The Poetry of Victorian Science

Watercolour portrait by William Buckler of Robert Hunt, 1842 — Wellcome Library, Creative Commons In 1848, the mineralogist, pioneer of photography, and amateur poet Robert Hunt published The Poetry of Science, a hugely ambitious work that aimed to offer a survey of scientific knowledge while also communicating the metaphysical, moral, and aesthetic aspects of science to the[…]

Women and the 1956 Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris

Photo via AAIHS Examining the significant contributions of women and the dynamics of gender at the 1956 Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris.  By Merve Fejzulah PhD Candidate in Historical Studies University of Cambridge The First International Congress of Black Writers and Artists, held from September 19-22, 1956 at the Sorbonne in Paris, was[…]

The Hamlet Effect

Image by Michelle Gia, Flickr, Creative Commons The active properties of sharing – what it means to be bound to others through the common experience of a textual/dramatic artifact. By Dr. Holly Crocker Professor of English University of South Carolina Until very recently, I have avoided writing about Hamlet. With the occasional exception, I have also avoided[…]

Langston Hughes and the Paris Transfer

By Dr. Tracy Sharpley-Whiting Gertrude Conaway Distinguished Vanderbilt Professor of Humanities (AADS and French) Vanderbilt University In his exquisitely written biography of Langston Hughes, Arnold Rampersad details the poet’s wanderlust, from his travels with his father to Mexico to his hopscotching across the globe on the S. S. Malone and McKeesport freighters, visiting African and European port cities in[…]

Things—In Theory

Don DeLillo, New York City, 1990s How do the literary, visual, and plastic arts fashion questions about the object world and our relation to it? By Dr. Bill Brown / 01.01.2016 Karla Scherer Distinguished Service Professor in American Culture University of Chicago n the opening pages of Falling Man, an unidentified consciousness struggles to apprehend the[…]

Replotting the Romance of Paris: Americans and the Commune

Creative Commons Photo The tenacity of the Commune’s second life does not simply attest to its continuing usefulness in American culture for making sense of revolutions past and future: it also crucially reverses the assumption that transnational circuits of memory—that memory without borders, as it were—are uniquely or definitively a product of our own hyper-mediated historical moment.[…]

Rhythms of Change: The Victorian Science Poems of May Kendall

Ammonite fossil / Photo by Becks, Wikimedia Commons Nineteenth-century England saw a major revolution in the scientific understanding of the natural world. By Olivia Rosane / 05.17.2018 Nineteenth-century England saw a major revolution in the scientific understanding of the natural world. Charles Lyell’s 1830s Principles of Geology explained how landscapes were shaped and reshaped by daily processes like[…]

Henry Morton Stanley and the Pygmies: Stereotypes in Victorian Society

Henry Morton Stanley as pictured in the frontispiece to Volume 1 of his In Darkest Africa (1890) – Internet Archive After returning from his disastrous mission to central Africa to rescue a German colonial governor, the explorer Henry Morton Stanley was eager to distract from accusations of brutality with his ‘discovery’ of African pygmies. Brian Murray explores how[…]

Think You Know Your Rhetorical Structures? I Can’t Even…

All rhetorical techniques are designed to enhance one of the three pillars of communication: ethos, logos and pathos. Benson Kua We all use rhetorical structures. But, unless we’re skilled in their use, as politicians and advertisers clearly are, we don’t necessarily grasp their full manipulative power. By Dr. Joan Leach / 02.02.2016 Professor and Director, International Programs Australian National[…]

Absorbed in Translation: The Art – and Fun – of Literary Translation

Literary translation has occurred for centuries (the Bible is a prime example). And with Nobel Prize winners like French author Patrick Modiano, it’s unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Wikimedia Commons Some may figure that literary translators are a dying breed, like quill pen makers, and assume that computers will eventually take over the job. Don’t hold[…]

Abandon All Hope: Guide to Dante’s Divine Comedy

Giotto’s Last Judgment in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, inspired by Dante Alighieri’s vision of heaven and hell. Wikimedia The gates to hell in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy tell us to “abandon all hope, yet who enter here”. Despite its unfunny premise, ‘La Commedia’ ends well, with its protagonist Dante reaching heaven. By Dr. Frances Di Lauro / 10.01.2017 Senior Lecturer Chair, The Department[…]

Wild Heart Turning White: Austrian Poet Georg Trakl and Cocaine

Georg Trakl in 1910 – Wikimedia Commons To mark the 100th anniversary of the death by cocaine overdose of Austrian lyric poet Georg Trakl, Richard Millington explores the role the drug played in Trakl’s life and works. By Dr. Richard Millington Senior Lecturer in German Victoria University of Wellington He doesn’t know whether his behaviour was[…]

