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W H A T ’ S   C O M I N G

A new series on little-known aspects of 17th-century Anglo-American gun culture, to include essays on such topics as “good guys with guns” ... one of the first drive-by shootings (in 1682) ... the first automatic weapons (and other fantastical military hardware) from a late-15th-century military treatise ... and recipes for “Triumphs and Trophies in Cookery” with gunnery themes (pies filled with live frogs and birds, and ships with cannon that fire, serving up table-top drama “which makes the Ladies to skip and shreek” and “will cause much delight and pleasure to the whole company” during holiday banquets in noble households, such as that in which Margaret Cavendish was raised).
  The first study in the series is entitled “The Missing Historical Context: Anglo-American Gun Laws & the Original Intent of the Second Amendment” (last updated 6/28/2022), including a series of images documenting the modern shift away from the original public meaning of the Second Amendment, and my comments on the ahistorical ruling of 6/4/2021 overturning California’s Assault Weapons Ban. Here I argue that the individual right to keep and bear arms, as popularized by the NRA, SCOTUS, etc. — and encapsulated in statements like “The Bill of Rights grants citizens the right to bear arms to protect themselves against a potential tyrannical government.” — is a modern invention.
  FWIW, I do not here dispute our evolving interpretation of individual USers’ constitutional right to bear arms (it is what the Supreme Court says it is). Rather, my dispute is with commonplace claims that this decidedly modern interpretation corresponds with “the original intent” of the founders and/or “the original ‘public meaning’” of the Constitutional provision. In other words, it is only the origin story for a modernized Second Amendment that I question here.
  As of June 2022, I am still only about half-way through this very complicated project, to include digital editions of once influential, but now rare, texts ... which everyone will be able to read and interpret for themselves.
  I expect the peer review on this project to be excruciating, so I am committed to getting it right (all my ducks in a row ;-), regardless of how long this takes.
  Please bear with me as I work my way through tens of thousands of pages of rare historical print and scribal publications.
  One thing I can promise: the wait will be worth it.
                   *  *  *
In the meantime, I would like here to recommend a smart essay by Joshua Zeitz: “The Supreme Court’s Faux ‘Originalism’: The conservative Supreme Court’s favorite judicial philosophy requires a very, very firm grasp of history — one that none of the justices seem to possess” (posted to POLITICO’s website, 6/26/2022).
  Zeitz’s arguments nicely complement my own, and add expertise regarding the late 18th century which I lack (my own expertise is the 17th century, and the further afield I roam from this period, the more anxious I get ;-).
  I fully agree with Zeitz’s take on the 18th-century political consensus concerning the “rights and obligations” of militia service, and will argue that this language originates in the 17th-century struggle over “divine right of kings,” especially the royal prerogative to arm & disarm citizen militias, which royalists ultimately derived from their sectarian interpretation of the bible.
  Thomas Hobbes’s radical reconceptualization of the sovereign people as leviathan — “the Multitude so united in one Person, is called a COMMON-WEALTH.... This is the Generation of that great LEVIATHAN, or rather (to speake more reverently) of that Mortall God, to which wee owe under the Immortall God, our peace and defence.” (T. Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651, 2.17.87) — later raised the grand controversy over legal sovereignty in Stuart England to a whole new level, rooted in a critical distinction between “the People” (the body politic, or “commonwealth”) and “the Multitude” (“single Subjects,” “particular persons,” “every particular man in the Common-Wealth”). That this political understanding of “the People” was commonly accepted throughout early-modern British America is apparent from Richard Ligon’s mid-17th-century account of colonial Barbados, which he depicts as exemplar of what “makes up wealth, beauty, and all harmony in that Leviathan, a well governed Common-wealth: Where the Mighty men, and Rulers of the earth, by their prudent and carefull protection, secure them from harmes; whilst they retribute their paynes, and faithfull obedience, to serve them in all just Commands.” (R. Ligon, A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbados, 1657, 20–21)
  No matter where one came down in the escalating debate over legal sovereignty and citizen militias (and those like William Prynne, who championed Parliament’s right to control the militia, had their own sectarian interpretation of authorizing biblical texts), no one — once Hobbes’s Leviathan took Europe and the Americas by storm in the mid-17th-century — equated “the People” with “every particular man in the Common-Wealth.” That we choose to do so now is a postmodern aberration in the political theory of liberal republicanism.

Also in the works: an illustrated digital edition of a 1960’s peer-reviewed article on the origin of chattel slavery in Anglo-America.
  Given popular misconceptions of “critical race theory,” along with the growing controversy over The New York Times’ branded 1619 Project — with multiple states passing laws which ban the teaching of both — this important peer-reviewed article, published in 1966, is even more relevant in 2022. The article proves definitively that “in 1619 neither Negroes nor English bondservants were owned as chattels in Virginia. [...] It is certain that the system of slavery did not simply arrive in the colony with the first Negroes.”
  As such, the U.S. was not born in original sin: “The black Virginian’s descent in law from humanity to property happened gradually but not haphazardly,” enabling “Englishmen to find in chattel slavery solutions to their problems with labor and social control” (Warren M. Billings, “The Law of Servants and Slaves in Seventeenth-Century Virginia,” 61 and 46). Yes, the development of the United States is inextricably bound with structures of slavery, segregation, and racism dating to the mid-17th century (not 1619). Indeed, late-17th-century abolitionists such as Thomas Tryon (1634–1703) openly acknowledged that the advancement of Anglo-American trade relied on domestic violence (genocide & slavery).
  The NYT 1619 Project’s founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has emphasized that her ideological project is not “a history,” but “a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and, therefore, the national memory.” But many scholars and historians (myself included) are uncomfortable with the kind of poetic license taken by Hannah-Jones in order to build the 1619 Project brand, with its several factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations of historical events.
  The type of nuanced scholarship emphasized in the 1966 article I am digitizing for the library is a needed corrective to the 1619 Project’s branding problem. While I share the 1619 Project’s larger goal of highlighting the long-term consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans, I also believe it’s important to get the history right — especially when you’re a myth-busting journalist taking aim at established narratives that date the founding of America’s political development and character to 1620 or 1776.

