Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Meanings of Heritage

guest post by Paul Betts and Corey Ross, editors of our latest supplement Heritage in the Modern World read the supplement online Heritage is back in the news.  Islamic State’s grisly bulldozing of the ancient Assyrian archaeological site of Nimrud in Iraq a few weeks ago has elicited worldwide shock and revulsion, punctuated by UNESCO’s designation of the act as a war crime.  Habib Afram, the president of the Syriac League of Lebanon, remarked in an interview with The Guardian (6 March 2015) that ISIS is seeking nothing less than to “erase our culture, past and civilization,” and likened their impact to the Mongol invasion of the Middle East in the 13th century. A CNN article of the same day reported that Iraqi state television condemned the act as an attack on “humanity’s civilization, the Mesopotamian civilization.”  For its part, UNESCO has strongly condemned this cultural vandalism as an affront against all peoples, claiming that these artifacts belong to all of humanity.  Such international outcry about the terrorist destruction of sacred pasts is reminiscent of the Taliban’s detonation of the Bamiyan Buddhas back in 2001, as the neologism “cultural terrorism” came to international prominence to describe this flagrant act of […]

Connecting the Segments (of Sleep)

guest post by A. Roger Ekirch read Roger’s article in the journal here   I at first dreaded the prospect of writing about sleep from an historical perspective. Sleep, to me, was not only a universal necessity but also a biological constant that did not deviate over time or space. But having embarked upon writing a book about nighttime in the early modern world, there was no ignoring it, hard as it might prove to find enough material of sufficient interest to sustain an entire chapter.  To my surprise, I shortly discovered that preindustrial households on both sides of the North Atlantic attached enormous importance to their slumber, going to great lengths in an attempt to ensure not only its quality but also their personal safety while abed from perils real and imagined. More, I began discovering references in legal depositions, then housed at the Public Record Office on Chancery Lane, to a “first sleep” followed by a second sleep after an interval of wakefulness during which persons left their beds and, less often, their dwellings. At that point, I knew that I was on to something very strange, which subsequent explorations of plays, poems, novels, and other texts confirmed. […]

Does it make you radical to own a radical book?

guest post by Kat Hill read Kat’s article in the journal here Think about a controversial book you own. Even something which just takes a very pointed stance on an issue. It might be political literature, or a piece of polemical historiography or literary criticism. Just because you own the work does it mean that you agree with it? Does it make you a Christian to own the Bible? Or a Nazi to own Mein Kampf? In a similar vein, does reading Anne Widdecomb’s forays into fiction mean you agree with her politics? It might, but not necessarily. We are aware that the connections between objects and belief are rarely so clear cut, or at least we know this when we think about our own book and media collections. Does it make you radical to own a radical book? This and related questions stimulated my research into Anabaptism in the sixteenth century. Anabaptists, those who rejected infant baptism and embraced adult baptism, have come to epitomise what has been termed the radical Reformation. Movements which fall under this umbrella supposedly went further than mainstream Protestants dared, more radical and more extreme, rejecting more social and cultural conventions. But what were the markers […]