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If it is hard to write a book review, then it is much harder to make a book. Anthony Grafton's latest monograph, Inky Fingers, puts the difficulties of labour at the centre of this engaging study of book production in early modern Europe and North America (the latter included despite the expected limitations of the subtitle).
‘Artificial intelligence (AI)’ is a loaded term, rife with connotative contradiction that inspires debate, disagreement, and disillusion. But what is AI, really? How have our expectations of computational capability, and even a robot Armageddon, come to be? Why does it matter how we talk about increasingly sophisticated technology, not just in expository prose, but also in fiction?
Students of history are not always aware when they live through major historiographic change; shifts are sometimes only recognizable in hindsight, with accumulated divergences sharply evident against the backdrop of the field.
In one memorable incident related in Keith Thomas’s In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilization in Early Modern England, an unfortunate diner fell victim to poor table manners.
A Day at Home in Early Modern England does precisely as the title suggests – it takes its reader through the minutiae of a day in early modern England in painstaking detail using a combination of literary sources, historical documents (including court records, wills and inventories) and household objects.
Good reference books on the history of alcohol remain few and far between, despite increased interest in the area in the last 20 years.
The first rigorous academic overview of witchcraft in Ireland, this publication is a very welcome addition to a growing corpus of scholarship on this relatively neglected aspect of Irish social and cultural history. For decades, St John D. Seymour’s Irish Witchcraft and Demonology (1) was the only academic text on the subject available to researchers.
Thomas Dixon’s Weeping Britannia is a tour through six centuries of British tears, from ‘extreme weeper’ Margery Kempe to the televised ‘sob-fests’ of Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor, via tear-stained judges, the emotionally extravagant novel of sensibility, supposedly stiff-upper-lipped politicians, and the bemused disdain of dry-eyed journalists observing the
Across the 17th century, more than 350,000 English people went to America. Yet many, if not most of those who went brought with them a keen sense of their bringing ‘Englishness’ with them, rather than transforming into ‘Americans’. Emigrants travelled to the New World for a variety of reasons.
Essay collections are always a mixed bag, and this one is more muddled than most. The warning signs are clear. The volume is part of a series ominously titled ‘Austrian Studies in English’. Six of the 15 essays were papers presented at a 2010 conference of the same name at the University of Vienna.