The Early Modern Commons

Res Obscura

Recent Posts

Res Obscura has moved to Substack

14 September 2023

Hello readers! After 13 years, I've decided to turn the Res Obscura blog into the Res Obscura Substack newsletter. Very little is changing, excerpt for the fact that I've returned to...

1950s Smart Homes and the Longevity of Design

13 December 2019

Aesthetic modes can be surprisingly persistent, even as technologies change.Electric light strips automatically illuminate as the young couple approach the house's front steps.They...

Enlightenment-era Ghosts and the History of Technology

30 October 2019

A detail of one of Etienne Gaspard Robertson's "phantasmagoria."Ghosts were in the air in eighteenth-century London. Few knew this better than James Boswell, the friend and biographer...

The Most Wonderful Map in the World: Urbano Monte's Planisphere of 1587

29 March 2019

At some point in 1589, a Milanese cartographer named Urbano Monte made up his mind: his self-portrait needed updating.Monte carefully crouched over the section of his map that bore...