History from Things explores the many ways objects—defined broadly to range from Chippendale tables and Italian Renaissance pottery to seventeenth-century parks and a New England cemetery—can reconstruct and help reinterpret the past. Eighteen essays describe how to “read” artifacts, how to “listen to” landscapes and locations, and how to apply methods and theories to historical inquiry that have previously belonged solely to archaeologists, anthropologists, art historians, and conservation scientists.
Spanning vast time periods, geographical locations, and academic disciplines, History from Things leaps the boundaries between fields that use material evidence to understand the past. The book expands and redirects the study of material culture—an emerging field now building a common base of theory and a shared intellectual agenda.
“Readers should find in History from Things much to provoke thinking about material culture and a stimulus to the type of interdisciplinary communication that the field of material culture studies has tried to offer.”—Journal of American History
“History from Things reminds us of the intellectual power of artifact analysis. . . . [It] is a useful book for beginning and experienced teachers of social studies, at every grade level, on the ways to use material culture to better understand the past and as routes to reflect on the more abstract features of culture.”—Social Education
“Eighteen essays discuss the use of artifacts and material culture evidence in broadening historical understanding of the past. Contributors come from a wide array of backgrounds, including art history, anthropology, archaeology, and the history of technology, and the artifacts examined range from Chinese bronzes to the cultural landscape of eighteenth-century English gardens and from New England cemeteries to a twentiety-century steam locomotive. Individually these essays push out the boundaries of material culture study, while collectively they transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries.”—Science, Technology, and Society
History from Things by Stephen Lubar and David W. Kingery