Modelwork

The Material Culture of Making and Knowing

2021

Martin Brückner, Sandy Isenstadt, and Sarah Wasserman, Editors

How making models allows us to recall what was and to discover what still might be

In this wide-ranging volume, scholars from diverse fields examine the interrelationships between a model’s material foundations and the otherwise invisible things it gestures toward, underscoring the pivotal role of models in understanding and shaping the world around us. Whether in the form of reproductions, interpretive processes, or constitutive tools, models may bridge the gap between the tangible and the abstract.

Essays by these art historians combine attention to the circulation and galvanizing force of images with a material culturalist sensibility that locates those images’ power in the manual practices, forms, and formats that support their transfer.

Winterthur Portfolio

Whether looking inward to the intricacies of human anatomy or outward to the furthest recesses of the universe, expanding the boundaries of human inquiry depends to a surprisingly large degree on the making of models. In this wide-ranging volume, scholars from diverse fields examine the interrelationships between a model’s material foundations and the otherwise invisible things it gestures toward, underscoring the pivotal role of models in understanding and shaping the world around us. Whether in the form of reproductions, interpretive processes, or constitutive tools, models may bridge the gap between the tangible and the abstract.

By focusing on the material aspects of models, including the digital ones that would seem to displace their analogue forebears, these insightful essays ground modeling as a tactile and emphatically humanistic endeavor. With contributions from scholars in the history of science and technology, visual studies, musicology, literary studies, and material culture, this book demonstrates that models serve as invaluable tools across every field of cultural development, both historically and in the present day.

Modelwork is unique in calling attention to modeling’s duality, a dynamic exchange between imagination and matter. This singular collection shows us how models shape our ability to ascertain the surrounding world and to find new ways to transform it.

Contributors: Hilary Bryon, Virginia Tech; Johanna Drucker, UCLA; Seher Erdoğan Ford, Temple U; Peter Galison, Harvard U; Lisa Gitelman, New York U; Reed Gochberg, Harvard U; Catherine Newman Howe, Williams College; Christopher J. Lukasik, Purdue U; Martin Scherzinger, New York U; Juliet S. Sperling, U of Washington; Annabel Jane Wharton, Duke U.

Martin Brückner is professor of English and material culture studies at the University of Delaware. He is author or coeditor of several books, most recently The Social Life of Maps in America, 1750–1860.

Sandy Isenstadt is professor and chair of art history at the University of Delaware and author or coeditor of several books, most recently Electric Light: An Architectural History.

Sarah Wasserman is associate professor of English and material culture studies at the University of Delaware. She is author of The Death of Things: Ephemera and the American Novel (Minnesota, 2020).

Essays by these art historians combine attention to the circulation and galvanizing force of images with a material culturalist sensibility that locates those images’ power in the manual practices, forms, and formats that support their transfer.

Winterthur Portfolio

Modelwork nicely shows that models are not only the critical instruments of modern science but have also become the essential tools with which we shape the world around us.

Isis

Contents

Introduction: Modelwork

Martin Brückner and Sandy Isenstadt

Part I. Knowing

1. Defining Models

Annabel Jane Wharton

2. Material Models of Immaterial Things

Peter Galison

Part II. Sensing

3. William Farish’s Devices and Drawings: Models for Envisioning Immaterial and Material Realms

Hilary Bryon

4. “The Instructed Eye”: What Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Drawing Books Tell Us about Vision and How We See

Christopher J. Lukasik

5. Algorithmic Audition: Modeling Musical Perception

Martin Scherzinger

Part III. Making

6. The Useful Arts of Nineteenth-Century Patent Models

Reed Gochberg

7. Bodies Made of Numbers, Numbers Made of Bodies

Catherine Newman Howe

8. Hypermodels: Architectural Production in Virtual Spaces

Seher Erdoğan Ford

Part IV. Doing

9. Modeling Maneuvers: Anatomical Illustration and the Practice of Touch

Juliet S. Sperling

10. Models and Manufactures: The Shoe as Commodity

Lisa Gitelman

11. Modeling Interpretation

Johanna Drucker

Afterword: On the Humility of Models

Sarah Wasserman

Acknowledgments

Contributors

Index