Suggested Reading on Objects & Emotions

At the Emotional Objects conference, delegates repeatedly noted the difficulty of finding ‘textbook’ sources on the material culture of emotions. In response we have started a reading list to bring together some of the most relevant sources. Particularly pertinent texts are in Bold.

Please tweet @EmotionalObject or email us with your suggestions!

Which texts have you found essential reading?


Ahmed, Sara, Promise of Happiness (2007).

Bennett, Jane, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham, NC; Duke University Press, 2011).
Bennett, Jane, The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings and Ethics (Princeton; Princeton University Press, 2001).

Bound Alberti, Fay, Matters of the Heart: History, Medicine and Emotion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Broomhall, Susan (ed.) Spaces for Feeling: Emotions and Sociabilities in Britain, 1650-1850 (Routledge; 2015).

Clark, Gillian and Bright, Janette, Fate, Hope & Charity (London; The Foundling Museum, 2013).

Daston, Lorraine (ed.), Things that Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science (2007).

Droit, Roger-Pol, How Are Things? A Philosophical Experiment, translated by Theo Cuffe  (London: Faber, 2005).

Dudley, Sandra (ed.) Museum Materialities: Objects, Engagements, Interpretations (Routledge, 2010), esp. Part 1: Objects.

Evans, Joan, English Posies and Posy Rings (London, 1931).

Grootenboer, Hanneke, Treasuring the Gaze: Intimate Vision in Late Eighteenth-Century Eye Miniatures (London; University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Harris, John Gil, Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare (2010)

Henderson, Margaret and Bartlett, Alison (eds.) Things that Liberate: an Australian Feminist Wunderkammer (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013).

Hyde, Lewis, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (New York; Vintage Books, 1983).

Jaritz, Gerhard (ed.) Emotions and Material Culture (Wien: Verlag, 2003). Esp. Rosenwein, ‘Emotions and Material Culture: A “Site Under Construction”‘.

Jones, Ann Rosalind and Stallybrass, Peter, Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory (Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 2000).

Jones, William, Finger-Ring Lore; Historical, Legendary, Anecdotal (London; Chatto & Windus, 1877).

Klapisch-Zuber, Christiane, Women, Family and Ritual in Renaissance Italy, trans. Cochrane, Lydia G. (Chicago & London; University of Chicago Press, 1985).

Kwint, Marius, Aynsley, Jeremy and Breward, Christopher, Material Memories: Design and Evocation (Oxford; Berg, 1999).

Mauss, Marcel, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies, trans. Cunnison, Ian (London, 1954; 1970).

Miller, Daniel, Stuff (Cambridge; Polity Press, 2009).
Miller, Daniel, The Comfort of Things (Cambridge; Polity Press, 2008).
Miller, Daniel, A Theory of Shopping (Ithaca; Cornell University Press, 1998).

Moran, Anna and O’Brien, Sorcha (eds.) Love Objects: Emotion, Design and Material Culture (London; Bloomsbury, 2014).

Norman, Donald A., Emotional Design (New York: Basic Books, 2004)

Pascoe, Judith, The Hummingbird Cabinet: A Rare and Curious History of Romantic Collecting (Cornell University Press, 2006).

Pearce, Susan M. (ed.) Museum Studies in Material Culture (London; Leicester University Press, 1989).

Pointon, Marcia, Brilliant Effects: A Cultural History of Gem Stones and Jewellery (New Haven & London; Yale University Press, 2009).

Pye, Elizabeth, ed., The Power of Touch: Handling Objects in Museum and Heritage Contexts (Left Coast Press, 2007).

Rublack, Ulinka, Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe (Oxford, 2010). Chapter on ‘Bourgeois Taste and Emotional Styles’

Scarisbrick, Rings: Jewellery of Power, Love and Loyalty (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2007).

Stabile, Susan M., Memory’s Daughters: The Material Culture of Remembrance in Eighteenth-Century America (Ithaca, NY; Cornell University Press, 2004).

Steedman, Carolyn, Dust: The Archive and Cultural History (Manchester; Manchester University Press, 2001), esp. Chapter 6, ‘What a Rag Rug Means’, pp. 112-41.

Stewart, Susan, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Duke University Press, 1993).

