Cultural Histories of the Material World

Bard Graduate Center and University of Michigan Press

In 2010 the BGC launches with the University of Michigan Press a new publishing initiative. Cultural Histories of the Material World will be edited at the BGC with a luminous external editorial board, and will be published by the University of Michigan Press. 

Visit Cultural Histories of the Material World online.

The volumes in this series explore the ways human beings have shaped and interpreted the material world from the perspectives of archaeology, anthropology, art and design history, economic and landscape history, the history of technology, and philosophy. These volumes will self-consciously explore general issues about material evidence, as well as show how attention to materiality can contribute to a more precise historical understanding of specific times, places, ways, and means.

Editorial Committee

Peter N. Miller (Chair)

Kenneth L. Ames

Jeffrey L. Collins

Aaron Glass

David Jaffee

Pat Kirkham

Deborah L. Krohn

François Louis

Michele Majer

Andrew Morrall

Amy F. Ogata

Elizabeth Simpson

Paul Stirton

Ittai Weinryb

Catherine Whalen

External Editorial Board

Glenn Adamson
V&A Research Department,

Brigitte Bedos-Rezak
History, New York University

Ann Blair
History, Harvard University

Jonathan Bloom
Art History, Boston College

Philippe Bordes
INHA, Paris

Horst Bredekamp
Kunsthistorisches Seminar, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin

Bill Brown
English, University of Chicago

Craig Clunas
Art History, Oxford University

Joseph Connors
Villa I Tatti, Harvard University

Nicola Di Cosmo
School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study

Ronnie Ellenblum
Hebrew University

Jaś Elsner
Classics, Oxford University

Juliet Fleming
English, New York University

Ivan Gaskell
History/ Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University

Anthony Grafton
History, Princeton University

Robert Harrist
Art History,
Columbia University

Bernard Herman
History, University of North Carolina

Robert Hillenbrand
Art History, University of Edinburgh

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
Performance Studies,
New York University

Jill Kraye
Warburg Institute,
University of London

Sabine MacCormack
Notre Dame University

Michael McCormick
History, Harvard University

Lynn Meskell
Anthropology, Stanford University

Danny Miller
Anthropology, University College London

Ruth Phillips
Anthropology, Carleton University

Leah Price
English, Harvard University

Alain Schnapp
Archaeology, Université de Paris-IV

Elaine Sisman
Music, Columbia University

Pamela H. Smith
History, Columbia University

Nancy Troy
Art History, University of Southern California

Gerhard Wolf
Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence


In 1929 Aby Warburg died in Hamburg and the Annales d’histoire économique et sociale was founded in Paris. With Warburg’s death intellectual leadership of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg passed from those interested in the history of religion and anthropology to historians and philosophers of civilization conceived more narrowly in terms of images. With the founding of Annales, Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre repudiated flabby Germanic Geistesgeschichte in favor of material history. The historians of civilization in Hamburg and then London had little interest in the material world, and the material historians in Paris little in cultural history. These two most exciting new approaches to history determined research agendas for the rest of the twentieth century—but the overlap of cultural history and the material world has never been made the focus of any institution. Even as historians of science, of the book, of technology, antiquarianism, and many other sub-fields have groped back towards that promised land of cross-fertilization, they have done so without a clear sense of the historiographical landscape and without any common home for their work.

A historian of the not-too-distant future will describe this past decade as marking the “material turn.” If language, and eventually culture, came to distinguish a generational shift in scholarly focus in the second half of the twentieth century, what is occurring now across the range of the humanities—from English literature to the history of science—is a new and deep attention to materiality. Historically oriented scholars are finding in the physical embodiments of knowledge new questions and new perspectives from which to address seemingly “closed,” or at least familiar, issues.

The BGC, a graduate research institute committed to the encyclopedic study of the material world, drawing on methodologies and approaches from archaeology, anthropology, art and design history, economic and landscape history, the history of technology, and philosophy, offers a natural home for this series.

The Editorial Committee, both internal and external, will solicit and evaluate substantial scholarly projects of book length, whether in the form of collections or monographs. Appropriate works in other languages, both classic and contemporary, will also be considered for publication in this series. Book projects of great potential will be sent out to two readers, one chosen by the BGC and the other by the University of Michigan Press. Recommended projects will then need to be approved by the syndics of the Press, like all books published with this imprimatur.

The first group of titles, which will be published in 2012:

Cultural Histories of the Material World

ed. Peter N. Miller
contributors include Glenn Adamson, Brigitte Bedos-Rezak, Ann Blair, Jonathan Bloom, Philippe Bordes, Horst Bredekamp, Bill Brown, Craig Clunas, Joseph Connors, Nicola Di Cosmo, Ronnie Ellenblum, Ja Elsner, Juliet Fleming, Ivan Gaskell, Anthony Grafton, Robert Harrist, Bernard Herman, Robert Hillenbrand, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Jill Kraye, Sabine MacCormack, Michael McCormick, Lynn Meskell, Danny Miller, Ruth Phillips, Leah Price, Alain Schnapp, Elaine Sisman, Pamela H. Smith, Nancy Troy, Peter Whiteley, Gerhard Wolf

Antiquarianism in Early Modern Europe and China, 1500–1800

eds. Peter N. Miller and François Louis
contributors include Kenneth J. Hammond, François Louis, Noel Malcolm, Georges Metailié, Peter N. Miller, Martin Mulsow, D. E. Mungello, Jan Papy, Joan-Pau Rubiés, Bruce Rusk, Alain Schnapp, Leo K. Shin, Nancy G. Siraisi, Nathan Sivin, Christopher S. Wood

Ways of Making and Knowing:
The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge

eds. Pamela H. Smith, Amy Meyers, and Harold Cook
contributors include Glenn Adamson, Horst Bredekamp, Karen Bridgman, Mary Brooks, Clare Browne, Suzanne B. Butters, Harold Cook, Lisa Ford, Celina Fox, Joel Fry, Ian Hankey, Tim Knox, Sachiko Kusukawa, Mark Laird, Alisha Rankin, Pamela H. Smith, John Styles, Patrick Wallis, Alicia Weisberg-Roberts, Catherine Wright, Elizabeth Yale

Peoples and the Sea:
Thalassography and Historiography in the Twenty-First Century

ed. Peter N. Miller
contributors include Nicola Di Cosmo, Willem Klooster, Roxani Margariti, Peter N. Miller, Nicholas Purcell, Angela Schottenhammer, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, James Francis Warren, Gerhard Wolf

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