For years, I have been researching what I believe to be the first use (in 1728–9) of abortion as a wedge issue in Anglo-America.
  And the public debate — in popular culture — over whether or not “ABORTION IS MURDER” (as asserted on anti-choice protestor signs in June 2022) dates back even further than that: to the 1690s.
  On 6/24/2022, the conservative majority dominating the Supreme Court of the United States revoked the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In so doing, the justices relied on what I suspect may be a partial understanding of “this Nation’s history and tradition” concerning abortion.
  In his concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote: “To be sure, this Court has held that the Constitution protects unenumerated rights that are deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, and implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. But a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in American history and tradition ...” (qtd. in “Supreme Court Gives States Green Light to Ban Abortion, Overturning Roe” by Josh Gerstein, Alice Miranda Ollstein and Quint Forgey; and also in “‘With Sorrow ... We Dissent’: Liberal Justices Rebuke Decision to Overturn Roe: They warn of how far state leaders could push this newfound power” by Myah Ward [both articles posted to POLITICO’s website, 6/24/2022]).
  I don’t pretend to understand such modern legal constructs as “ordered liberty” and “rights that are deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” But I do know a thing or two about “this Nation’s” early-modern (17th-to-18th-century) “history and tradition” of disputation concerning abortion. This long-standing dispute — traceable to an unresolved tension in Mosaic Law — spilled over into multiple areas of early-modern life, impacting not just the new forensic science, but also the protofeminist struggle for reproductive justice, pitting women’s TEK against the rise of man-midwifery.
  Then, as now, the issues were perplexing (“What kind of Being the Souls of Abortive Infants are?”), with no easy or certain answers forthcoming. Not surprisingly, a woman’s natural right to end a pregnancy (then known as “wilful Abortions” or “willful Miscarriages by Physick”) was always controversial, not least, because early-modern Anglo-American women were subordinated by law as femme covert, with limited rights to self-determination. The 17th-century natural philosopher, Margaret Cavendish, called women’s lack of sovereignty “the Female Slavery”, and there’s no question that the dependent status of women and children in some part drove the debate over “wilful Abortions.”
  In Anglo-America, state-level statutory restrictions on women’s bodies date to 4 August 1619, when Virginia’s General Assembly — the first legislative assembly that ever convened on the American continent — enacted a law stating that “no maide or woman servant, either now resident in the Colonie [of Virginia] or hereafter to come, shall contract herselfe in marriage.” Just because state laws regulating women’s bodies (of all colors) are “deeply rooted in American history and tradition” doesn’t make them right ... or good precedent ... or appropriate for a 21st-century republic.
  In the Latin West, women’s “right to abortion” dates back to Aristotle — “Platoes scholler, who ... saw clearer in matter of lawes for the reformation of manners and the good of the Common-wealth” than “all other Law-makers before him,” according to a 17th-century Church of England clergyman who was horrified by that “law of Aristotle, concerning abortion or the destruction of a Childe in the mothers wombe.” For conformist Calvinists such as this churchman, “this inhumane Law of Aristotle” was to be replaced by “Civill and Common Law [which] doe grievously punish all wilfull abortion after conception, [since] the Canonists teach it to bee a mortall sinne.”
  But the “law of Aristotle” promoting abortion as a “good of the Common-wealth” offers an alternative “history and tradition” which is “deeply rooted” in our culture, too. Thus, contemporary pro-choice activists such as Erin Aubry Kaplan is following millennia-old precedent when she writes: “Rigid anti-abortionism — and the inherent extremism of that position that helped make other kinds of extremism mainstream — became the GOP’s official party position in 1980. The problem since then has been the lack of a clear counterenergy defining abortion not simply as a private matter people choose to do or not, to talk about or not, but a public good. This is something Black women can certainly advocate for....” (E. A. Kaplan, “I’m Black. I Thought White Feminism Would Keep Abortion Safe: White women who once saw Roe as core to second-wave feminism seem not to be putting up much of a fight. Is it time for Black women to pick up the mantle?”, posted to POLITICO’s website, 5/27/2022). And for another take on the Aristotelian theme of abortion as a public good, seeSix Predictions About the End of Roe, Based on Research: I’ve studied what happens to people who are denied an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy. Here’s what I learned” by Diana Greene Foster (posted to POLITICO’s website, 6/8/2022).
  Alternative “deep-rooted” pro-choice models are available within the Christian movement, as well. So the Christian right’s politicization of the issue is not inevitable: “Today, evangelicals make up the backbone of the pro-life movement, but it hasn’t always been so. Both before and for several years after Roe, evangelicals were overwhelmingly indifferent to the subject, which they considered a ‘Catholic issue.’” (Randall Balmer, “The Real Origins of the Religious Right: They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation”; posted to POLITICO’s website, 5/27/2014)
  In my forthcoming study of “The First Use of Abortion as a Wedge Issue in the Americas,” I shall focus on how the vexing issue of abortion played out in early-modern popular culture (17th- and 18th-century newspapers, medical texts, coroner’s reports, literary satires, encyclopedias). The debate back then was every bit as sophisticated — indeed, much more so, if Donald Trump’s recent inanities set the bar — as the gut-wrenching philosophicoreligious dispute we’re engaged in now. I am moving on this project with my customary slow haste, can not commit to a schedule right now, and recommend that you watch this space for further announcements if the study interests you.
  In the meantime, a good summary of the historic SCOTUS opinion (because it takes away a right that has been in place for half a century) is available here: PBS NewsHour segment, “Inside the Supreme Court Decision that Overturns Abortion Rights” (first aired, 6/24/2022).
  Click/tap here to read Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion revoking the constitutional right to an abortion.
  Click/tap here to read the “scathing dissent” issued by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (begins on p. 148 of 213).
  Click/tap here to read the concurring opinion of Chief Justice Roberts (begins on p. 136 of 213).
  Click/tap here to read the concurring opinion of Justice Brett Kavanaugh (begins on p. 124 of 213).
  And click/tap here for Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion, “that the Supreme Court ‘should reconsider’ its past rulings codifying rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage” (begins on p. 117 of 213). For a summary, seeJustice Thomas: SCOTUS ‘should reconsider’ contraception, same-sex marriage rulings: Democrats warned that the court would seek to undo other constitutional rights if it overturned Roe v. Wade, as it did on Friday” by Quint Forgey and Josh Gerstein (posted to POLITICO’s website, 6/24/2022).
                   *  *  *
One of my favorite data analysts, the NewsHour’s Laura Santhanam, has updated us on a PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist poll, conducted 24–25 June 2022, asking about SCOTUS’s 6/24/2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade: “Majority of Americans Think Supreme Court Overturning Roe was More about Politics than Law” (posted to the PBS NewsHour website, 6/27/2022).
  In sum: “With confidence in the Supreme Court falling, more than half of Americans oppose the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and nearly six in 10 say the ruling was based more on politics than on the law” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.).
  Count me among that 60% in this country who think that the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization “ruling was based more on politics than on the law.” According to my own scholarship, there is conclusive evidence not only of a longstanding legal tradition in the Latin West promoting abortion as a public good (which SCOTUS simply ignored/“cancelled”), but also plenty of evidence to suggest that states establishing the sectarian belief that “ABORTION IS MURDER” (sectarian because historically and traditionally rooted in a disputed interpretation of Mosaic Law) is what’s unconstitutional. IMO, only a politicized SCOTUS could cancel such legal complexities, in its push to have states reestablish a clearly sectarian agenda. Furthermore, dismissing Justice Thomas’s call to take Dobbs to its logical conclusion — and reconsider related past rulings codifying rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage — is to my mind a political, not a legal decision. “In eliminating a decades-old ‘constitutional right that safeguards women’s freedom and equal station’ and breaching a core legal principle of precedent, the [Dobbs] decision ‘places in jeopardy other rights, from contraception to same-sex intimacy and marriage,’ Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote in dissent.” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.) Justice Alito’s assertion that “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion” feels like a politicized court is picking and choosing which privacy rights to overturn at the moment. And I am not the only one to notice this legalistic sleight-of-hand: fifty-six percent of USers “are concerned that the Supreme Court will reconsider issues such as contraception and same-sex marriage.” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.)
  One statistic I found intriguing in Santhanam’s report and wish to call attention to here: “55 percent of U.S. adults say they support abortion rights, including 84 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents. Gen Zers, millennials, people who live in cities, those who graduated from college and residents of Western states were among those most likely to say they support these rights. [...] Compared to last month [May 2022], when 61 percent of people said they supported abortion rights, the latest findings mark a notable decline.” (L. Santhanam, n. pag.) In light of SCOTUS’s Dobbs ruling, I find this significant drop in support for abortion rights surprising, and would like to know more about what’s driving it.

