History and Material Culture: A Student's Guide to Approaching Alternative Sources

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Nonspecific Binding
  • Copyright: 2009-04-01
  • Publisher: Routledge
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Sources are the raw material of history, but where the written word has traditionally been seen as the principal source, today historians are increasingly recognizing the value of sources beyond text. In History and Material Culture, Karen Harvey embarks upon a discussion about material culture “ considering objects, often those found surrounding us in day to day life, as sources, which can help historians develop new interpretations and new knowledge about the past. Across ten chapters, different historians look at a variety of material sources from around the globe and across centuries to assess how such sources can be used to study history. While the sources are discussed from interdisciplinary " perspectives, each contributor examines how material culture can be approached from an historical viewpoint, and each chapter addresses its theme or approach in a way accessible to readers without expertise in the area. In her introduction, Karen Harvey discusses some of the key issues raised when historians use material culture, and suggests some basic steps for those new to these kinds of sources. Opening up the discipline of history to new approaches, and introducing those working in other disciplines to historical approaches, this book is the ideal introduction to the opportunities and challenges of researching material culture.

Author Biography

Karen Harvey is Senior Lecturec in Cultural History at the University of Sheffield. Her publications include Reading Sex in the Eighteenth Century: Bodies and Gender in English Erotic Culture (2004) and The Kiss in History (2005).

Table of Contents

List of illustrationsp. vii
List of contributorsp. ix
Acknowledgementsp. xii
Introduction: practical mattersp. 1
Things that shape history: material culture and historical narrativesp. 24
Ornament as evidencep. 47
Back yards and beyond: landscapes and historyp. 67
Draping the body and dressing the home: the material culture of textiles and clothes in the Atlantic world, c. 1500-1800p. 85
Using buildings to understand social history: Britain and Ireland in the seventeenth centuryp. 103
Object biographies: from production to consumptionp. 123
Regional identity and material culturep. 139
Objects and agency: material culture and modernity in Chinap. 158
Mundane materiality, or, should small things still be forgotten? Material culture, micro-histories and the problem of scalep. 173
The case of the missing footstool: reading the absent objectp. 192
Indexp. 208
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