Cloth $25.00 ISBN: 9781780236636 Published October 2016 For sale in North and South America only

Everyday Life

How the Ordinary Became Extraordinary

Joseph A. Amato

Everyday Life

Joseph A. Amato

Distributed for Reaktion Books

224 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2016
Cloth $25.00 ISBN: 9781780236636 Published October 2016 For sale in North and South America only
Most of the stories we tell are about great feats, dangerous journeys, or daring confrontations—exceptional moments in our existence. But what about how we live every single day? In Everyday Life, Joseph A. Amato offers an account of daily existence that reminds us how important the quotidian is. Ranging across social, economic, and cultural history—as well as anthropology, folklore, and technology—he explores how and why the pattern of our lives has changed and developed over time.
            Amato examines the common facts and occurrences in lives from all spheres, whether of a pauper or a noble, a criminal or state official, or a lunatic or a philosopher. Such facts include basic aspects of human existence, such as play, work, conflict, and healing, as well the logistics of survival, such as housing, clothing, cleaning, cooking, animals, plants, and machines. Tracing core historical developments like efficiency of production and greater mobility, Amato shows how we became modern in everyday ways. He explores how, paradoxically, commerce, technology, design,  industrialization, nationalism, and democratization—which have so undercut traditional culture and have homogenized, centralized, and secularized masses of people—have also profoundly transformed daily life, affording citizens with materially improved  lives, individual rights, and productive and rewarding expectations.
            A wide-ranging account of lives throughout history, this book gives us new insights into our own condition, showing us how extraordinary the ordinary can be.
 
Contents
Introduction: Writing Daily and Everyday Life
1 Bodies and Things
2 In a Place at a Time, with Changing Orders and Rising Spires
3 Many Times Makes Many Minds
4 Of Things and Selves I Sing
5 The Mechanizing of Work and Thought, and the Acceleration of Life and Individuality
6 Inventing Our Ways and Designing our Days
7 Compounding Minds
Conclusion: The Poet’s Field
References
Acknowledgements
Index
 
Review Quotes
Donald Yerxa, Eastern Nazarene College
“Amato makes a compelling case for exploring the complex history of everyday life. Drawing on an amazingly broad range of historical, cultural, anthropological, and literary sources, Amato pays keen attention to the interplay of place, landscape, and ‘things’ on human experience and imagination. Like his previous books, Everyday Life richly rewards the reader. It is a unique, reflective, and provocative essay that honors the richness of human life in all its variety.”
Peter Stearns, George Mason University
“This book combines impressively wide reading with a sense of how life was and is composed. Amato ranges widely through topics as varied as dirt and muck, walking, and the charm of spices, and through time periods from early agriculture to mechanization. The result is a thought-provoking introduction to change and continuity in daily life.”
Allan Megill, University of Virginia
“In Everyday Life, Amato reflects on the complex and changing textures of everyday life, beginning with societies of scarcity and relative lack of change and ending with Amato’s own American life of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A work of wide-ranging erudition, it nonetheless offers food for reflection to the everyday reader today, for it lays out how life—even in the very recent past—differed from life in present-day societies of abundance and of seemingly unstoppable change.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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