Object Lessons, Bloomsbury Press (Forthcoming, September 2018)

Blankets cover us every night. They swaddle the newborn. They cover dead and mutilated bodies otherwise exposed to the public. They were issued to prisoners in concentration camps. Blanket investigates blankets as media that carry everything from viruses to cultural codes. This book exploits the object potential of blankets by encountering them in multiple formats, times, and spaces, from the battlefield to the hospital, from the home to the grave.


From the Preface: Convolute

By taking the blanket as object seriously, we come to understand the inescapable paradox it presents: what it covers is that which is most exposed. Blankets cover—as in hide and saturate—histories of imprisonment and incarceration. Blankets also bear the weight of massacre, whose indiscriminate brutality they cannot cover or hide, but rather, bring into the foreground. Photographs of Lakota elders, women, and children killed by the U.S. Calvary on December 29, 1890 at Wounded Knee in present-day South Dakota stage in the most traumatic ways that at times there is no clear line between body and blanket, organic and inorganic, alive and inert.

There may be no more intimate object than a blanket. It swaddles and caresses. It provides safety and security. Blankets contain our skin and hair; they’re stained with the accidents and mishaps of our lives, our bodies.