If you’re in the Cambridge area…

…Professor Joyce Chaplin, a member of my committee will be speaking at Harvard Book Store about her new book, The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius.


Happy Spring!

It may not feel like it in many parts of the country, but today is the first day of spring!

You can read about the vernal equinox here.

Rather appropriate, don’t you think?

You Are Austin

A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.
You’re totally weird and very proud of it.
Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in… in your own strange way.

Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick

I grew up in Austin so I’ve always been rather fond of the place…

Light Evening Reading

I’ve been reading Gordon Wood’s The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin in the evenings when I’m done dissertating for the day. I like to read non-dissertation material late in the evening, usually while sitting in my easy chair or up to my neck in hot bubbly water. So far, I’m enjoying it. Many of the themes in the book are expositions of Wood’s earlier arguments in The Creation of the American Republic (1969)and The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1991). He does especially well explaining the two-tiered nature of eighteenth-century society (gentlemen, and others) in the opening chapter of Americanization, which made me remember how he had first advanced that theme to great effect in Radicalism. Indeed, Benjamin Franklin is the ideal case study for understanding the radical transformations brought on by the Revolution.

But, I have to ask, as I begin chapter two, why oh why are the footnote numbers so tiny? Not only are the numbers indicating a citation tiny, but they are several shades lighter than the rest of the type. I have vision problems anyway, but I can’t imagine how even unbespectacled readers with no eyesight issues can easily spot a footnote. I have to take my glasses off and hold the page to my face in order to determine that, yes, there is a footnote there, and then I have to squint to make out the number. Now, I realize that scholarly works intended for a more popular audience don’t focus as much on the citations, but I’m interested! I wish the publishers of this book made it easier for me to check the footnotes.