W H A T ’ S   N E W

A detailed, ongoing study of California’s flawed Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013 (Assembly Bill 1404 or AB 1404), under which Californians have lost founding rights to property & security.
  SUMMARY  California state legislators contend that AB 1404 “clarified and modernized” Cal. Civ. Code § 841 (enacted c.1872). Conversely, I argue that AB 1404 corrupted existing law, and that state legislators who now refuse to conduct a revisal — and either fix the corrupted law, or reenact the original 19th-century statute — are fake representatives, willfully violating my First Amendment right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
    a 2nd-window aside with an HTML transcript of a 16th-century emblem, Scripta non temerè edenda [in English: We should not publish our works in haste], appended to the Web page with my two Open Letters etc. for California state legislators, concerning their misguided reforms of Section 841 of the California Civil Code (click/tap here for introductory text counselling slow haste in everything we do)
    reflections on Andy Goldsworthy’s “walking wall” — a sculptor’s view of masonry as performance art, in the Sisyphean mode
    a 2nd-window aside with “A Voter’s Manifesto: How I Voted in the Presidential Primary Election (3 March 2020),” and an update with “Results of the Presidential Primary Election (3 March 2020) for California State Senator, 39th District and State Assemblymember, 77th District
NOTE: one or more files in this suite of Web pages most recently revised: 6/3/2022 (see correction concerning redistricting of California State Assembly Districts 77 & 78 and State Senate Districts 39 & 40; plus a caveat for Democratic/progressive voters about party endorsements).
  My last letter (dated 11/15/2021) to Senator Toni Atkins, copying California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, is posted here.

