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People, Places and Possessions


Edited By Antony Buxton, Linda Hulin and Jane Anderson

Central to human life and experience, habitation forms a context for enquiry within many disciplines. This collection brings together perspectives on human habitation in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, social history, material culture, literature, art and design, and architecture. Significant shared themes are the physical and social structuring of space, practice and agency, consumption and gender, and permanence and impermanence. Topics range from archaeological artefacts to architectural concepts, from Romano-British consumption to the 1950s Playboy apartment, from historical elite habitation to present-day homelessness, from dwelling «on the move» to the crisis of household dissolution, and from interior design to installation art. Not only is this volume a rich resource of varied aspects and contexts of habitation, it also provides compelling examples of the potential for interdisciplinary conversations around significant shared themes.


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Part IV: Ruptured Habitation


Part IV Ruptured Habitation Catherine Richardson 10 Continuity and Memory: Domestic Space, Gesture and Affection at the Sixteenth- Century Deathbed ABSTRACT This essay explores the spatial impact which death had on the early modern house. It is focused on the depositions given in testamentary cases in the ecclesiastical courts, which explored the legal validity of wills through an investigation of the circumstances under which they were produced, and assesses the way stories told about a death depend upon the physical context of the house to generate their meaning. Death is a moment when domestic continuity is obviously threatened; when the ownership of a property, of the furniture and furnishings with which it is filled and the ways of living which they facilitate and encourage, are disrupted. The death of householders in particular, in a period of patriarchal authority within the household, occasioned concern, scrutiny, and the careful and detailed transfer of possessions and governance from one generation to the next. It was in the early modern period that the saying that ‘a man’s house is his castle’ became current – the household was recognised as an analogy for the state, and a man’s rule within it was therefore actively com- pared to the monarch’s over the country and Christ’s over his church. Inhabiting, for these individuals, meant organising space, people and possessions in a way which underpinned the social, religious and political stability of the realm. With such high stakes, behaviour around the deathbed was a matter of significant contemporary concern....

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