Pockets of Affect/ Containers of feeling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Building on archival research at the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art this paper explores the clothing archive as a container of affect and emotion: a space in which intimate and emotionally loaded objects can be held and contained.
Using a collection of 17th and 18th century women's pockets housed at the Costume Institute Collection (each well used and some hand annotated but with scant biographical data assigned to them) as both an example and metaphor, the paper explores the ways that both garments and the spaces that house them, become containers of feeling. How might the metaphor of the pocket- a discreet, imitate and bodily container- help us understand the affects and emotions of the dress archive and in turn what is the labor of caring for these objects and spaces?
This paper seeks to reframe these spaces and the objects contained within them as powerful sources of emotional affect: as sites in which multiple ‘feelings’ – a word that conveys both sensation and emotion – are stored and retained. It asks how this function of containment renders dress archives powerful sites within museums, spaces where ambiguous objects may be placed, forgotten and yet retained. Drawing on the works of Psychologist Donald Winnicott (1953) and phenomenologist Paul Schilder’s (1935) it asks how theories of affect and attachment might shed light on the encounter with archival garments and with the archive itself - how do these spaces - repositories of unworn and no longer worn clothes act upon us: as curators conservators, archivists and academics.
It frames these encounters in the archive as meetings of bodies, not only the Spinzoan sense that all affects stem from a meeting of bodies, or in metaphorical sense that garments are body like things, but instead as actual meetings of bodies: ones which are materially as well as metaphorically present.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cultural Construction of Hidden Spaces
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on Pockets, Pouches and Secret Drawers
EditorsJames Patrick Charles Brown, Anna Jamieson, Naomi Segal
Place of PublicationLeiden, Netherlands
ISBN (Electronic)9789004694729
ISBN (Print)9789004522886
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Nov 2022

Publication series

NameSpatial Practices: An Interdisciplinary Series in Cultural History, Geography and Literature
ISSN (Print)1871-689X

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