In contrast to much current scholarship on women and material culture which focuses primarily on women as consumers, this essay collection provides case studies of women who produced material objects. The essays collected here make an original contribution to material culture studies by focusing on women's social practices in relation to material culture. The essays as a whole are concerned with women's complex and active engagement with material culture in the various stages of the material object's life cycle, from design and production to consumption, use, and redeployment. Also, theorized and described are the ways in which women engaged in meaning making, identity formation, and commemoration through their manipulation of materials and techniques, ranging from taxidermy and shell work to collecting autographs and making scrapbooks. This volume takes as its object of investigation the overlooked and often despised categories of women's decorative and craft activities as sites of important cultural and social work. This volume is interdisciplinary with essays by art historians, social historians, literary critics, rhetoricians, and museum curators. The scope of the volume is international with essays on eighteenth-century German silhouettes, Australian aboriginal ritual practices, Brittany mourning rites, and Soviet-era recipes that provide a comparative framework for the majority of essays which focus on British and North American women who lived and worked in the long nineteenth century. This volume will appeal to a broad range of students and scholars in women's history, art history, cultural studies, museum studies, anthropology, cultural and social history, literature, rhetoric, and material culture studies.
'This is an important interdisciplinary and international contribution to a current wave of scholarship attending to decorative arts and crafts with critical and theoretical vigour. … Women and Things is a welcome addition to recent debates about material culture, gender and the social and historical significance of all the things that we make, shape and create, either on an everyday basis or as one-off luxuries.' Gender & History
Contents: Introduction: materializing women, Beth Fowkes Tobin and Maureen Daly Goggin. Textiles and Meaning Making: Fabricating identity: Janie Terrero's 1912 embroidered English suffrage signature handkerchief, Maureen Daly Goggin; Stitching the self: Emily Kenniff's drawers and the materialization of identity in late-19th-century London, Vivienne Richmond; Material culture, identity and colonial society in the Canadian fur trade, Laura Peters; From ruffs to regalia: Tlingit dolls and the embodiment of identity, Megan A. Smetzer. Bricolage: Female crafts: women and bricolage in late Georgian Britain 1750-1820, Ariane Fennetaux; Reading circles, crafts, and flower arranging: everyday items in the silhouettes of Luise Duttenhofer (1776-1829), Julia Sedda; Preservation and permanence: American women and nature fancywork in the 19th century, Andrea Kolasinski Marcinkus; Material histories: the scrapbooks of progressive-era women's organizations. 1875-1930, Amy Mecklenburg-Faenger. Troubling the Private/Public Divide: Materials of the 'everyday' woman writer: letter-writing in 18th-century England and America, Cheryl Nixon and Louise Penner; Inside out: sculptures by women in the metropolitan public space (Paris, London, Brussels, 1750-1950), Marjan Sterckx; The butter sculpture of Caroline Shawk Brooks (1840-1913), Rebecca Bedell and Margaret Samu; Cooking 'wholesome and delicious food' in post-revolutionary Russia, Lyubov G. Gurjeva and Maria Eichmans Cochran. Memory and Communication: Gifting and fetishization: the portrait miniature of Sally Foster Otis as a maker of female memory, Katherine Rieder; (Re)collecting herself: Jennie Drew's autograph album, mnemonic activity and the creation of feminine subjectivity, Lisa Reid Ricker; Cloaks, crosses, and globes: women's material culture of mourning on the Brittany coast, Maura Coughlin; Monumental visions: women sculptors and World War I, Jennifer Wingate; Place as material culture and restorative tool: Yany