CDMC Launches New Podcast, “Refrangible,” Exploring the Stories Behind Everyday Objects

By Dr. Sarah Anne Carter, CDMC Visiting Executive Director

logo for Refrangible featuring 3-D cube made of quilt-like sections.

Why have you saved that recipe card from your grandmother? Or what’s in that project pile in some corner of your house that you promise yourself you’ll get to? How about the contents of your garbage can this week? From keepsakes to clutter, from tools to trash, the things we make, use, ponder, and save carry stories within them that tell us about ourselves and our worlds—that’s “material culture.” And a new podcast we’re launching, Refrangible, out of our Center for Design and Material Culture, will examine a handful of topics through this lens.

Our first season comprises four episodes, each planned to release the first Wednesday of each month April through July:

  • “The Home Front,” April 7: How do people view and interact with top-down guidance on how to behave, act, and contribute during times of struggle and strife? We look at food planning pamphlets distributed in the U.S. during World War II as part of the “home front” effort and consider parallels with today’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • “Maypole,” May 5: Maypole festivities, for many European cultures, have long marked the end of winter and the coming of spring, a time of warmth and plenty. As our own world begins to celebrate our emergence from a global pandemic, what is our maypole?
  • “Sewing Machine,” June 2: The legacy of sewing, knitting, quilting, etc. is an interesting one, as within a given culture or family these practices can evolve from a practice of necessity to a medium of artistic expression or family legacy. In this episode, Refrangible host Gianofer Fields reflects more personally on a sewing machine passed on to her from her family.
  • “Our Bodies,” July 7: Our own corporeal being is the medium through which we viscerally experience material culture on a daily basis. This episode examines that notion by way of a few bodily situations, including the vibrancy of professional athletics and the reverential practices around death.

Subscribe to Refrangible anywhere you listen to podcasts (Spotify, Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Stitcher, PodBean, Pocket Casts, Google Podcasts, and more). For related content and updates, follow the Center for Design and Material Culture on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Editor’s note: This post will be updated with links to each episode as they publish.