J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

Follow by Email


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Woman’s Work for “Gentility and Consumerism” in Newport, 16 Oct.

On Thursday, 16 October, the Newport Historical Society will host a lecture on “Gentility and Consumerism in Eighteenth-century Newport: A Widow’s Story” by Christina J. Hodge. Hodge’s new book Consumerism and the Emergence of the Middle Class in Colonial America focuses on Rhode Island widow and shopkeeper Elizabeth Pratt.

The event announcement says:
Between 1733 and 1734 Elizabeth Pratt finds herself battling a series of lawsuits in the courts of Newport surrounding years of consumer purchases of everything from silk riding hoods to silver spoons. Pratt, once a shopkeeper and tastemaker in Newport society, eventually finds herself losing her business, her home on Spring Street, and her freedom. Worse yet, Pratt loses her status in the “middling sorts:” the class of property-owning entrepreneurs who begin to expand colonial America’s class system, eventually leading to the rise of the middle class.

Through the study of court records, as well as significant archeological evidence from Pratt’s own home, the effect of changes in material culture on class and gender relationships takes shape. Hodge will explore this emergence and the “Genteel Revolution” led by middling sorts, like Pratt, through their consumer and commercial practices.
Hodge is Collections Manager and Academic Curator for the Stanford Archaeology Center Collections. She holds degrees from Boston University.

This talk is scheduled to begin at 5:30 P.M. at the 1739 Colony House in Newport. Admission costs $5 per person, $1 for Newport Historical Society members; to reserve a seat, call 401-841-8770. A book-signing will follow, though the book is priced as a scholarly monograph and therefore may not be in everybody’s price range. But spending simply to show that one can is what eighteenth-century consumerism was all about, wasn’t it?

No comments: