Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology

An Archaeology of Improvement in Rural Massachusetts

Landscapes of Profit and Betterment at the Dawn of the 19th century

Authors: Lewis, Quentin P.

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  • Discusses the improvement of rural agricultural landscapes in New England in the early 19th century
  • Focuses on the role of Improvement as a cultural logic operating to manage and structure rural life
  • Addresses the role that agriculture and symbolic constructions of urban and rural life played in structuring landscape change
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  • ISBN 978-3-319-22105-2
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Hardcover $109.99
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Softcover $109.99
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About this book

This book probes the materiality of Improvement in early 19th century rural Massachusetts. Improvement was a metaphor for human intervention in the dramatic changes taking place to the English speaking world in the 18th and 19th centuries as part of a transition to industrial capitalism.  The meaning of Improvement vacillated between ideas of economic profit and human betterment, but in practice, Improvement relied on a broad assemblage of material things and spaces for coherence and enaction.

Utilizing archaeological data from the home of a wealthy farmer in rural Western Massachusetts, as well as an analysis of early Republican agricultural publications, this book shows how Improvement’s twin meanings of profit and betterment unfolded unevenly across early 19th century New England. The Improvement movement in Massachusetts emerged at a time of great social instability, and served to ameliorate growing tensions between urban and rural socioeconomic life through a rationalization of space. Alongside this rationalization, Improvement also served to reshape rural landscapes in keeping with the social and economic processes of a modernizing global capitalism. But the contradictions inherent in such processes spurred and buttressed wealth inequality, ecological distress, and social dislocation.

About the authors

Quentin Lewis received his BA in Archaeology from Boston University, and his MA and PhD from the University of Massachusetts. He has conducted archaeological work in the Midwestern and Northeastern United States, as well as in the North of England, where he is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in Archaeology at Durham University. He has continued his lifelong personal and scholarly fascination with New England with research on historical memory and the development of capitalism. His newest research project involves studying the impacts of the Great Depression on the landscapes of the Northeast of England.

Table of contents (9 chapters)

Table of contents (9 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $84.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-22105-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $109.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-22104-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
  • Covid-19 shipping restrictions
  • Usually ready to be dispatched within 3 to 5 business days, if in stock
Softcover $109.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-3-319-36328-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
  • Covid-19 shipping restrictions
  • Usually ready to be dispatched within 3 to 5 business days, if in stock
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
An Archaeology of Improvement in Rural Massachusetts
Book Subtitle
Landscapes of Profit and Betterment at the Dawn of the 19th century
Authors
Series Title
Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology
Copyright
2016
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
Springer International Publishing Switzerland
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-22105-2
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-22105-2
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-22104-5
Softcover ISBN
978-3-319-36328-8
Series ISSN
1574-0439
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIII, 236
Topics