Histories of the modern home can be written through the transformations of its material components: architectural elements, such as the door, the window or the chimney, but also furniture, like desks and sofas, appliances and electronics from sinks to televisions, and even specific items of clothing, like aprons and pyjamas, specifically designed, appropriated or reinvented for domestic use. In many ways, these are the objects that have determined the domestic everyday throughout modern history. At the same time, since the rise of mass production and consumption, the increased availability of such domestic objects has also determined the appearance of specific forms of mass media, which have circulated, facilitated and codified their economic, cultural and social commodification. Trade and retailers’ catalogues, home magazines, newspapers ads, guidebooks, cookbooks, fashion magazines, popular literature, and more recently social media, among others, have contributed to create and project meanings related to material consumption. Through processes of mediatisation, it has been possible to suggest and enforce living habits, gender roles, spatial layouts, social codes, economic status and cultural paradigms that, to some degree, are still operative today. Then as now, the presence and uses of domestic objects in the domain of the house determines their public significance outside of it.
For the EAHN 2024, the Focus Group Building Word Image wants to continue its ongoing thematic discussion on ‘Mediatising the Domestic’ by focussing on untold and original material histories of home objects through modern and contemporary media. We invite proposals for 20-minute papers, spanning the last three centuries and including a global geographical scope. The group encourages contributions on non-western case studies that adopt plural methodologies, from archival research to oral histories and original readings of material artifacts. Desired themes include, but are not limited to:
- How specific forms of mass media, for example price books, catalogues or guidebooks,
have facilitated global mobility and transnational uses of domestic objects and spaces
across cultural realities.
- How, through popular media, home objects have been determinant in establishing specific
spatial and cultural qualities of the home, its components and uses.
- How certain types of historically-specific mass media carry the seeds of capitalist and
neoliberal ideologies by, for instance, foregrounding the role of individual authorships and
engaging the user with activities such as homemaking.
- How the mediatic image of a home through its objects relates to the realities of domestic
life, for instance between use value and exchange value, or between private and public
To submit a proposal, please send a 300-word abstract and a 2-page CV to Gregorio Astengo (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Rebecca Carrai (email@example.com) by 20 December 2023. Accepted contributors will be notified by February 2024.