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History through material culture provides a practical introduction for researchers who wish to use objects and material culture as primary sources for the study of the past. The book focuses primarily on the period 1500 to the present day, but the principles put forward are equally applicable to studies of earlier historical eras. Histories of the last five centuries have been driven to a remarkable extent by textual records and it is with this in mind that History through material culture offers researchers a step-by-step guide to approaching the material evidence that survives from this period. Anticipating that many researchers will feel under-skilled or lacking in confidence in tackling artefacts of the past, the book traces the process of research from the framing of research questions through to the writing up of findings – giving particular attention to the ways in which objects can be located, accessed and understood. This practical guidance is augmented by the use of examples of seminal and contemporary scholarship in this interdisciplinary field, so that readers can see how particular approaches to sources have been used to develop historical narratives and arguments. It is written in accessible and jargon-free language with clear explanations of more complex discourses. In this way, the book demystifies both the process of researching objects and the way research practice relates to published scholarship.

Bronwen Everill

‘creole elite’ who believed they would benefit from a shared, non-ethnic British cultural identity: all of these challenge the image of a British world made up exclusively of the British diaspora. 5 It is clear that empires have a much wider impact on material culture than an examination of exclusively white settler colonies would suggest. The ‘footprint’ of empire is often seen in the physical landscape as

in The cultural construction of the British world
Author: James Paz

Anglo-Saxon ‘things’ could talk. Nonhuman voices leap out from the Exeter Book Riddles, telling us how they were made or how they behave. In The Husband’s Message, runic letters are borne and a first-person speech is delivered by some kind of wooden artefact. Readers of The Dream of the Rood will come across a tree possessing the voice of a dreaming human in order to talk about its own history as a gallows and a rood. The Franks Casket is a box of bone that alludes to its former fate as a whale that swam aground onto the shingle, and the Ruthwell monument is a stone column that speaks as if it were living wood, or a wounded body.

This book uncovers the voice and agency that these nonhuman things have across Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture. It makes a new contribution to ‘thing theory’ and rethinks conventional divisions between animate human subjects and inanimate nonhuman objects in the early Middle Ages. Anglo-Saxon writers and craftsmen describe artefacts and animals through riddling forms or enigmatic language, balancing an attempt to speak and listen to things with an understanding that these nonhumans often elude, defy and withdraw from us. The active role that things have in the early medieval world is also linked to the Germanic origins of the word, where a þing is a kind of assembly, with the ability to draw together other elements, creating assemblages in which human and nonhuman forces combine. Anglo-Saxon things teach us to rethink the concept of voice as a quality that is not simply imposed upon nonhumans but which inheres in their ways of existing and being in the world; they teach us to rethink the concept of agency as arising from within groupings of diverse elements, rather than always emerging from human actors alone.

Open Access (free)
Design and material culture in Soviet Russia, 1960s–80s
Author: Yulia Karpova

The major part of this book project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 700913.

This book is about two distinct but related professional cultures in late Soviet Russia that were concerned with material objects: industrial design and decorative art. The Russian avant-garde of the 1920s is broadly recognised to have been Russia’s first truly original contribution to world culture. In contrast, Soviet design of the post-war period is often dismissed as hackwork and plagiarism that resulted in a shabby world of commodities. This book identifies the second historical attempt at creating a powerful alternative to capitalist commodities in the Cold War era. It offers a new perspective on the history of Soviet material culture by focusing on the notion of the ‘comradely object’ as an agent of progressive social relations that state-sponsored Soviet design inherited from the avant-garde. It introduces a shared history of domestic objects, handmade as well as machine-made, mass-produced as well as unique, utilitarian as well as challenging the conventional notion of utility. Situated at the intersection of intellectual history, social history and material culture studies, this book elucidates the complexities and contradictions of Soviet design that echoed international tendencies of the late twentieth century. The book is addressed to design historians, art historians, scholars of material culture, historians of Russia and the USSR, as well as museum and gallery curators, artists and designers, and the broader public interested in modern aesthetics, art and design, and/or the legacy of socialist regimes.

Bodies, emotion, and material culture
Author: Joanne Begiato

Manliness in Britain offers a new account of masculinity in the long nineteenth century: more corporeal and material, more emotional, more cross-class, and less heteronormative than other studies. Using diverse textual, visual, and material culture sources, it shows that masculinities were produced and disseminated through men’s bodies, very often working-class ones, and the emotions and material culture associated with them. It analyses idealised men who stimulated desire and admiration, including virile boxers, soldiers, sailors, and blacksmiths, brave firemen, and noble industrial workers. Also investigated are unmanly men, such as drunkards, wife beaters, and masturbators, who elicited disgust and aversion. The book disrupts the chronology of nineteenth-century masculinities, since it stretches from the ages of feeling, revolution, and reform, to those of militarism, imperialism, representative democracy, and mass media. It also queers these histories, by recognising that male and female desire for idealised male bodies and the gender attributes they embodied was integral to the success of manliness. Imagined working-class men and their materiality were central to broader ideas of manliness and unmanliness. They not only offered didactic lessons for the working classes and made the labouring ranks appear less threatening, they provide insights into the production of middle-class men’s identities. Overall, it is shown that this melding of bodies, emotions, and material culture created emotionalised bodies and objects, which facilitated the conveying, reproducing, and fixing of manliness in society. As such, the book will be vital for students and academics of the history of bodies, emotions, gender, and material culture.