I have edited & added new content to the She-philosopher.​com 2nd-window aside, “The Athenian Mercury on ‘Mad Madge’”, now that patriarchy’s debate over women’s education is once more in the news, as Afghanistan’s “Taliban Cancels Higher Education for Girls as New School Year Starts” (posted to the PBS NewsHour website, 3/23/2022). See also the updated “Afghanistan’s Taliban Order Head-to-Toe Covering of Women” by The Associated Press (posted to the PBS NewHour website, 5/7/2022).
  This appendix for the introductory essay on Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle, in She-philosopher.​com’s THE PLAYERS section, includes multiple texts from the early-modern debate over “Whether it be proper for Women to be Learned?” and “Of Knowledge in Women.”
  As I have noted elsewhere, it is disheartening — and for some of us, maddening — that the argument continues after 3.5 centuries.

New content added to:
    the IN BRIEF topic on Critical Pluralism (last updated 4/11/2022, with an annotated link to Amanda Ripley’s important reporting on the group of Afghan women warriors “who hunted the Taliban”); includes detailed coverage of PBS NewsHour’s closure of its digital agon (on 8/25/2021), plus a 2nd-window aside giving the text of four essays by Margaret Cavendish, then marchioness of Newcastle, on opining, ignorance, and knowledge
    the IN BRIEF topic on Data-Driven Demagoguery (last updated 6/5/2022), a broad-ranging miscellany which includes:
     - 8 captioned illustrations, including the Elizabethan photo op that galvanized an empire;
     - detailed analysis of Donald Trump’s dishonorable performance as a “wartime president”, countered by the inspiring wartime presidency of Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and alternative leadership roles in the postmodern information wars modeled by media celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger;
     - historical notes on the pluto-populist uprising of 1676 known as Bacon’s Rebellion, and on British America’s first hospital;
     - evolving discussion of a demagogic politics of certainty, which I believe we best confront with critical pluralism, Ciceronian rhetoric (eloquence + practical wisdom), and habitual skepticism;
     - evolving discussion of the growing demagoguery around white nationalism, especially mainstream acceptance of anti-Semitic conspiracies such as “Great Replacement Theory,” which threaten the sovereignty (human dignity and right to self-determination) of “the other”;
     - the growing demagoguery around liberating America, with an appendix giving some missing historical context for “the free exercise” of religion clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution;
     - and a 2nd-window aside with an explanation of demagoguery from the 1st Eng. edn. (1651) of Thomas Hobbes’s De Cive
Both Web pages are part of She-philosopher.​com’s series focused on how we forge an ethical art of engagement & confrontation, born of respect for difference, in a deeply divided world.
  A related discussion of Margaret Cavendish’s limited tolerance for divinely-inspired human “variety” adds historical perspective to our own studies of “how people differ, where their differences come from, and whether they can live and work together with these differences.”
  For a critique of pro-woman legislation which is rooted in essentialist thinking about sex differences — thus overemphasizing internal, individual causes of behavior (regardless of whether we believe these to be biologically or socially determined), and underestimating the importance of the diverse situations in which we “do gender,” such that differences of social identity collapse into sex differences — see the sidebar entry on California Senate Bill 826 (enacted 2018) for She-philosopher.​com’s detailed study of California’s flawed Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013.
  For discussion of 17th-century investigations into human blackness — pitting new scientific theories of black & white as interchangeable colors against proverbial wisdom characterizing black & white as fixed binary opposites (separate and unequal) — see the appendix on Henry Stubbe (1632–1676) at our sister project known as Roses.


I am still working on She-philosopher.​com’s study of “the five sexes” during the early modern period, which focuses on the challenges posed to gender polarization schemes by those of “a twofold Sex,” known as hermaphrodites through the 17th century (the preferred modern term for this is intersex).
  How we conceive of gender — in terms of polar “opposites”? or as fluid performances along a continuum of human difference? — has profound consequences for the debate over sexual inequality (what causes it, and how we overcome it).
  As with laws such as California Senate Bill 826 (enacted 2018), we see the effects of our misconceptions of biological differences in the growing controversy over elite women athletes who don’t fit neatly into bipolar gender categories: e.g., “How Caster Semenya’s Case Could Alter the Landscape of Women’s Sport” (first aired on the PBS NewsHour, 5/3/2019).
  SUMMARY: “In athletics, who defines a man and a woman? A court has ordered South African runner and Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya to take drugs to suppress her naturally high testosterone levels if she wants to continue to compete. William Brangham talks to USA Today’s Christine Brennan and former Olympian Madeleine Pape, who once raced against Semenya and is now earning a sociology PhD in gender.”

