Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xii

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Introduction: Why Historiography Matters

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pp. 1-20

The question to which this book is an answer is: what is the history of thinking about how to study the past through things? The skeptic might ask another question: Is it important to know the history of what we do? Do medical doctors, for example, need to know the history of medicine in order to properly diagnose and treat their patients? Do computer scientists need to know the history of computing for their programs to work? Do astronomers need to know the history of astronomy in order to be...

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1. History and Things in the Twentieth Century

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pp. 21-40

From my childhood trips to the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History I remember two things: the giant, metal, ant-shaped Zeiss Mark IV projector in the planetarium and the Northwest Coast canoe crewed by wooden Indians perpetually paddling out the 77th Street entrance. The one impressed as space-age wizardry, the other with a primitiveness that belied its artifice. One was a piece of technical rationality put in the service of the imagination, the other a piece of reimagining—where did that crew come from, anyway?—that was somehow supposed to inspire rigorous scientific investigation....

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2. Karl Lamprecht and the “Material Turn” c. 1885

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pp. 41-54

Before Bloch and Warburg, who talked about material culture? The answer to the question about how both Bloch and Warburg happened to be so open to material culture is surprisingly simple: they were both admirers of Karl Lamprecht, arguably the most important historian for the twentieth century and one of the least known, at least to non-specialists.
Lamprecht was Warburg’s teacher at Bonn around 1880. During those same years he was patron to the young Belgian economic historian Henri Pirenne. After...

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3. Things as Historical Evidence in the Late Renaissance and Early Enlightenment

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pp. 55-75

There are many paintings of ruins. My favorite, ever since I first saw it twenty years ago, was executed by the Dutchman Herman Postma (Hermanus Posthumus) around 1536 (see fig. 2). It depicts a vast scene of ruined structures and sculptures. Dwarfed by the remains among which they find themselves, a small number of men can be seen drawing, measuring, and exploring. Some are clearly artists, engaged in copying for the sake of imitating. Others are clearly not. They are either adventurers or besotted lovers of old things....

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4. Material Evidence in the History Curriculum in Eighteenth-Century Göttingen

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pp. 76-96

When Arnaldo Momigliano called the eighteenth century the “age of antiquaries” he was referring to an interest in antiquity and its physical remains that by then had spread from the stern erudites of Peiresc’s cabinet to the softer salons of Paris and the wider readership of London’s weekly magazines. The discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum were the Columbian encounter for Old World devotees. The Grand Tour brought more foreign tourists, many of them aristocratic louts looking for a lush life in the south at which they could also, especially if they were...

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5. Archaeology as a Way of Talking about Things, 1750–1850

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pp. 97-122

The historians at Göttingen were the first to systematize the study of a certain set of material remains as historical evidence. But to grasp fully the sources for the next generation’s rich understanding of material evidence, we need to add to the historians’ conversations those of the archaeologists. We also need to switch buildings, as it were, and immerse ourselves in a different set of disciplinary discussions, because those thinking about what archaeology was doing so within faculties of philology....

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6. Material Culture in the Amateur Historical Associations of Early Nineteenth-Century Germany

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pp. 123-139

First at Göttingen and then elsewhere, lecturers on historical methodology presented students with a variety of material evidence. But they were still presenting this material evidence as having only heuristic value, as a means to an end—verification—rather than an end in itself. Indeed, Gatterer himself made clear that the acquisition and mastery of these bodies of evidence would help engage readers in the “old-fashioned” subjects of history: politics, rulers, wars. Having mastered the Hilfswissenschaften, the newly minted historians would be able to ascertain the authenticity of the...

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7. Gustav Klemm, Cultural History, and Kulturwissenschaft

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pp. 140-172

If we stepped back from the body of historical scholarship produced in the regional associations, we might regard it as the historical study of medieval and early modern German culture with an emphasis on everyday life. Many of those active in the associations began to write books with the words cultural history in the title.1 The sense of peoplehood inspired by the late revolution in France had created a powerful argument for the viability of historical accounts not oriented around great events or great lives. Indeed, their experience of the fragility of the political led Germans, especially, to...

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8. The Germanisches Nationalmuseum: Antiquitates and Cultural History in the Museum

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pp. 173-199

The founding of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum made good Spon’s old claim that a historical argument could be told through artifacts at least as well as it could through books. It followed Klemm’s vision of a museum of cultural history, albeit devoted to a single nation and not the entire world. There was also a political argument: The museum was a place of learning that was open to the people in a way that a scholarly literature was not. How to make learning accessible without compromise was a challenge that some—usually within the university—thought...

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Conclusion: Toward a Future Theory of the Historical Document

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pp. 200-210

My father had died in April. The week of mourning passed, and then the month. The days began to grow longer, and the feathery blossoms on the trees, which had wept themselves away as I walked to and from the hospital, had long since given way to the hardy green leaves of summer. But summer, in turn, had to yield to fall before I could begin to go through his things. His desk was covered with papers bearing his signature, the overlarge curving S whose dramatic stroke exhilarated me as a child when I watched him make it. Then there were the props...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 211-214

Notes

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pp. 215-268

Bibliography

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pp. 269-294

Index

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pp. 295-300