1st Edition

Everyday Objects Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture and its Meanings

Edited By Tara Hamling, Catherine Richardson Copyright 2010
    380 Pages
    by Routledge

    378 Pages
    by Routledge

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    This book is about the objects people owned and how they used them. Twenty-three specially written essays investigate the type of things that might have been considered 'everyday objects' in the medieval and early modern periods, and how they help us to understand the daily lives of those individuals for whom few other types of evidence survive - for instance people of lower status and women of all status groups. Everyday Objects presents new research by specialists from a range of disciplines to assess what the study of material culture can contribute to our understanding of medieval and early modern societies. Extending and developing key debates in the study of the everyday, the chapters provide analysis of such things as ceramics, illustrated manuscripts, pins, handbells, carved chimneypieces, clothing, drinking vessels, bagpipes, paintings, shoes, religious icons and the built fabric of domestic houses and guild halls. These things are examined in relation to central themes of pre-modern history; for instance gender, identity, space, morality, skill, value, ritual, use, belief, public and private behaviour, continental influence, materiality, emotion, technical innovation, status, competition and social mobility. This book offers both a collection of new research by a diverse range of specialists and a source book of current methodological approaches for the study of pre-modern material culture. The multi-disciplinary analysis of these 'everyday objects' by archaeologists, art historians, literary scholars, historians, conservators and museum practitioners provides a snapshot of current methodological approaches within the humanities. Although analysis of material culture has become an increasingly important aspect of the study of the past, previous research in this area has often remained confined to subject-specific boundaries. This book will therefore be an invaluable resource for researchers and students interested in learning about important new work which demonstrates the potential of material culture study to cut across traditional historiographies and disciplinary boundaries and access the lived experience of individuals in the past.

    Contents: Introduction, Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson; Part I Evidence and Interpretation: 'For a crack or flaw despis'd': thinking about ceramic durability and the 'everyday' in late 17th- and early 18th-century England, Sara Pennell; The material culture of walking: spaces of methodologies in the long 18th century, Giorgio Riello; In the sight of an old pair of shoes, Stephen Kelly; Lexicological confusion and medieval clothing culture: redressing medieval dress with the Lexis of Cloth and Clothing in Britain project, Mark Chambers and Louise Sylvester. Part II Skills and Manufacture: Pins and aglets, Jenny Tiramani; Froes, rebatoes and other 'outlandish comodityes': weaving alien women's work into the fabric of early modern material culture, Natasha Korda; A shadow of a former self: analysis of an early 17th-century boy's doublet from Abingdon, Maria Hayward; Ordinary pots: the inventory of Francesco di Luca, Orciolaio, and Cipriano Piccolpasso's Three Books of the Art of the Potter, Steve Wharton. Part III Objects and Spaces: Archaeology of an age of print? Everyday objects in an age of transition, David Gaimster; The conservation of garments concealed within buildings as material culture in action, Dinah Eastrop; The enchantment of the familiar face: portraits as domestic objects in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, Tarnya Cooper; Faces and spaces: displaying the civic portrait in early modern England, Robert Tittler. Part IV Sound and Sensory Experience: Resurrecting forgotten sound: fans and handbells in early modern Italy, Flora Dennis; 'A potell of ayle on whyt Sonday': everyday objects and the musical culture of the post-Reformation English parish church, Jonathan Willis; Bagpipes and patterns of conformity in late medieval England, John J. Thompson. Part V Material Religion: Two texts and an image make an object: a devotional sheet from pre-Reformation England, R.N. Swanson; Contesting the everyday: the cultural biography of a subversive playing card, Richard L. Williams; Remembering the dead at dinner-time, Sheila Sweetinburgh; 'A table of alabaster with the story of the Doom': the religious objects and spaces of the Guild of Our Blessed Virgin, Boston (Lincs), Kate Giles. Part VI Attitudes towards Objects: 'A very fit hat'; personal objects and early modern affection, Catherine Richardson; Empty vessels, Lena Cowen Orlin; Objectification, identity and the late medieval Codex, Ryan Perry; Reconciling image and object: religious imagery in Protestant interior decoration, Tara Hamling; Index.


    Tara Hamling is RCUK Research Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Birmingham, UK. Catherine Richardson is Director of the Canterbury Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies and Senior Lecturer in Renaissance Literature at the University of Kent, UK.

    'This research represents an important step toward the further affirmation of material culture studies... It also has potential to benefit other fields greatly and is a "must read" for students of medieval and early-modern history and culture’ - Journal of Folklore Research

    'In sum, this lively and informative volume offers a series of swift sketches of objects in everyday life’ - Journal of British Studies

    '... this is a remarkably coherent and fulsome collection that has something for anyone interested in this field’ - Sixteenth Century Journal

    'The book will [...] be of great interest to anyone working at the cusp of the Middle Ages and the early modern era, but it also has much to draw the attention of other medievalists, particularly in terms of methodology... this book should attract the attention of scholars interested in material culture in any period or place’ - The Medieval Review

    'Overall, the essays are engaging and thought-provoking, examining a wide range of objects and the functions, attitudes and ideas related to them’ - Material Religion

    'The information that this collection provides restores some of the luster and meaning to goods that once stood in the chests, sideboards, and wardrobes of medieval and early modern households. The editors have done an excellent job of making sense of this highly diverse but always fascinating material world’ - The Historian

    'And so Everyday Objects, which has so ably and adroitly focused on the importance of things themselves (seeking to free them from the strictures and generalizations of established narratives and interpretations), invites us, by its very success in doing what it intended, to acknowledge and more amply explore the historical condition of being as, in large part, the act of having and living by’ - Journal of Social History