Material Lives: Women Makers and Consumer Culture in the Eighteenth Century
Structured around the material archives left by four genteel women, my first monograph (under contract with Bloomsbury), Material Lives, reveals the strategies employed by consumers to manage and express their lives through material culture. The volume focuses on four material biographies: Barbara Johnson’s album of fabric samples, Ann Frankland Lewis’s ‘dress of the year’ watercolours, Laetitia Powell’s doll-sized versions of her own garments, and Sabine Winn’s adorned prints. Approached as forms of life-writing, the material narratives constructed by these women reveal the gendered material strategies used to negotiate and record their interactions with the increasingly sophisticated world of goods. These women engaged with the material culture of making as a means of recording and navigating their lives, articulating their own biographical narratives through material ego-documents.
Making Britannia: British Nationhood, Consumption, and Material Culture, 1707-1837
Making Britannia is the first historical project to tackle how the concept of British nationhood was constructed and commercialised through material goods, during the century following the Acts of Union of 1707. Materiality plays a central role in composing national identity through everyday practices, whether via teapots, textiles, cutlery or ceramics. While historical narratives of nation-making have focused on the political, religious, and military forging of Britishness, this project explores how Britain’s intersecting industrial and commercial transformations offered opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to commoditise nationhood through material objects. Focusing on the iconographical use of Britannia as a figurehead of nationhood, this project interrogates how local, regional, national, and global notions of British patriotism were constructed into a material rhetoric. It traces goods through stages of making, selling, and owning, and examines the multiplicity of ways in which producers, retailers, and consumers attached notions of nationalism to material goods.