Eighteenth-Century Thing Theory in a Global Context: From Consumerism to Celebrity Culture, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Eighteenth-Century Thing Theory in a Global Context

From Consumerism to Celebrity Culture, 1st Edition

Edited by Ileana Baird, Christina Ionescu


386 pages

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Exploring 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.


'Readers interested in thing theory and students of material culture as discussed especially in literature will appreciate this book's efforts. Historical geographers can gain much from the interdisciplinary collaboration exhibited in this volume. Overall, the collection does highlight how humans relate to objects and convincingly displays how understanding such relationships can deepen our understanding of some aspects of the eighteenth-century world.' Journal of Historical Geography

Table of Contents

Introduction: Peregrine Things: Rethinking the Global in Eighteenth-Century Studies

Ileana Baird

Introduction: Through the Prism of Thing Theory: New Approaches to the Eighteenth-Century World of Objects

Christina Ionescu

Part I Western European Fads: Porcelain, Fetishes, Museum Objects, Antiques

1 Caution, Contents May Be Hot: A Cultural Anatomy of the Tasse Trembleuse

Christine A. Jones

2 Cultural Currency: Chrysal, or The Adventures of a Guinea, and the Material Shape of Eighteenth-Century Celebrity

Kevin Bourque

3 Feather Cloaks and English Collectors: Cook’s Voyages and the Objects of the Museum

Sophie Thomas

4 Imagining Ancient Egypt as the Idealized Self in Eighteenth-Century Europe

Kevin M. McGeough

Part II Under Eastern Eyes: Garments, Portraits, Books

5 Frills and Perils of Fashion: Politics and Culture of the Eighteenth-Century Russian Court through the Eyes of La Mode

Victoria Ivleva

6 From Russia with Love: Souvenirs and Political Alliance in Martha Wilmot’s The Russian Journals

Pamela Buck

7 “The Battle of the Books” in Catherine the Great’s Russia: From a Jousting Tournament to a Tavern Brawl

Rimma Garn

Part III Latin American Encounters: Coins, Food, Accessories, Maps

8 From Peruvian Gold to British Guinea: Tropicopolitanism and Myths of Origin in Charles Johnstone’s Chrysal

Mauricio E. Martinez

9 Eating Turtle, Eating the World: Comestible Things in the Eighteenth Century

Krystal McMillen

10 The Fur Parasol: Masculine Dress, Prosthetic Skins, and the Making of the English Umbrella in Robinson Crusoe

Irene Fizer

11 Terra Incognita on Maps of Eighteenth-Century Spanish America: Commodification, Consumption and the Transition from Inaccessible to Public Space

Lauren Beck

Part IV Imagining Other Spaces: Trinkets, Collectibles, Ethnographic Artifacts, Scientific Objects

12 (Re-)Appropriating Trinkets: How to Civilize Polynesia with a Jack-in-the-Box

Laure Marcellesi

13 Images of Exotic Objects in the Abbé Prévost’s Histoire Générale des Voyages

Antoine Eche

14 Souvenirs of the South Seas: Objects of Imperial Critique in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

Jessica Durgan

About the Editors

Ileana Baird is a Postdoctoral Preceptorship Fellow at the University of Virginia, USA.

Christina Ionescu is an Associate Professor of French Studies at Mount Allison University, Canada.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
HISTORY / Social History