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Subjects and Objects

Session Leader


  1. Under what conditions might people want to become more object-like?
  2. In what sense do objects or “Things” exceed the status of commodities as Marx defines it?
  3. How does circulation accentuate the similarities between subjects and objects and what are the symptoms of circulation increasing in the 1700s?
  4. In what particular ways do women participate in economies of circulation?
Required Reading
  • Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, Ch. 1, ‘Commodities”

  • Arjun Appaduri, (ed.) The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Chicago 1998), Introduction.

  • Bruno Latour, “On Interobjectivity,” Mind, Culture, and Activity, Vol 3: No 4, 1996, 228-245.

  • * “The Adventures of a Quire of Paper“ (1779) in British It Narratives, Vol 4. Mark Blackwell, (ed.) 23-40.

  • * “The Adventures of a Black Coat” (1760) in British It Narratives, Vol 3. in British It Narratives, Vol 3 Christina Lupton, (ed.) (Pickering and Chatto, 2012), 111-152.

  • * “The History and Adventures of a Lady’s Slippers and Shoes” (1754) in British It Narratives, Vol 3. Christina Lupton, (ed.) (Pickering and Chatto, 2012), 63-79.

Secondary Reading

  • Mark Blackwell (ed), The Secret Lives of Things (Bucknell, 2007) particularly essay by Bonnie Blackwell.
  • Lynn Festa, "Person, Animal, Thing: The 1796 Dog Tax and the Right to Superfluous Things" 
Eighteenth-Century Life 33.2, Spring 2009.
  • Bill Brown, (Ed) Things (Chicago, 2005) Also available on line as edition of Critical Inquiry, Vol 28, No. 1, 2001.
  • Bill Brown, "Object Relations in an Expanded Field," Differences (Fall 2006)
  • Jonathan Lamb, The Things Things Say (Princeton, 2011), particularly chapter “Making Babies in the South Seas”