Thing Theory in Literary Studies

updated

That things capture our imagination is hardly news. As Andrew Cole wrote in a 2016 issue of October, "materialism is as old as the hills." Cole claims that new approaches to studying things allow us to find similarities where we have too often found difference, and that this method dates back at least to Hegel and Marx.

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Morrison’s Things: Between History and Memory
By
Kinohi Nishikawa
Essay
Toni Morrison began to formulate her engagement with the black past early in her career, in a project for which she served as editor and makeshift curator of objects. In 1974 Random House brought out a book that Morrison had spent 18 months assembling with four collectors of black memorabilia: a 200-page, oversized compendium that conveys the story of African and African-descended people in the New World.
Postmodernism and Thing Theory
By
Matthew Mullins
Essay
If postmodern literature reveals the constructed nature of our general categories, then what are the particulars out of which those general categories are constructed?
Things—In Theory
By
Bill Brown
Book Chapter
How do the literary, visual, and plastic arts fashion questions about the object world and our relation to it?
Thing Theory 2017: A Forum
By
Sarah Wasserman
Essay
In 2001, when Bill Brown published his essay on “Thing Theory,” it seemed that scholars were tired of subjects. But now, nearly two decades later, one must wonder if we’ve also grown tired of things.
Beating True: Figuring Object Life Beyond Ontology
By
Babette B. Tischleder
Essay
From the perspective of object-oriented ontology, we cannot know the entities in question, even if we weave them into words and sentences: they are “withdrawn,” doing their own thing.
Thing Theory at Expanded Scale
By
Kate Marshall
Essay
The following remarks form brief meditations on the scalar pressures that several strands of contemporary critical thought have been placing on the well-recognized expanded field of things that have fallen under the purview of thing theory in the past decade and a half.
Related Things
By
David J. Alworth
Essay
What is Frank O’Hara’s poem, “Having a Coke with You,” trying to teach you about objects, things, and thingness? 
Gold You Can Eat (On Theft)
By
Julian Yates
Book Chapter

Everybody knows that some international trade is beneficial—nobody thinks that Norway should grow its own oranges. Many people are skeptical, however, about the benefits of trading for goods that a country could produce for itself. Shouldn’t Americans buy American goods whenever possible, to help...

Metalepsis in Real Time
By
Elaine Freedgood
Essay
In Genette’s classic definition, metalepsis is an intrusion of one diegetic level into another, as in Julio Cortázar’s very short story, “A Contiguity of Parks,” in which a character is shot by the murderer in the mystery novel he is reading.
Introduction to Hoardiculture
New
By
Rebecca Falkoff
Book Chapter
Hoarding is too ubiquitous and entrenched to be dismembered by the boundaries of national tradition or discipline.
What’s Really the Matter with Artifacts?
New
By
Crystal B. Lake
Book Chapter
Ready-to-hand, memorable things make the immaterial past materially present for our direct, sensory apprehension as well as our cognitive reasoning, but they are also very nearly thinking things themselves, full of memories that we do not and cannot have for ourselves.
An Object for Future Study
New
By
Michael Doss
Essay
Taken together, affect and objects have much to teach us about where we might go next.

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