The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture

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Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the publication of The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture. This book was coedited by Prof. Ivan Gaskell (BGC) and me and features the work of 34 scholars of history and material culture from around the world.  It is arranged thematically in six sections that respectively address the relationship of history and material culture to cognition, technology, the symbolic, social distinction, and memory. The chapters range across time and space, from Paleolithic to Punk.

You may learn more here:

We hope you enjoy it and find it useful.


Sarah Anne Carter


Introduction: Why History and Material Culture? by Ivan Gaskell and Sarah Anne Carter


Part 1

History, Material Culture, and Cognition

Chapter 1: Words or Things in American History? by Steven Conn

Chapter 2: Artifacts and their Functions, by A.W. Eaton

Chapter 3: Mastery, Artifice, and the Natural Order: A Jewel from the Early Modern Pearl Industry, by Mónica Domínguez Torres

Chapter 4: Food and Cognition: Henry Norwood's A Voyage to Virginia, by Bernard L. Herman

Chapter 5: On Pins and Needles: Straight Pins, Safety Pins, and Spectacularity, by Amber Jamilla Musser

Chapter 6: Mind, Time, and Material Engagement, by Lambros Malafouris and Chris Gosden


Part 2

History, Material Culture, and Technology

Chapter 7: Material Time, by John Robb

Chapter 8: Remaking the Kitchen, 1800-1850, by J. Ritchie Garrison

Chapter 9: Boston Electric: Science by "Mail Order" and Bricolage at Colonial Harvard, by Sara J. Schechner

Chapter 10: Making Knowledge Claims in the Eighteenth-Century British Museum, by Ivan Gaskell

Chapter 11: The Ever-Changing Technology and Significance of Silk on the Silk Road, by Zhao Feng

Chapter 12: Science, Play, and the Material Culture of Twentieth-Century American Boyhood, by Rebecca Onion


Part 3

History, Material Culture, and the Symbolic

Chapter 13: The Sensory Web of Vision: Enchantment and Agency in Religious Material Culture, by David Morgan

Chapter 14: Sensiotics, or the Study of the Senses in Material Culture and History in Africa and Beyond, by Henry John Drewal

Chapter 15: The Numinous Body and the Symbolism of Human Remains, by Christopher Allison

Chapter 16: Symbolic Things and Social Performance: Christmas Nativity Scenes in Late Nineteenth-Century Santiago de Chile, by Olaya Sanfuentes

Chapter 17: Heritage Religion and the Mormons, by Colleen McDannell

Chapter 18: From Confiscation to Collection: The Objects of China's Cultural Revolution, by Denise Y. Ho


Part 4

History, Material Culture, and Social Distinction

Chapter 19: Persons and Things in Marseille and Lucca, 1300-1450, by Daniel Lord Smail

Chapter 20: Cloth and the Rituals of Encounter in La Florida: Weaving and Unraveling the Code, by Laura Johnson

Chapter 21: Street "Luxuries": Food Hawking in Early Modern Rome, by Melissa Calaresu

Chapter 22: Ebony and Ivory: Pianos, People, Property, and Freedom on the Plantation, 1861-1870, by Dana E. Byrd

Chapter 23: The Material Culture of Furniture Production in the British Colonies, by Edward S. Cooke, Jr.

Chapter 24: Material Culture, Museums and the Creation of Multiple Meanings, by Neil G. W. Curtis


Part 5

History, Material Culture, and Memory

Chapter 25: Chronology and Time: Northern European Coastal Settlements and Societies, c. 500-1050, by Christopher Loveluck

Chapter 26: Materialities in the Making of World Histories: South Asia and the South Pacific, by Sujit Sivasundaram

Chapter 27: Mapping History in Clay and Skin: Strategies for Remembrance among Ga'anda of Northeastern Nigeria, by Marla C. Berns

Chapter 28: Remember Me: Sensibility and the Sacred in Early Mormonism, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Chapter 29: Housing History: The Colonial Revival as Consumer Culture, by Thomas Denenberg

Chapter 30: Collecting as Historical Practice and the Conundrum of the Unmoored Object, by Catherine Whalen


Conclusion: The Meaning of Things, by Peter Burke