What Is the ‘Georgian Worldview’ and How Has This Concept Influenced the Archaeology of Eighteenth-Century North America?

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What is the ‘Georgian worldview’ and how has this concept influenced the archaeology of eighteenth-century North America?

The ‘Georgian worldview’ is a theory that uses a study of cultural development to determine the thoughts of the eighteenth-century North Americans. It was initiated by James Deetz in his first edition of In Small Things Forgotten (1977). The term encapsulates Deetz’s structuralism-based idea that the evident alteration within English material culture and landscape design was more than a change in style, but a universal change in human consciousness—from medieval to modern—and this extended across the Atlantic despite the colony’s increasing political distance from the homeland (Deetz, 1996: 62-63; 2003: 221). Deetz believed that shared artefact form reflected shared thought (2003: 220). The theory has enabled historical archaeologists to recognise a distinctive shift in many areas of material culture which subsequently encouraged a succession of scholars to further this idea by posing key questions: why did the worldview develop, where else was a Georgian worldview visible, how did it present itself in areas outside New England? In the quest for answers to these questions, archaeologists have developed the concept which accordingly shaped interpretations of the material discoveries of eighteenth-century North America. Deetz’s model for the cultural development of New England illustrates that following an interval (1660-1760) of limited English influence on North American material culture, the contemporary homeland culture—which had recently been influenced by the rationality of the Enlightenment—became influential once again in the colony’s artefacts and landscapes (Deetz, 1996: 59-61). In proving his culturalist theory, Deetz focused on the development of academically styled houses (see figure 1) from the original vernacular…...

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