Elizabeth Hardwick’s material negotiations

in Bess of Hardwick
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Throughout her life Bess engaged in a number of strategies to secure authority through her use of objects. In particular, her will exposes the relationships through which her communities formed, and her attempt to secure a continued authoritative presence in these beyond the grave. Death, as Bill Brown notes, provides objects with a hyper-presence that can reveal the social and psychological dynamics between human beings. This chapter draws upon Brown’s work on the dynamics inherent in the relationship between human beings and objects, as well as Bruno Latour’s theories of objects as actors in the formation of networks through which communities are created and sustained. The primary sources for this analysis are rich in both textual and material form and the chapter draws from Elizabeth Hardwick’s letters, her will and the wills of her circle, as well as the many objects associated with her that remain in existence today.

Bess of Hardwick

New perspectives

Editor: Lisa Hopkins

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