Sex and Science in Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora

“A Group of Carnations”, a plate from Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora (1807) — Internet Archive Bridal beds, blushing captives, and swollen trunks – Carl Linnaeus’ taxonomy of plants heralded a whole new era in 18th-century Europe of plants being spoken of in sexualised terms. Martin Kemp explores* how this association between the floral and erotic reached its[…]

Moonblight and Six Feet of Romance: Dan Carter Beard’s Foray into Fiction

Illustration from Moonblight (1889) – Internet Archive An esoteric disease which reveals things in their true light; three pairs of disembodied feet galavanting about the countryside – Abigail Walthausen explores the brief but strange literary career of Daniel Carter Beard, illustrator for Mark Twain and a founding father of the Boy Scouts of America. By Abigail Walthausen Although[…]

The Erotic Dreams of Emanuel Swedenborg

Portrait of Swedenborg painted in 1817, after Swedenborg’s death, by Carl Frederik von Breda – Wikimedia Commons During the time of his ‘spiritual awakening’ in 1744 the scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg kept a dream diary. Richard Lines looks at how, among the heavenly visions, there were also erotic dreams, the significance of which has been[…]

Thou Art Translated! How Shakespeare Went Viral

A 1964 Soviet stamp depicts William Shakespeare. “Stamp” via www.shutterstock.com Centuries before the internet, Shakespeare became a global phenomenon. By Dr. Alexa Alice Joubin / 04.23.2015 Professor of English Co-Director, Digital Humanities Institute Director, Dean’s Scholars in Shakespeare George Washington University In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, when Peter Quince sees Bottom turned into an ass-headed figure, he cries[…]

Guide to the Classics: Sappho, a Poet in Fragments

Fresco showing a woman called Sappho holding writing implements from Pompeii Naples National Archaeological Museum. Wikimedia Commons Sappho sang of desire, passion and love – mostly directed towards women. As new fragments of her work are found, a fuller picture of her is emerging, but she remains themost mysterious of ancient poets. By Dr. Marguerite Johnson / 03.29.2017 Associate Professor of Ancient History and Classical Languages University[…]

Marx, Freud, Hitler, Mandela, Greer… Shakespeare Influenced Them All

Even if you’ve never read or seen any of Shakespeare’s works, his influence has touched your life. Photo credits, clockwise from top: Kevin Lamarque, public domain, public domain, public domain, public domain, Mike Tsikas, 20th Century Fox, Mike Hutchings In the almost 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, his words have been enlisted by an extraordinary range of[…]

‘What Ish My Nation?’: Towards a Negative Definition of Identity

A timeline of Shakespeare’s plays / Creative Commons Defining national culture and identity. By Dr. Eugene O’Brien Senior Lecturer in English Mary Immaculate College There is hardly a more quoted line from Shakespeare in the overall context of Irish Studies than the above question from Henry V. Given the agonies of identity that have plagued Irish[…]

Guide to the Classics: Virgil’s Aeneid

Virgil reads the Aeneid to Octavia and Augustus. Angelica Kauffmann/Hermitage/Wikimedia Commons Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid documents the founding of Rome by a Trojan hero. As with other ancient epics, our hero has to remain resolute in the face of significant divine hostility. By Dr. Chris Mackie / 10.23.2017 Professor of Classics La Trobe University The Aeneid by the Roman poet Virgil is an epic poem in[…]

How Reading Fiction Can Help You Improve Yourself and Your Relationship to Others

Reading fiction can make you happier, nicer towards others and better focused in your activities. Pixabay/Pexels To counter the unbalanced effects of the digital age, reading literature is the key.    By Dr. Massimo Salgaro (left) and Dr. Adriaan van der Weel (right) / 12.18.2017 Salgaro: RFIEA Fellows 2017-2018, IEA Paris, Researcher in Literary Theory, University of Verona van der[…]

How King Arthur Became One of the Most Pervasive Legends of All Time

Vuk Kostic/www.shutterstock.com Historic heroes like King Arthur have helped audiences through the ages to cope with troubling times. By Dr. Raluca Radulescu / 02.02.2017 Professor of Medieval Literature and English Literature Bangor University King Arthur is one of, if not the, most legendary icons of medieval Britain. His popularity has lasted centuries, mostly thanks to the numerous incarnations of his story that pop[…]