The Brave New (and Old) World of Data

Data, made up of units so uniform as to be, almost by necessity, boring, unite to form collectives of information in a data-driven world that is recognized now as exciting, sexy, and consummately modern. And not for the first time, we must add. At least since the rise of print … Continue reading

Early Modern Literary Geographies

One of the gems in The Huntington’s library collection is a 16th-century image titled “View from Wotton Underwood.” Although officially cataloged as a “map,” it’s quite different from what we usually call a map today. Offering a detailed and colorful point of view on a particular Buckinghamshire village, this map … Continue reading

Ben Jonson’s Works at 400

The conference “Ben Jonson: 1616-2016” takes place at The Huntington on Sept. 16 and 17 in Rothenberg Hall. We asked the conference’s conveners—Martin Butler, professor of English Renaissance Drama at the University of Leeds, and Jane Rickard, associate professor of 17th-century English Literature at the University of Leeds—to share their … Continue reading

Printed News and Royal Proclamations

The highways and byways of early modern England carried travelers transporting news of the day. Royal messengers jostled with post-boys, merchants, booksellers, and balladeers. Judges rode their circuits, and private individuals braved the rutted roads on business or private journeys. One of the main topics was politics, delivered in the … Continue reading

The Fabricated American Desert

Humans have negotiated the desert for millennia, finding in it equal measures of sustenance, terror, beauty—and, above all, a dwelling place. To explore issues of human intervention in and on the American desert, my colleague James Nisbet and I have organized a conference at The Huntington titled “The Fabricated American … Continue reading

Thomas Browne and His World

The idiosyncratic physician, essayist, and naturalist Thomas Browne (1605–82) produced a diverse body of writings that reveal a cornucopian range of interests at once scientific and religious: burial practices and mortality (Urn-Burial), the geometrical patterning of nature (Garden of Cyrus), and the perpetuation of errors and falsehoods across various disciplines … Continue reading

Portraiture as Interaction

Portraiture implies an interaction between the sitter and spectator. It often rehearses an interaction between two or more protagonists and regularly focuses on the interaction between the people represented and their surroundings. Portraits—of husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, friends, and colleagues—are often depicted by artists and arranged by curators … Continue reading

Isherwood in California

The conference “‘My Self in a Transitional State’: Isherwood in California” takes place at The Huntington on November 13 and 14 in Rothenberg Hall. We asked the conference conveners—James J. Berg, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at College of the Desert, and Chris Freeman, professor of English … Continue reading

Reading the Aftermath of Civil War

I had the pleasure of attending “Ending a Mighty Conflict: The Civil War in 1864–1865 and Beyond,” a conference that took place at The Huntington last month. The lively talks by distinguished scholars reminded me of my recent encounters with the handwritten accounts of Civil War soldiers. Expressing noble sentiments, … Continue reading

The Provocative 15th Century

Until recently, the literature of 15th-century England had a poor reputation, being characterized as lacking talent and literary imagination. Coming after Chaucer’s death in 1400 and before the well-known works of the Elizabethan period, the period’s literature struck many readers as being overly decorous, didactic, and dull. “The Provocative 15th … Continue reading