Cover: Friends of Interpretable Objects, from Harvard University PressCover: Friends of Interpretable Objects in PAPERBACK

Friends of Interpretable Objects

Add to Cart

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$31.00 • £24.95 • €28.00

ISBN 9780674013681

Publication Date: 03/01/2004

Short

208 pages

World

A strikingly original work, Friends of Interpretable Objects re-anchors aesthetics in the object of attention even as it redefines the practice, processes, meaning, and uses of interpretation.

Miguel Tamen’s concern is to show how inanimate objects take on life through their interpretation—notably, in our own culture, as they are collected and housed in museums. It is his claim that an object becomes interpretable only in the context of a “society of friends.” Thus, Tamen suggests, our inveterate tendency as human beings to interpret the phenomenal world gives objects not only a life but also a society. As his work unfolds, “friends” also takes on a legal sense, as advocates, introduced to advance the argument that the social life of interpreted and interpretable objects engenders a related web of social obligations.

Focusing on those who, through interpretation, make objects “speak” in settings as different as churches, museums, forests, and distant galaxies—those who know the best interests of corporations, endangered species, and works of art—Tamen exposes the common ground shared by art criticism, political science, tort law, and science. Learned and witty, with much to teach art historians, environmentalists, anthropologists, curators, and literary critics, his book utterly reorients our understanding of how we make sense of our world.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: A Brief History of Equality, by Thomas Piketty, from Harvard University Press

Five Reasons Why You Should Read Thomas Piketty’s A Brief History of Equality

In his surprising and powerful new work, A Brief History of Equality, Thomas Piketty reminds us that the grand sweep of history gives us reasons to be optimistic. Over the centuries, he shows, we have been moving toward greater equality. We asked him about his impassioned new book: why he wrote it, how it’s optimistic, and what we need to do to continue making progress on creating an equitable world.