2018 Emerging Scholars Symposium “Hazardous Objects: Function, Materiality, and Context”

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Hazardous Objects: Function, Materiality, and Context
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
April 27-28, 2018

The Center for Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware invites

submissions for papers to be given at the Fifteenth Material Culture Symposium for Emerging Scholars.

We invite papers that identify and consider the production and use of hazardous material culture. Whether through composition or intended function, objects are hazardous or may become hazardous. Certain materials, organic or artificial, exist as hazards to humans. Additionally, hazards are often embedded in the material environment and affect our experience of domestic, institutional and public space.

What makes an object hazardous? What cultural, social, and transhistorical processes create hazards? How are materials and material culture used in hazardous ways? In concept and in practice, hazards affect the everyday awareness of danger, risk, or contamination. Alternatively, humans create hazards through the use or subversion of objects and materials. What level of complicity should one assume for their creation or maintenance?

This symposium is not bound by any temporal or geographical limits. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Designing Hazards
  • Intentional Hazards
  • Accidental Hazards
  • Social hazards
  • Hazards in historical perspective
  • Responding to hazards – defining and regulating hazards, handling hazardous objects.We invite panel submissions in addition to individual submissions.

Finally, we encourage papers that reflect upon and promote an interdisciplinary

approach to hazards and hazardous material culture. Disciplines represented at past symposia have included American studies, anthropology, archaeology, consumer studies, English, gender studies, history, museum studies, and the histories of art, architecture, design, and technology. We welcome proposals from graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and those beginning their teaching or professional careers.

Submissions: Proposals should be no more than 300 words and include the focus of your object-based research and the significance of your project. Relevant images are welcome. Programs and paper abstracts from past symposia are posted here:

Send your proposal, with a current c.v. of no more than two pages, to


Deadline: Proposals must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 10, 2017. Speakers will be notified of the committee’s decision in January 2015. Confirmed speakers will be asked to provide digital images for use in publicity and are required to submit their final papers by March 15, 2018. Travel grants will be available.

2018 Emerging Scholars Co-Chairs

Erica Lome (History of American Civilization)
Kiersten E. Mounce (Art History)
Allison Robinson (Winterthur Program in American Material Culture)
Victoria Sunnergren (Art History)
University of Delaware