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Q U I C K   L I N K S

Learn more about the 2012 launch of the new She-philosopher.​com here.

For more about how “well-motivated historical inquiry” can enlighten us, see the webessay explaining She-philosopher.​com’s concept.

For more about forthcoming projects planned for this website, see the PREVIEWS section.


If you lack the time or inclination to browse the content in She-philosopher.​com’s STUDIES section, try using our customized search tool (search box at the top of the right-hand sidebar on this page), which is updated every time new content is added to the public areas of the website, thus ensuring the most comprehensive and reliable searches of She-philosopher.​com.
  Learn more about our customized search tool here.

**  themed historical studies, with a focus on 17th-century arts & sciences, and material culture  **

First Published:  August 2012
Revised (substantive):  24 November 2016

Opening quotation markThe premises and procedures of
well-motivated historical inquiry
may thus furnish a simple distinction:
not the past, but investigating
the past is edifying.Closing quotation mark

Nancy Struever, “Philosophical Problems and Historical Solutions,” 85.
   In At the Nexus of Philosophy and History, ed. by Bernard P. Dauenhauer (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987).


THE STUDIES SECTION OF was added in August 2012. It houses synopses that offer convenient entry points to ongoing research projects which can be thematically organized.

Unfortunately, not everything I study can be so neatly arranged. Some research topics — ranging from Europeans’ discovery and marketing of pharmaceuticals such as contrayerva, to the history of trades and industrial arts such as printing and masonry — are too eclectic to be easily contained within a single organizing category. My study of contrayerva, for example, is a subset of the much larger research project focused on the Countess of Kent’s powder recipe, Pulvis Cantianus; and my study of the practice of masonry, including women’s involvement in the trade, merges with research in other areas such as early proposals to reform vocational education, debates over the pros and cons of full public disclosure of scientific & technological advances, including trade secrets, the quarrying of stone and growth of materials science, the mason as Aristotle’s model phronimos (a person who possesses practical wisdom), “branding” small businesses, etc. Such a bold sweep inevitably leads to overlapping conceptual categories which, at least in the early stages of the research process, defy easy categorization. If a single, themed presentation exists for my masonry-related historical research, I haven’t been able to discover it!

In my experience, clarity about the research process and its direction sometimes comes with time and distance, and is almost always a serendipitous discovery. Because the studies presented here are open-ended, it is difficult to epitomize them. Like everything else at, each study synopsis must be polished enough to withstand the acid bath of peer review, and yet still allow for ongoing revision, so as to accommodate new research. This is a difficult balance to strike, and helps explain why I can’t churn out scholarly webessays with the same abandon other Web publishers enjoy.

The following list of active links will be updated as I continue to learn more. With historical research of this sort, there’s no way of knowing ahead of time what I shall find, or when I shall find it, especially given my penchant for following up the most interesting research leads, and opening myself to detours and distractions that wreak havoc on my schedule, but otherwise almost always bear fruit.

Currently, the list of themed studies underway at includes:

  English Printers’ Ornaments (overview page)
  Trade Recipes: Printer’s Ink
  Trade Recipes: Writer’s Ink
  Medical Recipe: The Countess of Kent’s Powder (Pulvis Cantianus)
  Medical Recipe: Lady Owen’s 16th-Century Practice of Chemotherapy
  the 17th-Century Traveler as Citizen Scientist
  Amanteca: AmerIndian Feather Paintings
  Ars memoria (the art of memory)
  Early-Modern Branding
  Early-Modern Desalination Systems
  European Fashions Inspired by AmerIndian Body Art
  Natural & Cultural History: the Chameleon
  Natural & Cultural History: American Cochineal and European Markets
  Natural & Cultural History: the Pineapple
  Natural & Cultural History: the American Hummingbird and European Markets
  Natural & Cultural History: the Flying Fish
  Natural & Cultural History: the Sagoin (marmoset)
  Natural & Cultural History: Tobacco
  Natural & Cultural History: Maize (Indian Corn) and its Cultivation in Virginia
  Natural & Cultural History: the Five Sexes
  Classical Virtue: Festina lente
  Classical Virtue: Phronesis
  Classical Virtue: Prudentia
  Modern Virtue: Critical Pluralism
  Modern Justice: California’s flawed “Good Neighbor Fence Act of 2013” (Assembly Bill 1404 or AB 1404), under which long-time California property owners have lost rights & security

These are in various stages of preparation. Once a research synopsis for a given study has been finalized and posted to, its title in the above list will change to an active hyperlink, indicating its publication online.

facsimile of mid-18th-century tail-piece

^  Reading in the book of human nature. (Ornament from the 1753 Supplement to Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, by George Lewis Scott, et al.)
     “History has been call’d, by a great Man, Speculum Mundi: The Looking-Glass of the World; It gives the best prospect into Humane Affairs, and makes us familiar with the remotest Regions: by this we safely sit in our Closets, and view the horrid Devastations of Countreys, Tumults, Changes and Ruptures of Common-Wealths; The Reverse of Fortunes, the Religions, Politicks and Governments of Foreign Nations; by this we may consult what practices have Establish’d Kingdoms, what Laws have render’d any particular Nation more Safe, happy and Civiliz’d than its Neighbours; and, what has Contributed to the Weakness and Overthrow of Bodies-Politick, and what has Facilitated its Rise and Settlement; and, in a Prospect of the whole, a New Scheme may be drawn, for future Ages to act by.” (from “An Essay upon All Sorts of Learning” in the Athenian Society’s The Young-Students-Library, 1692, v)

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