The (After) Lives of Things: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Material Culture – AAH 2016

Details of our forthcoming AAH 2016 session have recently been published on the AAH website. See below for the session abstract and list of speakers.

The (After) Lives of Things: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Material Culture


Sarah Laurenson, University of Edinburgh,
Freya Gowrley, University of Edinburgh,

Material things have been used to fashion identities and form social relationships throughout history. This panel seeks to shed light on the intersecting histories of materiality and process in the production and consumption of material culture. It invites papers that examine how physical and intellectual practices such as collecting, repurposing and remaking conveyed materially embedded messages about the subjective experience of their owner-makers, as well as the period in which they were undertaken more broadly. Such practices performed not only physical but semantic changes upon these objects which, due to their revised contexts, reciprocally enacted changes upon their possessors. Examining how these processes allowed individuals to construct identities, spaces, and social bonds, this panel will address issues central to the ‘material turn’ that has characterised recent scholarship within the humanities and, in particular, that of art history.

Papers examine issues such as object biography, construction and reconstruction, adaptation and alteration, collage and assemblage, display, and the transformative potential of acquisition, with a broad focus on objects between the 18th and 20th centuries.

Erika Hanna (The University of Bristol) Family Albums and Family Secrets: Making sense of the limitations of photographic sources

Freya Gowrley (University of Edinburgh) Object Biographies: Family histories and textual afterlives in the commonplace books of Ellen Warter

Sarah Laurenson (University of Edinburgh) Crafting Stories: Past, place and self in Scottish freshwater pearls

Jacqueline Riding (Birkbeck College, University of London) ‘Look, Love and Follow’: Formation and transformation in the imagery of Charles Edward Stuart

Colleen Hill (The Museum at FIT) Memories & Mysteries: Repurposed clothing in the museum at FIT collections

Hannah Lee (Queen Mary University London) Shape Shifting Objects: A 19th-century snuff box and the atonement of the HMS Black Joke

Hadley Jensen (Bard Graduate Centre, New York) Visualising Craft: James Mooney and the cultures of collecting and display in the American southwest

Marie-Eve Marchand (Independent scholar) The Making of a Museographic Object: Transforming the domestic interior into a period room


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