New Book | Eighteenth-Century Thing Theory in a Global Context

Posted in books by Editor on January 3, 2014

Due out this month from Ashgate:

Ileana Baird and Christina Ionescu, eds., Eighteenth-Century Thing Theory in a Global Context: From Consumerism to Celebrity Culture (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014), 386 pages, ISBN: 978-1472413307, $130.

9781472413291_p0_v1_s600Exploring Enlightenment attitudes toward things and their relation to human subjects, this collection offers a geographically wide-ranging perspective on what the eighteenth century looked like beyond British or British-colonial borders. To highlight trends, fashions, and cultural imports of truly global significance, the contributors draw their case studies from Western Europe, Russia, Africa, Latin America, and Oceania. This survey underscores the multifarious ways in which new theoretical approaches, such as thing theory or material and visual culture studies, revise our understanding of the people and objects that inhabit the phenomenological spaces of the eighteenth century. Rather than focusing on a particular geographical area, or on the global as a juxtaposition of regions with a distinctive cultural footprint, this collection draws attention to the unforeseen relational maps drawn by things in their global peregrinations, celebrating the logic of serendipity that transforms the object into some-thing else when it is placed in a new locale.

Ileana Baird is a Postdoctoral Preceptorship Fellow at the University of Virginia, and Christina Ionescu is an Associate Professor of French Studies at Mount Allison
University in Canada.


• Peregrine things: rethinking the global in 18th-century studies, Ileana Baird
• Through the prism of thing theory: new approaches to the 18th-century world of objects, Christina Ionescu

I. Western European Fads: Porcelain, Fetishes, Museum Objects, Antiques
• Caution, contents may be hot: a cultural anatomy of the tasse trembleuse, Christine A. Jones
• Cultural currency: Chrysal, or The Adventures of a Guinea and the material shape of 18th-century celebrity, Kevin Bourque
• Feather cloaks and English collectors: Cook’s voyages and the objects of the museum, Sophie Thomas
• Imagining Ancient Egypt as the idealized self in 18th-century Europe, Kevin M. McGeough

II. Under Eastern Eyes: Garments, Portraits, Books
• Frills and perils of fashion: politics and culture of the 18th-century Russian court through the eyes of La Mode, Victoria Ivleva
• From Russia with love: souvenirs and political alliance in Martha Wilmot’s The Russian Journals, Pamela Buck
• ‘The battle of the books’ in Catherine the Great’s Russia: from a jousting tournament to a tavern brawl, Rimma Garn

III. Latin American Encounters: Coins, Food, Accessories, Maps
• From Peruvian gold to British Guinea: tropicopolitanism and myths of origin in Charles Johnstone’s Chrysal, Mauricio E. Martinez
• Eating turtle, eating the world: comestible things in the 18th century, Krystal McMillen
• The fur parasol: masculine dress, prosthetic skins, and the making of the English umbrella in Robinson Crusoe, Irene Fizer
• Terra Incognita on maps of 18th-century Spanish America: commodification, consumption and the transition from inaccessible to public space, Lauren Beck

IV. Imagining Other Spaces: Trinkets, Collectibles, Ethnographic Artifacts, Scientific Objects
• (Re-)appropriating trinkets: how to civilize Polynesia with a jack-in-the-box, Laure Marcellesi
• Images of exotic objects in the Abbé Prévost’s Histoire Générale des Voyages, Antoine Eche
• Souvenirs of the South Seas: objects of imperial critique in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Jessica Durgan

Select Bibliography and Index

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