Hello, Everyone: I’m Ada Palmer.

Me, in Italy, with food. Perfection.
Me, in Italy, with food. Perfection.

Hello, all.  I am happy to announce that some recent, positive life changes mean that I’m now sufficiently comfortable in my career that I don’t feel I need to keep this blog anonymous anymore.

So, here I am: Ada Palmer, historian, a writer, composer.  I am an Assistant Professor in the History Department of Texas A&M University, where I teach mostly the Italian Renaissance, and long-term intellectual history.  My first academic book, Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance, which talks about the rediscovery of classical science in the Renaissance and its impact on science and religion, is coming out in Summer 2014 from Harvard University Press.  I also write science fiction and fantasy, and I am delighted to announce that my first science fiction novel is coming out from Tor Books in 2015.

I also compose and perform a cappella music for the a cappella folk group Sassafrass.  Our big Viking mythology project, Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok, should be released on CD and DVD this summer (thanks to Kickstarter, hooray!). And on the side I write Ex Urbe, and sometimes write articles or book introductions about anime and manga (another area I research).  I sometimes work as an historical consultant for various manga and anime companies.  It’s an eclectic mix, but that’s what generates the eclectic mix of topics, and approaches to topics, that I explore here.  For me, writing Ex Urbe is fun because it lets me share and explore the exciting things I run across and think about during my history research and teaching, but in a more freeform and open way, without the constraints of academic publishing, not to mention its infinite delays.

In other fun news, I am now blogging for Tor.com.  I have two posts up now, one on Ragnarok and one on horror manga. From now on, I will add links here whenever I have a new Tor.com post, and I will also make little announcements as my various publications approach, so you can see whether you think you’d enjoy the historical monograph, or the music, or the novels.  And I hope that seeing how much I’m doing will help you understand why I update Ex Urbe fairly rarely.  If there’s a long gap between entries, you can assume it’s because there’s either a research trip or a deadline for some exciting project on my plate, and henceforth I’ll post from time to time to tell you what those projects are.  You can also follow me on Twitter (Ada_Palmer); I use it rarely, either for announcements or to share fun history things.

The “About” page has been updated with this info.  For more, please visit AdaPalmer.com.  

And this seems like a good moment to thank you all for reading, and for the many enthusiastic comments and e-mails I have received over the past years.  Ex Urbe is a substantial amount of work, and when deadlines press it sometimes gets hard for me to convince myself that it’s worthwhile to take time away from grading and copy edits to write blog entries.  But the enthusiastic feedback here, combined with the genuinely stimulating responses and discussions that get going in the comments, continually re-convince me that this too is a very valuable way I can contribute to the Great Conversation.  I think Socrates agrees.

And now I shall leave you to enjoy the second installment of my Sketches of a History of Skepticism series, which I posted a few seconds ago.

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24 Responses to “Hello, Everyone: I’m Ada Palmer.”

  1. Brent said:

    Pleased to meet you. Based on your excellent writing here, I look forward to your SF novel becoming available as I am sure it will be a pleasure to read.

  2. Nice to meet you.
    I came across your blog via the machiavellian posts and been following ever since with pleasure. Looking forward to your novel.


  3. communi_kate said:

    Hi there! Love the blog, and I look forwards to reading your book when it comes out. Also, your coat is beautiful.

  4. Kat Slonaker said:

    Bravo!! I am always deeply impressed by anyone who can make a subject which is generally presented in a dry (uninteresting) fashion sing with meaning and engage my attention as your Machiavelli piece did. (Worried that your blog might disappear, I actually clipped the whole thing to my Evernote, so I would have it for reference and re-reminder that ‘history’ and ‘common knowledge’ are strange things.) I am therefore unsurprised that you are also writing other interesting items beyond real history.

    Thank you for sharing here and expanding the work-a-day world!

  5. Jeff Jones said:

    Possibly, I shouldn’t comment, but now we don’t have to worry about letting that information reach the wrong ears.
    Also, the beginning of the 1st novel is interesting; can’t wait for sometime in 2015.

  6. When I found out that the person who did the Machiavelli series is the SAME PERSON who wrote “Somebody Will” which I loved so much I shared it with my fellow Wikimedians, I jumped up and down in my chair. Thank you for all you do and share, and congrats on dropping the veil – and on your forthcoming books.

  7. Terry said:

    It is so nice to put a face to this writing I’ve been enjoying so much. I, too, got here via the Machiavelli series, stayed for so much more.

    Congrats on the publications! Is your non-fiction book going to be within price range for ordinary mortals? I hope? I already know I’ll be getting the Tor book, yay!

    You have made yourself a heckuva fun life there, congratulations on that, too.

    • Terry said:

      Have to add this: For some reason, my post date-stamp says 5:51 pm – when actually it’s a few minutes before noon here. *scratches head*

  8. Please to finally meet you in person!

    I’ve enjoyed your work for some time.

  9. exurbe said:

    Many thanks, all of you, for your kind replies. It’s quite overwhelming.