W H A T ’ S

A second-window aside (for’s forthcoming study, “The Missing Historical Context: Anglo-American Gun Laws & the Original Intent of the Second Amendment”) documenting this country’s earliest representative institution, the Virginia House of Burgesses, along with little-known founding principles of universal male suffrage and of full representation in 1620s–1650s Virginia, including the republican principle of no taxation without representation.
  Alarmed by the Decennial U.S. Census debacle engineered by the Trump administration, I moved relevant historical content to this appended page which I published on 7/5/2020, so that it was available to website visitors before the Trump administration’s accelerated 2020 deadline had passed. Of note, this rare historical survey of founding legislation includes proof that an accurate count of all this country’s inhabitants has been stipulated by law since the first American census, prescribed by the Virginia legislature in 1619.
  President Trump’s resistance to these founding republican principles — especially convenience in voting, a right first enshrined in statute in 1639 Virginia — put his own private interest (to hold onto power, by whatever means, including suppressing and/or subverting the popular vote) before the public good, despite having sworn to “promote the General Welfare” (preamble to the U.S. Constitution).
  With Donald Trump’s removal from office (effective 1/20/2021), his administration’s unconstitutional attempts to roll back universal suffrage and manipulate the U.S. head count are no longer my primary concern.
  Nonetheless, arguments amplified by President Trump over founding republican values concerning suffrage, taxation, the census, apportionment, & representation still enthrall the country. And lawsuits begun during the Trump administration are still wending their way through the courts. As such, I will continue to post updates concerning the 2020–2021 census, when convenient.
  Last revised (with lots of new content throughout): 5/24/2022.
ALSO OF NOTE ON THIS PAGE: Update No. 25, which probes the psychology of mapping, including the complicated aesthetics of electoral maps (“Is a ‘badly’ shaped district bad?”; “If we required ‘good’ shapes, would we successfully eliminate the things that bother us about gerrymandering?”), and raises “the difference between neutrality and fairness in map designs.”
And Update No. 28: more proof that from the beginnings of self-government in 1619, foreign workers resident in Anglo-America earned the right to political representation.

Pictures of the Vetruvian Woman, from William Austin’s geometrical study of the divinely-proportioned female form in Haec Homo, wherein the Excellency of the Creation of Woman Is Described (1637).
  Austin’s protofeminist essay was dedicated to the Vitruvian Woman’s real-life counterpart, Mary Griffith, horologist and early bourgeois patron of the arts & sciences, whose portrait is also reproduced here.

Illustrated IN BRIEF biography of Queen Elizabeth I, including a rare portrait, suppressed by the Elizabethan state, of the Virgin Queen as a haggard old woman.

Introductory discussion of black letter text — with multiple examples, including a 16th-century treatment for breast cancer from Thomas Lupton’s best-selling medical compendium, A Thousand Notable Things of Sundry Sortes (1st edn., 1579) — in the 2nd-window aside for She-philosopher.​com’s webessay entitled “The New She-philosopher.​com: a Note on Site Design” (alternatively, scroll down to the link for “In comparison, reading lots of close-set black letter these days feels effortless!”).
And, for another interesting example of black letter text: see the ad, printed in 1611, calling on artisans “and labouring men of all sorts” to take a chance on colonial adventure in Anglo-America and resettle in Virginia.

An IN BRIEF topic on the “Sect of antient Philosophers” known as Pythagoreans.
  [ FWIW, I long ago identified the figure I believe to be the true Pythagoras in Rafael’s celebrated fresco, The School of Athens (c.1509–11).
  But my (sure to be surprising! ;-) identification relies on little-known, 17th-century sources & texts which I have not yet finished digitizing for publication here. Without this new evidence at hand, which everyone is able to review for themselves, I can’t make a proper — able to withstand the rigors of peer review in today’s digital respublica literaria — scholarly argument.
  So further public announcements on this matter are going to have to wait, as I attend to other, more time-critical projects first. ]

An IN BRIEF biography of “Mr. Tho. Britton, Smallcoal-Man,” who owned 3 works by Margaret Cavendish (in addition to works by Mary Trye, Anna Maria van Schurman, Bathsua Makin, and Elizabeth Cellier) in the IN BRIEF section.

The long-promised Part 2 of the 5-part Gallery Exhibit themed around the so-called “Velasco Map” of 1610, and the ongoing debate over its authenticity.
  For an excellent introduction to the complex of issues surrounding an antique map’s authenticity, see the Web page, “Cartographic Fakes, Forgeries and Facsimiles likely to deceive,” at the website founded and maintained by Tony Campbell.

I’m in the throes of updating the old introductory essay on “Mad Madge” in the PLAYERS section. As part of this process, I have recently converted a companion webessay on the politics of naming Margaret Cavendish into an IN BRIEF topic, available here.

Q U I C K   L I N K S
(for the webessay at left)

More on classical rhetoric’s concept of kairos — a Greek word “with no single or precise equivalent in any other language” — here.
  See also the IN BRIEF topics on 2 related rhetorical concepts: occasio (occasion) and the modern rhetorical situation.

For those (like me!) who wish they were more fluent readers & speakers of Latin, there is hope: see the article by Anthony Grafton in the 16 Feb. 2015 issue (vol. 300, no. 7, pp. 27–31) of The Nation: “Latin Lives: Is the revival of a dead language breathing new life into the humanities?
  Grafton writes here about the inspirational Paideia Institute: “a nonprofit organization created by two young scholars named Jason Pedicone and Eric Hewett. In classical Greek, paideia means education or upbringing — more properly the ideal method of education, which sought to form the mind, character and body of the young men who would serve their cities as active citizens and soldiers. This concept has grown and changed over time, as it was adopted, and adapted, by ancient Christians and modern humanists, and it still inspires Pedicone and Hewett — reformulated in a special, newly inclusive way. A few years ago, they and some equally committed colleagues started bringing high school and college students, and a few graduate students, to Rome, where they spend some weeks studying Latin. Summer study, a dead language, hours traveling on buses: it doesn’t sound exciting on the face of it, especially to anyone who knows how little studying takes place in many summer programs. But these summer experiences are different. A lot of Paideians come back in love — with something bigger than they’re used to, something bigger than what we usually offer them in schools and universities, and that love makes a huge difference in everything they do.” (A. Grafton, 27)


