Episode 26: American Baroque

“The heyday of pearls corresponded with the earliest years of Atlantic experimentation, a violent and improvisational several decades,” writes Molly Warsh, in her book American Baroque: Pearls and the Nature of Empire, 1492-1700. As if to prove her point, the famous 1588 Armada portrait of England’s Queen Elizabeth I, shows the monarch bedecked in pearls and regal finery, with one hand cradling the globe and her fingers pointing to America, while over her shoulder are the scenes of a defeated rival and English victory in the famous Spanish Armada. Despite the composure of Elizabeth’s imperial pose, Warsh writes “in the American pearl fisheries, life was a jumble, with indiscriminate mixing of people and pearls.”

Our History

Socrates said it best, “Hey, ho, Western Civ. has got to go!” Well, maybe that was the Saucy boys of HAG, but either way, tune in to Episode 26 to find out why it’s time to put that hot mess of Eurocentric nonsense called the Western Civilization course out to pasture. And that’s only the appetizer, as you’ll be hungry for our main course interview with the brilliant Molly Warsh, the University of Pittsburgh scholar and author of American Baroque: Pearls and the Nature of Empire. Sail along with us on a high seas global adventure as Molly recounts her unexpected discoveries in research, from the archives of Portugal to the river banks of Scotland, and a VERY special back room tour of the London city museum. Hint: Molly learned that if the 400 year old diamond ring fits, you gotta wear it. There are jewels galore in Episode 26, so be sure to tune in, but remember, if it’s American baroque, don’t fix it!

To hear Episode 26 American Baroque click on the link below:


Molly Warsh
Sources Referenced and Items of Interest

Molly Warsh, American Baroque: Pearls and the Nature of Empire, 1492-1700 (2018)



“Professor With A Pearl” Interview with Molly Warsh


University of Pittsburgh Department of History World History Center


Kwame Anthony Appiah, “There is No Such Thing as Western Civilization,” (The Guardian, 2016)


“We should all be very suspicious of straight lines in history. There are no straight lines in history, everything is complicated, and when you see people trying to push you on a straight line from Athenian democracy to the grandeur of the United States you should be very suspicious and ask a lot of questions.”

Josh Weiner

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