183 episodes

Interviews with scholars of the Early Modern World about the new books

New Books in Early Modern History New Books Network

    • History
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

Interviews with scholars of the Early Modern World about the new books

    Meng Zhang, "Timber and Forestry in Qing China: Sustaining the Market" (U Washington Press, 2021)

    Meng Zhang, "Timber and Forestry in Qing China: Sustaining the Market" (U Washington Press, 2021)

    Focusing on timber in Qing China, Dr. Meng Zhang's new book, Timber and Forestry in Qing China: Sustaining the Market (U Washington Press, 2021) traces the trade routes that connected population centers of the Lower Yangzi Delta to timber supplies on China's southwestern frontier. She documents innovative property rights systems and economic incentives that convinced landowners to invest years in growing trees. Delving into rare archives to reconstruct business histories, she considers both the formal legal mechanisms and the informal interactions that helped balance economic profit with environmental management. Of driving concern were questions of sustainability: How to maintain a reliable source of timber across decades and centuries? And how to sustain a business network across a thousand miles? This carefully constructed study makes a major contribution to Chinese economic and environmental history and to world-historical discourses on resource management, early modern commercialization, and sustainable development.
    Huiying Chen is a Ph.D. candidate at University of Illinois at Chicago. She studies the history of travel in eighteenth-century China. She can be reached at hchen87 AT uic.edu
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    • 43 min
    Drew Daniel, "Joy of the Worm: Suicide and Pleasure in Early Modern English Literature" (U Chicago Press, 2022)

    Drew Daniel, "Joy of the Worm: Suicide and Pleasure in Early Modern English Literature" (U Chicago Press, 2022)

    Advisory: this episode discusses the literary representation of self-harm and suicide, in particular, how writers such as Shakespeare and Milton often treated the subject in unserious or trivializing ways.
    In 1643, the writer Thomas Browne introduced the word “suicide” into the English language. Eventually, “suicide” would become a monolith in how we think about self-harm and self-killing. “Suicide” has come to represent an individualizing, pathologizing way of looking at people who contemplate ending their lives. But, when Thomas Browne’s new word was first used, it was entering a discursive space that was wider and more open to campy humor, slapstick, and misogynistic trolling. This is the argument of an exciting and nuanced book from today’s guest, Drew Daniel. The title of the book is Joy of the Worm: Suicide and Pleasure in Early Modern English Literature published by the University of Chicago Press in 2022.
    Daniel is a Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University, and teaches early modern literature, critical theory, and aesthetics. Joy of the Worm is a fresh, elegantly written exploration of scenes of self-murder (or the contemplation of self-murder) in Antony and Cleopatra, Paradise Lost, and Joseph Addison’s Cato, a Tragedy. He is the author of the previous monograph, The Melancholy Assemblage (from Fordham UP), and the 33 1/3 book on Throbbing Gristle’s Twenty Jazz Funk Greats. He is also one-half of the electronic band Matmos.
    John Yargo holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His specializations are early modern literature, the environmental humanities, and critical race studies. His dissertation explores early modern representations of environmental catastrophe, including The Tempest, Oroonoko, and the poetry of Milton. He has published in Studies in Philology, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and Shakespeare Studies.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Peter Hughes, "A History of Love and Hate in 21 Statues" (Aurum Press, 2021)

    Peter Hughes, "A History of Love and Hate in 21 Statues" (Aurum Press, 2021)

    The ongoing debate surrounding who gets to determine the subjects of public commemoration, particularly in the form of statues, has become more heated over the past few years. In his timely book, A History of Love and Hate in 21 Statues (Aurum Press, 2021), Peter Hughes examines the long history of statues being used to articulate the values of rulers, governments, organizations, and average citizens. Of course, that also means statues are often targets of people who want to challenge those values.
    In this wide-ranging conversation, we discuss whether the motivation for public commemorations, as well as the opposition to them, can be found first and foremost in a society’s emotional relationship to the person (or god, for that matter) being commemorated, as is suggested in the book’s title; or, if the timeless debate over who does and doesn’t get commemorated is really about power.
    Lia Paradis is a professor of History at Slippery Rock University and co-host of the NBN partner podcast, Lies Agreed Upon.
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    • 45 min
    Mary Wellesley, "Hidden Hands: The Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers" (Riverrun, 2021)

    Mary Wellesley, "Hidden Hands: The Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers" (Riverrun, 2021)

