‘I mourn for them I loved’: the material culture of love and loss in eighteenth-century England

Jorm, Jennifer (2015). ‘I mourn for them I loved’: the material culture of love and loss in eighteenth-century England MPhil Thesis, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2015.931

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Author Jorm, Jennifer
Thesis Title ‘I mourn for them I loved’: the material culture of love and loss in eighteenth-century England
School, Centre or Institute School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2015.931
Publication date 2015-10-09
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Dolly MacKinnon
Andrew Bonnell
Total pages 117
Language eng
Subjects 210305 British History
Formatted abstract
This thesis analyses the material culture of love and loss in eighteenth-century England through the lens of emotions. My study builds on scholarly works on material culture, emotions, death, love, and loss. It examines objects used to declare love, to express grief, and to say farewell.

Chapter One introduces the historiography of this topic, outlines the methodology used, and problematises the issues and questions surrounding the relationship between individuals and objects during this period, such as the eighteenth century “consumer revolution,” and the rise of sentimentalism. This chapter also introduces what I term the “emotional economy,” or the value placed on an object based on emotional signficance regardless of its intrinsic value. Chapter Two explores love tokens and the role they played in not only the expression of romantic love, but the making and breaking of courtships and marriages. This chapter concludes that the exchange of tokens was vital to the expression of love, and was an expected emotional behaviour to progress a courtship into a marriage.

Chapter Three explores the material culture of death, focusing on tokens created and distributed for the comforting of mourners, and the commemoration of the dead. It’s findings confirmed that mourners valued tokens and jewellery, particularly those made with hair belonging to the deceased in order to maintain a physical connection to their loved ones after their passing.

Chapter Four presents two case studies wherein objects are examined for their emotional value and demonstrates how objects were used to express emotions amongst the lower orders. Both the tokens of the London Foundling Hospital and the coins painstakingly inscribed by convicts express their feelings about parting. In the case of the Foundling Hospital tokens, mothers expressed grief, love, and hope for their children. Convict tokens also express grief, love and hope, and compare their situation to those of slaves, beg their loved ones to remember them well, and not to forget them.

Chapter Five concludes by finding that individuals relied upon objects to express emotions and asserts that by examining the connections between emotions and material culture we can discover more about the emotional lives of the eighteenth-century English.
Keyword History
Material culture
Eighteenth century

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Created: Fri, 25 Sep 2015, 15:39:50 EST by Jennifer Jorm on behalf of University of Queensland Graduate School