The past is a foreign country.
Literature can take you there.
Young John Goodricke practiced astronomy in late 18th century England, a time when society had a new emotional sensitivity towards nature. Her mysteries were typically probed in private by the cloistered. A heavy sentiment, perhaps, but true in the case of Goodricke. He was someone who’s character had a quality all but lost in our own narcissistic culture.
Achievement in science for someone so young was one thing, but more so for one deaf from early childhood. It may have been the ‘Enlightenment’, but the outlook for the deaf held little promise in a culture more callous than caring. His determined parents, however, discovered the first school for the deaf in all of Great Britain. Education in that groundbreaking academy helped make Goodricke’s pioneering work possible.
Goodricke’s Time is an historical novel, but not an alternate past. Samuel Johnson, William Herschel, Thomas Braidwood, Edward Pigott, Joseph Banks and Nevil Maskelyne all play their part. It is a tale of disability, dogged science and the conflict between solitude and loneliness we all carry within.
Lowell Through Time visually explores how this riverfront city has adapted to changes in architecture, commerce, demographics and entertainment. The rigid demands of textile manufacturing drove its initial layout, walling off the city proper from the Merrimack River by a ‘mile of mills’. The southward migration of this industry began as far back as the nineteenth century. Later shifts in shopping and entertainment patterns further weakened the commercial core. Other cities in Massachusetts also suffered economic downturns, but Lowell has rebounded better than most, undergoing a mini-renaissance with an expanding university, destination as a National Park and a resurrected business district. Industrial architecture was seen as heritage rather than blight and its demolition halted. Preservation of Lowell’s past did not stop entrepreneurial activity, however. Old textile mills, former department stores, fire stations and schools have been recycled. Lowell may now look much the same, but, in many ways, it is not. These photos tell something of that story.
Grounds for Review explores the role of the garden festival in modern urban planning and design. More than mere temporary horticultural expositions, garden festivals have significance as planing stratagems, reclamation projects, public art venues, and precursors of new urban parks. Typically exceeding 50 hectares, they stimulate development and steer set design through a unique merger of domestic garden culture with a large-scale urban project. Nevertheless, their impact on the urban landscape has been understated or overlooked, especially by the American design community. This is the first comprehensive book on the subject.
A.C. Theokas has long been lured by the history of science. Through it we learn about great men and women who thought freely and, in doing so, went against convention. There is often great drama in this with compelling stories that follow such as John Goodricke’s. Theokas believes the best way to relate to the past is through historical fiction. If it is true that travel broadens the mind, then what are we to make of the notion that the past is a foreign country? How might we journey there? Museums or theme parks come to mind, but the more the past is appreciated for its own sake, the less real or relevant it becomes. It is literature that offers the more immersive experience. Theokas holds a doctorate in astronomy from The Victoria University of Manchester and studied urban design at Harvard University. In addition to residing in England for many years he has lived in the West Indies and West Africa. He has lectured in astronomy at Villanova University and Harvard College, has published numerous papers in professional journals and a non-fiction work by Liverpool University Press. Other historically themed titles on Lowell, Massachusetts and the island of Martha’s Vineyard are soon to be published by Fonthill Media. Goodricke’s Time is his first novel.