Styles, John, Threads of Feeling: The London Foundling Hospital’s Textile Tokens, 1740-1770 (London; The Foundling Museum, 2010).

Tanizaki, Jun’ichirō, In Praise of Shadows, trans. Seidensticker, Edward G. (1933; Leete’s Island Books, 1977).

Turkle, Sherry (ed.) Evocative Objects: Things We Think With (Cambridge, MA; MIT Press, 2007).

Weiner, Annette B., Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving (Oxford, 1992).

Articles / Chapters

Ahmed, Sara, ‘Happy Objects’ in The Affect Theory Reader  eds. by Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (2010).

Ash, Juliet, ‘Memory and Objects’ in Kirkham, Pat, The Gendered Object (Manchester; Manchester University Press, 1996), pp. 219-24.

Bachmann, Ingrid C., ‘Intimate Textiles’, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, 3:1 (January 2005), 88-99.

Brodie, Antonia, ‘Marking and Memory: An Embroidered Sheet in the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum’, Textile special issue on ‘Emotional Textiles’, 14:2 (2016), pp. 160-175

Broomhall, Susan, ‘Face-making: Emotional and gendered meanings in Chinese clay portraits of Danish Asiatic Company men’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 447-74.

Brown, Bill, ‘Thing Theory’, Critical Enquiry, 28:1 (2001), 1-22.

Daly Goggin, Maureen and Beth Fowkes Tobin eds., Women and the Material Culture of Death (Surrey: Ashgate, 2013).

Davidson, Hilary, ‘Grave Emotions: Textiles and Clothing from Nineteenth-Century London Cemeteries’, Textile special issue on ‘Emotional Textiles’, 14:2 (2016), pp. 226-243

Dolan, Alice and Holloway, Sally, ‘Emotional Textiles: An Introduction’, Textile special issue on ‘Emotional Textiles’, 14:2 (2016), pp. 152-159. Free online.

Eastop, Dinah, ‘Outside In: Making Sense of the Deliberate Concealment of Garments within Buildings’, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, 4:3 (November 2006), 238-254.

Englehardt, Tove Mathiassen, ‘Protective Strategies and Emotions Invested in Early Modern Danish Christening Garments’, Textile special issue on ‘Emotional Textiles’, 14:2 (2016), pp. 208-225

Eriksson, Ann-Catrine, ‘Materiality, Rhetoric and Emotion in the Pieta’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 271-88

Geoghegan, Hilary and Hess, Alison, ‘Object-Love at the Science Museum: Cultural Geographies of Museum Storerooms’, Cultural Geographies (online June 2014).

Gilchrist, Roberta, ‘Magic for the Dead? The Archaeology of Magic in Later Medieval Burials’, Medieval Archaeology 52 (2008).

Goulev, Petar, Lisa Stead, Ebrahim Mamdani, Caroline Evans, ‘Computer Aided Emotional Fashion’, Computers and Graphics, 28:5 (2004), 657-666.

Grosz, Elizabeth, ‘The Thing’ in Grosz, Time Travels: Feminism, Nature and Power (2005).

Hamlett, Jane, ‘A Veritable Palace for the Hard-Working Labourer’? Space, Material Culture and Inmate Experience in London’s Rowton Houses, 1892–1918’ in idem and Preston, Rebecca (eds.) Residential Institutions in Britain, 1725-1970: Inmates and Environments (London; Pickering and Chatto, 2013).

Hamlett, Jane and Hoskins, Lesley, ‘Comfort in Small Things? Clothing, Control and Agency in County Lunatic Asylums in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century England’, Journal of Victorian Culture, Vol. 18, No. 1 (2013), pp. 93-114.

Hamlett, Jane and Hoskins, Lesley, ‘A Bright and Cheerful Aspect’: Wall decoration and the treatment of mental illness in the 19th and early 20th centuries’, Wallpaper History Review (November 2012), pp. 42-5.

Harper, Catherine, ‘I found myself inside her fur…’ Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture, Skin Special Issue (ed.) Simonson, Caryn, Vol. 6, Issue 3 (Autumn, 2008), pp. 300-14.

