Carnivalesque 66


Greetings! Here is the latest early modern Carnivalesque for your Sunday reading.

Historiography and methods

Wynken de Worde is building a syallabus for early modern book history

David Rundle examines responses (or non-responses) to claims of plagiarism in The Unacceptable Face of The English Face of Machiavelli?

Early Modern Online Bibliography has a discussion of Exploring reception history in Women Writers Online

Cultures: literary, visual, musical

Ptak has a fascinating post on ‘the overall full-body indexes, the general NYC subway map-like overlays on the entire body’: Mapping Humans, 1400-1759: Bloodletting, Moles, Bumps and the Stars.

At Bibliodyssey, you can gawp at the astonishingly beautiful Ottheinrich Bible, begun in the early 15th century and completed in the 16th.

Three Pipe Problem attempts to Unravel Giorgione’s ‘The Tempest’ (c.1505), and leans toward the theory of Waldemar Januszczak. Alberti’s Window, on the other hand, can’t find a satisfactory interpretation of the painting.

The History Woman is highly impressed by the V&A’s exhibition of Raphael’s Cartoons and Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel (though less impressed by the V&A’s admission policy).

Atrium Musicologicum surveys 16th-century music: The Spirit of the Renaissance .

Serendipities reviews ‘Printed images and the Reformation’ in Printed Images in Early Modern Britain (ed. by Michael Hunter, Ashgate, 2010).

Bibliodyssey is enchanted by Robert Fludd’s Temple of Music.

Gilbert Mabbot finds a 17th-century print Creepy. Indeed!

Whitney Trettien muses on A Blank Poem (1723); or, the Present of Absence: ‘…in short, blankness is sarcasm; it signifies the nothingness and “No Body” of what it’s supposed to celebrate.’

Of science and nature

William Eamon examines The Renaissance Curioso: ‘What did it mean to be a curious person in the Renaissance?’

Adrian Teal (guest posting at Dainty Ballerina) discusses Hops, Hogsheads and Horsepower, A Highly-Selective History of Beer. Mmm, beer…

Women in Medieval and Early Modern History has some Weird Science: Sex and Reproductive Knowledge in the Early Seventeenth Century, when pregnancy was still the subject of much uncertainty and strange beliefs.

Predicting the weather in the 17th century: A sign of great heat to follow (from Airs, Waters, Places) and If Mists arise out of Ponds (Dainty Ballerina).

Dainty Ballerina also brought us Strange news from the Deep, a mid 17th century account of a whale stranded in Essex (and this story of a 17th-century whale skeleton in London was in the news).

The Renaissance Mathematicus examines the life and work of the observational astronomer John Flamsteed (1646-1719) in Return of the stamp collector.

The Royal Society’s History of Science blog explores What scientists want: Robert Boyle’s to-do list.

Wonders and Marvels has a guest post by Jennifer Ouellette on Dangerous Curves: Maria Gaetana Agnesi, 18th-century polyglot, mathematician and nun.

The Artist’s Progress examines responses to the proposal of a Dog Tax in 1796. (It didn’t go down well.)

Jonathan Dresner examines The Lead Poisoning Thesis in Imperial Japan.

Crime and punishment

Executed Today looks at the hanging of Antonio Rinaldeschi, bad gambler for sacrilege in 1501: ‘passing an image of Holy Mother at the piazza Santa Maria de Alberighi, he gathered up some nearby dung and flung it at the sacred pic’.

Early Modern Whale surveys Thomas Barton’s ‘Brief Relation’ of the life and death of Thomas’s brother William, who was hanged for murder in 1661.

From the Hands of Quacks has begun a series of posts on The Criminalized Body: this one focuses on the 1752 Murder Act and public dissections in 18th-century Britain.

Early American Crime has the story of Thomas Mount (ex. for burglary in 1791) and the Flash Company.

Georgian London looks at Jeremy Bentham’s ideas for penal reform in The Birth of the Surveillance Society

Politics and people

Chaos Bogey has a digression on The Step Between covers Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell, sixteenth-century politics and the power of queens.

The National Library of Scotland’s Rare Books blog discusses Patrick Hamilton and the beginning of the Scottish Reformation.

Executed Today considers Anthony Babington‘s plot and execution in 1586.

Early Modern History quotes Clarendon on Sir John Coke (1563-1644), Charles I’s Secretary of State 1625-1640.

Mercurius Politicus notes an account of a curious portrait of Oliver Cromwell in It is I.

The Gentleman Administrator stalks Charles II during his exile in Jersey.

Boston 1775 goes in search of “One Dewksbury Who Lives about 4 Miles from You”, who (if anyone managed to find him) belonged to George Washington’s early intelligence network.

Vast Public Indifference traces a picture of the die-hard Whig family of The Littlest Martyr, Charles Pratt Marston, who died during the Boston siege of 1775-6.

The Artist’s Progress uncovers The Many Guises of Marie Antoinette in French caricature ‘from the first rustlings of revolution to her execution in 1793’.

