Book

Inventing Boston: Design, Production, and Consumption, 1680-1720

Cover of the book titled "Inventing Boston."

Edward S. Cooke Jr., the Charles F. Montgomery Professor of the History of Art

(Yale University Press)

During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Boston was both a colonial capital and the third most important port in the British empire, trailing only London and Bristol. Boston was also an independent entity that pursued its own interests and articulated its own identity while selectively appropriating British culture and fashion.

This book examines period dwellings, gravestones, furniture, textiles, ceramics, and silver, revealing through material culture how the inhabitants of Boston were colonial, provincial, metropolitan, and global, all at the same time. Edward S. Cooke Jr.’s detailed account of materials and furnishing practices demonstrates that Bostonians actively filtered ideas and goods from a variety of sources, combined them with local materials and preferences, and constructed a distinct sense of local identity, a process of hybridization that, the author argues, exhibited a conscious desire to shape a culture as a means to resist a distant, dominant power.

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