"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Dec 16, 2013 -
The African Presence in India: A Photo Essay
: The questions we pose here are simply these: Who are the African people of India? What is
their significance in the annals of history? Precisely what have they done and what are they
doing now? These are extremely serious questions that warrant serious and fundamental
answers. This series of articles, "The African Presence in India: An Historical Overview," is
designed to provide some of those answers.
posted by infini
on Jul 30, 2011 -
Through a Lens Darkly
- on September 4, 1957, when 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford tried to enter Little Rock Central High, she was blocked by the National Guard and surrounded by a screaming mob of 250: "Lynch her! Lynch her!" "No nigger bitch is going to get in our school! Get out of here!" "Go back to where you came from!" Looking for a friendly face, she turned to an old woman, who spat on her
. Dramatic news footage
. Ernest Green, another of the Little Rock 9 recalls
the first day of school. [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive
on Sep 25, 2007 -
...In 1924 New York Recording Laboratory decided to expand its reach into that market by purchasing the Black Swan label. Founded in 1920 or 1921 by black entrepreneur Harry H. Pace, the pioneering company recorded everything from ragtime to grand opera, as long as it was sung by African-Americans... Paramount's biggest star was Ma Rainey, a blues moaner who influenced the legendary singer Bessie Smith... Paramount did not neglect male blues singers, who tended to be folk artists in the sense that their music was made initially for the entertainment of isolated rural communities. These included the singers and guitarists Charlie Patton... Blind Lemon Jefferson...Compliments of the Season
--where, among many other things, one can find an online copy of David Evans's biography Charley Patton
in Parts 1
or look at a picture of Skip James in 1932
, not to mention a view of Paramount's promotion of Patton as the Masked Marvel
. And that is not, as they say, all...
posted by y2karl
on Dec 18, 2006 -
Engineering Perfect Americans
Were your immigrant ancestors considered genetically predisposed to become criminals? Were your mixed-ethnic ancestors thought to be polluting the nation's 'germ-plasm'? The Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement presents a well-put-together online exhibit/walkthrough of this disturbing vein in American history.
posted by Miko
on Jan 31, 2006 -
Thanksgiving sucks. The English went on setting fire to wigwams of the village. They burned village after village to the ground. As one of the leading theologians of his day, Dr. Cotton Mather put it: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day." And Cotton Mather, clutching his bible, spurred the English to slaughter more Indians in the name of Christianity.
posted by j-urb
on Nov 24, 2005 -
Jump Jim Crow
, through the hoops of one Robert Christgau's erudition as he surveys the literature extant in In Search of Jim Crow: Why Postmodern Minstrelsy Studies Matter
, through multiple readings of Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop
, Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World
and and Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class
. Consider, too, The Minstrel Cycle
from Reading The Commitments
and other various and sundry attempts to peek inside the minstrel mask
—all multiple readings reading blackface minstrels from the pejorative
to the explorative
, subversive to oppressive, past to future, unfolding tesseractly, if not exactly, with singing, dancing
and extraordinary elocutions. Buy your tickets and step within for The Meller Drammer
of Minstrelsy in The Minstrel Show 2.0
posted by y2karl
on Mar 31, 2005 -
Otis Granville Clark is a wonder. At 102, the former butler of Joan Crawford - who served Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin - still drives, lives on his own and twice a week attends church in his home city of Tulsa, Oklahoma... Today his blue eyes have gone milky but they still sparkle, his wiry frame remains agile, and his most painful memories are still fresh - even after 83 years. Coiled on the edge of an understuffed sofa, Clark leans back and screws his eyes tight to summon up "that day". It remains the most vivid of his life... Historians call the firestorm that convulsed Tulsa from the evening of May 31 into the afternoon of June 1 the single worst event in the history of American race relations. To most Tulsans it is simply "the riot". But the carnage had nothing in common with the mass protests of Chicago, Detroit and Newark in the 1960s or the urban violence that laid siege to Los Angeles in 1992 after the white police officers who assaulted Rodney King were acquitted. The 1921 Tulsa race riot owes its name to an older American tradition, to the days when white mobs, with the consent of local authorities, dared to rid themselves of their black neighbours. The endeavour was an opportunity "to run the Negro out of Tulsa". Burnt Offerings .See also The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 or the tale of the lost city or another The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. See also Frequently Asked Questions from the Tulsa Reparations Coalition. Previous post
re: Tulsa Race Riot Reparations on March 1, 2001 .