And see the youth-oriented IMHO feature for the PBS NewsHour by Frankie Thomas, “Why Learning Latin Stays with You Forever” (originally aired 4/9/2018). Her spirited appeal, retitled “Study Latin if you want to talk like a supervillain” for supplementary posting in the website’s IMHO section, stresses Latin’s value as middle-school entertainment, and while some commentators criticized her presentation for this (“amateurish” opining geared at engaging “with kids who enjoy movies like Ghost World or maybe TV Shows like The Big Bang Theory”), I wish I’d been privy to her unique point of view when I was that age!
  After all, the time-honored principle of dulce et utile (studies that are both entertaining and instructive) applies here, as well as to Horace’s Ars Poetica, and to the acquisition of “useful and entertaining Knowledge” in all the arts & sciences (e.g., from the title-page for the Supplement [1744] to John Harris’ Lexicon Technicum: or, an Universal English Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Explaining not only the Terms of Art, but the Arts Themselves [1704–10] — an encyclopedia intended for the “Benefit and Satisfaction” of readers, compiled “By a Society of GENTLEMEN. Utile dulci.”).

For more on the visual rhetoric of the title-pages for the 1753 Supplement to Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, by George Lewis Scott, et al., see Lib. Cat. No. CYCL1728h (Part 2).

See a picture of Bocchi’s splendid Hermathena in the Gallery Exhibit on Renaissance and Baroque representations of Athena.
  Bocchi’s elegant, emblematic portrayal of Prudenza (Prudence) is discussed in detail in the Gallery Exhibit on the Athenian Society emblem.

A surprising number of early-modern intellectuals — including the iatrochemist, Mary Trye, and the natural philosopher, Margaret Cavendish — were ambivalent about Cicero and Ciceronian-style eloquence.
  For more on the duchess of Newcastle’s criticism, see the Editor’s Introduction for Lib. Cat. No. THOB1637.
  Trye’s argument is discussed in the webessay, Introducing: Mary Trye (fl. 1662–75): “Woman-Physician,” Medical Reformer, and Early Promoter of Evidence-Based Health Interventions, at the subdomain known as Roses.


Having trouble getting some of the underlined text links on this page to work?
The latest problem with Google Chrome’s display of this website is documented in the updated section, “A Note about this Website’s Use of Hover Boxes.” As of April 2018, neither Google Chrome nor Opera can properly display She-philosopher.​com hover notes on desktop/laptop/netbook computers.
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**  home page of
a Web-based research project for science, technology & cultural studies,
focused on “the long 17th century” (roughly 1575–1725)  **


First Published:  April 2004
Revised (substantive):  30 June 2022

Welcome to the new!

I have been working on the new and improved since 2012, when I created a beta test site for the transitional website at Back then, I thought it was important that the original remain intact throughout the development process, and that I keep my remodeling mess out of the public eye, and off-limits to external, commercial search engines. As soon as the transitional website at was more presentable, I planned to move it over to its proper .com domain, replacing the original website which launched in 2004 and has been showing its age for some time.

I did not anticipate in 2012 that the remodeling process would take 4 years — and counting! — nor did I foresee that my standard for presentable scholarship (driven by traditional print-based publication models for academic content) would end up at odds with my creative process as a Web publisher of original, postdoctoral scholarly research.

Back then, I didn't undertand how much the online medium would shape the message.

I know better now. The new capabilities of Web publication enhance the communication process more than the product, so seeking any sort of finality is a wrong-headed goal. Even scholarly content is fungible with this medium, and to try to fix it in discrete, closed communications is to defy the online order of things, and ensure that the new and improved never emerges from beta test.

I’ve thus had another change of heart. As of July 2016, I decided to launch the new and improved as is, allowing all and sundry — including external search engines — full access, so that everyone can follow the development process and preview new content as it’s posted and being tested.

For more information about what’s going on, start with this refashioned website’s “The Site Concept: What’s Past Is Prologue” and “A Note on Site Design” Web pages, and follow the links given there to some of the new content on offer. There’s already a lot here to explore.

Please remember while you do so that this transitional website is very much a work-in-progress. It is normal for links to be broken once in a while; for references to be missing; for our local search engine index to be updated only when I post important new content (instead of every time I correct a typo); for navigation between old & new website pages to be clumsy, especially as I reorganize some content; for pages to sometimes contain placeholder text (“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet ...”); and so on. I ask for your patience while I wend my way through this complicated redevelopment phase, with no end in sight.

