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Issue 14

Tolkien’s English Mythology

J.R.R. Tolkien’s tales of Middle-earth are hailed as founding texts of modern fantasy. But his recently published commentary on the Old English poem Beowulf suggests that Tolkien saw his creative writing as a work of historical reconstruction. The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings were conceived as the original stories behind an ancient but long lost English …

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The Mighty Turkey: An American Historical Icon

Thanksgiving is fast descending on the American landscape. At the end of November, millions of Americans, fueled by an unquenchable passion for gluttony-based nostalgia, will sharpen their carving knives and engage in the mass ritual slaughter of turkeys in the name of a national feast that puts any pyramid-topped, beating heart extirpating, ancient Aztec sun-god sacrifice to shame. Yes, it’s …

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Temporality Matters: The History Manifesto

“A history undergraduate places aside her work on an assignment for a few hours to surf the Web, and what she sees there worries her. It always troubles her, because her conscience keeps asking her how to connect her work with the world outside the university. She thinks of herself as a reformer, and corruption, pollution, and inequality rock her …

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David Tiedemann Reviews ‘The Dead Duke’ by Piu Marie Eatwell

The purpose of the kind of popular historical writing exemplified in The Dead Duke, by Piu Marie Eatwell, is to present a period or subject to a non specialized audience in an accessible way.  Hopefully by the end of the work the reader’s genuine curiosity is piped and they can go on to explore the era further. Taking this function …

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The Bloody History of Chocolate

Delicious chocolate has a far stranger history than you may at first think biting into its brown creamyness. Chocolate is derived from Theobroma cacao seeds, better known as cocoa beans, which are indigenous to South America. The very earliest discovery of chocolate being processed for human consumption comes from drinking cups that have been dated to around 1,750 BC. These cups were …

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FROM THE ARCHIVE: Women-Only Spaces

Lucy Allen looks at why all the best wombs are wearing misogyny gold this season. I’ve seen several discussions of the medieval birth-chamber as a woman-only space recently, including Helen Castor’s documentary. Castor claims that birth chambers were a space in which women were given extraordinary power in a habitually disempowering society – where midwives had the power to perform …

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