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.

Events 2022/23

Semester 2

3 Mar 2023 | Considering Object Biographies | Chair: Madeleine Reynolds

19 May 2023 | Historical Fragments: Making, Breaking, and Remaking (ONLINE ATTENDANCE) | View event >

19 May 2023 | Historical Fragments: Making, Breaking, and Remaking (IN-PERSON ATTENDANCE) | View event >

Semester 1

28 Sep 2022 | Approaching Identities | Chair: Dr Georgia Vullinghs | 5pm - 6pm

12 Oct 2022 | Patronage and Person under the Stuarts | Chair: Dr Catriona Murray | 5pm - 6pm

26 Oct 2022 | Baroque Devotional Visual Culture | Chair: Professor Carol Richardson | 5pm - 6pm

9 Nov 2022 | Pasteboard and Printing Plates: Elusive Objects | Chair: Molly Ingham | 5pm - 6pm

23 Nov 2022 | The Social Life of...Tea | Chair: Dr Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth | 5pm - 6pm

7 Dec 2022 |  The Materiality of Making | Chair: Professor Viccy Coltman | 5pm - 6pm

Past Events

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

Inaugural lecture

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

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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