Texas Liberal

All People Matter

The Age Of Homespun—Everyday Life Is About Both Fact And Imagination

I’ve been reading The Age of Homespun–Objects And Stories In The Creation Of An American Myth by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

It is about the role of women, and importance of the crafts and creations these women made in Colonial and post-Revolutionary America.

The author notes the role of women working together to spin clothes and needed textiles that could not be taxed by the British. The author says–“While New England’s Sons of Liberty indulged in rum, rhetoric and roast pig, her daughters worked from sunup to sundown to prove their commitment to “the cause of liberty and industry.”

The book discusses both the role of women in the time and the many limits to the lives that women could lead in early America.

From the New York Times review of this book in 2001—-

“The American pastoral, with its central signifier of clothmaking, is the subject of a remarkable new book by the Harvard historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Ulrich is a supremely gifted scholar and writer. And with ”The Age of Homespun” she has truly outdone herself. Venturing off in a new and highly original direction, she has put physical objects — mainly but not entirely textiles — at the center of her inquiry. The result is, among other things, an exemplary response to a longstanding historians’ challenge — to treat objects, no less than writings, as documents that speak to us from and about the past.

”The Age of Homespun” is loosely but effectively organized around 14 specific objects, including two baskets, two spinning wheels, a yarn winder, a rug, a tablecloth and ”an unfinished stocking.” If this list seems unprepossessing on its face, the point is all that Ulrich makes of it through a deeply creative process of analysis and contextualizing. In fact, her objects become meaningful only when they are joined to the experience of the people who produced, owned, used and preserved them. It is, finally, the connections that make her investigation so unusual and rewarding.”

Much of what we need to understand the world can be found in everyday objects and everyday life. These objects can be studied and interpreted in ways that are both precise and creative.

We can can look at everyday things and see the connections that exist between the people who made these things, the purposes these objects serve, the materials used, and the metaphoric value that objects hold when we consider possible ways they could be perceived by people.

There is a whole big world right out in front of us each and every day. This world is founded on both fact and imagination.

There is nothing in everyday life that the average person cannot understand and think about  on a deeper level.

July 2, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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