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Everyday Life

Everyday Antiquities

The antiquarians of the Renaissance were another group who were taking an interest in everyday life in the fifteenth century as part of their attempt to revive the culture of ancient Rome. Writing about "antiquities" exempted them from respecting the principle of the "dignity of history," a principle that ruled out references to ordinary people or things. Antiquarians wrote about practices such as burying the dead, reclining at table, gladiatorial shows, and religious and secular festivals, as well as about everyday objects such as clothes, rings, shoes, beards, lamps, and vehicles.

Out of the work of the antiquarians there developed in the eighteenth century what was known in English as the "history of society" and in French as histoire de la vie privée. One French scholar, Jean-Baptiste Couture, studying ancient Rome in this way, drew attention to "what an individual living an ordinary life did in the course of a day" (ce qu'un particulier menant une vie commune, faisoit dans le cours d'une journée) in an article in the Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions. In the nineteenth century, the new disciplines of folklore, archaeology, anthropology, and sociology all focused on everyday life, for somewhat different reasons, while some historians continued to study the subject, from Jacob Burckhardt in his famous essay on the Renaissance to the Dane T. H. Troels-Lund in his great work Dagligt Liv i Norden (Daily life in the north), published in fourteen volumes from 1879 onward.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ephemeris to Evolution - Historical BackgroundEveryday Life - Everyday Antiquities, The Everyday In Academic Discourse, The Discovery Of The Everyday, The History Of The Everyday