Pamela H. Smith, “From Lived Experience to the Written Word: Reconstructing Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern World”

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Virtual Event
@ 1:00 pm

Co-Sponsored by the Center for European Studies, the George L. Mosse Program In History, and the Department of History.

Join us on the 1st of April as Professor Pamela H. Smith discusses her new Mosse-AHA-Prize-winning book,” From Lived Experience to the Written Word“.

In “From Lived Experience to the Written Word,” Pamela H. Smith (Professor, Columbia University) considers how and why, beginning in 1400 CE, European craftspeople began to write down their making practices. Rather than simply passing along knowledge in the workshop, these literate artisans chose to publish handbooks, guides, treatises, tip sheets, graphs, and recipe books, sparking early technical writing and laying the groundwork for how we think about scientific knowledge today.

Focusing on metalworking from 1400–1800 CE, Smith looks at the nature of craft knowledge and skill, studying present-day and historical practices, objects, recipes, and artisanal manuals. From these sources, she considers how we can reconstruct centuries of largely lost knowledge. In doing so, she aims not only to unearth the techniques, material processes, and embodied experience of the past but also to gain insight into the lifeworld of artisans and their understandings of matter. “From Lived Experience to the Written Word” won the 2023 American Historical Association George L. Mosse Prize.

*Register here via Zoom