facsimile of early-18th-century engraving

^  The Unquiet Life (Vita inquieta). Emblem 322 in Pierce Tempest’s English edition of Cesare Ripa’s Iconology, entitled Iconologia: or, Moral Emblems, by Caesar Ripa (London, 1709).
     Ripa’s portrayal of the hard-working Sisyphus (here symbolizing intellectual endeavors and the creative process), beset by personal demons, is glossed: “Sisyphus rolling a huge Stone to the Top of a Mountain, which still falls back again.  ¶   The Mountain denotes the Life of Man; the Top of it, the Quietness and Tranquillity of what we aspire to; the Stone the great Pains every one takes to arrive at it. Sisyphus signifies the Mind, which always breaths after Rest, and scarce has obtain’d it, but desires still; for some place it in Riches, some in Honours, some in Learning; this in Health, that in Reputation; so that it is found only by accident.” (P. Tempest, Iconologia, 1709, 80)
     As I have noted elsewhere, anyone in the 21st century who designs, develops and/or maintains a high-quality website featuring original content (such as is engaged in never-ending Sisyphean toil.
     Unlike the labors of Hercules — which also symbolized the humanist project of the public intellectual — the labors of Sisyphus came to be associated with conflicting messages: on the one hand, pointing to the virtues of persistence and fortitude, especially when condemning oneself to immense toil, regardless of reward; and on the other hand, giving to human acts & determination the appearance of aimlessness and futility. Christian moralizing in such 17th-century books of hieroglyphics as the wildly popular Emblemes (1635), by Francis Quarles (1592–1644), associated the metaphor “Thus I roll Sisyphean Stones” with worldly vanity, in keeping with religious teaching that “however highly we may esteem human arts and sciences in their proper place, it will ever be true that ‘the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God’” (Preface to 1839 edn. of Emblemes, ed. by the Rev. Augustus Toplady and the Rev. John Ryland).
     Quarles’s religious refashioning of Sisyphean struggle occurs in Emblem 15 of Book 3, which takes as its opening text Psalm 31, verse 10 (“My life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing”). In a peculiar conceit, clearly inspired by evolving New World identities, Quarles compares Sisyphean labors (of the free will) unfavorably with slave labor (which he presents as the more satisfying spiritual experience!): “The branded Slave, that tugs the weary Oare, / Obtaines the Sabbath of a welcome Shore; / His ransom’d stripes are heal’d; His native soile / Sweetens the mem’ry of his forreigne toyle: / But ah! my sorrowes are not halfe so blest; / My labour finds no point; my paines, no rest: / I barter sighs for teares; and teares for Grones, / Still vainly rolling Sysiphæan stones.” (F. Quarles, Emblemes, 1635 edn., 182) Of note, the hieroglyphic for this emblem does not depict Sisyphus at work, but instead shows a melancholic Christian, loudly lamenting (“Ah mee”) his freedom and sinful existence (“formed of earth, conceived in sinne, borne to punishment”), as he seeks purpose & meaning in “the miserable ingresse of mans condition.” (F. Quarles, 183)
Thumbnail image of 1635 engraving.
     Such Christian repurposing of the deified abstractions and symbolic figures of antiquity appealed to ordinary folk on both sides of the Atlantic: “The Emblems of Alciatus [as developed by Cesare Ripa] have been in as much Reputation among the more learned, as those of Quarles among the Vulgar.” (Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia, 2 vols., 1728, s.v. Emblem, 1.297)
     Quarles’s book of Emblemes popularized for Protestant England and Anglo-America the Catholic baroque emblems of Pia Desideria (1624), by Herman Hugo, and Typus Mundi (1627), which was “compiled by nine clever schoolboys at the Antwerp Jesuit college under the direction of their master.” Quarles’s “occasional alterations to individual plates are of no major doctrinal or sectarian significance,” and the English engravings by William Marshall et al., while competently copied, “fall short of the artistry of the Antwerp originals.” But Quarles’s English “poems are largely independent and new. They exploit the mimetic quality of the pictures and transform them into allegories of spiritual truth,” making Quarles’s Emblemes “acceptable to moderate Catholics and protestants because [his book of visible poetry] promoted the general tenets of the Christian life, not controversial doctrines.” As such, Quarles’s Emblemes “proved a cultural achievement and a durable success. It brought to protestant England, suitably adapted, the spiritual and emotional qualities of the Catholic meditation on pictures. It survived as a work of edification when the emblem tradition itself had declined and it played an important role in the Victorian emblematic revival. It has been found especially rewarding in recent studies of the interaction of word and image. Nearly all of Quarles’s works stand in an interesting relationship to public affairs and serve to enrich the picture of Stuart England.” (Karl Josef Höltgen, ODNB entry for Francis Quarles, n. pag.)
     Click/tap here to view a large digital fascimile (594KB file) of the hieroglyphic for Emblem 15 in Book 3 of Quarles’s Emblemes (1635).

As always, several research projects I’m trying to finish up have expanded well beyond their original scope, and are introducing further delays. To those of you waiting patiently for all the new content relating to claims by Julian Jaynes in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1st edn., 1976)

3. Dating the development of consciousness to around the end of the second millennium B.C. in Greece and Mesopotamia. The transition occurred at different times in other parts of the world.

(from the Myths vs. Facts About Julian Jaynes’s Theory page at the Julian Jaynes Society website)

it’s still coming, I promise. I shall be adding 16 new digital editions to the library — writings by Ovid, Francis Bacon, and Robert Hooke, along with published articles by other 17th-century English and Italian naturalists — as part of this project. That’s a lot of primary source material to organize and prepare, so it’s going to take me longer than I initially planned to get everything done.

I have also decided to move a lot of my research relating to the history of medicine — such as a new illustrated introductory essay on the “Woman-Physician,” Mary Trye (fl. 1662–75) (created 4/14/2016) and the companion introductory essay on her antagonist, the polymath physician Henry Stubbe (1632–1676) (also created 4/14/2016) — to a different website. And this has introduced still more delays.

