The Invention of Comfort: Sensibilities and Design in Early Modern Britain and Early America / Edition 1

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Overview

How did our modern ideas of physical well-being originate? As John Crowley demonstrates in The Invention of Comfort, changes in sensible technology owed a great deal to fashion-conscious elites discovering discomfort in surroundings they earlier had felt to be satisfactory.

Written in an engaging style that will appeal to historians and material culture specialists as well as to general readers, this pathbreaking work brings together such disparate topics of analysis as climate, fire, food, clothing, the senses, and anxiety—especially about the night.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter - Eugen Weber
Crowley provides a masterly search and survey that no historian of material culture should miss, and every curious reader should consider.
English Historical Review - Emma Hart
A comprehensive and tight study... a valuable contribution to the field, [and] one that is enjoyable to read.
Journal of Design History - Helen Clifford
The sheer range of evidence, the interweaving of themes, and the overall strength of the argument mean [this] is an ideal book for specialists and students alike.
New England Quarterly - Marie Morgan
The Invention of Comfort is an important and thought-provoking book that challenges our understanding of why people live that way they do.
American Historical Review - Rhys Isaac
This is a powerful book, full of startling information and valuable insights.
Technology and Culture - Molly W. Berger
This is a grand panorama that stretches from medieval times through the antebellum years and covers a geographic area from England to the West Indies and then some. Crowley makes a successful case for the 'invention' of comfort and especially for the cultural influences on that process.
H-Albion, H-Net Reviews - Natalie Zacek
Crowley invites his readers to follow him upon an engaging and meticulously detailed tour of the living spaces of English people.
Journal of Social History - Ann Smart Martin
Good books cross lines drawn in the sand by others. Terrific books scatter the sand and redraw the lines. John E. Crowley's The Invention of Comfort is one of the latter... A masterful and sweeping interpretation of material culture evidence that asks important historical questions.
Journal of American History
Riveting... A solid contribution to the literature on the cultural impact of gentility, refinement, and the 'baubles of Britain' in England and its colonial possessions.
Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter
Crowley provides a masterly search and survey that no historian of material culture should miss, and every curious reader should consider.

— Eugen Weber

English Historical Review
A comprehensive and tight study... a valuable contribution to the field, [and] one that is enjoyable to read.

— Emma Hart

Journal of Design History
The sheer range of evidence, the interweaving of themes, and the overall strength of the argument mean [this] is an ideal book for specialists and students alike.

— Helen Clifford

New England Quarterly
The Invention of Comfort is an important and thought-provoking book that challenges our understanding of why people live that way they do.

— Marie Morgan

American Historical Review
This is a powerful book, full of startling information and valuable insights.

— Rhys Isaac

Technology and Culture
This is a grand panorama that stretches from medieval times through the antebellum years and covers a geographic area from England to the West Indies and then some. Crowley makes a successful case for the 'invention' of comfort and especially for the cultural influences on that process.

— Molly W. Berger

Journal of Social History
Good books cross lines drawn in the sand by others. Terrific books scatter the sand and redraw the lines. John E. Crowley's The Invention of Comfort is one of the latter... A masterful and sweeping interpretation of material culture evidence that asks important historical questions.

— Ann Smart Martin

Booknews
Modern ideas of physical comfort, says Crowley (history, Dalhousie U.), originated with a fashion-conscious public being made to feel discomfort with surroundings they had previous perceived as adequate. He reviews heating and illumination in British houses after the Middle Ages, but argues that comfort as a physical ideal emerged in response to 18th-century material culture there and in the colonies. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801873157
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 1/22/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

John E. Crowley is the George Munro Professor of History at Dalhousie University. He is currently studying the creation of a global landscape in British visual culture c. 1750–1820.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents:

Preface and Acknowledgments

PART I: TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURAL AMENITY

Chapter 1. Commodious Comfort: Hall and Hearth, Chamber and Chimney

Chapter 2. Civil Comfort: Mansion Houses

Chapter 3. Colonial Comfort: Vernacular and Elegant Options

PART II: FROM LUXURY TO COMFORT

Chapter 4. Decent Comfort: Candles and Mirrors

Chapter 5. Convenient Comfort: Political Economy

Chapter 6. Enlightened Comfort: Stoves and Lamps

PART III: THE LANDSCAPE OF COMFORT

Chapter 7. Picturesque Comfort: The Cottage

Chapter 8. Healthy Comfort: The Piazza

Chapter 9. Gendered Comfort: House Design BooksConclusionNotesI

Johns Hopkins University Press

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