The Afterlife of Objects
Dan Chiasson University of Chicago Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS3603.H54A68 2002 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
Both intensely personal and deeply rooted in recognizable events of personal, familial, or national significance, The Afterlife of Objects is a kind of dreamed autobiography. With poise and skill, Dan Chiasson divulges the enigmas of the mind of not just one individual but of an entire social world through a beautifully constructed poetic voice that issues from a kind of mythic childhood of our collective, tortured humanity. This sophisticated debut collection offers deceptively simple poems that evoke highly complex states of mind with a voice that has long been listening to the discordant music of contemporary life.
Did ordinary Italians have a ‘Renaissance’? This book presents the first in-depth exploration of how artisans and small local traders experienced the material and cultural Renaissance. Drawing on a rich blend of sixteenthcentury visual and archival evidence, it examines how individuals and families at artisanal levels (such as shoemakers, barbers, bakers and innkeepers) lived and worked, managed their household economies and consumption, socialised in their homes, and engaged with the arts and the markets for luxury goods. It demonstrates that although the economic and social status of local craftsmen and traders was relatively low, their material possessions show how these men and women who rarely make it into the history books were fully engaged with contemporary culture, cultural customs and the urban way of life.
Craft is a diverse, democratic art form practiced by Americans of every gender, age, ethnicity, and class. Crafting America traces this expansive range of skilled making in a variety of forms, from ceramics and wood to performance costume and community-based practice. In exploring the intertwining of craft and American experience, this volume reveals how artists leverage their craft to realize the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Accompanying an exhibition of the same title organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Crafting America features contributions from scholars that illuminate craft’s relationship to ritual and memory, personal independence, abstraction, and Native American histories. The richly illustrated catalog section—with more than a hundred color images accompanied by lively commentary—presents a vivid picture of American craft over the past eight decades, offering fresh insights on the relationships between objects.
Building upon recent advances in craft scholarship and encouraging more inclusive narratives, Crafting America presents a bold statement on the vital role of craft within the broader context of American art and identity.
The Democracy of Objects
Levi R. Bryant Michigan Publishing Services, 2011 Library of Congress BD336 | Dewey Decimal 111
Since Kant, philosophy has been obsessed with epistemological questions pertaining to the relationship between mind and world and human access to objects. In The Democracy of Objects Bryant proposes that we break with this tradition and once again initiate the project of ontology as first philosophy. Drawing on the object-oriented ontology of Graham Harman, as well as the thought Roy Bhaskar, Gilles Deleuze, Niklas Luhman, Aristotle, Jacques Lacan, Bruno Latour and the developmental systems theorists, Bryant develops a realist ontology that he calls “onticology”. This ontology argues that being is composed entirely of objects, properties, and relations such that subjects themselves are a variant of objects. By way of systems theory and cybernetics, Bryant argues that objects are dynamic systems that relate to the world under conditions of operational closure. In this way, he integrates the most vital discoveries of the anti-realists within a realist ontology that does justice to both the material and cultural. Onticology proposes a flat ontology where objects of all sorts and at different scales equally exist without being reducible to other objects and where there are no transcendent entities such as eternal essences outside of dynamic interactions among objects. This work will be of great interest to Continental philosophers, ecologists, cultural theorists, media theorists, and those following recent developments in the thought of speculative realists.
In 1707 Scotland ceased to exist as an independent country and became part of Great Britain. Yet it never lost its distinct sense of identity, history, and politics. To preserve the country’s unique antiquities and natural specimens, a Scottish earl founded the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1780, at the beginning of the Enlightenment’s museum boom. Now numbering twelve million objects and specimens and representing everything from archaeology to applied arts and design, from social history to science and the natural world, these collections formed the foundation for what eventually became the National Museum of Scotland.
In Exhibiting Scotland, Alima Bucciantini traces how these collections have helped tell the changing stories of this country for centuries and how the museum reflects the Scots’ continuing negotiation of their place within modern Britain.
