Over the course of the eighteenth century, Anglo-Americans purchased an unprecedented number and array of goods. The Power of Objects in Eighteenth-Century British America investigates these diverse artifacts—from portraits and city views to gravestones, dressing furniture, and prosthetic devices—to explore how elite American consumers assembled objects to form a new civil society on the margins of the British Empire. In this interdisciplinary transatlantic study, artifacts emerge as key players in the formation of Anglo-American communities and eventually of American citizenship. Deftly interweaving analysis of images with furniture, architecture, clothing, and literary works, Van Horn reconstructs the networks of goods that bound together consumers in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.
Moving beyond emulation and the desire for social status as the primary motivators for consumption, Van Horn shows that Anglo-Americans’ material choices were intimately bound up with their efforts to distance themselves from Native Americans and African Americans. She also traces women’s contested place in forging provincial culture. As encountered through a woman’s application of makeup at her dressing table or an amputee’s donning of a wooden leg after the Revolutionary War, material artifacts were far from passive markers of rank or political identification. They made Anglo-American society.
Awards & Distinctions
Finalist, 2018 George Washington Prize
Honorable Mention, 2018 Louis Gottschalk Prize, American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies
- 456 Pages
- Paperback, ISBN 978-1-4696-5219-1
- Measures 6.1” x 1” x 9.25”
- Written by Jennifer Van Horn
- Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press
About the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture
The Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture is the oldest organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to the advancement of study, research, and publications bearing on the history and culture of early America. Books published through UNC Press’s partnership with the OI, which dates back more than half a century, have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, several Bancroft Prizes, and the Francis Parkman Prize.
The Omohundro Institute is an independent research organization sponsored by William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg. All editorial work, including acquisitions, for OI books is done under the direction of OI Editor of Books Catherine E. Kelly.