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. This is not, however, to diminish the role of design in shaping human consciousness. The contributors do not view objects as blank carriers onto which humans project prior psychic dramas, but rather, place crucial importance on the precise materials from which they are made, their social, economic and historic reasons for being, and the way that we interact with them through our senses. This book therefore studies the physical within the intellectual, directly testing the concept of material culture. With telling illustrations, and spanning the Renaissance to the present day, leading scholars converge across disciplines to explore the souvenir-value of jewellery, textiles, the home, the urban space, modernist design, photography, the museum and even the sunken wreck.
Together they show how the sense of the past and of history, far from being a 'radical illusion' as some post-modernists claim, has been a deeply felt reality.
"Deftly combines the study of memory with material culture, enhancing our understanding of both. The book opens up a new field of research. Its combination of history and theory, and its emphasis on the tactile and tangible components of memory clearly signal the future direction of scholarship about how we use objects to give continuity and meaning to human experience." --Professor John Brewer, University of Chicago
"A triumph of intellectual choreography . . . sets the mind spinning." --Design History Society Newsletter
"Material Memories will certainly occupy a central place in the growing literature on material culture, as it bridges history, anthropology and art studies." --Journal of Design History
"Focusing on the concept of the souvenir, the diversity of topics stimulates the imagination and problematises wider issues of how objects make people just as people make objects." --THES
"This readable collection of strong, interdisciplinary writing is a model of how to negotiate the specific in the larger framework." --Crafts
"This book, with its scholarly care, photographs, facts references and lyrical writing ... goes further than just remembering by unfolding the emotional need to engage with the analogical record of objects that store experience beyond individual memory." --Sociological Research Online