New Book | Early Modern Things: Objects and their Histories

Posted in books by Editor on January 2, 2014

Collected here are papers that originated from the Early Modern Things Workshop (Stanford, 29–30 January 2010). From Routledge:

Paula Findlen, ed., Early Modern Things: Objects and their Histories, 1500–1800 (New York: Routledge, 2013), 392 pages, ISBN: 978-0415520508 (hardcover), $160 / ISBN: 978-0415520515 (paperback), $45.

9780415520515What can we learn about the past by studying things? How does the meaning of things, and our relationship to them, change over time? This fascinating collection taps a rich vein of recent scholarship to explore a variety of approaches to the material culture of the early modern world (c.1500–1800).

Divided into six parts, this book explores the ambiguity of things, representing things, making things, empires of things, consuming things, and lastly the power of things. Spanning across the early modern world, from Ming dynasty China to Georgian England, and from Ottoman Egypt to Spanish America, the authors provide a generous set of examples in how to study the circulation, use, consumption and, most fundamentally, the nature of things themselves.

Drawing on a broad range of disciplinary perspectives and lavishly illustrated, Early Modern Things supplies fresh and provocative insights into how objects—ordinary and extraordinary, secular and sacred, natural and man-made—came to define some of the key developments of the early modern world.


Paula Findlen, Introduction: Early Modern Things: Setting Objects in Motion, 1500–1800

Part One: The Ambiguity of Things
1. Carla Nappi, Surface Tension: Objectifying Ginseng in Chinese Early Modernity
2. Marcy Norton, Going to the Birds: Animals as Things and Beings in Early Modernity
3. Jessica Riskin, The Restless Clock

Part Two: Representing Things
4. Julie Hochstrasser, ‘Stil-staende dingen’: Picturing Objects in the Dutch Golden Age
5. Giorgio Riello, ‘Things Seen and Unseen’: The Material Culture of Early Modern Inventories and Their Representation of Domestic Interiors
6. Chandra Mukerji, Costume and Character in the Ottoman Empire: Dress as Social Agent in Nicolay’s Navigations

Part Three: Making Things
7. Pamela H. Smith, Making Things: Techniques and Books in Early Modern Europe
8. Corey Tazzara, Capricious Demands: Artisanal Goods, Business Strategies, and Consumer Behavior in Seventeenth-Century Florence

Part Four: Empires of Things
9. Erika Monahan, Locating Rhubarb: Early Modern Russia’s Relevant Obscurity
10. Mark A. Peterson, The World in a Shilling: Silver Coins and the Challenge of Political Economy in the Early Modern Atlantic World
11. Alan Mikhail, Anatolian Timber and Egyptian Grain: Things That Made the Ottoman Empire

Part Five: Consuming Things
12. Morgan Pitelka, The Tokugawa Storehouse: Ieyasu’s Encounters with Things
13. Anne E.C. McCants, Porcelain for the Poor: The Material Culture of Tea and Coffee Consumption in Eighteenth-Century Amsterdam
14. Amanda Vickery, Fashioning Difference in Georgian England: Furniture for Him and for Her

Epilogue: The Power of Things
15. Renata Ago, Denaturalizing Things: A Comment
16. Timothy Brook, Something New: A Comment
17. Erin K. Lichtenstein, Identities through Things: A Comment

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