The Laws of Subtraction

Guides to writing often contain conflicting advice, but there are a few ideas that have attained the status of orthodoxy.  Where novelists are told show don’t tell, academics or non-fiction writers are often advised to use detail to convey complex ideas. Although the genres of writing are very different, many writing handbooks mine similar veins. And […]

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Staging History: Call for Contributions

Originally posted on Creative Histories of Witchcraft:
A one-day workshop at the University of Bristol 26th April 2019 ? This one-day workshop addresses collaborations between academic history, heritage, and theatre. Such collaborations have been of obvious interest to heritage organizations, as a way of communicating the past to diverse publics. Theatre performances have also become a well-established…

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Hoax of Mirrors

The so-called ‘Sokal squared’ hoax is both mind-numbingly stupid, and unwittingly beautiful. The hoax, revealed this week, was perpetrated by a trio of ‘researchers’ who you can see in promotional photographs standing facing the camera like the line-up of secretly powerful oddballs in some cable channel’s latest superhero mini-series, or the new season of CSI. […]

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What I (Don’t) Know

One of the foundations of French slander law is a case that took place in the village of La Baffe in the Vosges in 1828, and which was recognized at the time to be very strange, and troubling. The case came before the criminal court (tribunal correctionnel)in Épinal on the morning of February 2nd.[1] The first […]

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1000 Witches Deep

I have over a thousand suspected witches in my computer. It’s not too bad. They were born in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early years of the twentieth centuries, so they should all be dead by now. But I still open my computer slowly, just in case one of them makes a run for it. It’s […]

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The Chiffchaff Problem

Should historians accept the existence of chiffchaffs – a warbling bird common in Europe and Asia – for the period before 1789?   These birds had not been distinguished by observers from similar species until Gilbert White recorded differences in their singing in Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne(1789). But surely there are obvious reasons why […]

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