New episode is available in the Hagley History Hangout—In this episode, Roger Horowitz, Hagley Center Director, interviews Wendy A. Woloson, associate professor of history at Rutgers University – Camden. With a career as a museum curator, artist, and scholar of 19th century history, her new book is called Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America. In this book Woloson takes seriously the history of objects that are easy to dismiss: things not made to last; things we don’t really need; things we often don’t even really want. Woloson does not mock these ordinary, everyday possessions but seeks to understand them as a way to understand ourselves, socially, culturally, and economically: Why do we—as individuals and as a culture—possess these things? Where do they come from? Why do we want them? And what is the true cost of owning them? Her story starts in the late eighteenth century and extends through today, exploring the many categories of crap: gadgets, knickknacks, novelty goods, mass-produced collectibles, giftware, variety store merchandise. Taking on the full brilliant and depressing array of crappy material goods, the book explores the overlooked corners of the American market and mindset. By studying crap rather than finely made material objects, Woloson shows us a new way to truly understand ourselves, our national character, and our collective psyche.
Interview available at https://www.hagley.org/
Recorded on Zoom and available anywhere once they are released, our History Hangouts include interviews with authors of books and other researchers who have use of our collections, and members of Hagley staff with their special knowledge of what we have in our stacks. We began the History Hangouts earlier this summer and now are releasing programs every two weeks on alternate Mondays. Our series is part of the Hagley from Home initiative by the Hagley Museum and Library. The schedule for upcoming episodes, as well as those already released, is available at https://www.hagley.org/