But ultimately, the main reason redevelopment takes so long is because the research activity itself — richly layered with countless detours and distractions — can not be hurried along. I was recently reminded of this when I added a brief note about 17th-century druggists to an essay at a different website. There, my desire for scholarly precision too often ends up delaying the publication of time-sensitive material, preventing me from taking full advantage of yet another kairic moment. At the time, I was in a hurry to identify which

Bartholin complains of the too great number of Apothecaries in Denmark; tho’ there were but three in Copenhagen, and four in all the Kingdom beside: What would he have said of London, where there are upwards of 1300?

(Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia, 2 vols., 1728, s.v. Apothecary, 1.119)

As Wikipedia summarizes, “Three generations of the Bartholin family made significant contributions to anatomical science and medicine in the 17th and 18th centuries”: Thomas Bartholin (1616–1680); his father, Caspar Bartholin the Elder (1585–1629); his brother, Rasmus Bartholin (1625–1698); and his son, Caspar Bartholin the Younger (1655–1738). Between them, the four Bartholins published over 20 works, all in Baroque Latin, totaling thousands of pages. It could easily take me several months to locate copies of, and read through, all of this material before finding the original source for Chambers’ claim. Unable to devote so much time to this one research project, when I’m already juggling dozens of others, I chose to spend several days on it instead, before I traded in the pedant for the rhetor, and made an educated guess about which Bartholin — Caspar the Elder, or Thomas, or Rasmus, or Caspar the Younger — had commented on the number of Danish druggists at some point during the 17th century.

In the end, I settled on Thomas, based on my interpretation of the variety of Bartholin citations elsewhere in Chambers’ two-volume Cyclopaedia. But I could well be proven wrong in this hasty identification, which is a chance I would not take here at, where accuracy is paramount, and the historical detail rules. That doesn’t mean there are no mistakes at; alas, there are probably plenty, as with much historical research of this nature. But I never knowingly finesse the truth here, for purposes of kairos or expediency.

So, as you read through the content on display at the new, bear in mind that even a seemingly simple, tweet-length phrase — “... the eminent Danish physician and natural philosopher, Thomas Bartholin (1616–1680), had complained ...” — can take many months to fact-check properly.

The new is a concatenation of many such phrases ... which is how months turn into years, and I’m still working on the beta-release version of a transitional website....


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facsimile of mid-18th-century printer's decorative tail-piece

^  Title-page ornament from the 1753 Supplement to Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, by George Lewis Scott, et al.
     The design is an 18th-century twist on the Hermathena of Antiquity, a statue juxtaposing the sibling gods, Hermes and Athena. Traditional iconography has the statues of Mercury and Minerva raised on square pedestals and joined as one, the resulting hybrid deity serving as a symbol for the Ciceronian union of wisdom and eloquence (Wisdom restrains Eloquence, and Eloquence tempers Wisdom).
     A Hermathena was chosen by Cicero (106–43 BCE) to ornament his lecture hall, and has been a traditional symbol of academies and scholarship ever since. For example, the Bolognese academic, Achille Bocchi (1488-1562), also used a Hermathena as the device (impresa) for his own school. His Hermes and Athena each had a columnlike base and upper torso on the corner of the façade for the Palazzo Bocchi; the two stone gods linked arms, and between them Eros reined the mouth of a lion's head. (E. S. Watson, Achille Bocchi and the Emblem Book as Symbolic Form, 76)

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I have been working on — “I” being Deborah Taylor-Pearce, founder, publisher & editor of She-philosopher.​com, first launched in April 2004 before the advent of Google and other Big Search tools for the Web. In the beginning, visitors to She-philosopher.​com came because of my posts to various listservs and Usenet newsgroups, or because I had invited them by passing out URLs, or because of word-of-mouth. In other words, they either knew me or knew of me before visiting.
   Having been at this for so long now, I tend to forget that not everyone who will land on this page in 2017 (or later) knows my identity. Moreover, I have less of an online presence now that I am no longer active in discussion forums (other than an occasional post to GitHub or other tech-support hang-outs), having chosen not to make the move to such popular social networks as Facebook and Twitter.
   In March 2017, I was told by a new visitor to this website that it “comes across as a bit odd” to alight on this home page and be addressed by an anonymous she-philosopher who never introduces herself. Longship Captain Fred Blonder is right about that, and this note is intended to correct that oddity. Thank you, Fred, for the constructive criticism! ::

another kairic moment — From the encompassing term, kairos.
   The classical term, kairos, is of obscure origin and etymology, and difficult to define.
   “It is translated in English as ‘the right time,’ ‘due season,’ ‘occasion,’ ‘opportune,’ ‘appropriate,’ ‘suitable,’ ‘the fitting,’ ‘the propitious moment,’ ‘arising circumstances,’ and ‘opportunity.’” (Encyclopedia of Rhetoric, ed. Thomas O. Sloane, 2001, 413) ::

I settled on Thomas — Thomas Bartholin (1616–1680).
   I have reason to think that Chambers’ source for the mid-17th-century complaint about the growing number of Danish druggists competing with physicians for market share, professional status, and perquisites, was Bartholin’s Cista medica Hafniensis, variis consiliis, curationibus, casibus rarioribus, vitis medicorum Hafniensium ... Accedit ... Domus anatomica brevissime descripta (Copenhagen: Matthias Godicchenius, 1662), but I do not presently have the time or resources to verify this scholarly intuition. ::