Peter N. Miller

History of Historical Research
The Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean

Ph.D. University of Cambridge
M.A. Harvard University
B.A. Harvard University

I would describe my field as the history of historical research. What that means, as opposed to, say, historiography or philosophy of history, is that I am less interested in the forms history takes or in the subject matter, as I am in the questions historians ask. Even more precisely, I am interested in how historians turn “survivals” into evidence. This is directly related to historians understanding that certain kinds of artifacts speak to certain kinds of inquiries—and not others. My thinking has been spurred by a long-running engagement with early modern European antiquarianism and its continuing impact on how historians work. My two chief current projects are a study of Peiresc’s relations with the merchants of Marseille, which is directly related to questions of the Mediterranean and to the historiography of commerce as an intellectual practice, and an essay-like traversal of the history of the use of objects as history, from Peiresc up to the beginning of the twentieth century.  These have emerged from and inform my teaching  at the BGC.

Selected Recent Publications:

  • Peiresc’s History of Provence and the Discovery of a Medieval Mediterranean. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 101, 2011.
  • Peiresc’s Orient: Antiquarianism as Cultural History in the Seventeenth Century. Ashgate/Variorum, 2012.
  • Antiquarianism and Intellectual Life in Europe and China, 1500-1800. Cultural Histories of the Material World 1. Editor, with François Louis. University of Michigan Press, 2012.


Miller’s Peiresc Research

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