Constructing family relationships through ‘things’

In the past, just as now, family relationships sometimes needed to be maintained across distances. Today Facebook does the job well, with family members staying in touch by posting short comments, and very often sharing photographs of the activities and the loved ones’ material world. These statuses root people in their familiar (sometimes unfamiliar) surroundings, acting … More Constructing family relationships through ‘things’

Sorrowful spaces: more on the material culture of emotions

The interface between material culture and emotions is something that I am thinking a lot about. I wrote a blog post on the house as an object and a space that materialises emotions – ‘The voice of the house’. Here I ask whether more public and communal buildings and spaces also generate or encapsulate meaningful … More Sorrowful spaces: more on the material culture of emotions

‘she drew me for her Valentine’: what was the meaning of love in 18th century England?

What does Valentine’s Day mean for you? Commercialised excess? A symbol of love embodied in hearts, chocolates, teddy bears and flowers? A chance to celebrate physical intimacy (after all, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey opens on 14 February!)? Heart-shaped valentine card at Metropolitan Museum of Art  As I’ve discussed in another blog post, romantic … More ‘she drew me for her Valentine’: what was the meaning of love in 18th century England?

‘the voice of the house’: telling the intertwined story of material culture and emotions

As a historian of family and gender, I often write in my blog about different emotions. How were various emotions expressed in the past by spouses, parents, and children? How did families forge a sense of lineage and continuity through emotions and memories? And how do my own emotions shape my responses to the lives and events I … More ‘the voice of the house’: telling the intertwined story of material culture and emotions

Emotional Historians? A review of Andrew Popp’s Entrepreneurial Families

What happens when historians fall in love with their subjects? Love is supposed to make us blind, isn’t it? Does this mean we can’t write ‘objectively’ about the object of our fascination and affection? I am regularly besotted by some of the people I study, from the good (the adorable Northumbrian engraver, Thomas Bewick) to … More Emotional Historians? A review of Andrew Popp’s Entrepreneurial Families

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many … More 2014 in review

The role of nostalgia in forging family life

I’ve just had something of a light-bulb moment after reading this report in The Observer ‘Look back in joy: the power of nostalgia’ exploring ongoing research into the role of nostalgia. When researching late Georgian parenting, one of the things that I kept on encountering were people’s memories of their parents and childhood. These recollections … More The role of nostalgia in forging family life