Categories
Pulp Scholarship

Silenced Spring

Rachel Carson would have to write a murder mystery, I suspect, about involved a young socialite who knew too much and a sinister Dr. D.D. Thornton.

Categories
History

Patient #1

On May 20, 1817, five days after the Friends’ Asylum opened, a woman in her late 40s, who had been suffering from melancholy for 11 years was admitted to the asylum as Patient #1.[1] Neither the superintendent nor the attending physician noted who brought her. The superintendent noted, briefly: [Patient #1] was brought this Afternoon […]

Categories
History

Anti-Smoking, ca. 1879

In 1879 the Phrenological Journal published two short anti-smoking reports. The first, in February, purportedly summarized an article in the British Medical Monthly: “What Smoking does for Boys.” Apparently a physician concerned by the number of boys under 15 he saw smoking, decided to see if he could document the health issues related to smoking. […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

Newton Relics

In an editorial taking Kyrie Irving to task for his comments about the shape of the earth, “Between Kyrie Irving’s flat Earth and Isaac Newton’s apple tree, science remains a process of understanding,” Glenn Starkman and Patricia Princehouse remark: We have an apple tree on the Case Western Reserve University campus grown from a twig […]

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Pulp Scholarship

The Death of Mlle. Nature

When Carolyn Merchant tires of writing careful, scholarly works about ecology and the scientific revolution, perhaps she will try something a little edgier, like murder mysteries.

Categories
Pulp Scholarship

The Copernican Revolutionary

Thomas Kuhn, writing under a pretty lame nom de plume, tried his hand at historical pulp fiction. The story of a Revolutionary War-era woman who refused to live by society’s patriarchal norms. Ok, there’s no way Thomas Kuhn could have written such a book. But it’s fun to pretend.

Categories
Pulp Scholarship

Galileo’s Courtesan

In a conversation recently, a student commented something like, “At first I couldn’t recall the title of Biagioli’s book. All I could think of was Galileo Courtesan.”[1] His remark prompted me to wonder what would scholarship look like if written as mid–20th-century pulp fiction. Maybe something like this: I would give anything to stumble across […]

Categories
Quotation

Disciplinary Histories from Within

Disciplinary history written from within that discipline tends to be not only teleological but also parochial and hagiographical. Most importantly, disciplinary history written from within that discipline tends to be unprofessional, in the sense that it is written by scholars who have been trained in the discipline that they are studying but not in the […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Atlas Obscura but Not So Accurata

Atlas Obscura seems to have reached a point that it no longer can describe itself as, well, obscura. The website enjoys more than 300,000 pageviews each day and has produced a book, which is currently the “#1 Best Seller in General Travel Reference” and #293 overall at Amazon. While individual entries might be, physically, off […]