Review Of "Wild Things: The Material Culture Of Everyday Life" By J. Attfield

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Attfield's "wild things" are the marginal things among the most trivial in our everyday life, to which she accords status by postmodernist critical prosody. The writing is dense at best, atrocious at worst. But there are worthy insights that reward reader efforts, and the book recommends itself to specialists. Attfield (Winchester School of Art, UK) allots a chapter each to reproduction furniture, no-longer-worn old clothes, a refurbished dressing table, do-it-yourself house additions, heritage-style objects, and furnishing in the sheltered accommodation, each subject amply contextualized in an elaborate, sometimes wild, theoretical discourse. The first three chapters set the scene with general discussion of the anthropology of design. She calls "things with attitude" those objects of design, conventionally understood; and in opposition to them she designates things of "design in the lower case" those commonplace, perhaps ephemeral, objects that nevertheless impinge securely on our sense of being in everyday living. "The Everyday Is Not a Taste Thing," so reads one tagline, which fairly summarizes her premises. The 19-page bibliography is a mine of resources slanted toward British publications. Graduate students; faculty.


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