Bad Postcards after shirtless Hasselhoff above.

The last two in this group aren’t so much specific posts as they are the websites in general. First up is Bad Postcards, which I only recently stumbled across, but has been around since April 2010. It’s stated purpose is to post vintage Americana postcards from the 1950s-60s-70s in all their kitschy glory. “Dolphin Rapture” is probably my favorite of the May postings, but head on over and look around some more.

Finally, we have Strange Maps, run by Frank Jacobs, which posts what it labels “cartographic curiosities” whether they be real, fictional, or pie-in-the-sky maps. Again this is another example of a blog with all manner of excellent and amusing posts. In May, my favorite is “514 – Britain Telling Off Ireland,” but again, use that as your spring board to explore further.

The World is a Book

There were a number of good nominations focused on book history and manuscript analysis in this month’s batch.

First up, at ThinkShop, we have P.M. Doolan’s “Oeroeg — a novel that is a site of memory,” which explores how the Dutch-language novella Oeroeg — about a friendship between a Dutch boy and an Indonesian boy in the Dutch East Indies before and during the decolonization violence of the late 1940s — has become in the Netherlands more than a book. Instead, it has become a site of memory “where national memory has become anchored and embodied, while at the same time, it remains the site of battles and conflicts regarding national memory and, ironically, national forgetfulness.”

William Eamon, at his Labyrinth of Nature blog, reflects on the rise up of so-called “books of secrets” — essentially how-to and self-help manuals for all sorts of crafts and activities — in Europe during the early modern era in his post “The Age of How-To.”

Over at Not Even Past, a collaborative website developed by the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin, Maria Jose Afanador Llach discusses and showcases images of the Codice de la Cruz-Badiano, considered the “first illustrated survey of Mexican nature produced in the New World,” in her post “Naming and Picturing New World Nature.”

History in the Trenches

Lastly, we have a few nominations this month that discuss and consider aspects of the broader historical profession and are worth your time.

First, Katrina Gulliver, at her blog Notes from the Field, has announced the forthcoming publication of and issued a call for papers for her new academic journal, Transnational Subjects: History, Society and Culture, a peer-reviewed journal published by Gylphi focusing on transnational and cultural history since 1500. Additionally, the website for the new journal just went live yesterday (you can check it out here) and will have more content added to as the weeks go by.

Neo-Babylonian legal document from Persepolis.

At Tehran Bureau, a virtual news service dedicated to covering stories about the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iranians living abroad, we have a report from Arash Karami that isn’t so much a history piece as it is a report about historical evidence caught up in legal disputes and international incidents. The article, entitled, “Ancient Persian Treasures in American Courts,” talks about legal disputes over a collection of Persian tablets — discovered at Persepolis in 1930 and now held at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago — that could have far-reaching implications for the international lending of cultural artifacts.

Finally, at The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, Bill Caraher, in his post “Twitter, Curation, and the UnMuseum,” considers the potential role of Twitter as a curation medium for the physical and virtual environments of a place (or non-place), while also musing on how one “could use Twitter to develop a curated space of in situ graffiti art.”

La Fin de l’Histoire

Well, as Porky Pig might say:

Thanks for visiting. Stop by anytime.

Next month’s History Carnival (the 100th edition it seems) will be hosted by Walking the Berkshires. If you would like more information about the History Carnival, you can find it online at, or follow the Carnival on Twitter (@historycarnival).


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