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Oct 24, 2007 9:50 am

Wednesday Notes

Sage Ross,"What are historians good for?" Revise and Dissent, Part I and Part II, raises an important question. Part II considers some possible answers, including" client-centered history" and debunking hoary myths.

Jennifer Howard,"Harvard Humanities Students Discover the 17th Century Online," CHE, 26 October, is a fascinating story about Stephen Greenblatt's interdisciplinary Humanities 27,"Travel and Transportation in the 17th Century." Remarkable things can be done with the University's near unlimited resources. Students follow three fictitious ships that sail from London in 1633.

They set course for Sierra Leone, where they intend to buy slaves. The Revenge reaches its destination and sails on to Barbados. The Resolution, blown off course by a storm, makes it to Brazil, then through the Strait of Magellan to Mexico, then across the Pacific to the Spice Islands, around the Cape of Good Hope, and back to England. The Prince Hal suffers a shipwreck off the Moroccan coast and becomes the prey of Barbary pirates, who sell its crewmen into slavery. A few are transported as far as Istanbul.

Humanities 27 is one of Harvard's Silk Road courses.

Jill Lepore,"Vast Designs: How America Came of Age," New Yorker, 19 October, reviews Daniel Walker Howe's What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, the most recent volume in the Oxford History of the United States. The series was conceived almost 40 years ago. It has produced some excellent books, but it's had a tumultuous publication history.

David Kaiser's"Where are we going?" History Unfolding, 20 October, concludes with a moving tribute to James Jones's From Here to Eternity.

Jason Thompson,"How Manga Conquered the U.S., a Graphic Guide to Japan's Coolest Export," Wired, 23 October, uses the form of a manga to tell its history. Hat tip.

Finally, our colleague, Rob MacDougall, rolls out Old is the New New 3.0, complete with a candelabra-bearing robot. It is"the schnitzel"!

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