This research cluster brings together the expertise of Edinburgh staff and students working on any aspect of material culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Comprising scholars from a variety of fields and geographical specialisations, the cluster aims to foster interdisciplinary approaches to the study of materiality. In particular, we are interested in the myriad relationships between people and things, interrogating issues of making, consumption, exchange and agency.

The group will host a range of events, including the Material and Visual Culture Seminar Series, commencing in the 2020/21 academic year. The programme showcases emerging scholarship in material culture studies, promoting the work of PhD students and Early Career Researchers. Confirmed speakers are drawn from a range of disciplines and from Universities across the UK.


6 May 2022 | Making Masculinities: Material Culture and Gender in the 17&18 Centuries | 9.30am - 4,30pm | Book your place >

Inaugural lecture

15 Feb 2021 | Loss and Dispossession in the Long Eighteenth Century | Dr Kate Smith, University of Birmingham | 5.30pm | Book your place >

Reading group

Over summer 2020 we will meet on a monthly basis to discuss a new publication relating to material culture methodologies, or material culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We meet online creating a space to facilitate informal discussion and stay connected with fellow material culturists. Feel free to read along and join in when you can. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list please email 

  • 15 May 2020 | Crystal B. Lake, Artifacts: How We Think and Write about Found Objects (2020) 4pm BST | View event >
  • 12 June 2020 | Susan Stewart, The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture (2020). Focus on Introduction and Chapter 2 | 4pm BST | View event >
  • 17 July 2020 | Viccy Coltman, Art and Identity in Scotland, (2019). Focus on Introduction and Chapter 4. Special guest Professor Viccy Coltman will be joining us for the discussion so you can ask her questions in person | 4pm BST | View event >
  • 14 August 2020 | Reading TBD | 4pm BST

Further events, such as guest lectures, student-led seminars and museum and gallery study days are planned, building on existing collaborations with National Museums Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland.

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