External News

1 February 2015

As acquisitions editor at Praeger Publishing, I am currently developing a book series entitled History of Human Spaces. The books are a hybrid of reference and narrative history, that is, with a series of narrative history chapters accompanied by reference elements, such as a chronology and glossary of terms. Each brief title of between 40,000 and 50,000 words, explores the history of a specific human space, a kind of room by room material culture history.

Each volume in the series will examine a room or space of daily life, both public and private, looking at the space and all of the objects that inhabit or have once inhabited these spaces. The history of the space and key objects in it will be covered--how it originated, how it has changed, and how it has stayed the same. This history, fascinating in itself and with an appeal to nearly everyone's curiosity, allows for a discussion of technique, marketing, and use, that is, how things got made, how they were bought and sold, and how they were employed. In turn, such discussions open up all kinds of avenues for examining the history of technology, economics, society, labor, gender, consumption, culture and, of course, daily life. Each volume in the series would open with a chapter discussing a history of the room or space itself‐how it has evolved in substance, use, and meaning. The subsequent chapters would examine various objects, or related groups of objects, in much the same way as the room/space chapter at the beginning. A brief epilogue would offer possibilities for how the room/space, and the objects within, are likely to change in the foreseeable future.
The titles so far include: The Kitchen; The Bathroom; The Bedroom; The Office; The Restaurant; The Saloon/Bar; The Schoolroom; The Factory; The Office. Each would examine the overall history of these spaces as well as the artifacts that fill them. So, for example, the contents of the Office title would include:

  • history of the white collar profession
  • history of the office itself and the office building (as well as home offices)--why they emerged, how their functions have changed, etc..
  • history of the interior space organization (from hierarchical to today's more egalitarian outlines)
  • history of office furniture
  • history of writing equipment (from quill and ledger, to typewriter, to computers and photocopy machines)
  • history of calculating instruments (from abacus to calculator)
  • epilog on possible future directions for the office

Note: We have already commissioned authors for the office, kitchen, and school.

If you are at all interested in discussing this project with me, and your possible participation in it, email me at: james.ciment@ca.rr.com

Dr. James Ciment, PhD


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