History Carnival 122: Humans in the “Natural” World

This past month, Performing Humanity  had the pleasure of reviewing and annotating the most compelling, insightful, and (at times) downright strange blog posts for History Carnival.  Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 10.55.11 AM

As a site engaged in questions of animal-human definitions, we were unsurprisingly fascinated by the number of sites exploring how humans interact with the natural world–and how such interaction shaped human behavior, blurred categories of natural and unnatural, led to battles for control, and generated fact and  fiction. For example, Terri Windling of Myth & Moor provided a historical overview of the origins and cultural traditions associated in Britain with wild folklore and the figure of “Jack the Green,” who blends natural elements with human form. Lisa Smith at The Sloane Letters Blog detailed the long-standing early modern tradition of linking epilepsy to the cycles of the moon–which suggests an intense tie between human bodies and the wider universe.  For Many Headed Monster, Laura Sangha reported on early astrological traditions and the methods through which humans have traced the stars’ relationship with nature to provide daily advice about topics from crop-planting, to horse-gelding, to avoiding scabs and melancholy.  Also concerned with humans’ knowledge about the universe, Meg Rosenburg of True Anomalies  took up historical approaches to the moon, its geography, and how we have measured and mapped it.

Several blogs drew attention toward humans’ interactions with each other’s living bodies as social and scientific phenomena. Romeo Vitelli, writing for Providentia, explored the strange case of Elizabeth Canning, whose accusations of abduction against her neighbors continues to raise questions about human-to-human violence and the  desire for fame. Dr. Alun Whithey examined how one early Welsh doctor’s childhood curiosity about medicine and the human body led  to a successful surgical career and to his role as  a founding member of “a global super-power” that we now call the US.

Over at The Repository for the Royal Society, Felicity Henderson focused specifically on scientific repositories and the use of animal and human artifacts for early exploration.

The month was also exciting for anyone with a devotion to historical queens and courts. Attending to how queens’  lives mixed high political intrigue with animalistic desires, Get Lost in a Story provided an overview of recent queens’ novels as well as an interview with  fiction writer Barbara Kyle.  More information on Kyle’s work–in addition to a discussion of the role of reason and emotion in the governing styles of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots–appeared at Historical Novel Society.  Historical Tapestry hosted Gillian Bagwell’s report on the events at the Restoration court from July 1660. Engaging history actively through experimentation, Molly Taylor-Poleskey recounted (and recreated) Prince Friedrich Wilhelm’s regular breakfast of beer soup for The Recipes Project.

Discussion also abounded regarding the university’s humanistic traditions and our shifting ethical roles within them. At  Air Minded, independent historian Brett Holman sought to draw further attention and debate toward A. D. Harvey’s recent scholarly transgressions. Michael D. Hattem of The Junto considered how views of the American Revolution have changed in Americanist scholarship. Meanwhile, guest writer David J. Gary also addressed readers of The Junto, considering the moral and pedagogical positions of librarians, the intersecting roles of MA, PhD, and MLS degrees, and provided advice for students emerging in the field.

About MGN

Miranda Garno Nesler is a specialist in early material culture, gender, textuality, and animal studies. View all posts by MGN

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