The Right Hand and the Left Hand of History
A Special Issue of Laterality
Left-handers have been described as "a people without a history". This special issue provides scholarly analyses of aspects of asymmetry in history, from the Renaissance to the 20th Century.
- Lauren Harris presents three studies describing:
- An 1811 American child-care manual for parents fearing, "lest their children should be left-handed";
- Manuals on swordsmanship from the Renaissance onwards describing the "accepted minority" of left-handed swordsmen, a minority that still dominates the Olympics;
- The enigmatic bias whereby parents use their left arm to carry babies;
- Janet Snowman and Stephen Christman present two papers on left-handed musical geniuses:
- William Crotch, the self-taught, 18th Century, musical prodigy, whose unconventional left-handed playing styles stimulate many questions about the asymmetries of stringed instruments;
- Jimi Hendrix, the 20th Century, left-handed, guitarist of whom Robert Krieger said, "… he was just so different. He just came from such a left-field place."
- Chris McManus, Richard Rawles, James Moore and Matthew Freegard describe an early BBC TV programme presented in 1953 by Jacob Bronowski on right and left-handedness. In an early example of viewer participation, 6000 people sent postcards describing their handedness and also their perceptions of a "mystery picture", that was the duck-rabbit figure from Wittgenstein’s recently published Philosophical Investigations.
- Chris McManus and Janet Snowman describe A left-handed compliment, a newly discovered lithograph by John Lewis Marks (ca. 1795-6 - ca. 1857-61). Given Marks’,"seeming love of vulgarity for its own sake", there is probably an obscene sub-text reminiscent of a Donald McGill postcard.
Table of Contents
C. McManus, M. Nicholls, G. Vallortigara, Editorial and Introduction. L. Harris, On Teaching Infants "The Right Use Of Their Hands": Advice and Reassurance From Mary Palmer Tyler’s The Maternal Physician (1811). L. Harris, Side-biases for Holding and Carrying Infants: Reports from the Past and Possible Lessons for Today. C. McManus, R. Rawles, J. Moore, M. Freegard, Science in the Making: Right Hand, Left Hand: I: A BBC Television Programme Broadcast in 1953. C. McManus, M. Freegard, J. Moore, R. Rawles, Science in the Making: Right Hand, Left Hand: II: The Duck-Rabbit Figure. C. McManus, J. Moore, M. Freegard, R. Rawles, Science in the Making: Right Hand, Left Hand: III: Estimating Historical Rates of Left-handedness. L. Harris, In Fencing, What Gives Left-handers the Edge? Views from the Present and the Distant Past. J. Snowman, The Left and Right Hands of the 18th Century British Musical Prodigies,William Crotch and Samuel Wesley. S. Christman, Eclectic Lefty Land: Conjectures on Jimi Hendrix, Handedness, and Electric Ladyland. C. McManus, J. Snowman, A Left Handed Compliment: A Newly-discovered, Early 19th Century Lithograph by J. Lewis Marks.