Harper, Catherine, ‘Double Brides: Double Dresses: Lesbian Wedding Dresses after the Civil Partnership Act UK, 2004’ in McNeil, P., Karaminas, V. & Cole, C. (eds.) Fashion in Fiction: Text and Clothing in Literature, Film and Television (Oxford; Berg, 2009).

Ilmakunnas, Johanna, ‘Embroidering women and turning men: Handiwork, gender, and emotions in Sweden and Finland, c. 1720–182′, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 306-331. Free online.

Karlsson Sjögren, Åsa, ‘Negotiating charity: Emotions, gender, and poor relief in Sweden and the turn of the 19th century’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 332-349

Kelly, Stephen,’In the Sight of an Old Pair of Shoes’, in Catherine Richardson and Tara Hamling (ed.) Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Culture and its Meanings (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), pp. 57-70.

Kieschnick, John, ‘Material Culture’ in Corrigan, John (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion (Oxford, 2008).

Kwint, Marius, ‘Material Memories: A History of the Souvenir’, Tate: the Art Magazine (Summer, 1998), pp. 45-9.

Labanyi, Jo, ‘Doing Things: Emotion, Affect and Materiality’, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, Vol. 11 (2010), pp. 223-44.

Larsen, Eirinn & Vibeke Kieding Banik, ‘Mixed feelings: Women, Jews, and business around 1900′, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 350-68

Lindblom, Ina, ‘The botany of friendship and love: Flowers and emotional practices in the Gjörwell family, c. 1790–1810′, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 410-26

Long, Bridget, ‘“Regular Progressive Work Occupies My Mind Best”: Needlework as a Source of Entertainment, Consolation and Reflection’, Textile special issue on ‘Emotional Textiles’, 14:2 (2016), pp. 176-187

Matthews David, Alison, ‘Blazing Ballet Girls and Flannelette Shrouds: Fabric, Fire, and Fear in the Long Nineteenth Century’, Textile special issue on ‘Emotional Textiles’, 14:2 (2016), pp. 244-267. Available free online.

Matthews, Samantha, ‘Albums, Belongings and Embodying the Feminine’ in Boehm, Katharina (ed.) Bodies and Things in the Nineteenth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Nyberg, Jenny, ‘A Peaceful Sleep and Heavenly Celebration for the Pure and Innocent. The Sensory Experience of Death During the Long Eighteenth Century’ in Fahlander, Fredrik and Kjellström, Anna (eds.) Making Sense of Things: Archaeologies of Sensory Perception (Stockholm, 2010), pp. 15-33.

Ott, Katherine, ‘Disability Things: Material Culture and American Disability History, 1700-1810’, in Susan Burch and Michael Rembis (eds.) Disability Histories (2014), 119-135.

Plotz, John, ‘Can the Sofa Speak? A Look at Thing Theory’, Criticism, Vol. 47, No. 1 (2005), 109-118.

Räisänen-Schröder, Päivi, ‘Books, dress, and emotions in the memoirs of the clergyman Johan Frosterus (1720–1809)’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 427-446

Richardson, Catherine, ‘”A very fit hat”: Personal Objects and Early Modern Affection’, in Catherine Richardson and Tara Hamling (ed.) Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Culture and its Meanings (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), pp. 289-298.

Scheer, Monique, ‘Are Emotions a Kind of Practice (And is That What Makes Them Have a History)? A Bourdieuian Approach to Understanding Emotion’, History and Theory 51 (2012), pp. 193-220.
Smith, Adam T., ‘Those Obscure Objects of Desire’, Archaeological Dialogues, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2010).

Stark, Laura, ‘Emotional causality in dynamistic Finnish–Karelian folk belief’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 369-87

Stead, Lisa, P. Goulev, C. Evans, E. Mamdani, ‘The Emotional Wardrobe’, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 8:3 (2004), 282-290.

Styles, John, ‘Objects and Emotions: The Foundling’s Tokens’, in Gerritsen, Anne and Riello, Giorgio (eds.) Writing Material Culture History (London, 2015).

Taylor, Lou, ‘Beyond Words: An Embroidery in Memory of Anna Binderowska, Married 1864’, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, 11:3 (2013), 300-313.

