Tag Archives: material culture

Children’s Literature and Material Culture

I wonder how many other people’s gateway into a fascination with material culture was sparked by the Little House books. Or similar historical narratives that involved a lot of details about daily living, homemaking processes, etc.

As long as I can remember, I’ve felt that objects have a particular power and contain multiple meanings. “It’s only stuff” was never something that resonated, and I struggle to give that statement weight to this day. Because stuff is hardly ever just “only” itself. Objects can transport us to the past (our own or an imagined someone else’s), to different cultures and ways of being in the world. Time travel made manifest.


Filed under Childhood, Historical, Nostalgia

Sure, but does it cut cow-shaped purple steaks?

I’ve never seen a purple cow
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one
~Gelett Burgess, 1895

We’ve been here before at contemporarycontempt: last year I expressed my unfettered childish glee upon seeing a purple cow in Wales…that turned out to be a horse in a blanket (itself a sight worthy of deconstruction). And now I bring you the elusive purple cow in brand form:

Who knew paper-cutters could be fanciful?

This modest tool carries on its box a purple cow, and proudly aligns itself with hereforeto unknown parent company “Purple Cows.” I have no analysis to speak of, I’d just like us to take a moment to look and contemplate and perhaps chuckle at this piece of material culture.

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Filed under Bovinity Infinity