The Things We’re Made Of


In this episode, I talk about some songs and objects in the work of the American singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. Topics covered include shirts, maps and other evocative objects, songs as transformational objects, and the ways in which songs use objects to chart the life course.

Playlist of tracks discussed in, or connected to, this episode

Mary Chapin Carpenter, ‘This Shirt’, official video.

Texts referred to in this episode

Thom Jurek, review of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ashes and Roses, AllMusic, accessed 13 September 2021.

Mary Chapin Carpenter, notes on ‘The Dirt and the Stars’, (accessed 24 August 2021), interviewer uncredited (also included on the website of her management Sacks and Co).

Christopher Bollas, The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known (London: Free Association Books, 1987).

Christopher Bollas, Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self Experience (London: Routledge, 1992).

Christopher Bollas, The Evocative Object World (London: Routledge, 2009).

Sherry Turkle, Evocative Objects: Things We Think With (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2007).

Igor Kopytoff, ‘The Cultural Biography of Things’, in The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arjun Appadurai (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 64-91.

Janet Hoskins, Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of People’s Lives (New York: Routledge, 1998).

Graham Harman, ‘Zeroing in on Evocative Objects: Sherry Turkle (Ed.), Evocative Objects, MIT Press, 2007, 352 Pp’, Human Studies 31, no. 4 (December 2008): 452.

Richard Elliott, The Late Voice: Time, Age and Experience in Popular Music (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).

James S. Grotstein, ‘“Love Is Where It Finds You”: The Caprices of the “Aleatory Object”’, in The Vitality of Objects: Exploring the Work of Christopher Bollas, ed. Joseph Scalia (London: Continuum, 2002), 78–92, 83.