We live in a material world—our homes are filled with things, from electronics to curios and hand-me-downs, that disclose as much about us and our aspirations as they do about current trends. But we are not the first: the early modern period was a time of expanding consumption, when objects began to play an important role in defining gender as well as social status. Gusto for Things reconstructs the material lives of seventeenth-century Romans, exploring new ways of thinking about the meaning of things as a historical phenomenon.
Through creative use of account books, inventories, wills, and other records, Renata Ago examines early modern attitudes toward possessions, asking what people did with their things, why they wrote about them, and how they passed objects on to their heirs. While some inhabitants of Rome were connoisseurs of the paintings, books, and curiosities that made the city famous, Ago shows that men and women of lesser means also filled their homes with a more modest array of goods. She also discovers the genealogies of certain categories of things—for instance, books went from being classed as luxury goods to a category all their own—and considers what that reveals about the early modern era. An animated investigation into the relationship between people and the things they buy, Gusto for Things paints an illuminating portrait of the meaning of objects in preindustrial Europe.
Identifying Consumption illustrates how an individual’s buying habits are shaped by the dynamics of the consumer marketplace—and thus how consumption and identity inform each other. Robert Dunn brings together the various theories of spending and develops a mode of analysis concentrating on the individual subjectivity of consumption. By doing so, he addresses how we spend and its relationship with status and lifestyle.
Dunn provides a comprehensive guide to the study of modern consumer behavior before summarizing and critiquing the major theories of consumption. At this juncture, he proposes a method of analysis that focuses on the significance of status and lifestyle in social relations that can help explain how the consumer marketplace is shaped. He concludes by raising issues about different ways of consuming and the relationship between consumption and identity.
Our lives are filled with objects—ones that we carry with us, that define our homes, that serve practical purposes, and that hold sentimental value. When they are broken, lost, left behind, or removed from their context, they can feel alien, take on a different use, or become trash. The lives of objects change when our relationships to them change.
Maia Kotrosits offers a fresh perspective on objects, looking beyond physical material to consider how collective imagination shapes the formation of objects and the experience of reality. Bringing a psychoanalytic approach to the analysis of material culture, she examines objects of attachment—relationships, ideas, and beliefs that live on in the psyche—and illustrates how people across time have anchored value systems to the materiality of life. Engaging with classical studies, history, anthropology, and literary, gender, and queer studies, Kotrosits shows how these disciplines address historical knowledge and how an expanded definition of materiality can help us make connections between antiquity and the contemporary world.
The fruits of knowledge—such as books, data, and ideas—tend to generate far more attention than the ways in which knowledge is produced and acquired. Correcting this imbalance, Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe brings together a wide-ranging yet tightly integrated series of essays that explore how knowledge was obtained and demonstrated in Europe during an intellectually explosive four centuries, when standard methods of inquiry took shape across several fields of intellectual pursuit.
Composed by scholars in disciplines ranging from the history of science to art history to religious studies, the pieces collected here look at the production and consumption of knowledge as a social process within many different communities. They focus, in particular, on how the methods employed by scientists and intellectuals came to interact with the practices of craftspeople and practitioners to create new ways of knowing. Examining the role of texts, reading habits, painting methods, and countless other forms of knowledge making, this volume brilliantly illuminates the myriad ways these processes affected and were affected by the period’s monumental shifts in culture and learning.
This volume brings the studies of institutions, labour, and material cultures to bear on the history of science and technology by tracing the workings of the Imperial Household Department (Neiwufu) in the Qing court and empire. An enormous apparatus that employed 22,000 men and women at its heyday, the Department operated a "machine" with myriad moving parts. The first part of the book portrays the people who kept it running, from technical experts to menial servants, and scrutinises the paper trails they left behind. Part two uncovers the working principles of the machine by following the production chains of some of its most splendid products: gilded statues, jade, porcelain, and textiles. Part three tackles the most complex task of all, managing living organisms in nature, including lotus plants grown in imperial ponds in Beijing, fresh medicines sourced from disparate regions, and tribute elephants from Southeast Asia.
