New College of the Humanities

The History List: Computer Games, Autointoxication & More

A round-up of some things we’ve enjoyed reading over the past week

“United States, Showing the Relative Average Density of Existing Forests.” From Department of the Interior, Census Office,Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report On Forest Trees Of North America, By C.S. Sargent, 1884.

A round-up of some things we’ve enjoyed reading over the past week

  • Two and a half thousand otherwise lost MS-DOS computer games were added to the Internet Archive last week, says The New Yorker, but the ‘retro’ label siloes the medium’s past: '[The games'] social, political, and cultural context remains hidden. Few contemporary explorers of the archive will recognize, for instance, that Wanted: Monty Mole is a riff on the UK coal miners’ strike of 1984 - you play a courageous mole who breaks the picket lines in defiance of his union leader, a character modelled on the real-world National Union of Mineworkers president, Arthur Scargill'. (The New Yorker)
  • Autointoxication was the nineteenth century idea ‘that 'insanity' was actually a state of chronic intoxication, caused by some mind-altering substance or toxin produced inside the sufferer’s own body'. On two scientists who believed they could cure schizophrenia by removing parts of their patients intestines. (Discover Magazine)
  • After 'Ostalgie', is Berlin beginning to experience ‘Westalgie’? An exhibition in the city is offering 'a wistful look back at West Berlin's days as the"showcase of capitalism.' (Deustche Welle)
  • A series of tree maps from 1884 reveals the state of American forests. 'While the total area of forested land in the United States has diminished by 30 per cent since the date of European settlement in 1630, 75 per cent of net conversion to other uses occurred in the nineteenth century'. (Slate Vault)

Rhys Griffiths is Publishing Assistant at History Today