Romantic Antiquarianism: Introduction

In their Introduction to Romantic Antiquarianism, Noah Heringman and Crystal B. Lake survey the history of antiquarianism and theorize its practices, concluding with an overview of the seven essays in this volume. Paying particular attention to antiquarianism in popular culture, Heringman and Lake seek to redress the critical tendency to isolate antiquarianism as an amateurish fad, an eccentric pastime of interest to only a few specialists, or a discourse concerned primarily with documents and texts. Instead, Heringman and Lake position antiquarianism as an embodied practice in which ancient objects themselves exerted a powerful influence on the process and products of knowledge work. Increasingly specialized study of periods and types of objects shaped the networks that linked antiquaries, engravers, and publishers with a public eager to experience in detail the customs and manners or material culture of the past. The introduction places a special emphasis on remediation as a rubric for understanding how antiquarian practices informed the circulation of ancient and medieval objects and their representations in the Romantic period.