    To Terry, I believe that other books in the Harvard non-fiction series my book is part of have usually cost around $35 to $45, so mostly within reasonable range. When the book is closer to coming out I will say a little more about it, to help people tell if it would be interesting to them. It’s a powerful topic, but also a very scholarly format with lots of historiography and zillions of footnotes, so some people will find it’s not for them. And my life is indeed pretty fantastically fun.

    To Sumana Harihareswara, I’m trying now to imagine what it would be like coming across the music and blog separately and then having them connected – quite a strange path!

    To communi_kate, thanks for the kind comment about the coat. My mother is a painter, so we enjoy doing projects like that together. You can’t see it in that photo, but there’s a blue heron on the side.

    To Kat Slonaker, wow, copying it to Evernote, that’s quite an enthusiastic act! Powerful to hear about, thank you.

    To all, thanks again. I was a bit nervous about doing this, but your responses have been just wonderful.

    • Terry said:

      I expect I will be buying that book about Lucretius. Are there any works I could read about him and any related subjects, to keep me from falling off the Earth with impatience until yours is out? Just off the top of your head – you have plenty to do without spending any time researching this question.

      • exurbe said:

        Of those out now, on Lucretius specifically I would recommend “Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity” by Catherine Wilson, or for a more abstract and storytelling-like taste Stephen Greenblatt’s “The Swerve.” For interesting books on early modern heterodoxy more broadly I continue to recommend Don Cameron Allen’s “Doubt’s Boundless Sea” and Alan C. Kors’ “Atheism in France.”

        • Of those, I’ve read “The Swerve,” which was fascinating (but I’m sorry, that’s the limpest title in the world). Thanks for the list! I shall seek them out.

  10. David Naas said:

    Nice to make your acquaintance. Stuffy in that closet, eh?
    Glad to have you out here in the sunlight.

  11. Chris Lawson said:

    I’ve really enjoyed the Ex Urbe posts I’ve read. Great work. And that’s a fantastic coat, by the way. I wantssss one.

  12. A brave step, and one to be applauded. I’ve enjoyed and shared your work here for some time, and am now pleased to know more about your other work. Thanks for the insight and information!


  13. Vance said:

    I will never call you Sir again. Just, Bravo!

    I love Lucretius. My favorite bits are the pointy particles emanating from roosters and the hand of the statue, at the gates of a city, wearing away by repeated handshakes of passers-by (as a demonstration that material is removed, though we can’t see it happening). Now I always shake a statue’s hand, if it’s appropriate. And I will certainly read your book on Lucretius’s reawakening.

    Did you enjoy A Canticle for Leibowitz? Seems like a novel that combines some of your interests.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never liked one person’s blog so much. Thanks and bon courage.

    • exurbe said:

      I have heard a lot about A Canticle for Leibowitz, enough to be well convinced that I would enjoy it, but I haven’t read it yet – my list is long. Many thanks again, all, for the support and praise.

      And yes, I’ve been interested to notice how often people used a male pronoun when my identity wasn’t clear, and it’s been interesting trying to guess how much of that was the cultural default of language and how much was the preconception that an academic voice like this would be male. Interesting to consider.

  14. Miss Margo said:

    Pleased to “meet” you, Professor! I love your blog and I fully intend to buy and read your book! I learn so much from this blog. It’s also like a little trip to Italy.

    I’d be happy to take your class!

    Collegial regards from an adjunct slave instructor in New York City. xoxo

  15. Came to your blog today after I was recommended Borgias by a French guy. I read the entire post about the Borgia TV shows, interested the whole way, and it made me wanting to read all the posts from Ex Urbe. I will get your book when it gets published, and I love manga/anime as well, so I am excited to see that you have several lovely projects and interests.

    Do you have any views/opinions regarding the renessaince aspect in the video game Assassin’s Creed II?

    Love your writings, get that you are busy, but I hope you keep blogging, even if it’s rarer than before!

  16. Alex Besogonov said:

    I’ve been reading your blog since forever.

    Today I stumbled across “Somebody Will” song performed by Heather Dale. It literally moved me to tears.

    So I searched the Web for its author and it was a great shock to find her right in my blog feed!

    Wow. I’m speechless. Thank you for your songs and writing!

    • exurbe said:

      What a fun way to find it! I was delighted when Heather asked to record “Somebody Will” since it’s a message I love sharing (it took me 6 months’ practice before I could sing it without crying!) But I’m delighted to find you’ve enjoyed both so much independently – thank you for sharing the fun crossover-moment story!

  17. suz boswell said:

    WONDERFUL site, Ada. I so appreciate your talent and all your effort in this blog. As a docent at a museum with a significant Italian Renaissance collection, your info is very valuable. LOVE the “Spot the Saint” series. Great writing and terrific artwork and photos. Grazie!

    • exurbe said:

      Thank you for saying so! More “Spot the Saint” is on my to-do-soon list!

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