The Right Hand and the Left Hand of History: A Special Issue of Laterality

1st Edition

Chris McManus, Michael Nicholls, Giorgio Vallortigara

Psychology Press
Published February 22, 2010
Reference - 288 Pages
ISBN 9781848727236 - CAT# Y106868
Series: Special Issues of Laterality

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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.

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