Design for a Machine, French, eighteenth century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Elisha Whittelsey Collection, Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962.


Volume XIV, Number 1 | winter 2021



Philadelphia chemist Robert Cornelius took what is widely believed to be the first “selfie,” in the back of his family shop, by removing the camera lens cap, running into the frame, and then replacing the lens cap. On the back of the photograph he wrote, “The first light picture ever taken. 1839.” Three-quarters of a century later, Russia’s grand duchess Anastasiya Nikolayevna took a series of self-portraits, steadying herself on the back of a chair. “I took this picture of myself looking in the mirror,” she wrote in 1914, four years before her execution. “It was very hard, as my hands were trembling.”

We don’t have the option of turning away from the future. No one gets to vote on whether technology is going to change our lives.

—Bill Gates, 1995



Read It and Weep


Woman creates an NFT artwork out of Instagram messages with a celebrity.


Woman creates an epistolary novel out of love letters with a nobleman.


The World in Time

Alan Taylor

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with the author of American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783–1850. More