Welcome to the 115th edition of the History Carnival, a round-up of some great posts written during the month of October. Special thanks to everyone who submitted in a nomination.
Battles and Wounds
Rumors of King Richard III and his “monstrous” birth has been hotly debated among historians. What happens once we dig up the King’s body? What long-buried secrets will his skeleton reveal? Speaking of Kings and secrets, The Freelance Historian narrates the history of fighting between Scotland and England from the 16th century onwards, looking at technological innovations, artillery, army formations, and politics during The Battle of Flodden, which took the lives of 5000-17000 Scots and 1500 Englishmen.
Here’s a book review of Stuart Hylton’s Reporting the Blitz: News from the Home Front Communities (The History Press Ltd., 2012).
Mary C. Neuburger writes about “Cold War Smoke” Cold War Smoke: Cigarettes Across Borders:
The rapid rise in smoking in the Bloc eventually raised concerns about tobacco and health, and Bloc states have waged fairly serious anti-smoking campaigns since the 1970s. Such campaigns, however, were largely ignored by local populations. Anti-smoking came from the wrong messenger, and what little “freedoms” people had – like an afternoon smoke break—were held onto tightly. Hence unlike the United States, communist citizens were largely resistant to the anti-smoking campaigns that stopped smoking as a mass consumer phenomenon in the West in its tracks. To this day, the former communist states (and still-communist China) have among the highest smoking rates in the world. While the Western cigarette easily seduced (and still seduces) these populations, the Western propensity to kick the habit is more contested. As Frank Reznik might have once interpreted it, the “right” to smoke is still valued by people from large swaths of the globe, particularly the lands once (or still) ruled by communists.
Finally, Christopher M. Cevasco tells us the story of The Doomed Triumph of the H.L. Hunley:
The H.L. Hunley was one of the great engineering wonders of the U.S. Civil War and the first submarine ever to to sink an enemy ship. Such a feat was not repeated for another fifty years, when a German U-boat sank the HMS Pathfinder with the first successfully deployed self-propelled torpedo at the start of World War I. Notwithstanding this notable success, the Confederate Hunley is arguably best remembered for its failure to return after its first and only wartime mission, having vanished into the depths of Charleston Harbor.
There’s been a bunch of great posts covering interesting aspects of women’s history. Susan Abernethy writes about Marie of Guise, Queen of Scotland, a member of one of the most powerful families in France who dominated Scottish and French affairs for fifty years.
I truly enjoyed this post on Going to Bed in Medieval and Tudor England: “Pillows were for girls, lying down was dangerous and invalids should nap standing up!”
Mike Rendell covers the a gruesome anniversary: The Burning to Death of Isabella Condon, 1779:
As the Times put it “The execution of a woman for coining … reflects a scandal upon the law and was not only inhuman, but shamefully indelicate and shocking. Why should the law in this species of offence inflict a severer punishment upon a woman, than a man? It is not an offence which she can perpetrate alone – in every such case the insistence of a man has been found the operating motive upon the woman; yet the man is but hanged, and the woman burned.”
It may come as a surprise to readers that physicians and surgeons have been diagnosing women with breast cancer for thousands of years, and performing mastectomies for nearly as many. In the 1st century A.D., the surgeon, Leonidas from Alexandria, described his technique for removing the breast which involved alternately cutting and cauterising the tissue with hot irons. During the Middle Ages, many surgeons began using a caustic paste which contained corrosive ingredients such as zinc chloride and stibnite. When applied directly to the breast, it would cause the tissue to undergo a rapid necrosis, making it easier to remove.
Another question worthy of reflection: “Do women dream of electric sheep?” A post examining Delia Derbyshire and the women of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
New television program by Chirurgeon’s Apprentice! See the details as well as the trailer for “Medicine’s Dark Secrets”
A few posts from George Campbell Gosling on activism and voluntary action. People & Planet: Unearthing the history of student activism:
The documents to be found there are of interest not just to historians, and the charity itself, but also to the student activism sector as a whole. People & Planet has been in existence since 1969, formerly known as Third World First. The archive covers its development from an idealistic student initiative born in the last gasp of the 1960s, through to its current guise as a team of 16 staff campaigning on environmental and human rights issues, working with University students and school pupils to raise awareness and increase action. In the records of its activities, you can trace the changing focus of UK campaigning in the past four decades, and the evolving attitudes towards the wider world that went with it.
Voluntary action has played a central part in the growth of recreational activities since the seventeenth century – if not earlier – when the growth of urban centres and increased affluence provided significant numbers of people with the opportunity and the means of enjoying a growing amount of ‘free’ time.
The legacy of Eric Hobsbawm, the Marxist historian, has died aged 95.
Jonathan Turner, recent IHPST (University of Toronto) PhD, writes about Tenure and the Culture of Failure in Academia:
Why are career paths that aren’t tenure track considered failures by so many of us? Why do we use expressions like ‘abandon the academic job search’ or ‘plan b’ even when we’re trying to explain that non-academic jobs are good outcomes of graduate studies? The easy answer is to blame the conveyor belt model of academia, and the lack of non-academic perspective of most academics. The reality is probably more a case of individual priorities and goals.