The Cultures of Collecting / Edition 1

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This book traces the psychology, history and theory of the compulsion to collect, focusing not just on the normative collections of the Western canon, but also on collections that reflect a fascination with the "Other" and the marginal – the ephemeral, exotic, or just plain curious.

There are essays on the Neoclassical architect Sir John Soane, Sigmund Freud and Kurt Schwitters, one of the masters of collage. Others examine imperialist encounters with remote cultures – the consquitadors in America in the sixteenth century, and the British in the Pacific in the eighteenth – and the more recent collectors of popular culture, be they of Swatch watches, Elvis Presley memorabilia or of packaging and advertising.

With essays by Jean Baudrillard, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Nicholas Thomas, Mieke Bal, John Forrester, John Windsor, Naomi Schor, Susan Stewart, Anthony Alan Shelton, John Elsner, Roger Cardinal and an interview with Robert Opie.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The editors have assembled a series of essays on the human propensity to collect and organize whose very diversity of style makes it hard to decide of what value it would be to most libraries. Written by scholars from both sides of the Atlantic, the essays wander superficially through art history, psychoanalysis, literature, world history, and pop culture. Some of the entries are interesting, but most are simply incomprehensible. Too often the bad ones are written in an opaque, academic style that tells little about how certain collections were amassed or what made them noteworthy as collections. Except for scholars used to struggling with "profes-sorspeak," most readers will find this book to be indecipherable and not particularly enlightening. Not recommended.-Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780948462511
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Series: Reaktion Books - Critical Views Series, #1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 810,232
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger Cardinal is Professor of Literary and Visual Studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury.

John Elsner is Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

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Table of Contents

Photographic Acknowledgements
Notes on the Editors and Contributors
Introduction 1
1 The System of Collecting 7
2 'Unless you do these crazy things...': An Interview with Robert Opie 25
3 Identity Parades 49
4 Collecting and Collage-making: The Case of Kurt Schwitters 68
5 Telling Objects: A Narrative Perspective on Collecting 97
6 Licensed Curiosity: Cook's Pacific Voyages 116
7 From Treasury to Museum: The Collections of the Austrian Habsburgs 137
8 A Collector's Model of Desire: The House and Museum of Sir John Soane 155
9 Cabinets of Transgression: Renaissance Collections and the Incorporation of the New World 177
10 Death and Life, in that Order, in the Works of Charles Willson Peale 204
11 'Mille e tre': Freud and Collecting 224
12 Collecting Paris 252
References 275
Select Bibliography 303
Index 305
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