And that’s it folks! Hope you enjoyed it…

Many thanks to Nandini Ramachandran, Jason of Executed Today, Nick Poyntz, William Eamon and Jonathan Dresner for sending in nominations. And apologies to the latter two, whose emails I managed to overlook in my inbox until after posting because I put them in the wrong folder.


Don’t forget the History Carnival is coming soon, at Notes from the Field on 1 October – please send your nominations of the best history blogging since 1 August.

Carnivalesque is coming!


This month is Carnivalesque’s sixth birthday, not to mention its 66th edition, which seems as good an excuse as any to bring it back where it started (well, apart from a small change of address. Bear with me here). So, I’ll be hosting here on about the 25th.

Send in your nominations for the best early modern blogging of the last couple of months via the nomination form or email

Twitter, blogging and historians


Tuesday 7 September was the first anniversary of the founding of the twitterstorians’ list by Katrina Gulliver. I couldn’t mark the day because I was away from home and struggling with slow and unreliable internet access for most of the week, but I wanted to post something anyway, and it gave me a few days to mull over my thoughts.

I joined Twitter in June 2009, and wouldn’t change any of my reasons for doing so:

And yet, what is Twitter if not another manifestation of the adaptability of the blog as a medium of communication? … Twitter’s genius is not the 140 characters. It’s the hash key. Oh, and the @. Tagging rocks, and metadata rules our world, baby.

But that doesn’t begin to cover what I’ve learned about Twitter in the course of using it, and being put in touch with so many historians via #twitterstorians. As someone who was around when academic blogging started to really take off five or six years ago, it’s striking how many complaints about Twitter – narcissistic, shallow, trivial – echo, in even more extreme forms, what used to be said about blogging then (but which you don’t hear so much now that blogging has become so ubiquitous even in the mainstream media. Funny, that…).

After all, Twitter as a form of blogging (‘micro-blogging’) takes certain aspects of the medium, brevity, rapidity and ephemerality, to new extremes. But Twitter doesn’t just shorten posts and move things along quicker. The single most significant difference, I think, is the way in which it removes the familiar blog structure of “post” and “comments”, and simply sweeps away the hierarchy of “blogger” and “commenter”. All tweets are equal. Getting started on Twitter is even simpler and more inviting than starting a blog.

Add to that the ease of finding and following other people and (crucially) making them aware of your existence: it’s easy to take for granted those automated emails when you follow people and the simple effectiveness of the @ and RT and the hashtag (I confess I didn’t immediately get the point of the RT: so I asked Twitter, of course, and it was gently explained to me). The nearest comparable tools available to bloggers were the damnably unreliable tools of pings and trackbacks (ah, you Twitter kids don’t know you’re born…).

The cumulative effect is that Twitter facilitates the networking and linking and community-building elements of blogging to a far greater degree, more effectively and rapidly, than blogs were able to do (so much so that, yes, it can become slightly overwhelming). Much of what is said on Twitter, far from being ‘narcissistic’, refers and/or links to something happening elsewhere. Blogs and twitter networks complement each other; 140 characters is more than enough for a (shortened, of course) link and teaser, to facilitate pursuit of the bigger ideas, the more nuanced conversations, elsewhere online.

Of course, that isn’t all it does; the flexibility of Twitter is apparently endless. It’s a place to hang out and relax, a place to communicate with work colleagues, a place to get news, ask for help, vent. I use Twitter to keep in touch with ‘real-life’ friends who live hundreds of miles away, as much as with people I’ve never met in real life. Its use as a ‘backchannel’ at conferences is well-established, enabling people who are attending to discuss (or criticise) presentations and share resources, and helping people who couldn’t attend to follow (and contribute to) the discussions. Innovative uses of the tools facilitated by the Twitter API (something else I didn’t know about, let alone grasp the significance of, a year or so ago) are emerging, such as Digital Humanities Now, which ‘takes the pulse of the digital humanities community and tries to discern what articles, blog posts, projects, tools, collections, and announcements are worthy of greater attention’.

I’ve been thinking, ever since I joined Twitter, about ways that it could potentially be used to revitalise the History Carnival. It certainly did help as a supplementary channel for announcements, but this seemed to only tap the surface of its potential. So, I’ve finally created a History Carnival account, which apart from all the usual networking things you can do with a Twitter account, has enabled me to appropriate the same tools used by Digital Humanities Now to create The Broadside as a regular, Twitter-generated supplement to (and resource for) the Carnival itself.

Early this year, we had our first experiment in tweeting and blogging a complete edition. Maybe that will become a regular occurrence. Hopefully it’s the kind of thing that can spread the word of blog carnivals to new audiences. And, like most things to do with Twitter, it was fun.

Twitterstorians’ anniversary posts
Andrew Devenney
Gentleman Administrator
Georgian London
The View East

See also…
ProfHacker on How to start Tweeting
Twitter and the book trade: the good, the bad and the ugly