One of the unexpected things I learned during our visit to Nuremberg over the holidays is that the city was the home to the first mass-produced graphite lead pencils, beginning in 1662. Before we visited Nuremberg, I hadn’t given the history of pencils much thought.* In fact, the only piece of pencil history that I…

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Almost exactly four years ago, I started looking for a history podcast or ten that I could love. (I put out the call for suggestions here on the Margins four years and 29 days ago, to be precise.) Since then, I’ve reported back twice on history podcasts I’ve enjoyed listening to. (You can find the…

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  Those of you who have known me for a long, long time might remember that I once wrote a proposal for a book on how Islam influenced Western culture in fundamental ways.(1) Those of you who’ve known me even longer know that my dissertation was titled Building the Orient of the Imagination: Excess, Confusion…

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