With the dawning of modernity came the age of ‘stuff.’ Public production, collection, display and consumption of objects grew in influence, popularity, and scale. The form, function, and use of objects, ranging from scientific and musical instruments to weaponry and furnishings were influenced by distinct and changing features of the period. Knowledge was not divided into strict disciplines. In fact, practice across what we now see as academic boundaries was essential to material creation. This seminar series uses an approach based on objects to encourage us to consider the unity of ideas of this period, to emphasise the lived human experience of technology and art, and the global dimension of material culture. It does this by inviting pairs of speakers, often from different institutional and disciplinary backgrounds, to speak to a particular kind of ‘thing’ or a theme that unites disparate ‘things’.
In the 2014-2015 academic year, we will continue to build on the success of Things, while pushing the already popular series in new and innovative directions. Considering the current “material turn” in scholarship, this year’s series will emphasise the importance of materiality in object study, and we have thus entitled the next year’s seminar: Things that Matter, 1400-1900. This play-on-words emphasizes the need to focus scholarship on the material composition of an object in addition to the object’s relevance, appearance, and use. A deeper awareness of the matter will allow speakers to emphasize how the economic, cultural, and physical attributes of certain materials and their meanings contributed to understanding the value and connotations of objects in their original contexts.
We are looking forward to an exciting year!
Margaret Carlyle (SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History and Philosophy of Science)
Sophie Pitman (Faculty of History)
Katie Reinhart (Department of History of Art)
Lesley Steinitz, (Faculty of History) [2013- ]
Katherine Tycz, (Department of Italian)
Michelle Wallis (Department of History and Philosophy of Science) [2012- ]
Katy Barrett (Caird Senior Research Fellow, National Maritime Museum)
Professor Maxine Berg (Department of History, University of Warwick)
Dr Melisssa Calaresu (Faculty of History)
Dr Richard Dunn (Curator of the History of Navigation, National Maritime Museum)
Dr Catherine Eagleton (Curator of Modern Money, British Museum)
Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (History, University of Durham)
Dr Larry Klein (Faculty of History)
Dr Mary Laven (Faculty of History)
Dr Alexander Marr (Department of History of Art)
Professor Simon Schaffer (Department of History and Philosophy of Science)
Dr Jason Scott-Warren (Director of the Centre for Material Texts, Faculty of English)
Dr Kim Sloan (Francis Finlay Curator of the Enlightenment Galleries and Curator of British Watercolours and Drawings before 1880, British Museum)
Dr Emma Spary (History of Faculty)
Professor Nick Thomas (Historical Anthropology, Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)
Dr Chris Wingfield (Curator for Archaeology, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)
Thank you for visiting our blog. In 2014, we have decided to retire blog, but you can find information about upcoming and past seminars on our CRASSH webpage. Please also follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@CambridgeThings). We live tweet each session using the hashtag (#emthings).