The Society for the History of Collecting
Invites you to its Online Lecture

THURSDAY, 11 NOVEMBER, 2021 6pm (GMT), 1pm (EST)
Object-Oriented Manias and the Barricaded Back Room
by Dr. Rebecca Falkoff, Affiliated Scholar. Brown University

In early nineteenth century France, collections spilled forth from curiosity cabinets, grand galleries, personal libraries, and literary texts and into asylums. The annals of medicine were increasingly cluttered with object-oriented manias including oniomania, kleptomania, collectomania, and bibliomania. Rebecca Falkoff will chart this transition through a discussion of Antoine-Marie-Henri Boulard, a legendary bibliomaniac whose enormous collection of some 600,000 tottering tomes inspired terror in the writer Charles Nodier. A case history of Boulard published by the physician Jean Baptiste Félix Descuret draws on Nodier’s account, embellishing it with a new detail: a barricaded back room full of obscene books. Taking Descuret’s invention of this secret space as a point of departure, Falkoff will show how object-oriented manias materialize the drama of a faltering will and anticipate contemporary understandings of obsessive compulsive and impulse control disorders. Rebecca Falkoff (Ph.D. in Italian Studies, University of California, Berkeley) is an Affiliated Scholar in Italian Studies at Brown University. She is the author of Possessed: A Cultural History of Hoarding (Cornell University Press, 2021) as well as essays on illegibility, vitalism, Primo Levi, and Elena Ferrante

Members will receive a flyer with the link to the talk at least two days before the event.

Nonmembers should register by emailing: 

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