Weighty Historical Matters

There has been some great, chewy stuff over at Cliopatria recently: Miriam Burstein’s essay on the aesthetics of history, Manan Ahmed and Nathaniel Robinson’s conversation about reconciliation and historical memory, and today our newest member, Claire Potter, on the history of everyday rage. I’ve been so derelict in posting there, I wanted to return to the fold with a similarly weighty and scholarly piece of work. And so I give you:

A thriving LiveJournal community, which examines historical figures and asks of each the vital question: Were They Hot? Recent contestants include Lord Byron (surely a no-brainer?), Frida Kahlo, Robespierre (“he’s got a slightly squished face but I reckon he looks good naked”), and the Roman Emperor Philip (“I would ride this man to Damascus and back if I had to”).

Kate Beaton’s History Project and History Project Two, a series of winsome and ridiculous cartoons about history, much of it obscure and/or Canadian. I can’t pick a favorite cartoon, as they always have a cumulative effect on me, but it’s hard to argue with Sandford Fleming’s beard. I wish the CBC would scrap the hokey old Heritage Minute and give my tax dollars directly to Kate.

Sometimes blog posts seem so blatantly written for me and me alone that I feel like a chimp when I link to them. But I suppose the internet is big enough that everybody feels that way from time to time. Anyway, one of our buddy Bill Turkel’s digital history students recently wrote a software ‘bot that impersonates Benjamin Franklin. I must admit it is not the most cunning impersonation one could imagine:

Turkel: So what do you think of Rob MacDougall’s blog?
FranklinBot: Does it have anything to do with reductionism?
Turkel: Why yes it does.
FranklinBot: Yay!

Finally, here is some more of the internet-enabled infomancy I celebrated on my blog last week: Caleb Crain and Paul Collins track the origins of the essential phrase, “Mad, mad, I tell you!”

That’s really all I want for my blogging life: to make a robot Ben Franklin say “yay” and to follow Paul Collins and Caleb Crain around like a dorky third wheel. “What are we doing today, guys? Guys?”


  1. Weighty indeed. I especially like the “Were They Hot” community, and their consensus that Ana de Mendoza and her eyepatch were smokin’.

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