Objects of Conversion/Objects of Emotion

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 10:00 - 12:00

In this cross-disciplinary workshop, Benjamin Schmidt and Paul Yachnin lead a hands-on examination of the emotional and conversional power of material objects. They will speak to particular objects of their research, and they will also interrogate the object-subject relationship: how things are affective, and the effort early moderns made to affect things.

Participants are invited to bring moving objects of their own, objects that might be resonant with early modern lives or with our present lives in a postmodern world. Together the members of the workshop will consider how seventeenth-century and later objects, such as china, skulls, and many other things—mundane and sacred—shaped, moved, and even converted their bearers and users.

In ways that are like ours and in ways that are strange to us, the lives of our early modern forebears were bound up with matter: with material, tangible, resonant things. Utensils made of wood and pewter, clothing designed from wool and silk, books formed of parchment and ultimately paper. Likewise, the materiality of human bodies, even in death, preoccupied the early modern psyche, as the ubiquity of the memento mori in Renaissance art and theatre attests and as church reliquaries, to this day, still demonstrate.

Also, with consent, participants will have the opportunity to have their object photographed and take part in a brief audio interview sharing its history, symbolism and importance after the workshop. Your moving work will become part of a digital archive that will be freely available to you following the event on the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions website (www.historyofemotions.org.au).

If you are interested in participating in this activity, please note at the time of registration and email: penelope.lee@unimelb.edu.au to arrange scheduling.


Event type



Macmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts