The March 2013 History Carnival: Good Vibrations

Demonstration using a vibrator, 1891

Hello and welcome to the March 2013 edition of the History Carnival, a monthly showcase of history blog writing at its finest. My name is Andrew D. Devenney, and once again it is my honor and privilege to host this month’s edition at my not-particularly-active-lately website. Let’s get to it, shall we?

As is usual for this sort of endeavor, I received an eclectic mix of nominations that amazingly fell into a few distinct thematic areas. I have attempted to make some coherent sense of this bounty, but have had to pick and choose to make it all fit (such is my prerogative, I guess).

British and American History Bazaar

To start off, several nominations this month touched on a broadly defined theme of British and American history. For instance, at Tropics of Meta, Lauren MacIvor Thompson explores the historiographical literature surrounding the supposed use of vibrators and sexual release as a “cure” for hysteria in Victorian women, in a blog post entitled “The Contested Space of the Victorian Vagina: The Myth of Vibrators and Hysteria Therapy.”

At Vaguely Interesting, Ian Curry digs up an interesting nugget of historical ephemera involving US and British operational codewords associated with the D-Day landing in France curiously appearing in the answers to Daily Telegraph crossword puzzles prior to the invasion in June 1944.

Susan Ozmore, writing at Saints, Sisters, and Sluts, provides a capsule biography of Harriet Lane, the “Democratic Queen” and niece of US President James Buchanan. Lane served as First Lady at the White House during Buchanan’s one term in office prior to the Civil War.

Finally, at the History Tavern, Nathan C. Traylor begins a series of posts on the American Journey to Liberty with a post exploring the role the 1763 Treaty of Paris played in stoking discontent with Great Britain among the American colonies.

History as Discipline

There were quite a few pointers to posts in February that engaged broadly with the discipline of history. For instance, Timothy Burke at Easily Distracted critiques the macro-historical tendencies in the work of Jared Diamond (he of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse fame, for those of you who have been living under a rock the last fifteen years).

Chad Black at his blog Parezco Y Digo attempts in an intriguing post to articulate and work through the implications of developing a new platform for presenting long form historical narratives on the internet.

At Play the Past, a guest post by Ron Morris of Ball State University entitled “The Future of the Civil War through Gaming: Morgan’s Raid Video Game” teases out the greater potential role historians could play in the creation of historical games and what value these games might have for public history and history education.

Marc Parry at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Percolator blog traces references to the terms “cliometircs” and “quantitative history” in Google’s corpus of digitized books to see if the recent turn to quantitative history is not so recent after all.

And finally, while not necessarily a blog per se, Robert Townsend in the February 2013 issue of the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History magazine writes about a recent report that claims that history graduate education in the US is failing to prepare graduate students in basic research skills and to adopt more modern research practices.

History of the Mind

The field of intellectual history produced a few nominations in February. At Early Modern Thought Online: The Blog, Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter explores views in early modern German thought regarding the connections between material experience and historical study, particularly in how the study of history as a replacement for personal experience pertained to the study of moral philosophy. Part of a series of posts on Experience in the Moral Realm (a round-up of previous posts can be found here), Heßbrüggen-Walter’s post is quite a read.

A guest post by Nils Gilman at the US Intellectual History Blog entitled “What is the Subject of Intellectual History?” created a bit of stir in February, with Gilman’s attempts to define what he considered the appropriate limits of intellectual history receiving considerable push back at the blog and on Twitter. A Storify put together by the pseudonymous Twitterati Grumpy Historian captures the flavor of this discussion and provides an interesting counterpoint to the post in question.

Update: For additional context to the discussion over Nils Gilman’s piece, take a look at “What is the Subject of Intellectual History–A Response” by Edward Blum and this comment Gilman made to another post where, in defending himself, he labels his previous efforts as “trolling.”

And that’s that for the month of February. Now get reading!

Next month’s History Carnival (the 120th edition — how time flies) will be hosted by “Got Soil?”, a blog dedicated to horticulture and gardening history. If you would like more information about the History Carnival, you can find it online at http://www.historycarnival.org, or follow the Carnival on Twitter (@historycarnival).

Featured Image: Illustration of Vibrator Demonstration, 1891, used under a Creative Commons license from the Wellcome Library.


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