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Leonardo's Salvator Mundi and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts

Salvator Mundi: the journey of a false saviour

Discovering the provenance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi formed a significant part of the book that I co-authored with Margaret Dalivalle and Martin Kemp. Determining which records and references pertained to the original and which to the many copies and derivations of the painting required the unraveling of dozens of documentary threads, intertwined and occasionally knotted, stretching across the centuries.

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Analysis

The return of Humpty Dumpty: who is the ultimate arbiter of meaning?

In philosophy of language, as well as in many court opinions (e.g., Liversidge v. Anderson, 1942), Humpty Dumpty is held up as an example of how not to think about meaning. Contrary to his claim that the meaning of his words is determined solely by his intentions, there is broad agreement that what words mean is not solely up to us—we can change their meanings over time, but that requires a group effort, and something like consensus.

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East of the Wardrobe

Everyday Narnia: the language of another world

There is little doubt that “Narnia” has effectively entered the English language and that references to a “wardrobe” or “wardrobe door” have been given additional meanings by C. S. Lewis: any reference to it requires no explanation simply because everyone knows.

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Democracies in America: Keywords for the Nineteenth Century and Today

Defining “democracy”

One week before the 2022 US midterm elections, President Joseph Biden delivered a prime-time address at Union Station in Washington, DC. Biden suggested that something foundational, fundamental, was at stake. He reminded listeners of the definition of democracy.

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Analysis

Delegitimising “reverse racism”

“Affirmative action? That’s just reverse racism!” We’ve all heard claims like this; the term “reverse racism” used to attack some progressive project. If you’re anything like me, something about it strikes you as fundamentally misguided.

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The Rules of Rescue

When can you refuse to rescue?

At what point are you morally permitted to refuse to rescue distant strangers? How much must you give over the course of your life? Theron Pummer explores these extremely difficult questions.

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Leonardo's Salvator Mundi and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts

Salvator Mundi: poor picture, poor Leonardo

What does “SM” stand for in the context of Leonardo da Vinci? Our visual engagement with the painting has been skewed by fictionalised stories, lurid journalism, and attributional vitriol. For me, SM now stands for “Sensationalised Mess.” How the painting actually works as a devotional image, what it means, and how it embodies Leonardo’s science and art have become lost.

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Emperors and Usurpers in the Later Roman Empire

Civil war and the end of the Roman Empire

Adrastos Omissi argues that the collapse of the West Roman Empire in the fifth century AD was caused not, primarily, by invasions of external “barbarians” from Germanic Europe, but was rather a product of the endemic civil wars that sprang up in the Roman Empire from the third century AD onwards.

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Gobal Tantra

Modern tantra and the global history of religion

For good reasons, tantra often stands at the center of debates about cultural appropriation and the commodification of religious practices. Through nineteenth-century orientalist studies and missionary polemics, it became associated with sexual licentiousness and abhorrent rituals before it was refashioned as a way to sexual liberation and individual freedom.

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