Your Trash, My Treasure: An assessment of the value of souvenirs

Grennan, Penny (2015) Your Trash, My Treasure: An assessment of the value of souvenirs. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
grennan.penelope_phd.pdf - Submitted Version

Download (6MB) | Preview


The importance of the object as a means of understanding the human world is an area of enquiry in Academic and Arts Practice. It spans a range of disciplines, particularly the new cross disciplinary area of Material Culture Studies, which reflects the increasing interest in the object and its role in our lives. The aim of this study is to identify the qualities of the souvenir that give it value, in order to add to the discourse surrounding the role of objects in understanding our world.

This thesis considers the qualities of souvenirs in the light of critical theory, case studies, my Fine Art practice and exhibitions, and contemporary Fine Artists. I posit that the souvenir is an object with particular distinguishing features and that these distinct qualities are what give it its value. I will argue that the ‘narrative of origins’ of souvenirs (Stewart, 2007) is what gives them their value and I use the term ‘value’ in relation to their emotional, material, cultural and personal currency. The souvenir is often regarded as a ‘fallen object’ (MacCannell, 1976), but I will argue that in terms of personal narrative and social resonance the souvenir is a neglected area of study that enters value systems at every level.

My practice comprises painting and film making, and through this I have investigated and articulated my relationship with my own souvenirs. During the case study interviews I devised the terms Object Plus, Souvenir Moment and Souvenir Dynamic to encode our relationship to souvenirs. These are important new terms which help to articulate the unique qualities of souvenirs.

The study of the souvenir, as an object in its own right, has mainly been confined to its relationship with tourism and fictional writing and, with the exception of Susan Stewart’s work, has been largely neglected. This thesis argues that souvenirs, despite their associations with cheapness, ubiquity and kitsch, are our most potent objects and are therefore deserving of greater attention.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: W100 Fine Art
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2016 15:46
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 22:56

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics