The Steampunk Doctor: Practicing Medicine in a Victorian Mechanical Age

Steampunk examines the consequences extraordinary medical discoveries can have on both individuals and societies. Abstract Influenced by both 19th-century literature and popular representations of science, the figure of the medical doctor in steampunk fiction is marked by ambiguity. At the same time a scientist, a wizard and a mechanic, the steampunk doctor exists halfway between[…]

The Real Macbeth: Mad King or a Clever Eye to Solid Power?

Macbeth appears to have cleverly positioned Scotland between her more powerful neighbors yet he did not isolate Scotland either. Introduction Mac Bethad mac Findlaích, (died August 15, 1057), was King of Scots (also known as the King of Alba) from 1040 until his death. He is best known as the subject of William Shakespeare’s tragedy[…]

Out of the Ashes: The Enduring Stories of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’

Odysseus’s natural leadership, smarts, and cool head are exceptional, and he is entertainingly deceptive and tricky. Introduction The Homeric epics, which tell stories of war, heroism, and coming home, have endured for perhaps 3,500 years. From their start as performances by oral poets to the books we read today, the tales have been told and[…]

The Medieval (and Not-So-Medieval) History Behind Netflix’s ‘Cursed’

Looking for history in the latest version of King Arthur. Introduction For those of you watching Cursed, there are spoilers ahead.  The elusive Lady of the Lake from the legends of King Arthur is the leading character, Nimue, in Netflix’s new action-and-magic-packed series Cursed. Based on the 2019 graphic novel of the same name, Cursed[…]

Myth and Epic in the Ancient World

Exploring believed what and the effect literal belief in myths had on given social orders. Introduction Anthropologists and literary critics tend to read even sacred ancient literature in the manner of Homer’s and Virgil’s epics, that is, as fiction with historical elements. They don’t, however, always follow up with the implications of that. Mesopotamian myths[…]

The American Renaissance in Context in the 19th Century

Exploring the literary context in which American Renaissance writers wrote and published. Introduction In 1941, when Harvard scholar F. O. Matthiessen published American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman, he defined the canon for the period that many regard as the most important in American literary history. Matthiessen argued that,[…]

American Gothic Literature in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Gothic literature has a long, complex, and multi-layered history. Introduction Ever read a strange book or watch a scary film, and feel the hairs on your arms stand on end? Ever get the “chills” encountering a creepy story, or have a hard-to-pin-down, icky feeling while standing in a cemetery or house that feels “haunted”? Have[…]

Representations of Brazil and the Portuguese in 18th-Century Travel Literature

The travel literature, which did not have Brazil as final destination, could have disproportionate and unsuspected repercussions. By Dr. Ângela Maria Vieira DominguesProfessor of HistoryInstituto de Investigação Cientíca TropicalCentro de História de Além-Mar (FCSH/UNL) Abstract As part of a reflection on Atlantic history, I intend to reread the travel literature written by Europeans who stayed[…]

A Cursus Honorum Dropout: The Life and Works of Apollinaris Sidonius (c.430-483 CE)

Although a saint, a bishop, and an important figure in a turbulent age, Sidonius is remembered particularly because of his somewhat dubious literary talents. By Dr. Lynn Harry Nelson Emeritus Professor of Medieval History The University of Kansas Introduction Europe in 451 CE Although a saint, a bishop, and an important figure in a turbulent[…]

Jubilate Agno: An 18th-Century Poet and His Cat

From ‘Six studies of a cat’ by Thomas Gainsborough, 1763–70 The poet Christopher Smart — also known as “Kit Smart”, “Kitty Smart”, “Jack Smart” and, on occasion, “Mrs Mary Midnight” — was a well known figure in 18th-century London. Nowadays he is perhaps best known for considering his cat Jeoffry. Writer and broadcaster Frank Key[…]

The Redemption of Saint Anthony in Gustave Flaubert

“Anthony: What Is the Point of All This? The Devil: There Is No Point!”, by Odilon Redon from his “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” series – Wikimedia Commons Gustave Flaubert, best known for his masterpiece Madame Bovary, spent nearly thirty years working on a surreal and largely ‘unreadable’ retelling of the temptation of Saint Anthony. Colin Dickey[…]

The German World and Its Inheritance: Some Thoughts on Reading Beowulf

From a medieval manuscript / British Library, Public Domain The heroic character of Beowulf, the nature of leadership and, hence, of the politics of the society, and the forces to which humans are subject. By Dr. Lynn Harry Nelson Emeritus Professor of Medieval History The University of Kansas Introduction I believe that one can easily discern[…]

An Overview of Pakistani Folklore

Baloch Raaj, The Death of Doda Pakistani folklore is shaped both by the languages and traditions of the various ethnic groups that make up the population, and by the religious convictions of the people in each region. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.23.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Sohni Swims to Meet Her Lover Mahinwal,[…]

Culture and Intellectual Life in British Colonial South Asia

The contributions and influence of South Asian artists, poets, intellectuals and sportspeople within British arts, sciences, law, and sport during the colonial period in the 19th and 20th centuries.      By (left-to-right) Dr. Susheila Nasta, Dr. Florian Stadtler, and Dr. Rozina Visram Nasta: Chair in Modern Literature, The Open University Stadtler: Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures, University of Exeter Visram: Author and[…]

King Lear: Madness, the Fool, and Poor Tom

King Lear and Cordelia, by Benjamin West (1793) / Folger Shakespeare Library, Wikimedia Commons Considering how the Fool and Poor Tom, two characters in King Lear who stand outside the social order, enhance the play’s investigation of madness, civilisation and humanity. By Dr. Gillian Woods / 03.15.2016 Senior Lecturer in Renaissance Theatre and Drama Birkbeck University of London[…]

Shakespeare’s Cholerics Were the Real Drama Queens

Taming of the Shrew, 1809, by Washington Allston / Philadelphia Museum of Art, Public Domain In Shakespeare’s times, personalities were categorised according to four temperaments. The choleric temperament was hot-tempered and active, as Nelly Ekström describes. By Nelly Ekström / 12.11.2016 Visitor Experience Assistant Wellcome Trust William Shakespeare’s plays provide examples of all four temperaments, but it’s[…]

Shakespeare and the Four Humours

Profile of William Shakespeare, c.1793 / Wellcome Collection, Creative Commons Blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile: the body’s four humours were believed to control your personality in Shakespeare’s day and influenced the way the Bard created some of his most famous characters. By Nelly Ekström / 12.11.2016 Visitor Experience Assistant Wellcome Trust Shakespeare’s writing is one[…]

Mistress of a New World: Early Science Fiction in Europe’s ‘Age of Discovery’

Portrait of Margaret Cavendish in the frontispiece to her Grounds of Natural Philosophy (1668). The image is also used as frontispiece to some editions of The Blazing World / Wikimedia Commons Considered by many one of the founding texts of the science fiction genre, The Blazing World — via a dizzy mix of animal-human hybrids, Immaterial Spirits, and burning foes —[…]

The Medieval World: An Introduction to Middle English Literature

Bronze statue of Geoffrey Chaucer The world about which Chaucer wrote was a very different world from that which produced Beowulf.  Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.27.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief The world about which Chaucer wrote was a very different world from that which produced Beowulf. Developments in language, new structures in society, and changes[…]

‘A Ghost in Daylight’: Drug Literature and Two Centuries of Gothic Convention

British Library, Public Domain Examining how drug literature—writing on drugs by drug users—has consistently resorted to Gothic conventions, images and atmospheres for 200 years.    By Dr. Jayson Althofer (left) and Dr. Brian Musgrove (right) / 09.04.2018 Abstract This article examines how drug literature—writing on drugs by drug users—has consistently resorted to Gothic conventions, images and[…]

The 19th-Century Author Rejected from the Brazilian Academy for Being a Woman

Júlia Lopes de Almeida was a founding member in the creation of the Brazilian Academy of Letters but was left out because she was a woman. | Image: National Library Foundation. Public Archives. She helped create the Brazilian Academy of Letters—only to be excluded by the institution for being a woman. By Fabíola Hauch / 10.12.2018 Júlia[…]

Linguistic Evidence Support for Dating the Homeric Epics

Linguistic dating is in close agreement with historians’ and classicists’ beliefs derived from historical and archaeological sources.        By (left-to-right) Dr. Eric Lewin Altschuler, Dr. Andreea S Calude, Dr. Andrew Meade, and Dr. Mark Pagel / 02.18.2013 Altschuler: Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Microbiology and Molecular Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, University Hospital[…]

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville and the ‘Moral Geography’ of the Medieval World

Mandeville’s Travels was, for more than two centuries after its appearance in c.1356, of enormous influence and popularity in many fields of European culture. This paper discusses first its unprecedented generic eclecticism and its casting into the form of a first person narrative, and then proceeds to explore concepts of space and how a journey[…]

Change the World, Not Yourself, or How Arendt Called Out Thoreau

Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr Ralph David Abernathy, their families, and others leading the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. It is not often that a neighborhood squabble is remembered as a world-historical event. By Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick / 08.22.2018 Humanities Editor Los Angeles Review of Books It is not often that a neighbourhood squabble[…]

The Second Nun in the Canterbury Tales: Language Politics and Translation

The second nun from Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) The Second Nun, her prologue, and her tale might be the quietest pilgrim and narrative in the Canterbury Tales. By Dr. Candace Barrington Professor of English Central Connecticut State University Introduction The Second Nun, her prologue, and her tale might be the quietest[…]