Tiny Collections

Image of coral with tiny collections in words underneathTiny Collections is one expression of the Material Collective’s mission to foster a safe space for alternative ways of thinking about objects. Individual volumes will push at the boundaries of art history’s methods and practices; they will value the lyrical and the speculative; sometimes they will be group projects; they will cross boundaries and invent forms; they will not be monographs or traditional scholarly research studies; they will not be the kinds of art historical projects that could find publication in established journals.

Tiny Collections are gatherings: thoughtfully assembled things, presented in warm light with a murmured “lookit” for introduction. Tiny Collections are the things we do, together.


In hagiographies the saint’s story–his or her narrative–is written on the body, sometimes in the form of blessed marks, more often through the marks of torture suffered for the faith. Similarly, we medievalists record our histories, traumas, and passions on our bodies in the form of tattoos. Both the saints’ marks and our body art can be hidden or visible, private or public. These imprints also cross boundaries, countering expectations and norms, inhabiting the margins, and often being seen as transgressions. How can we apply these ideas–of transgression, marking, scarring, and marginality–to exploring contemporary tattoos in tandem with medieval corporeal marks? How too can these threads open or contribute to current conversations about performance, feminism, agency, materiality, and narrative?

This Tiny Collection seeks autobiographical and anecdotal pieces that connect a medievalists’ work to their tattoos, personal tattoos as a form of narrative or pilgrimage, or more abstract interpretations of the concept of  “medieval marks.” In keeping with the concepts behind Tiny Collections we invite you to think of your submissions as framed by images. For example, if your submission was about the personal narrative of your tattoo, maybe the opening image frame would be the sketch that inspired it and the ending image frame would be a picture of the finished tattoo. Pieces might consider the similarities between manuscript pages and tattoo designs; the fact that both vellum and parchment are literal skin being written/drawn on; the ways the content of each type of mark is informed by the form and format of the body part or the page; and connections between medieval artifacts like pilgrim badges and medieval inspired tattoos. We welcome non-traditional responses to these topics, autobiographical connections, and a reliance on images.

Abstracts of no more than 500 words (including images, if possible–low res is acceptable at this stage) to khkshimabukuro@gmail.com by 15 October 2017.


Also in this series


Jason Mohaghegh and Dejan Lukic’s Elemental Disappearances: There are countless sites of disturbance within the postmodern landscape, and yet far too often these disruptive “scenes” remain untheorized and misaligned, treated as random deviations andelemental-disappearances-cover-20160819-1-1024x1024 thus afforded no surpassing consequence or philosophical complexity. Such micro-trajectories necessitate an archive and conceptual matrix that will steal them from their false obscurity and decipher them instead as the passcodes to an imminent global turn. For this, one must return to the amorphous outlook of “the marauder” or “the wanderer.” This book, then, aims to devise an ever-expanding configuration of radical outsides: elemental fronts that lead to unforeseen principles; alternative profiles of experience (intense becomings); incendiary, ominous, or vitalistic signs in circulation across the epochal horizon.

Walk on the Beach: Things from the Sea, Volume 1, brings together writing and imagery from the experimental “beachwalk” session(s) at the Third Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, On the Beach: Precariousness, Risk, Forms of Life, Affinity, and Play at the Edge of the World. We began with conversations about the sea. We meditated together on chance, discover, agency, beauty, and material ecology. We talked about the delicate care of treading the world, the confluence of the personal and the professional, and the possibilities of storytelling. We thought about what happens when we encounter stuff, when we take it, change it, do something with it. When we display it, or sculpt it, or collect it. When we make some thing an object, and an object of looking.

Things From the Sea Vol. II: Seamonsters, forthcoming 2017.


If you are interested in submitting a proposal for a Tiny Collection, please email the following information to Maggie Williams.

  • Title
  • Names of authors or editors with the contact information for the main editor(s)
  • A 500-1000 word description of the project
  • An estimate of the Tiny Collection length
  • An estimate of the number of images to be included in the Tiny Collection
  • An estimated submission date

Editorial Board Members

Maggie M. Williams, Editor in Chief
Marian Bleeke
Jennifer Borland
Rachel Dressler
Martha Easton
Anne Harris
Asa Simon Mittman
Karen Overbey
Ben C. Tilghman
Nancy M. Thompson