The Ever-Present Billy the Kid: Protagonist of the Old West

Why the Kid’s enduring popularity? More than 1,000 books and essays have been published about Billy the Kid. He competes with Genl. George Custer and Jesse James as the most-written-about character of the Old West. Why the Kid’s enduring popularity? What has so fascinated readers and viewers with this desperado of the Southwest to keep him[…]

Fictional History, Patriotism, and the Fight for Scottish Independence

The contribution of popular but historically inaccurate films—and literature—to the evolution of a misguided patriotism that fails to take account of historical and political complexities seems obvious. Premiering at the 2019 Edinburgh International Film Festival in advance of its general release on June 28, 2019, Robert the Bruce, directed by Richard Gray, will “boost support for Scottish independence,” if actor[…]

Eels and Feels: A Strange Fetish with ‘Electric’ Animals in the 18th Century

For Georgian Londoners, the allure of electric animals was both intellectual and sensual. By Ruth Garde / 04.06.2017 Curator, Creative Producer, Writer For Georgian Londoners, the allure of electric animals was both intellectual and sensual. By the time James Munro wrote these words, scientific investigations into the electrical properties of torpedo fish and electric eels had been[…]

The Bizarre Social History of Beds

Today’s beds are thought of as bastions of privacy. But not long ago, they were the perches from which kings ruled and places where travelers hunkered down with complete strangers. Introduction Groucho Marx once joked, “Anything that can’t be done in bed isn’t worth doing at all.” You might think he was referring to sleeping[…]

Exploring Ancient Mosaics

We can see how the world once was and glimpse now lost landscapes, flora and fauna. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Mosaics, where designs and images are created using small pieces (tesserae) of stone or other materials, have been used to decorate floors, walls, ceilings, and precious objects since before written records began. Like pottery, mosaics have[…]