Published: 05th October 2017
From bread to socks, Bloomsbury publishes series of short books exploring the hidden lives of everyday objects
The objects bring out symbolism and explore the historic, socio-cultural importance of these inanimate objects
A series of short books explores simple but important things in our lives like password, remote control, refrigerator, bread and glass and animates them with a rich history of invention, science and popular mythology. The Object Lessons series, brought out by Bloomsbury, also looks into the hidden lives of a golf ball, driver's licence, drone, silence, cigarette lighter, bookshelf, sock and hair among other things.
Where does a password end and an identity begin? A person might be more than his chosen 10-character combination, but does a bank know that? Or an email provider? What's an 'identity theft' in the digital age if not the unauthorised use of a password? In untangling the histories, cultural contexts and philosophies of the password, Martin Paul Eve explores how 'what we know' became 'who we are', revealing how the modern notion of identity has been shaped by the password.
Golf balls embody the complex human relation to the natural world, a will to control nature, but the action of balls in play reveals the futility of the endeavour
Harry Brown, Author
Writer and historian Lydia Pyne finds bookshelves to be holders not just of books but of so many other things: values, vibes, and verbs that can be contained and displayed in the buildings and rooms of contemporary human existence. She takes the reader on a tour of the bookshelf that leads critically to this juncture: amid rumours of the death of book culture, why is the life of the bookshelf in full bloom?
Scott Cutler Shershow explores bread as both everyday object and as an object that has been invested throughout history with symbolic power and an astonishing variety of social, cultural and figural meanings.
In his book, Jack Pendarvis looks at the cigarette lighter as something with deep history, as something with quirky episodes in cultural contexts, and as something that dances with wide-ranging taboos and traditions
The book on driver's licence by Meredith Castile encapsulates the contradictory values of contemporary culture and identity, and especially freedom and security, mobility and restriction. Jonathan Rees shows how the refrigerator, quietly humming in the background of our kitchens and our lives, reveals more about our culture, our society and ourselves than one ever imagined.
The book by Caetlin Benson-Allott is a material, literary, and cultural exploration of how the remote control, a seemingly innocuous media accessory, impacts our perception and world-view. Meanwhile, John Garrison explores how glass is all round us, from windows to iPhone screens, and the fascinating and strange ways it reflects people's inherent desire for connection.