Book Talk: The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World
Viginia Postrel in conversation with L'Merchie Frazier
The story of humanity is the story of textiles—as old as civilization itself. In The Fabric of Civilization, Virginia Postrel synthesizes groundbreaking research from archaeology, economics, and science to reveal a surprising history. From Minoans exporting wool colored with precious purple dye to Egypt, to Romans arrayed in costly Chinese silk, the cloth trade paved the crossroads of the ancient world. Textiles funded the Renaissance and the Mughal Empire; they gave us banks and bookkeeping, Michelangelo's David and the Taj Mahal. Moreover, the cloth business spread the alphabet and arithmetic, propelled chemical research, and taught people to think in binary code. Assiduously researched and deftly narrated, The Fabric of Civilization tells the story of the world's most influential commodity.
Virginia Postrel is an award-winning journalist and independent scholar. She is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and has been a columnist for the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. She is the author of the highly acclaimed The Substance of Style and The Power of Glamour. Her research is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She lives in Los Angeles, California.
L’Merchie Frazier is Director of Education and Interpretation for the Museum of African American History, Boston/Nantucket. A member of the Women of Color Quilters Network, L’Merchie is a public fiber artist, poet, and holographer, whose fiber works serve to document history and memory and often include innovative technology. She has held residencies all over the world and currently serves as resident artist of the African American Artists in Residence Program (AAMARP) at Northeastern University. Recently, L’Merchie received the New England Foundation for the Arts’ Creative City Boston Artist Grant.