posted by y2karl
on Feb 22, 2005 -
While culling my clippings file for the big move, I came across Ragtime: No Longer a Novelty in Sepia
, which led me to the The Rag-Time Ephemeralist
, a labor of love by one Chris Ware
, whose 'The Acme Novelty Library'
and Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Boy In The World
I had long admired. The Ragtime Ephemeralist's mention of Out of Sight - The Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895
---here's a review
from Musical Traditions
--and, its very own links page,
as a consequence, led to this post about Ragtime, Cakewalks, Coon Songs and Vaudeville, with a slight nod to Barbershop Quartets. There's more, of course...
posted by y2karl
on Jan 21, 2005 -
The Rise and Fall of the Black Voter
is a remarkable sequence of maps graphically describing the realignment of voting patterns in the U.S. during the past century (read this
for a bit more context). It is an excellent companion to the purple
maps of the most recent election, and a nice antidote to simplistic
comparisons of pre-Civil War and recent electoral college maps. Republicans can bask in the glow of their successful "Southern Strategy
," while Democrats can take heart that change, while often slow, is still possible
posted by googly
on Dec 15, 2004 -
Only in 1967 did Loving v. Virginia
overturn vigorously-enforced laws against interracial marriage in these 15 states--Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Only in 1964 did the Civil Rights Act
overturn laws against equal access to voting, public accommodation, and public education. Only in 1963 did the Equal Pay Act
mandate that men and women be paid the same wage for the same work at the same job.
isn't a superhighway, leading us in straight lines toward utopia. We fall back
and we move forward
, but over the past fifty years, the United States has become considerably more inclusive and equality of access to opportunity has widened. Take a look at this article
from the Atlantic Monthly
in 1956--1956!--if you don't believe me.
posted by Sidhedevil
on Nov 4, 2004 -
Slavery Ended in the 1960s, not the 1860s
The Civil War made slavery illegal, but that didn't wipe it out completely. White farmer, John Williams, forced his black overseer to murder 11 slaves
in the wake of a 1921 federal investigation. The Dial Brothers
were also convicted by the Justice Department for "African slavery" in the 1940s. In another case, a black genealogist found a 104-year-old man
who claims he and his family were enslaved until the 1960s. It's not necessary to rehash the entire reparations debate
to realize that some of these post-Civil War slavery cases may finally have a day in court.
posted by jonp72
on Dec 5, 2003 -
In the late 18th or early 19th century a group of runaway slaves and serfs fled from Kentucky into the Ohio Territory, where they inter-married with Natives and formed a tribe - red, white & black - called the Ben Ishmael tribe. The Ishmaels (who seem to have been Islamically inclined) followed an annual nomadic route through the territory, hunting & fishing, and finding work as tinkers and minstrels. They were polygamists, and drank no alcohol. Every winter they returned to their original settlement, where a village had grown.
But eventually the US Govt. opened the Territory to settlement, and the ~official~ pioneers arrived. Around the Ishmael village a town began to spring up, called Cincinnati. Soon it was a big city. But Ishmael village was still there, engulfed & surrounded by "civilization." Now it was a ~slum~.
, Jackson Whites
, the Moors of Delaware
, the Ben Ishmaels--hat tip to Footnotes of History on that
Red Bones, Brass Ankles, Turks, Lumbees, Croatans
and other lost tribes
and rebel slave communities
The questions raised are what is race, tribe and family ...among others.
Included by extension are Hakim Bey
, The Moorish Orthodox Church
, various tribes of Black Indians
, Jukes, Kallikaks, Margaret Sanger, The Bell Curve
and Heather Locklear. (Step within the tent for the latter's interpetive dance)
posted by y2karl
on Nov 15, 2002 -
The Minstrel Show The Minstrel Show presents us with a strange, fascinating and awful phenomenon. Minstrel shows emerged from preindustrial European traditions of masking and carnival. But in the US they began in the 1830s, with working class white men dressing up as plantation slaves. These men imitated black musical and dance forms, combining savage parody of black Americans with genuine fondness for African American cultural forms. By the Civil War the minstrel show had become world famous and respectable. Late in his life Mark Twain fondly remembered the "old time nigger show" with its colorful comic darkies and its rousing songs and dances. By the 1840s, the minstrel show had become one of the central events in the culture of the Democratic party..
The image of white men in blackface, miming black song, dance and speech is considered the last word in racist bigotry for some. And yet, standing at the crossroads of race, class and high and low culture, blackface minstrelsy is one fascinating topic in academic circles. It’s history is intertwined with the rise of abolitionism, the works of Mark Twain and the histories of vaudeville
, American vernacular music, radio, television
, in fact all of what is called popular culture. Details within.
posted by y2karl
on Mar 13, 2002 -