What does medieval literature look like from the point of view not of knights and ladies, but of treasure, and rings, nets and the grail? How does medieval literature imagine the agency of material things, and what exactly distinguishes human subjects from inanimate objects? Medieval Things: Agency, Materiality, and Narratives of Objects in Medieval German Literature and Beyond brings together a theoretically informed and politically engaged new materialist approach with a study of how everyday objects are understood in medieval literature. Bettina Bildhauer argues that medieval narratives can inspire current critical theory on agency and materiality. She focuses on famous and forgotten German narratives from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries, including Wolfram of Eschenbach’s Parzival and the epic Song of the Nibelungs, and sets them in their global context. Many such tales can be reconceptualized as “thing biographies”—stories that follow the trajectory not of a human hero but of a coin, a gown, a treasure, or a ring. Many also use nets and networks to conceptualize dangerous structures of knowledge. Shine, glamour, and charisma emerge as particularly powerful ways in which material things exert a kind of agency that is neither pseudo-human nor fetishistic. In analyzing details like these from medieval literature, Bildhauer thus contributes in new ways to current theory on agency and materiality.
Modern life now depends on the application of Faraday's discoveries of the electric motor, transformer and the dynamo; modern physical theories reflect the field-conception of natural powers that he pioneered. Faraday's chemical notebook of 1822 is one of the most significant of Faraday's unpublished writings because it served as a place to explore possibilities and questions, rather than to record laboratory work. Transcribed and published here for the first time, the notebook shows that Faraday's physical achievements emerged from the context of applied, laboratory chemistry. It foreshadows many of his most important discoveries, and offers a revealing glimpse into the mind and scientific aspirations of a master experimentalist.
History of Anthropology is a series of annual volumes, inaugurated in 1983, each of which treats an important theme in the history of anthropological inquiry. Objects and Others, the third volume, focuses on a number of questions relating to the history of museums and material culture studies: the interaction of museum arrangement and anthropological theory; the tension between anthropological research and popular education; the contribution of museum ethnography to aesthetic practice; the relationship of humanistic and anthropological culture, and of ethnic artifact and fine art; and, more generally, the representation of culture in material objects. As the first work to cover the development of museum anthropology since the mid-nineteenth century, it will be of great interest and value not only to anthropologist, museologists, and historians of science and the social sciences, but also to those interested in "primitive" art and its reception in the Western world.
Objects as Actors charts a new approach to Greek tragedy based on an obvious, yet often overlooked, fact: Greek tragedy was meant to be performed. As plays, the works were incomplete without physical items—theatrical props. In this book, Melissa Mueller ingeniously demonstrates the importance of objects in the staging and reception of Athenian tragedy.
As Mueller shows, props such as weapons, textiles, and even letters were often fully integrated into a play’s action. They could provoke surprising plot turns, elicit bold viewer reactions, and provide some of tragedy’s most thrilling moments. Whether the sword of Sophocles’s Ajax, the tapestry in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, or the tablet of Euripides’s Hippolytus, props demanded attention as a means of uniting—or disrupting—time, space, and genre.
Insightful and original, Objects as Actors offers a fresh perspective on the central tragic texts—and encourages us to rethink ancient theater as a whole.
Margareta Ingrid Christian unpacks the ways in which, around 1900, art scholars, critics, and choreographers wrote about the artwork as an actual object in real time and space, surrounded and fluently connected to the viewer through the very air we breathe. Theorists such as Aby Warburg, Alois Riegl, Rainer Maria Rilke, and the choreographer Rudolf Laban drew on the science of their time to examine air as the material space surrounding an artwork, establishing its “milieu,” “atmosphere,” or “environment.” Christian explores how the artwork’s external space was seen to work as an aesthetic category in its own right, beginning with Rainer Maria Rilke’s observation that Rodin’s sculpture “exhales an atmosphere” and that Cezanne’s colors create “a calm, silken air” that pervades the empty rooms where the paintings are exhibited.
