Material Culture: Consumption, Collecting and Domestic Goods

Authored by: Katherine A. McIver

The Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409418177
eBook ISBN: 9781315613765
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041054


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What is material culture? How do we define it? And how does it relate to women and the domestic interior? In their introduction to Everyday Objects, Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson note: ‘Material culture encompasses the processes by which things and people interact.’ 1 1

Hamling and Richardson, 2010, p. 6.

The study of material culture, then, considers food, clothing and everyday furnishings, as well as books, goldsmith work, altarpieces, and other luxury goods; and it employs close analysis of contemporary archival materials from the point of view of demand and looks at networks of exchange. 2 2

O’Malley and Welch, 2007, p. 2. Some important sources include: Neher and Shepherd, 2000; Syson and Thornton, 2001; North 2010; Batchelor and Kaplan, 2007; Brewer and Porter, 1993; Bermingham and Brewer, 1995; Berg and Eger, 2003; Styles and Vickery, 2006; Orlin, 2000; Jardine, 1996; Schama, 1997; Donald and Hurcombe, 2000; Wiesner-Hanks, 1993, pp. 146–75; and King, 1991, pp. 157–239.

Despite the fact that material objects formed a central part of everyday experiences of individuals and communities in early modern Europe, it is only relatively recently that scholars across a range of disciplines have foregrounded material evidence to study the past.

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