Invited speaker Catherine Richardson, professor of Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent and author of A Day at Home in Early Modern England, will address the question of what evidence and methods might be needed in order to offer a holistic biography of an early modern object, and what would be at stake in doing so.
The table is apparently a fairly ‘stable’ object, its meanings relatively consistent between the early modern period and our own. It therefore presents a useful case study for how we might construct holistic biographies of early modern things that use them as a way into subtly altered practices and explorations of status and gendered norms – the hard work everyday things did in early modern England. How might we, without devoting a whole volume to each thing, assess the range of an object’s significance by defining its ‘value’ in the widest sense, and see each object in relative terms, so that we can understand their relative levels of employment and impact within the lived experience of a domestic, civic or working context? How do we get to grips with its active cultural life – the way people interacted with it, and what it meant to them? Catherine Richardson uses the example of the table to think through the range of evidence and meanings that might be explored in order to put things back at the heart of social processes, and the considerations needed to make this exercise useful for a range of scholars across literary, historical and art historical disciplines.
ACSEM is formerly knows as Amsterdam Centre for the Study of the Golden Age. The new name comes with a new annual program – the Object Quolloquia Series. The series has the overarching theme: Exploring the World through the Material Turn. All speakers have taken up the challenge of creating a coherent, interdisciplinary program. Thanks to them, it promises to be a year of in-depth discussion and new acquaintances. The full annual program can be found below.
The Object Colloquia Series explores the world through the material turn. Each interdisciplinary duo of speakers takes one object or product as a point of departure to study and discuss various aspects of Early Modern art, culture, and history. These series are organized by the Amsterdam Centre for Studies in Early Modernity (ACSEM).