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Trash Culture

Objects and Obsolescence in Cultural Perspective


Edited By Gillian Pye

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, concerns about the environment and the future of global capitalism have dominated political and social agendas worldwide. The culture of excess underlying these concerns is particularly evident in the issue of trash, which for environmentalists has been a negative category, heavily implicated in the destruction of the natural world. However, in the context of the arts, trash has long been seen as a rich aesthetic resource and, more recently, particularly under the influence of anthropology and archaeology, it has been explored as a form of material culture that articulates modes of identity construction.
In the context of such shifting, often ambiguous attitudes to the obsolete and the discarded, this book offers a timely insight into their significance for representations of social and personal identity. The essays in the book build on scholarship in cultural theory, sociology and anthropology that suggests that social and personal experience is embedded in material culture, but they also focus on the significance of trash as an aesthetic resource. The volume illuminates some of the ways in which our relationship to trash has influenced and is influenced by cultural products including art, architecture, literature, film and museum culture.


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Notes on Contributors 239


Notes on Contributors Catherine Bates is a Lecturer in English Literature. She researches life-writing, radical poetries, fictocriticism and rubbish, within North American and postcolonial contexts. She is currently working on a book about Robert Kroetsch and planning a book-length study on rubbish provisionally entitled Regarding Discard: Figurations of Rubbish in Con- temporary Literature. Joel Burges teaches Literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technol- ogy, where he is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities. He is working on two books about late twentieth-century culture, especially literature, film and television since 1945: The Uses of Obsolescence, from which the essay in this volume is drawn, and Fiction after TV. Kevin Hetherington is Professor of Geography at the Open Uni- versity. He researches on issues of consumption and disposal, museums and materiality. Recent books include Capitalism’s Eye: Cultural Spaces of the Commodity (Routledge, 2007) and the co-edited Consuming the Entrepreneurial City (Routledge, 2008). Nasser Hussain obtained his doctorate from the University of York in 2008. His many interests include embodiment in literature, contem- porary performance poetry, eco-criticism and Conceptual writing. He is currently at work on a book about the iconic value of cross-country travel in American literature. Kathleen James-Chakraborty is Professor of Art History at University College Dublin. She is the author of Erich Mendelsohn and the Architecture of German Modernism (Cambridge, 1997), German Architecture for a Mass Audience (Routledge, 2000), and Bauhaus Culture from Weimar to the Cold War (Minnesota, 2006). 240 Notes on Contributors Tahl Kaminer is currently...

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