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Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge, edited by Pamela H. Smith, Amy R. W. Meyers, and Harold J. Cook


Pamela H. Smith, Amy R. W. Meyers, and Harold J. Cook, editors.

Although craftspeople and artists have worked with natural materials and sometimes have been viewed as experts in the behavior of matter, the notion that making art can constitute a means of knowing nature is a novel one. This volume explores the circumstances under which making constituted knowing, and, more specifically, it examines the relationship between making objects and knowing nature in Europe and its colonies from about 1450 to 1850.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Making and Knowing
Harold J. Cook, Pamela H. Smith, and Amy R.W. Meyers

1. Making as Knowing: Craft as Natural Philosophy
Pamela H. Smith

2. From Skills to Wisdom: Making, Knowing and the Arts
Suzanne B. Butters

3. Between Trade and Science: Dyeing and Knowing in the Long Eighteenth-Century
Alicia Weisberg-Roberts

4. How to Cure the Golden Vein: Medical Remedies as Wissenschaft in Renaissance Germany
Alisha Rankin

5. Evidence, Artisan Experience and Authority in Early Modern England
Patrick Wallis and Catherine Wright

6. American Roots: Technologies of Plant Transportation and Cultivation in the early Atlantic World
Mark Laird and Karen Bridgman

7. Inside the Box: John Bartram and the Science and Commerce of the Transatlantic Plant Trade
Joel Fry

8. From Plant to Page: Aesthetics and Objectivity in a nineteenth-century Book of Trees
Lisa Ford

9. The Labor of Division: Cabinetmaking and the Production of Knowledge
Glenn Adamson

10. Making Lists: Social and Material Technologies in the Making of Seventeenth-century British Natural History
Elizabeth Yale

11. The Preservation of Specimens and the Take-Off in Anatomical Knowledge in the Early Modern Period
Harold J. Cook

12. Conrad Gessner on an ‘ad vivum’ image
Sachiko Kusukawa

13. Corals versus Trees. Charles Darwin´s Early Sketches of Evolution
Horst Bredekamp

14. Decaying objects and the making of meaning in Museums
Mary M. Brooks

Malcolm Baker




"Ways of Making and Knowing represents an interesting experiment in creating an interdisciplinary conversation about the material construction of knowledge. It critiques the division between 'making' and 'knowing' to explore how making things is not simply a precondition to knowledge but a kind of knowledge which raises questions about the distinctions between practical and theoretical knowledge. The volume brings together those who make knowledge, as craftsmen and gardeners interested in the historical origins of their practices; those who preserve the materials of knowledge in the museum and attain an object-based understanding through techniques of examination and conservation; and the historians and art historians interested in reconstructing the historical making of knowledge.”

–Paula Findlen, Stanford University



About the Editors

Pamela H. Smith is Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University.

Harold J. Cook is John F. Nickoll Professor of History at Brown University.

Amy R.W. Meyers is the Director of the Yale Center for British Art.


2.50 LBS

Other Details


6 x 9 x 1 3/8 in.

Page count
448 pp. 75 color 20 B&W illustrations.