Jennifer Ferng and Lauren R. Cannady, "Crafting Enlightenment: Artisanal Histories and Transnational Networks" (Voltaire Foundation, 2021)

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A ground-breaking volume examining the transnational conditions of the European Enlightenment, Crafting Enlightenment: Artisanal Histories and Transnational Networks (Voltaire Foundation, 2021) argues that artisans of the long eighteenth-century on four different continents created and disseminated ideas that revolutionized how we understand modern-day craftsmanship, design, labor, and technology. Starting in Europe, this book journeys through France across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas and then on to Asia and Oceania. Highlighting diverse identities of artisans, the authors trace how these historical actors formed networks at local and global levels to assert their own forms of expertise and experience. These artisans – some anonymous, eminent, and outside the margins – translated European Enlightenment thinking into a number of disciplines and trades including architecture, botany, ceramics, construction, furniture, gardening, horology, interior design, manuscript illustration, and mining. In each thematic section of this illustrated volume, two leading scholars present contrasting case studies of artisans in different geographic contexts. These paired chapters are also followed by shorter commentary that reflects on pertinent themes from both chapters. Emphasizing how and why artisanal histories around the world impacted civic and private life, commerce, cultural engagement, and sense of place, this book introduces new richness and depth to the conversations around the ambivalent and fragmented nature of the Enlightenment.

Lauren R. Cannady, assistant clinical professor in University Honors at the University of Maryland, is a historian of early modern art and architecture with an interest in intellectual and cultural history.

Jennifer Ferng is Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Postgraduate Director at the University of Sydney. She received her PhD from MIT.

Alexandra Ortolja-Baird is Lecturer in Digital History and Culture at the University of Portsmouth. She tweets at @timetravelallie.

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