Writers created an early theory of unbounded form that described what Christian calls an artwork’s ecstasis or its ability to stray outside its limits and engender its own space. Objects viewed in this perspective complicate the now-fashionable discourse of empathy aesthetics, the attention to self-projecting subjects, and the idea of the modernist self-contained artwork. For example, Christian invites us to historicize the immersive spatial installations and “environments” that have arisen since the 1960s and to consider their origins in turn-of-the-twentieth-century aesthetics. Throughout this beautifully written work, Christian offers ways for us to rethink entrenched narratives of aesthetics and modernism and to revisit alternatives.
Objects of Hunger
E. C. Belli Southern Illinois University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3602.E6477A6 2019 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
By turns stoic and ravaged, but always with gutting honesty, E. C. Belli invites readers to consider the smallest rooms of the intimate in this first collection. With each poem pared down to an elemental language both slight and clear, Belli’s work exhibits a surprising muscularity in its poise.
Objects of Hunger explores in reflective, raw lyrics the dread and beauty of our inner worlds as expressed through our struggles against the self and the other. Each poem is a slender organism that speaks its own mind, unafraid of pathos; the emotions here have been tried on and lived in, and the work accrues, lyric after lyric, page after page. In the second section, World War I poems are broken down and dismantled, as the voices of that era’s poets meld with that of a postpartum mother, exposing a shared vernacular among these disparate experiences. Other poems in the collection explore the unraveling and entrapments of the domestic, but with tenacity in place of softness, using a lexicon gathered from Virginia Woolf’s The Waves and Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood, among others.
What emerges is a finely chiseled portrait of intimacy, one that takes seriously love and all discord, the fracas of reticence and familiarity. Belli gives this world to us by way of a throbbing asceticism, in an exploration of resignation, concession, persistence, and monstrosity. This collection tells what it is to need with abandon.
This book demonstrates the importance of the study of fetishes and fetishism in the study of popular culture. Some of the essays cover rather "conventional" manifestations in the world today; others demonstrate the fetishistic qualities of some unusual items. But all illustrate without any doubt that, like the icon, the ritual, and many other items in society, fetishes, fetishism and fetishists must be studied and understood before we can begin to understand the complexity of present-day society.
Between 1893 and 1903, Jesse H. Bratley worked in Indian schools across five reservations in the American West. As a teacher Bratley was charged with forcibly assimilating Native Americans through education. Although tasked with eradicating their culture, Bratley became entranced by it—collecting artifacts and taking glass plate photographs to document the Native America he encountered. Today, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Jesse H. Bratley Collection consists of nearly 500 photographs and 1,000 pottery and basketry pieces, beadwork, weapons, toys, musical instruments, and other objects traced to the S’Klallam, Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Havasupai, Hopi, and Seminole peoples.
This visual and material archive serves as a lens through which to view a key moment in US history—when Native Americans were sequestered onto reservation lands, forced into unfamiliar labor economies, and attacked for their religious practices. Education, the government hoped, would be the final tool to permanently transform Indigenous bodies through moral instruction in Western dress, foodways, and living habits. Yet Lindsay Montgomery and Chip Colwell posit that Bratley’s collection constitutes “objects of survivance”—things and images that testify not to destruction and loss but to resistance and survival. Interwoven with documents and interviews, Objects of Survivance illuminates how the US government sought to control Native Americans and how Indigenous peoples endured in the face of such oppression.
Rejecting the narrative that such objects preserve dying Native cultures, Objects of Survivance reframes the Bratley Collection, showing how tribal members have reconnected to these items, embracing them as part of their past and reclaiming them as part of their contemporary identities. This unique visual and material record of the early American Indian school experience and story of tribal perseverance will be of value to anyone interested in US history, Native American studies, and social justice.
Co-published with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Object-oriented ontology offers a startlingly fresh way to think about causality that takes into account developments in physics since 1900. Causality, argues OOO, is aesthetic. In this book, Timothy Morton explores what it means to say that a thing has come into being, that it is persisting, and that it has ended. Drawing from examples in physics, biology, ecology, art, literature and music, Morton demonstrates the counterintuitive yet elegant explanatory power of OOO for thinking causality.