College of Liberal Arts

The Appendix: Experimental journal showcases history of the arcane

By Jessica Sinn, College of Liberal Arts
Posted: May 24, 2013

While sifting through the musty collections of ancient pages at the Smithsonian, Christopher Heaney stumbled upon some fascinating materials on an apocalyptic prophecy by “Benjamin, the Anti Christ,” a San Francisco prophet who foresaw earthquakes, international war and brain paralysis.  Unfortunately it didn’t fit into his research topic on Peruvian mummies, so he had to file it away for future musings.

Historians are all too familiar with this predicament as they dig through archives and discover provocative findings that just don’t seem to fit within the constrictive boundaries of their academic writings, says Heaney, who is a history graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin.

Tragic love stories about jilted sailors, tales of failed expeditions and rare glimpses into the daily life out on the frontier still remain undocumented. Some say that only a mere 10 percent of the data historians collect during an a

rchival research trip will find its way into their books and articles, Heaney notes.

To explore those forgotten and undiscovered pieces of history, Heaney joined his fellow history graduate students Ben Breen, Felipe Cruz and Brian Jones to create The Appendix, a quarterly online journal that features articles written by historians, journalists, artists and authors.

Through short and long-form stories, interviews, novel excerpts and illustrations, the online journal connects pieces from the past with modern-day issues. Topics range from the history of memes to taverns and drinking in early America.

Over the course of each quarter, articles are posted on the journal’s website, which is free and open to the public. In addition to articles and blog posts, subscribers receive themed issues in the form of downloadable e-books filled with art, interviews, serial novels, comic strips and more.

Banner image: From the blog post "Cabinets of Curiosity: the Web as Wunderkammer." Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Domenico Remps, A Cabinet of Curiosity, 1675.

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