Tarlow, Sarah, ‘Emotion in Archaeology’, Current Anthropology, 41:5 (December 2000), pp. 713-746
Tarlow, Sarah, ‘The Archaeology of Emotion and Affect’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 41 (2012), pp. 169-85

Toivo, Raisa Maria, ‘Religion and emotion: Rosaries as objects and the associated emotions in 17th-century Finland’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 289-305 (2016)

Turney, Jo, ‘Making Love with Needles: Knitted Objects as Signs of Love’, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, 10:3 (2012) 302-311.

van Gent, Jacqueline and Raisa Maria Tovio, ‘Introduction’ to special issue on ‘Gender, Material Culture and Emotions in Scandinavian History’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 263-70

van Gent, Jacqueline, ‘Linnaeus’ tea cup: Masculinities, affective networks and Chinese porcelain in 18th-century Sweden’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 41:3 (2016), 388-409.

Vejlby, Anna Schram, ‘Diligence and Emotion: Knitting in Danish Golden Age Portraiture’, Textile special issue on ‘Emotional Textiles’, 14:2 (2016), pp. 188-207

Unpublished Theses:

Holloway, Sally, ‘Romantic Love in Words and Objects during Courtship and Adultery c. 1730 to 1830’, unpublished PhD thesis, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2013.

Jorm, Jennifer, ‘”I mourn for them I loved” The Material Culture of Love and Loss in Eighteenth Century England’, Unpublished MPhil thesis, University of Queensland 2015.

Blog Posts:

Bailey, Joanne,‘the voice of the house’: telling the intertwined story of material culture and emotions, Joanne Bailey Muses on History, 4 February 2015.

Dixon, Thomas, ‘The Stuff Emotions are Made Of‘, Queen Mary History of the Emotions blog, 31st October 2011.

Holloway, Sally, ‘Love Objects‘, Queen Mary History of the Emotions blog, 20th July 2011 & ‘Love Darts and Broken Hearts‘, 19th December 2011.

Houlbrook, Matt, ‘Hidden Objects and Untold Histories’, Modern British Studies Birmingham Blog, 12 May 2016.

Murphy, Anne, ‘Breaking up and making up‘, Anne L. Murphy’s blog, 24th February 2016.

Randles, Sarah & Downes, Stephanie, Conference ‘Feeling Things’ in Melbourne, Queen Mary History of the Emotions blog, 7th May 2013.

Ward, Chloe, ‘Class, gender, and mobilities: the Princess Diana Collection*’, Modern British Studies Birmingham Blog, 23 May 2016.

Edited discussion between Charlie Levine and Bharti Parmar, Queen Mary History of the Emotions blog, 7th November 2012.


General Interest

De Waal, Edmund, The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance (London; Chatto & Windus, 2010).

Nixon, Mark, Much Loved (London; Abrams Image, 2013).

Robert Chalmers, ‘The Lampshape that Drives its Owners Mad’, The Independent, Saturday 30 October 2010


BBC Radio 4, A History of the World in 100 objects

BBC Radio 4, Digital Human, Series 4, Episode 4 on Value – When almost anything we want is available to buy at the click of mouse and so much content is available for free, is the digital changing how we value things? Aleks Krotoski explores our sense of worth in this new world where the only thing that’s scarce is scarcity itself. Do we connect with our possessions differently and in the end what is it that makes something valuable to us.

Thank you for sharing your suggestions Natasha Awais-Dean, Hilary Davidson, Thomas Dixon, Freya Gowrley, Jane Hamlett, Catherine Harper, Kate Hill, Ross Macfarlane, Stephanie Trigg, Emma O’Toole, Isabella Streffen, Juan Manuel Zaragoza and many others on twitter. More will be added as the list develops, with hyperlinks where possible.

Happy reading!


  1. Carolyn Steedman’s chapter ‘What a rag rug means’ in Dust?

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, duly added!

  3. […] aid subsequent research, we have created a collaborative reading list of key texts on objects and emotions for future scholars. Podcasts of papers will soon be added to […]

  4. Things that Liberate: an Australian feminist wunderkammer. Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2013

  5. Jonathan Gil Harris, Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare. Brilliant writing on the multiple temporalities of historical objects.

  6. Reblogged this on C19 Mad Men and commented:
    A useful reading list on objects and emotions. Do add any further suggestions.

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