Blog (Ex Urbe)

On my blog, Ex Urbe, I write essays about history, philosophy, mythology, science fiction and fantasy, movies, comics, food, and other topics.  I often discuss my research travel, especially my times in European cities including Florence and Rome.  I also post travel photography, focusing on historic sights and art.  Many of my essays are more casual examinations of topics I have been teaching or researching, ways of sharing my work in a lighter and more public setting than the classroom or academic books.

A model of the heavens, made for the Medici, at the Florentine Museum of the History of Science.
Travel photos, like this Medici model of the heavens, are another blog feature.


Recommended Ex Urbe Entries:

I also regularly post historical photos & facts on twitter as Ada_Palmer tagged #historypix


I also sometimes blog for  There I write about fiction, the craft of writing, mythology, history, literature, television, and manga & anime.


RSS The Latest Posts

  • Seven Surrenders is Out: New Links Post March 7, 2017
    Ada’s second novel, book two of the Terra Ignota quartet, Seven Surrenders, is published today, so at last people who have been waiting since reading Too Like the Lightning last May can read it. If anyone hates cliffhangers so much that they have been waiting to read Too Like The Lightning until Seven Surrenders came […]
  • Promoted Comment: The Scary Atrocious Thomas Hobbes March 2, 2017
    In the comments to the Progress post, a reader asked for clarification on what was so awful about Hobbes, and this was Ada’s response, which I am reposting as a post so that it doesn’t stay buried down there: Ah, yes, that was probably to brief an abbreviation. To be clear, I LOVE Hobbes, and […]
  • On Progress and Historical Change January 4, 2017
    Is progress inevitable? Is it natural?  Is it fragile? Is it possible? Is it a problematic concept in the first place?  Many people are reexamining these kinds of questions as 2016 draws to a close, so I thought this would be a good moment to share the sort-of “zoomed out” discussions the subject that historians like myself […]
  • Spot the Saint: More Dominicani October 29, 2016
    Hello, all.  Deadlines, page proofs, preparing for tenure, and an extra heavy autumn teaching load with classrooms full of enthusiastic-and-therefore-time-consuming students have continued to keep me too busy for another skepticism essay, but here for your enjoyment (and with some help from the excellent Jo Walton who’s wonderful at hunting down saint pictures for me) is […]
  • Four Updates June 21, 2016
    One day (soon! Soon I hope!) Ada will have time to make the more substantive posts here we’d all prefer, but for now I’m doing another brief update for her. Some things come in fours — elements, doctors of the church, virtues, and this post. First, fire, St Augustine, and fortitude: an intensive review of […]
  • San Marco: The Dominican Monastery at the Heart of Renaissance Florence June 2, 2016
    Off to Italy again.  This seems like a good time to share a link to a video of an illustrated talk Ada gave at the Lumen Christi institute in Chicago in February. It’s a fascinating overview of the place of San Marco in Florence, with lots of excellent pictures. It’s like an audio version of an Ex […]
  • Day After the Book Comes Out Link Round-up May 11, 2016
    The long wait is over at last, and Too Like the Lightning came out yesterday! This is just a simple little links round-up post by Jo. Too Like the Lightning is available right now as a hardback book and as an e-book in multiple formats, and the audiobook was also just released — and here’s the audiobook cover, […]
  • Novel Launch Blog Entries, plus Useful Plants May 6, 2016
    Hello, friends & readers.  This is a quick update to share links to a couple short essays I’ve written for other blogs. My first science fiction novel Too Like the Lightning comes out very soon now, May 10th!  Initial reviews and reactions have been extremely enthusiastic, and these days Twitter sometimes feels like a surreal dream, with […]
  • Plato essay, #historypix, and the excessively exciting life of Pope Urban VIII February 10, 2016
    Some announcements, and a small fun thing to share. First, I have written an essay on Plato, historicity and metaphysics, based on my experiences teaching the Republic to undergraduates and responding to Jo Walton’s The Just City. It is up on Crooked Timber as part of a set of responses to The Just City, and the essay has plenty of elements […]
  • So Much Shakespeare! January 25, 2016
    I am posting mainly to announce that I have a new essay up on, “How Pacing Turns History into Story: Shakespeare’s Henriad and the White Queen TV.”  I’ve been doing preliminary work for this new post for 2 years now (by preliminary work I mean watching masses of Shakespeare over and over), and it follows […]