Psychologies of Things: Emotion, Perception, and the Life of Inanimate Objects





This course will examine the mediating role of inanimate objects in the emotional life of human beings, in an attempt to forge new questions and a deeper understanding of the active and passive roles that things play in their environment. Scholars and lay people have long been interested in the ways an individual personality is articulated through space and objects, as well as in the way objects (from everyday implements to works of art) are experienced and perceived by individuals. In articulating the subject-object relationship, mainstream 20th-century psychiatric writing has privileged interpersonal human-human connections. However, the relationship between humans and inanimate objects has long been a marginal field of study for some psychologists, as well as for scholars in other fields. There has been a recent spate of books on the subject aimed at popular audiences. In exploring the history of human relationships with the things and spaces in their environment, this course aims to provide students with a vocabulary and framework for achieving greater understanding of the ways in which people and inanimate objects relate to and enhance each other’s experience of the physical world. 3 credits.