    Manuscripts teem with life. They are not only the stuff of history and literature, but they offer some of the only tangible evidence we have of entire lives, long receded.
    Hidden Hands: The Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers (Riverrun, 2021) tells the stories of the artisans, artists, scribes and readers, patrons and collectors who made and kept the beautiful, fragile objects that have survived the ravages of fire, water and deliberate destruction to form a picture of both English culture and the wider European culture of which it is part.
    Without manuscripts, she shows, many historical figures would be lost to us, as well as those of lower social status, women and people of colour, their stories erased, and the remnants of their labours destroyed.
    From the Cuthbert Bible, to works including those by the Beowulf poet, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Sir Thomas Malory, Chaucer, the Paston Letters and Shakespeare, Mary Wellesley describes the production and preservation of these priceless objects. With an insistent emphasis on the early role of women as authors and artists and illustrated with over fifty colour plates, Hidden Hands is an important contribution to our understanding of literature and history.

    Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research interests are Cultural Studies; Critical Theory; Environmental History; Medieval (Intellectual) History; Gothic Studies; 18th and 19th Century British Literature. YouTube Channel. Twitter.
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Christina Ramos, "Bedlam in the New World: A Mexican Madhouse in the Age of Enlightenment" (UNC Press, 2022)

    Christina Ramos, "Bedlam in the New World: A Mexican Madhouse in the Age of Enlightenment" (UNC Press, 2022)

    In Bedlam in the New World: A Mexican Madhouse in the Age of Enlightenment (UNC Press, 2022), Cristina Ramos tells us the story of Mexico city’s oldest public institution for the insane, the Hospital de San Hipólito. This institution, founded in 1567, was the first mental hospital in the New World. Remarkable as this fact may be, this book is not simply about the singularity of this institution­­­––though by placing this institution au pair with similar ones in the European context Ramos reframes traditional narratives in the history of psychiatry. What makes this book truly remarkable is that Ramos presents San Hipólito as both a microcosm and a colonial laboratory of the Hispanic Enlightenment. According to Ramos, during the late eighteenth-century madness became understood in increasingly medical terms, and San Hipólito served as a site of care, confinement, and knowledge production.
    Heeding the call of scholars who ask that histories of medicine take a more complex view of religion, Ramos traces the medicalization of madness that took place under the Hispanic Enlightenment and shows that the main agents of medicalization were not philosophers or physicians, but the clergy and more surprisingly still, inquisitors. Transcending the walls of the hospital, Ramos takes us to other colonial institutions such as the Holy Office and the criminal secular courts and shows us the stories of the individuals who were taken to San Hipólito. Inquisitors were fundamental actors in this story because, in their purpose of establishing veracity, they were at the forefront of devising new models for undertaking the complexities of human reasoning and the nuances of intent. Bedlam in the New World is a book beautifully written and poignantly argued and will captive listeners who are interested in histories of medicine, madness, colonialism, and religion!
    Lisette Varón-Carvajal is a PhD Candidate at Rutgers University. You can tweet and suggest books at @LisetteVaron
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    • 1 hr 8 min
    James Stafford, "The Case of Ireland: Commerce, Empire and the European Order, 1750-1848" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

    James Stafford, "The Case of Ireland: Commerce, Empire and the European Order, 1750-1848" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

    James Stafford teaches at Columbia University, where he specializes in the political and intellectual history of Ireland, Britain and Western Europe since 1750, with a particular interest in questions of political economy and international order.
    In this interview he discusses his new book The Case of Ireland: Commerce, Empire and the European Order, 1750-1848 (Cambridge UP, 2022), which offers a fresh account of Ireland’s place in European debates about commerce and empire during a global era of war and revolution.
    The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries have long been seen as a foundational period for modern Irish political traditions such as nationalism, republicanism and unionism. The Case of Ireland offers a fresh account of Ireland's neglected role in European debates about commerce and empire in what was a global era of war and revolution. Drawing on a broad range of writings from merchants, agrarian improvers, philosophers, politicians and revolutionaries across Europe, this book shows how Ireland became a field of conflict and projection between rival visions of politics in commercial society, associated with the warring empires of Britain and France. It offers a new perspective on the crisis and transformation of the British Empire at the end of the eighteenth century, and restores Ireland to its rightful place at the centre of European intellectual history.
    Aidan Beatty is a historian at the Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh.
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    • 46 min

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