This book considers how to study material culture from a historical perspective, and explores how studying material and materiality can enable new and different cultural historical perspectives. While gathering some of the most interesting thinkers in their respective fields, the contributions also examine material culture through a historiographical lens, considering how the field slipped between disciplines in the twentieth century, and how it has become more prominent inside and outside the academy in the last twenty years or so. The book builds on the recent proliferation of studies of materiality to offer a different, theoretically coherent approach to the topic.

Peter N. Miller is Dean and Professor at the Bard Graduate Center.

Table of Contents
Introduction: The Culture of the Hand
Peter N. Miller

I. Art’s Challenge

1. Design History and the Decorative Arts
Glenn Adamson

2. The Materiality of Art
Philippe Bordes

II. The Place of the Material

3. Mutually Contextual: Materials, Bodies, and Objects
Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak

4. Museum Display, an Algonquian Bow, and the Ship of Theseus
Ivan Gaskell

5. Cultural Histories of the Material World: Whose Material World?
Sabine MacCormack

6. The History of Facebook
Daniel Miller

7. Dirty, Pretty Things: On Archaeology and Prehistoric Materialities
Lynn Meskell

8. Archaeology & Design History: A Thesis & Nine Theses
Michael Shanks

III. Experience and Material

9. Swelling Toads, Translation, and the Paradox of the Concrete
Bernard L. Herman

10. Materiality and Cultural Translation: Indigenous Arts, Colonial Exchange and Postcolonial Perspectives
Ruth B. Phillips

11. The Antiquarian, the Collector, and the Cultural History of the Material World
Alain Schnapp

12. Mountain as Material: Landscape Inscriptions in China
Robert E. Harrist, Jr.

13. Objects and History
Jaś Elsner

14. Beyond Representation: Things, Human and Nonhuman
Ittai Weinryb

15. Materialities of Culture
Bill Brown

IV. Future Histories

16. Towards a Cultural History of the Material World
Juliet Fleming

17. Thoughts on Cultural Histories of the Material World
Nancy Troy

18. The History of Science as a Cultural History of the Material World
Pamela H. Smith

19. Reflecting on Recipes
Deborah L. Krohn

20. Music in the Material World: Cultural Traces and Historical Cases
Elaine Sisman

21. A Cultural History of the Material World of Islam
Jonathan M. Bloom

22. Franz Kugler and the Concept of World Art History
Horst Bredekamp

23. The Missing Link: “Antiquarianism,” “Material Culture” and “Cultural Science” in the Work of G.F. Klemm
Peter N. Miller

This sparkling and provocative collection showcases the range and innovation of scholarship on material culture today. It should appeal to scholars already working in the field, and to their students looking for the sorts of questions that can be asked of objects, and how answers to those questions might be framed.

—William Stenhouse, Yeshiva University

This book brings into focus an important new approach to understanding cultural artifacts which emphasizes their various contexts of creation and multiple aspects of their materiality. Leading scholars from a variety of disciplines explore how this approach can yield new insights into the history of material culture around the world. More broadly, this inspiring collection of essays points the way to a critical rethinking of the traditional research categories and canons in the humanities.

—Thomas Gaehtgens, Director of the Getty Research Institute

“All across the humanities fields there is a new interest in materials and materiality. This is the first book to capture and study the ‘material turn’ in the humanities from all its varied perspectives. Cultural Histories of the Material World brings together top scholars from all these different fields… . The result is a spectacular kaleidoscope of future possibilities and new perspectives.” — History and Theory