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.

Table of Contents
Preface to the Paperback Edition Senior

Editor’s Preface Acknowledgements

Introduction: The Culture of the Hand
Peter N. Miller

1. Art’s Challenge
One: Design History and the Decorative Arts
Glenn Adamson

Two: The Materiality of Art
Philippe Bordes

2. The Place of the Material
Three: Mutually Contextual: Materials, Bodies, and Objects
Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak

Four: Museum Display, an Algonquian Bow, and the Ship of Theseus
Ivan Gaskell

Five: Cultural Histories of the Material World: Whose Material World?
Sabine MacCormack

Six: The History of Facebook
Daniel Miller

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

Eight: Archaeology and Design History: A Thesis and Nine Theses
Michael Shanks

3. Experience and Material
Nine: Swelling Toads, Translation, and the Paradox of the Concrete
Bernard L. Herman

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

Eleven: The Antiquarian, the Collector, and the Cultural History of the Material World
Alain Schnapp

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

Thirteen: Objects and History
Jaś Elsner

Fourteen: Beyond Representation: Things—Human and Nonhuman
Ittai Weinryb

Fifteen Materialities of Culture
Bill Brown

4. Future Histories
Sixteen: Toward a Cultural History of the Material World
Juliet Fleming

Seventeen: Thoughts on Cultural Histories of the Material World
Nancy J. Troy

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

Nineteen Reflecting on Recipes
Deborah L. Krohn

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

Twenty-one: A Cultural History of the Material World of Islam
Jonathan M. Bloom

Twenty-two Franz Kugler and the Concept of World Art History
Horst Bredekamp

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


“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