Recommended Books

Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, edited by Sherry Turtle, (MIT Press  2007)

For Sherry Turkle, “We think with the objects we love; we love the objects we think with.” In Evocative Objects, Turkle collects writings by scientists, humanists, artists, and designers that trace the power of everyday things.

Exhuming Loss: Memory, Materiality and Mass Graves of the Spanish Civil War (Critical Cultural Heritage Series) by Layla Renshaw (Left Coast Press 2011)

Handbook of Material Culture, (Eds) Tilley, Keane, Kuechler-Fogden, Rowlands, Spyer, (SAGE Publications 2006).

The Handbook of Material Culture provides a critical survey of the theories, concepts, intellectual debates, substantive domains, and traditions of study characterizing the analysis of “things.” This cutting-edge work examines the current state of material culture as well as how this field of study may be extended and developed in the future.

Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry, Leanne Shapton (Bloomsbury 2009)

Lenore Doolan, a food writer for the New York Times, meets Harold Morris, a photographer, at a halloween party in 2002. He is dressed as Harry Houdini. In Leanne Shapton’s marvellously inventive and invented auction catalogue, the 325 lots up for auction are what remain from the relationship between Lenore and Harold (who aren’t real people, but might as well be).

Joseph Cornell • Wanderlust • Royal Academy of Arts, (exhibition catalogue – Lego, Italy 2015)

Material Memories: Design and Evocation, edited by Marius Kwint (Berg 1999)

This book examines the way that objects ‘speak’ to us through the memories that we associate with them. Instead of viewing the meaning of particular designs as fixed and given, by looking at the process of evocation it finds an open and continuing dialogue between things, their makers and their consumers.

Objects of Desire: Design and Society Since 1750, by Adrian Forty (Thames and Hudson 1986)

Stuff, by Daniel Miller, (Polity Press 2010)

Things make us just as much as we make things. And yet, unlike the study of languages or places, there is no discipline devoted to the study of material things. This book shows why it is time to acknowledge and confront this neglect and how much we can learn from focusing our attention on stuff.

The Comfort of Things, Daniel Miller, (Polity Press 2008)

The Japanese House: Material Culture in the Modern Home (Materialising Culture), Inge Maria Daniels (Berg 2010)

Inge Daniels goes behind the doors of real Japanese homes to find out how highly private domestic lives are lived in Japan. The book examines every aspect of the home and daily life-from decoration, display, furniture and the tatami mat, to eating, sleeping, gift-giving, recycling and worship.

The Lady in the Looking Glass, Virginia Woolf, (originally published in Harpers in 1929 now available on Kindle)

The Language of Things, Deyan Sudjic, (Penguin 2008)

The Material Culture Reader, edited by Victor Buchli (Berg 2002)

Material culture has finally earned a central place within anthropology. Emerging from the pioneering work done at University College London, this reader brings together for the first time seminal articles that have helped shape the anthropological study of material culture.

The Secret Staircase, Caroline Isgar and Michèle Roberts (Printed in London by Darwin Press, available from the Foundling Museum, who first published it with the authors in 2008)

An artist/writer collaboration based on objects in the Foundling Museum collection.

The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology) edited by Arjun Appadurai (Cambridge University Press 1986)

Tools of Disobedience, Mèlanie Veuillet (Edition Patrick Frey, 2017 – 600 copies)

A photographic investigation from within Swiss prisons.