Objects, emotions and an early modern bed-sheet

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This article offers a methodological framework for a purposeful interrogation of ‘emotional objects’ – material objects that fostered, shaped and sustained an assortment of emotional practices that, in turn, had dramatic historical consequences. It examines the production, use and meanings of an ordinary household object: a single English bed-sheet dating to the early eighteenth century. The locations, hands and regimes of value through which the sheet travelled are a core focus, alongside the practical and emotional dimensions of the sheet’s creation in the early eighteenth century; its perception and use as a politicized holy relic; its commercialization among nineteenth-century antiquarians; and its adoption as a commemorative political object in a twenty-first-century museum collection. The bed-sheet’s history uncovers a hidden chapter of Jacobite resistance and reveals the vital activism of women and household objects in sustaining the political and religious sensibilities of early modern English Catholicism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-194
Number of pages26
JournalHistory Workshop Journal
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2018


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