Carnivalesque nominations: time’s a tickin’!

If you haven’t already done so, get your blog post nominations in for Carnivalesque 48, the early modern edition! If you’ve come across–or if you’ve written–a great blog post that concerns the period 1500 to 1800, please let me know about it by emailing me or by using the nomination form. I’ll be posting my edition this weekend, so get your suggestions in now!

I assume most of you recognize the image I’ve used to illustrate my theme of time’s a tickin’–it’s Abraham Lincoln’s watch, recently opened up by the Smithsonian to reveal messages inscribed on the underside of the watch movement. It seemed appropriate for this post not simpy because it demonstrates the passage of time, nor because it lets me demonstrate my fondness for things pertaining to Lincoln, although it does do both of those things wonderfully. But it also gestures toward something that I am not usually concerned with, given my focus on things bookish: writing happens not only on paper and on parchment, not only in the context of books and blogs, but in a wider range of contexts and on a wider range of materials than we sometimes remember to consider. § continue reading

inaugural bibles

I can’t resist an update to my last blog on the Bibles being used for the Inauguration of President Obama. First, two pictures of that moment with President Obama’s hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible:

(photo taken by Elise Amendola for the AP Pool)

(photo was taken by Chuck Kennedy; more photos of the Inauguration can be found through the Boston Globe’s The Big Picture–the page will take a few moments to load.)

Together, these two photos give a wonderful sense of the moment–Barack Obama’s hand on the Bible, his family with him all beaming with joy. Of course, what the pictures can’t show are the words being spoken. Words that, as we all know, were not exactly as they should have been and that had to be repeated, “out of an abundance of caution,” the following day. There’s a lot that could be said about oaths and speech act theory. § continue reading

bibles for historical occasions

When Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, he will be using the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used at his first inauguration in 1861. Much has been made of the symbolism of the moment, and of the many connections between the two men from Illinois, the one who freed the slaves and the one who will be our first African-American President.

The physical presence of Lincoln’s Bible is key to making that connection explicit. It’s not a physically imposing bible, as you can see from pictures. It’s easily held, bound in burgundy velvet with gilt edges.

What I find the most interesting about it is that although it holds a great deal of significance to us, it did not for Lincoln. Lincoln’s own family Bible was still en route to Washington with the rest of his belongings, so Supreme Court Clerk William Thomas Carroll purchased this Bible for the swearing-in ceremony. § continue reading