Published four times a year, each issue of Laphams Quarterly adopts and explores a single theme. In 2008, for example, LQs first four issues were dedicated, respectively, to War, Money, Nature, and Education, each created with an aim to help readers find historical threads from Homer to Queen Elizabeth I to George Patton, from Aesop to Edith Wharton to Joan Didion. New essays from writers such as Stanley Fish, Fritz Stern, and Andrew Delbanco then knotted each theme together.
A typical issue features an introductory Preamble from Editor Lewis H. Lapham; approximately 100 Voices in Time — that is, appropriately themed selections drawn from the annals and archives of the past — and newly commissioned commentary and criticism from todays preeminent scholars and writers. Myriad photographs, paintings, charts, graphs, and maps round out each issues 224 pages.
Laphams Quarterlys modus operandi assumes that valuable observations of the human character and predicament dont become obsolete — that the story, say, of an ancient Syracusan prison camp reverberates millennia later in the gulag of Siberia. Abridged rather than paraphrased, none of the texts in Lapham's Quarterly runs to a length longer than five or seven pages (a primary school memoir of Mary McCarthy, a celebration of entomological warfare from Thoreau); others to no more than five or seven paragraphs (a telegraph to President Eisenhower from the parents of the Little Rock Nine, a love lyric of Sappho). With text enhanced with full-color selections of art, Laphams Quarterly draws not only from traditional sources such as literary narrative and philosophical commentary, but also from historys underutilized scrapbooks: letters, diaries, speeches, navigational charts, menus, photographs, bills of lading, writs of execution.
Cicero made the point fifty years before the birth of Christ that, “Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child. Laphams Quarterly recognizes and promotes Ciceros notion that to know our history is to know ourselves; that, indeed, we have nothing else with which to build the future except the lumber of the past. By maintaining a keen focus on a single theme in each issue, LQ endeavors to reclaim our oft-forgotten history and to present it to a widespread audience. Issue by issue, Laphams Quarterly seeks to forge men and women from Ciceros children, to spread a love of history to anyone who picks up a copy.Love this? Subscribe to Lapham's Quarterly today.