Joseph A. Amato is a noted teacher, public speaker, scholar, and author of approximately twenty books.


I tell you what I am up to so you can better understand where I have been and where I am trying to go. Hopefully, this page offers you a chance to form a simple narrative of a life, which without great adventure, has followed the path of books and ideas.

Indeed, I undertake the revision of this site simultaneously with the publication of Surfaces, A History. A publication of University and California Press (May 1, 2013),Surfaces is found at ( The press offers this description of the work:

Human beings are surrounded by surfaces: from our skin to faces, to the walls and streets of our homes and cities, to the images, books and screens of our cultures and civilizations to the natural world and what we imagine beyond. Here Amato traces the human relationship with surfaces from the deep history of human evolution, which unfolded across millennia up to the contemporary world. This deeply informed and original narrative, which joins history and anthropology and suggests new routes for epistemology and aesthetics, argues that surfaces are far more than superficial facades of inner worlds.

Surfaces: A History

By Joseph A. Amato

Surfaces A historical, philosophical, and anthropological meditation on humans as self-reflecting, self-defining, and self-making creatures.

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Surfaces Reviews

With this wonderful history of the world as a collage of surfaces, Joe Amato sets the record straight. Surfaces define our relationship to the world -- they have their own poetry, aesthetics, science, glamour, and wonder.

Phillip Ball, author of Shapes: Nature's Patterns, A Tapestry in Three Parts

Highly original, deeply sensitive, and amazingly informed, Surfaces is one of the great books of the twenty-first century. It is eloquent and beautiful, based on solid thought and spelled out with imagination, emotion, refined speculation, and a rich yet simple language.

Jeffrey Burton Russell, University of California, Santa Barbara

Surfaces is utterly unique and almost defies categorization. Amato romps over vast landscapes of intellectual and artistic terrain, demonstrating intellectual breadth, insight, and creativity. This is an exciting book—bold, provocative, poetic—that invites contemplation and opens the reader’s mind to the depth and complexity of the human experience.

Donald A. Yerxa, senior editor, Historically Speaking

Joseph Amato displays superior scholarly range and imagination in this lively, flowing, and often inventive study of humans' relationship with their world. Surfaces offers us many intriguing and frequently surprising insights about a subject that we have never thought of in quite this way before. This is an enormously ambitious and thoughtprovoking book.

Allan Megill, author of Historical Knowledge, Historical Error: A Contemporary Guide to Practice

Joe Amato gives talks regionally and nationally.

Topics of his talks cover a wide range of subjects drawn from his research and teaching on place, rural life, and southwest Minnesota, as well as, his books on philosophy and history.

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Author of approximately 20 books

His subjects include death, suffering, victims and values, and family, local, and everyday history.

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Life long teacher, writer, speaker, and scholar!

Amato continues to write and carry on inquiries in history, anthropology, and religion.

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