2017-2018 Material Witness sessions

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Below are the descriptions for the Material Witness sessions that took place during the 2017–2018 academic year. These include the fellow who curated the session as well as the list of items that were displayed.

October 19, 2017 - "Experiencing Space: Images and Descriptions of Sites of Making, Knowing, and Selling"

How might we use two-dimensional sources, such as prints and textual descriptions, to understand experiences in three-dimensional space? How much can we learn about the spatial and experiential dimensions of human-made settings in which knowledge was organized and presented? To what extend did presenting nature have the effect of constituting knowledge about nature? Curated by our long-term Folger-Mellon fellow, Surekha Davies (Western Connecticut State University), the aim of this session of Material Witness was to brainstorm questions and methods for writing experiential histories of 3D spaces of knowledge-making. We explored spaces of epistemic activity and the presentation of expertise about the natural world, such as cabinets of curiosities, gardens, and apothecary shops.

Materials Displayed:

Folio AM101.K5 S4 1678 Cage: Romani Collegii Societatis Jesu Musaeum celeberrimum

160593: Historia Naturalis

SB 465 .H6 Cage (folio): Hortorum Viridariorum

SB 466. N4 G7 1670 Cage: Den Erbaren Huys-Houder of Medicyn-Winckel

AM 101.C7 1696 Cage folio: Museum Regium Seu Catalogus … ab Oligero Jacobaeo

AM101 D9 1692 Cage: Le cabinet de la Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève

ART Vol. f81 no.1-20: Nova reperta

B3599: The French gardiner : instructing how to cultivate all sorts of fruit-trees, and herbs for the garden: together with directions to dry and conserve them in their natural; six times printed in France, and once in Holland. An accomplished piece, first writt

GT5770 .S4 Cage: Panoplia omnium illiberalium mechanicarum aut sedentariarum artium genera continens

January 24, 2018 - "Ties that Bind: Contracting Labour in Early Modern England"

This session focuses on the material traces of, and the tensions within, early modern attempts to contract service. How were the materiality and legality of labor and service contracts articulated and manifested? How and to what extent were these documents enforceable? Curated by Folger-Mellon Long-term Fellow, Urvashi Chakravarty (George Mason University), this session examines a range of legal instruments and ‘informal’ documents—including English apprenticeship indentures, Atlantic contracts for indentured servitude, printed books and manuscript letters—to explore the ways in which early modern material culture reflected and re-framed the fictions of consent that underwrote the performance of labor and service.

Materials Displayed:

Z.c.22 (38): Apprenticeship indenture between John Turke to Edward Fisher, citizen and alderman of London, skinner, and merchant adventurer of England

STC 10929: A diamonde most precious, worthy to be marked : instructing all maysters and seruauntes, how they ought to leade their lyues, in that uocation which is fruitfull, and necessary, as well for the maysters, as also for the seruants, agreeable vnto the holy S

X.d.734: This indenture witnesseth that [blank] doth put himself apprentice to [blank] citizen and cutler of London, to learn his art ...

X.d.735: "This indenture witnesseth, that John Holden, sonne of Humphry Holden of Erdington in the county of Warwick Esq. doth put himself apprentice to John Purdue, Citizen and salter of London to learn his art... [manuscript], 25 February 1688."

X.d.646: This indenture made the [blank] day of [blank] in the [blank] year of the reign of our Soveraign Lord and Lady [blank] ... do put and place [blank],  a poor child of the said parish, apprentice to [blank] ...

V.b.16 (15): Indentured servant contracts for the colonies of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Barbados

V.b.16 (59): Indentured servant contracts for the colonies of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Barbados

V.b.16 (35): Indentured servant contracts for the colonies of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Barbados

X.d.493 (7): Autograph letters signed from Mary Hatton Helsby to various recipients

L.a.598: Letter from Lettice Kynnersley, Badger, to Richard Bagot, [1608?] September 14

V.b.198: Miscellany of Lady Anne Southwell

X.d.454: Propositions concerning the map of London and Westminster &c: which is in hand by Wentsel Hollar.