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.
Now in its second edition, this book 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 seven parts, the book explores the ambiguity of things, representing things, making things, encountering things, empires of things, consuming things, and the power of things. This edition includes a new preface and three new essays on ‘encountering things’ to enrich the volume. These look at cabinets of curiosities, American pearls, and the material culture of West Central Africa. Spanning across the early modern world from Ming dynasty China and Tokugawa Japan to Siberia and Georgian England, from the Kingdom of the Kongo and the Ottoman Empire to the Caribbean and the Spanish Americas, 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, this updated edition of Early Modern Things is essential reading for all those interested in the early modern world and the history of material culture.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Second Edition
Early Modern Things Revisited
Early Modern Things: Setting Objects in Motion, 1500-1800
Part I: The Ambiguity of Things
1.Surface Tension: Objectifying Ginseng in Chinese Early Modernity
2. Going to the Birds: Animals as Things and Beings in Early Modernity
3. The Restless Clock
Part II: Representing Things
4. “Stil-staende dingen”: Picturing Objects in the Dutch Golden Age
5. “Things Seen and Unseen”: The Material Culture of Early Modern Inventories and Their Representation of Domestic Interiors
6. Costume and Character in the Ottoman Empire: Dress as Social Agent in Nicolay’s Navigations
Part III: Making Things
7. Making Things: Techniques and Books in Early Modern Europe
Pamela H. Smith
8. Capricious Demands: Artisanal Goods, Business Strategies, and Consumer Behavior in Seventeenth-Century Florence
Part IV: Encountering Things
9. Catalogical Encounters: Worldmaking in Early Modern Cabinets of Curiosities
10. Unruly Objects: Baroque Fantasies and Early Modern Realities
11. The Taste of Others: Finery, the Slave Trade, and Africa’s Place in the Traffic in Early Modern Things
Part V: Empires of Things
12. Locating Rhubarb: Early Modern Russia’s Relevant Obscurity
13. The World in a Shilling: Silver Coins and the Challenge of Political Economy in the Early Modern Atlantic World
Mark A. Peterson
14. Anatolian Timber and Egyptian Grain: Things That Made the Ottoman Empire
Part VI: Consuming Things
15. The Tokugawa Storehouse: Ieyasu’s Encounters with Things
16. Porcelain for the Poor: The Material Culture of Tea and Coffee Consumption in Eighteenth-Century Amsterdam
Anne E.C. McCants
17. Fashioning Difference in Georgian England: Furniture For Him and For Her
Epilogue: The Power of Things
Denaturalizing Things: A Comment
Something New: A Comment
Identities through Things: A Comment
Erin K. Lichtenstein
Paula Findlen is Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of Italian History and Director of the Suppes Center for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at Stanford University, USA. Her previous works include Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy (1994), and, most recently Empires of Knowledge: Scientific Networks in the Early Modern World (2019), Leonardo’s Library (2019), and The Renaissance of Letters (2020). She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
"A cornucopia: a rich and valuable collection that ranges far and wide in its analysis of the dynamic and diverse powers – symbolic, material, economic, political and religious – of things in the early-modern world. These essays raise important questions about taking objects seriously for historians of any era."
John Brewer, California Institute of Technology, USA