"This rich, compelling book establishes the 'artifact' as a key category of eighteenth-century scholarship. The artifact, Lake argues, is a thing that does things—but the things that artifacts do are hardly ever what people want. Artifacts argue and demonstrate, fragment and coalesce, become polemical, wax philosophical, wear out their welcome, and warrant dispute—every bit as much as the human actors they enliven and displace. Artifacts gathers these unruly objects in one place, assembling a counter-history of the Enlightenment. Along the way, it offers a surprising pre-history of vitalism: of the Romantic sort, but also of the new materialisms that vitalize the academy today."