The idea that 'home' is a special place, a separate place, a place where we can be our true selves, is so obvious to us today that we barely pause to think about it. But, as Judith Flanders shows in her best and most ambitious work to date, "home" is a relatively new idea.
In The Making of Home, Flanders traces the evolution of the house from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century across northern Europe and America, showing how the homes we know today bear only a faint resemblance to homes though history. What turned a house into the concept of home? Why did northwestern Europe, a politically unimportant, sociologically underdeveloped region of the world, suddenly became the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, the capitalist crucible that created modernity? While investigating these important questions, Flanders uncovers the fascinating development of ordinary household items--from cutlery, chairs and curtains, to the fitted kitchen, plumbing and windows--while also dismantling many domestic myths.
In this prodigiously researched and engagingly written book, Flanders brilliantly and elegantly draws together the threads of religion, history, economics, technology and the arts to show not merely what happened, but why it happened: how we ended up in a world where we can all say, like Dorothy in Oz, "There's no place like home."
British social historian Flanders (The Victorian City) takes readers on an engrossing tour as she traces the process by which houses physical structures constructed for shelter and functionality evolved into homes: the places in which we live, belong, and feel comfortable. Home, according to Flanders, is in part an enduring myth, and in part a state of mind. The concept is wrapped up in a number of related topics, so she delves into social, cultural, technological and historical concepts to recount the development of furniture, heating and lighting, gender roles, and much more. Likewise, Flanders debunks a number of misapprehensions regarding the "ideal" home and the very nature of family, demonstrating that a great many factors have been at play for centuries, providing a steady rate of change as form followed function. It's a fascinating, eye-opening examination of just how far we've come in five centuries, from the most rudimentary of huts containing virtually nothing, to modern structures filled with furniture, efficiencies, luxuries, and technology. It's possible to pick out any one of 100 different threads in Flanders's work and marvel at how they're all interconnected; you'll never take a fork for granted again. Illus.