Gender, Taste, and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830

Edited by John Styles and Amanda Vickery

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Between 1700 and 1830, men and women in the English-speaking territories framing the Atlantic gained unprecedented access to material things. The British Atlantic was an empire of goods, held together not just by political authority and a common language, but by a shared material culture nourished by constant flows of commodities. Diets expanded to include exotic luxuries such as tea and sugar, the fruits of mercantile and colonial expansion. Homes were furnished with novel goods, like clocks and earthenware teapots, the products of British industrial ingenuity. This groundbreaking book compares these developments in Britain and North America, bringing together a multi-disciplinary group of scholars to consider basic questions about women, men, and objects in these regions. In asking who did the shopping, how things were used, and why they became the subject of political dispute, the essays show the profound significance of everyday objects in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.

John Styles is research professor in history at the University of Hertfordshire. He co-authored Design and the Decorative Arts: Britain 1500 to 1900. Amanda Vickery is reader in the history of women and gender at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her first book, The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England (Yale), won the Whitfield, Wolfson and Longman-History Today prizes.

"The writers in this volume understand well the connection between our things and our selves. . . . The 13 contributors trespass through many disciplines—art and architecture, cultural and social history, literature and politics—to examine the getting and spending habits of 18th-century consumers, especially women. . . . This volume provides a significant resource for scholars of the period. . . . The kinds of details a general reader gleans from dipping into these essays will serve well for his or her own tabletop conversations."—Bloomsbury Review

"This excellent collection -- considering how people interacted with their material world, and what values they placed on the objects from which they constructed their homes -- is a welcome addition to an exciting field." ---Judith Flanders, Times Literary Supplement

‘The best essays in this beautifully illustrated collection take us into the world of palpable objects, and the Georgian consumer’s relish in purchasing them.’---John Mullan, The Guardian

"An extremely important book for providing a window into the lively recent thinking about material culture, consumption, and gender in England and North America between 1700 and 1830. . . . Attractively produced."—William Weber, Journal of Social History

"Rich and much-anticipated. . . . A well-illustrated volume that usefully sets the study of eighteenth-century consumption in new and fruitful directions. . . . This substantive and insightful volume itself captures and advances a sensus communis among scholars interested in material culture and the decorative arts and in many ways serves as a report of the 'state of the field' at the turn of this century."—Marla R. Miller, Winterthur Portfolio
ISBN: 9780300116595
Publication Date: February 28, 2007
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Yale Center for British Art and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
368 pages, 7 x 10
26 b/w + 58 color illus.
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