Author Maria Teresa Hart and her book DOLL. Author Amanda Parrish Morgan and her book STROLLER. Author Carolyn Purnell and her book BLUE JEANS.

Join us for an evening with OBJECT LESSONS, Bloomsbury Academics' series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things - featuring Maria Teresa Hart (DOLL), Amanda Parrish Morgan (STROLLER), and Carolyn Purnell (BLUE JEANS)!

DOLL (Bloomsbury Academic)

The haunted doll has long been a trope in horror movies, but like many fears, there is some truth at its heart. Dolls are possessed-by our aspirations. They're commonly used as a tool to teach mothering to young girls, but more often they are avatars of the idealized feminine self. (The word doll even acts as shorthand for a desirable woman.) They instruct girls what to strive for in society, reinforcing dominant patriarchal, heteronormative, white views around class, bodies, history, and celebrity, in insidious ways. Girls' dolls occupy the opposite space of boys' action figures, which represent masculinity, authority, warfare, and conflict. By analyzing dolls from 17th century Japanese Hinamatsuri festivals, to the '80s American Girl Dolls, and even to today's bitmoji, "Doll" reveals how the objects society encourages us to play with as girls shape the women we become.

Maria Teresa Hart is a writer, editor, and dulce-de-leche addict. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Vox, The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, and other outlets. As an editor, Maria has worked for various publishers, including Penguin Random House, BenBella Books, and Bloomsbury. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner David and spends her free time googling facts about dormice.

STROLLER (Bloomsbury Academic)

Among the many things expectant parents are told to buy, none is a more visible symbol of status and parenting philosophy than a stroller. Although its association with wealth dates back to the invention of the first pram in the 1700s, in recent decades, four-figure strollers have become not just status symbols but cultural identifiers.

There are sleek jogging strollers for serious athletes, impossibly compact strollers for parents determined to travel internationally with pre-ambulatory children, and those featuring a ride-on kick board or second, less "babyish" seat, designed with older siblings in mind. Despite the many models available, we are all familiar with the image of a harried mother struggling to use a stroller of any kind in a public space that does not accommodate it. There are anti-stroller evangelists, fervently preaching the gospel of baby wearing and attachment parenting. All of these attitudes, seemingly about an object, are also revealing of how we believe parents and children ought to move through the world.

Amanda Parrish Morgan is a Writing Instructor at Fairfield University and a Westport Writers' Workshop Instructor. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Guernica, The Millions, The Rumpus, The American Scholar, Women's Running, JSTOR Daily, Ploughshares, and N+1, among other places.

BLUE JEANS (Bloomsbury Academic)

Few clothing items are as ubiquitous or casual as blue jeans. Yet, their simplicity is deceptive. Blue jeans are nothing if not an exercise in opposites.

Americans have accepted jeans as a symbol of their culture, but today jeans are a global consumer product category. Levi Strauss made blue jeans in the 1870s to withstand the hard work of mining, but denim has since become the epitome of leisure. In the 1950s, celebrities like Marlon Brando transformed the utilitarian clothing of industrial labor into a glamorous statement of youthful rebellion, and now, you can find jeans on chic fashion runways. For some, indigo blue might be the color of freedom, but for workers who have produced the dye, it has often been a color of oppression and tyranny.

Blue Jeans considers the versatility of this iconic garment and investigates what makes denim a universal signifier, ready to fit any context, meaning, and body.

Carolyn Purnell is a historian, writer, and lover of all things colorful. She is the author of The Sensational Past: How the Enlightenment Changed the Way We Use Our Senses, and her work has appeared in publications including Psychology Today, Wall Street Journal, CityLab by The Atlantic, Good Housekeeping, and Apartment Therapy.

Event date: 
Monday, January 30, 2023 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Doll (Object Lessons) By Maria Teresa Hart, Ian Bogost (Editor), Christopher Schaberg (Editor) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501380860
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Academic - November 3rd, 2022

Stroller (Object Lessons) By Amanda Parrish Morgan, Ian Bogost (Editor), Christopher Schaberg (Editor) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501386664
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Bloomsbury Academic - October 20th, 2022

Blue Jeans (Object Lessons) By Carolyn Purnell, Ian Bogost (Editor), Christopher Schaberg (Editor) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501383748
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Academic - January 12th, 2023