The material culture of Shakespeare’s England: a study of the early modern objects in the museum collection of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

by Peter Hewitt

Institution: University of Birmingham
Department: School of History and Cultures
Year: 2015
Keywords: AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
Record ID: 1410013
Full text PDF: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5870/


This thesis investigates the material culture of early modern England as reflected in the object collections of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon. The collection consists of nearly 300 objects and six buildings dating from the period 1500-1650 representing 'the life, work and times of William Shakespeare', with a particular emphasis on domestic and community life in Shakespeare's Stratford. Using approaches from museum studies and material culture studies together with historical research, this thesis demonstrates how objects add depth and complexity to historical and museological narratives, and presents a range of unique and never before examined material sources for the study of the social and cultural history of the period. For different reasons, collectors, scholars and museum practitioners have all tended to place the Trust's objects within existing historical narratives whilst neglecting the physical evidence of the objects themselves. By closely examining the object as well as the cultural context of its manufacture and use, this study seeks to rejuvenate the way this and similar collections are seen and used in studies of the early modem period.