On Weds 5th Nov we had an enormously enjoyable session on ‘Approaches to Materiality’.




We had a panel of three speakers, each of whom gave a short presentation.

Jim Cheshire (History and Heritage) spoke about the reconstruction of interiors owned by Elizabeth Gaskell. Jim asked us to think about what an analysis of Gaskell’s own interiors might say about the concern with interiors in her novels.

Hannah Field (English and Journalism) talked about book jokes as a way of thinking about the book as a material object, analysing the tendency for authors to play with the grubby material concerns of print culture – including the economic motivations for publishing books – even as literary critics typically ignore them.

Finally, Kate Hill (History and Heritage) discussed museum donations and research approaches to objects, including network theory and object biographies. Drawing on her work with museum donations, Kate assessed the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches – what they enable us to do as researchers, as well as their possible limitations.

We then had an excellent open discussion of materiality. We talked about the benefits of using objects and the challenges we confront when discussing them, not least the every-tricky necessity of using language!

Thanks to the three speakers and also to the group members for such an excellent session!

We meet again on the 28th Jan. Details to follow.