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material culture



  • The Government Pen

    by Nick Delehanty

    "The Skilcraft pen is indeed more than a pen. It’s the physical embodiment of New Deal social policies; it’s the product of disabled people’s labor, labor which has long been a site of contestation."



  • When a Bible Isn't a Bible

    by Kathleen E. Kennedy

    The British press has bungled its accounting of the discovery of a gold bead in the form of an open book. If it's not a Bible, what is it? 



  • Extinct

    by Barbara Penner and Adrian Forty

    "The history of objects becomes far richer when we also consider the underside of progress: the conflicts, obsolescence, accidents, destruction, and failures that have been such an integral part of modernization and its modes of operation."



  • Jenny Erpenbeck Is Keeping Time

    German author Jenny Erpenbeck's work is an exercise in preserving the objects that place a person's memory in history, particularly her own childhood in East Germany. 



  • Photographer John Margolies' images of the Wildwood, NJ boardwalk are a peek into the past of the shore town and the history of the tacky beach t-shirt. 



  • The Filing Cabinet: A Material History

    by Craig Robertson

    The humble filing cabinet in fact tells the story of the rise of bureaucratic structures in capitalism and government, and the potential for information to be used efficiently – or weaponized. 



  • America’s Most Hated Garment

    Atlantic writer Amanda Mull turns to fashion historians Marley Healy and Valerie Steele to place the growing social acceptance of sweatpants in a pattern of clothing standards changing in response to cultural influences and social conditions. 



  • Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready for Your Booze Stash

    A look inside the subculture of "dusty hunters," collectors of old-stock liquor. Usually this means finding discontinued brands in the back of a liquor store, but sometimes it means buying a legendary film director's supply.