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Material culture and tangible labour

With the increasing digitisation of almost every facet of human endeavour, concerns persist about ‘deskilling’ and precarious employment. The publishing industry has turned its energy to online and electronic media, and jobs continue to disappear from printing, publishing and journalism. The replacement of human labour with computerised technologies is not merely a contemporary issue; it has an established history dating from the mid-twentieth century. What is often missing from this record is an understanding of how the world of work is tightly interwoven with the tangible and affective worlds of material culture and design, even in ‘clean’ computerised environments. Workplace culture is not only made up of socio-political relationships and dynamics. It is also bound up with a world of things, with and through which the social and gendered processes of workplace life are enacted and experienced. Understanding how we interact with and interpret design is crucial for appreciating the complexities of the labour experience, particularly at times of technological disruption. Hot Metal reveals integral labour-design relationships through an examination of three decades in the printing industry, between the 1960s and 1980s. This was the period when hot-metal typesetting and letterpress was in decline; the early years of the ‘digital switch’. Using oral histories from an intriguing case-study – a doggedly traditional Government Printing Office in Australia – this book provides an evocative rendering of design culture and embodied practice in a context that was, like many workplaces, not quite ‘up-to-date’ with technology. Hot Metal is also history of how digital technologies ruptured and transformed working life in manufacturing. Rather than focusing solely on ‘official’ labour, this book will introduce the reader to workers’ clandestine creative practices; the making of things ‘on the side’.

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A New Naval History brings together the most significant and interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary naval history. The last few decades have witnessed a transformation in how this topic is researched and understood, and this volume captures the state of a field that continues to develop apace. It examines – through the prism of naval affairs – issues of nationhood and imperialism; the legacy of Nelson; the sociocultural realities of life in ships and naval bases; and the processes of commemoration, journalism and stage-managed pageantry that plotted the interrelationship of ship and shore. This bold and original publication will be essential for undergraduate and postgraduate students of naval and maritime history. Beyond that, though, it marks an important intervention into wider historiographies that will be read by scholars from across the spectrum of social history, cultural studies and the analysis of national identity.

Preserving and reinventing traditions of learning in the Middle Ages

This edited collection explores how knowledge was preserved and reinvented in the Middle Ages. Unlike previous publications, which are predominantly focused either on a specific historical period or on precise cultural and historical events, this volume, which includes essays spanning from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, is intended to eschew traditional categorisations of periodisation and disciplines and to enable the establishment of connections and cross-sections between different departments of knowledge, including the history of science (computus, prognostication), the history of art, literature, theology (homilies, prayers, hagiography, contemplative texts), music, historiography and geography. As suggested by its title, the collection does not pretend to aim at inclusiveness or comprehensiveness but is intended to highlight suggestive strands of what is a very wide topic. The chapters in this volume are grouped into four sections: I, Anthologies of Knowledge; II Transmission of Christian Traditions; III, Past and Present; and IV, Knowledge and Materiality, which are intended to provide the reader with a further thematic framework for approaching aspects of knowledge. Aspects of knowledge is mainly aimed to an academic readership, including advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students, and specialists of medieval literature, history of science, history of knowledge, history, geography, theology, music, philosophy, intellectual history, history of the language and material culture.

Transnational productions and practices, 1945–70
Editors: Ruth Craggs and Claire Wintle

What were the distinctive cultures of decolonisation that emerged in the years between 1945 and 1970, and what can they uncover about the complexities of the ‘end of empire’ as a process? Cultures of Decolonisation brings together visual, literary and material cultures within one volume in order to explore this question. The volume reveals the diverse ways in which cultures were active in wider political, economic and social change, working as crucial gauges, microcosms, and agents of decolonisation.

Individual chapters focus on architecture, theatre, museums, heritage sites, fine art, and interior design alongside institutions such as artists’ groups, language agencies and the Royal Mint in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Europe. Drawing on a range of disciplinary perspectives, these contributions offer revealing case studies for those researching decolonisation at all levels across the humanities and social sciences.

The collection demonstrates the transnational character of cultures of decolonisation (and of decolonisation itself), and illustrates the value of comparison – between different sorts of cultural forms and different places – in understanding the nature of this dramatic and wide-reaching geopolitical change. Cultures of Decolonisation illustrates the value of engaging with the complexities of decolonisation as enacted and experienced by a broad range of actors beyond ‘flag independence’ and the realm of high politics. In the process it makes an important contribution to the theoretical, methodological and empirical diversification of the historiography of the end of empire.

Antonius C. G. M. Robben

Thousands of people died in Rotterdam during the Second World War in more than 300 German and Allied bombardments. Civil defence measures had been taken before the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 and these efforts were intensified during the country’s occupation as Allied bombers attacked Rotterdam’s port, factories, dry docks and oil terminals. Residential neighbourhoods were also hit through imprecise targeting and by misfired flak grenades. Inadequate air raid shelters and people’s reluctance to enter them caused many casualties. The condition of the corpses and their post-mortem treatment was thus co-constituted by the relationship between the victims and their material circumstances. This article concludes that an understanding of the treatment of the dead after war, genocide and mass violence must pay systematic attention to the materiality of death because the condition, collection and handling of human remains is affected by the material means that impacted on the victims.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal