Bard Graduate Center Dean and Professor Peter N. Miller will speak in the Work-in-Progress Seminar on Tuesday, January 26 at noon. His talk is entitled “A Short History of Thinking About Objects as Historical Evidence.”

In this talk Miller will present an outline of the book on which he was working this past semester while on leave. The aim of History and Its Objects: Antiquarianism and Material Culture Since1500 is to provide an account of the history of thinking about how objects could be used as historical evidence. At the same time, it is a history of antiquarianism after the “great age of the antiquaries” as Momigliano termed the eighteenth century, since Miller’s claim is that the modern study of material culture can be traced back to the antiquarianism of the Renaissance—though not directly, of course. The intermediate channels include the establishment of the auxiliary sciences in the middle of the eighteenth century, the early discourse of archaeology, the work of the amateur historical associations of the early nineteenth century, the beginnings of cultural history and the first cultural-historical museum in the middle of the nineteenth century, and the development of economic history at the end of the nineteenth century. Almost all of this story occurs in Germany. Miller will also discuss how giving this account from the side of material culture poses a challenge to the practice of general history: if there is a consistent practice of studying artifacts as well as texts, does the history of history need to be re-written so as to accommodate this reality?