See ya, 2020! In the weeks and months that gave us more gut-churning “what the heck”-ery than we knew what to do with, we managed to put out some great content (if we do say so ourselves). Here are our favorites, in no particular order. We’ll bring you lots more scholarly quirkiness in 2021. Promise!

Irving Browne, Iconoclasm and Whitewash. New York, 1886. Illustrated by the author. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

“Grangerization” Made Beautiful Books Even Better

But the eighteenth-century readerly hobby angered critics, who saw it as a “monstrous practice.”

18th-Century Lovers Exchanged Portraits of Their Eyes

The miniature paintings celebrated and commemorated love at a time when public expressions of affection were uncouth.
Garlic

Garlic and Social Class

Immigrants from southern Italy were stereotyped for their use of the aromatic vegetable.
An illustration depicting two regency-era women speaking with an iMessage bubble

Is Jane Austen the Antidote to Social Media Overload?

Racking up likes and followers today resembles the nonstop friending of 19th-century England. But Austen's characters figured out how to disengage.
3 boys hanging out outside laughing

Black English Matters

People who criticize African American Vernacular English don't see that it shares grammatical structures with more "prestigious" languages.
A graph of the early onset of AIDS from the alleged index case of Gaëtan Dugas aka "Patient Zero".

AIDS, from the Perspective of “Patient Zero”

We now know a great deal about how the man who's often blamed for the AIDS epidemic saw himself and his community. That's important.
The Last Day of Pompeii by Karl Brullov

Pompeii Mania in the Era of Romanticism

Nothing appealed more perfectly to the Romantic sensibility than the mix of horror and awe evoked by a volcano erupting.
A puffin carrying tree branches in it's mouth

Puffins Seen Using Tools, Breaking Dumb-Puffin Stereotypes

Reputed to be a less intelligent bird species, puffins have been observed scratching themselves with sticks.
Charles Mingus

The Newport Rebels and Jazz as Protest

In 1960 a group of jazz musicians organized an alternative to the Newport Jazz Festival, which they saw as too pop and too white.

How Medieval Arabic Literature Viewed Lesbians

As far back as the ninth century, doctors and poets wrote about women who loved women without calling them deviants.
The ship María Pita departing from Coruña in 1803, engraved by Francisco Pérez

How Children Took the Smallpox Vaccine around the World

In 1803, nearly two dozen orphan boys endured long voyages and physical discomfort to transport the smallpox vaccine to Spain's colonies.
Tremolite asbestos from the Aure Valley, French Pyrenees

When Asbestos Was a Gift Fit for a King

File under: “don’t try this at home.”

Plant of the Month: Turmeric

The plant’s golden color has inspired a long—and potentially deadly—fascination.
Harriet Taylor Mill

Harriet Taylor Mill, At Last

When you're married to John Stuart Mill, whatever you do or say may be held against you. And so it was.
The CIA logo over a Jackson Pollock painting

Was Modern Art Really a CIA Psy-Op?

The number of MoMA-CIA crossovers is highly suspicious, to say the least.

Cottagecore Debuted 2,300 Years Ago

Keeping cozy in a countryside escape, through the ages.
Tim Robinson

Deep Mapping with Tim Robinson

By walking his way around an island off the coast of Ireland, the late artist broke with cartography's origins in marking ownership and conquest.
Francesca Vidotto

Francesca Vidotto: The Quantum Properties of Space-Time

Theoretical physicist Francesca Vidotto on feminist epistemology, white holes, string theory, and her book (with Carlo Rovelli) on loop quantum gravity.
Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc, for Fascists and Feminists

As Catholics mark the centennial of her canonization, it’s clear that there is more than one Joan of Arc. How did that happen?

P.S., Mushrooms Are Extremely Beautiful

American mycologist Violetta White Delafield painted over 600 stunning watercolors of mushrooms as part of her fieldwork. Here they are in all their glory.
Illustration of a woman walking with a book

The Library That Walked Across Belgium

What two scholar-artists learned from taking ninety books on a very, very long walk.

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