Early Modern Things: Objects and their Histories, 1500-1800
by Paula Findlen (2013)
Discussion Leader: Mindy Landeck
This edited volume engages the dynamic field of material culture studies across the early modern world. Seventeen essays explore what objects can tell us about the past and considers how humankind’s relationship to both mundane and rarefied items changes over time and across cultures. The group will agree upon some number of chapters to read together for discussion. Why, for example, was a small ceramic jar that struck one sixteenth-century Portuguese observer as “fit only as a water dish for a birdcage” treated as the most prized of family heirlooms by its Japanese owner? What historical insights may be gleaned from early modern inventories of possessions? What role do objects play in the rise and fall of empires? Covering the early modern world from the Netherlands to China, and ranging across objects as diverse as ginseng, rhubarb, tea, coins, and furniture (just to name a few examples), this book will surely appeal to many Austin College faculty across disciplines.