Why we have too much stuff, and what can we do about it? Dr. Frank Trentmann will talk about the epic history of consumption, and the goods that have transformed our lives over the past 600 years. What we consume has become the defining feature of our lives: our economies thrive or wither by our spending. We are increasingly being treated as consumers rather than workers, and even public services are presented to us in the same manner as products in a supermarket. In his monumental study 'Empire of Things' (2016, book of the year in The Times, The Sunday Times and the Times Literary Supplement), acclaimed historian Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary history that has shaped our material world, from late Ming China, Renaissance Italy and the British empire to the present. Astonishingly wide-ranging and rich 'Empire of Things' explores how we have come to live with so much more, how this changed the course of history, and the global challenges we face as a result.
Frank Trentmann has written a necessary and important book about one of the defining characteristics of our times. More critical praise on this work:
“[A] sweepingly detailed history of humanity’s passion for the possession of objects ... [an] epic chronicle.” — Wall Street Journal
“Massively ambitious… Trentmann displays astonishing erudition across multiple disciplines.” — Washington Post
“In this important book, Trentmann argues that our increasingly complex consumer societies have evolved over five centuries.” — Financial Times (A Summer Book of 2016)
“[B]ig, deeply researched and hugely ambitious.” — The Times Literary Supplement
“Empire of Things is a masterpiece of historical research . . . a delight to read.” — The Times (UK)
“Informed, detailed, and dynamic….Trentmann has created a valuable contribution to the conversation around consumption-a commendable
fusion of scholarship and engaging writing.” — Publishers Weekly
“Empire of Things isn’t just an insightful and surprisingly entertaining read, but a crucial one.” — NPR
Frank Trentmann is the author of Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First (Penguin 2016), a book of the year in The Times, The Sunday Times and the Times Literary Supplement. He is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, and directed the £5 million Cultures of Consumption research programme. His previous book, Free Trade Nation, won the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize. Educated at Hamburg University, the LSE and at Harvard, he has been Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence, as well as a Visiting Professor at Bielefeld University, St Gallen, the British Academy, and at the École des hates études en sciences sociales, Paris. In 2014 he was Moore Distinguished Fellow at Caltech.