Interpreting Objects and Collections

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Susan M. Pearce
Psychology Press, 1994 - Art - 343 pages
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This volume brings together for the first time the most significant papers on the interpretation of objects and collections and examines how people relate to material culture and why they collect things.

The first section of the book discusses the interpretation of objects, setting the philosophical and historical context of object interpretation. Papers are included which discuss objects variously as historical documents, functioning material, and as semiotic texts, as well as those which examine the politics of objects and the methodology of object study.

The second section, on the interpretation of collections, looks at the study of collections in their historical and conceptual context. Many topics are covered such as the study of collecting to structure individual identity, its affect on time and space and the construction of gender. There are also papers discussing collection and ideology, collection and social action and the methodology of collection study.

This unique anthology of articles and extracts will be of inestimable value to all students and professionals involved in the interpretation of objects and collections.

 

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Contents

Tables
2
Figures
3
Interpreting objects
4
The contextual analysis of symbolic meanings
12
Objects as meaning or narrating the past
19
using Saussures system
22
Deaths head cherub urn and willow
30
Behavioural interaction with objects
38
The urge to collect
157
Notes on the history of collecting and of museums
175
exhibiting Indian art abroad
188
Psychological aspects of art collecting
205
play and aesthetics in collecting
220
gender identity in collecting
240
Objects of desire
254
The filth in the way
269

Culture as a system with subsystems
44
states and values in the networks of a sociocultural system
46
A view from the bridge
53
Interpreting material culture
67
Why fakes?
92
Craft
107
Thinking about things
125
Not looking at kettles
139
Art museums and the ritual of citizenship
279
The Peoples Show
287
Leicester Contemporary Collecting Projects questionnaire
293
Collectors and collecting
317
collectors reveal their motivations
327
Further reading
336
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About the author (1994)

Pearce is Professor of Museum Studies, University of Leicester

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