Presenter: Emilia Halton-Hernandez

Emilia Halton-Hernandez is a first year MA student in English at UBC. She previously completed a BA in History in the UK. She is particularly interested in Victorian literature, psychoanalysis and gender studies. She hopes to go onto a PhD.

Hoarding Orientations: Jane Bennett, Wilfred R Bion and Mansfield Park

In Jane Bennett’s chapter “Powers of the Hoard”, she takes an interest in hoarding because “it is one site where the call of things seems particularly insistent”. Bennett argues that hoarders are “preternaturally attuned to the call of things”, and like the artist, they may be more perceptive of the vibrancy of the material than non-hoarders. I would like to extend and critique some of Bennett’s theories about hoarding through Wilfred R Bion’s psychoanalytic notions of psychic impoverishment and material substitution. He writes that for this kind of person the “pursuit of a cure takes the form of a search for a lost objects and ends in increased dependence on material comfort; quantity must be the governing consideration, not quality.” Though Bennett seeks to ignore the pathological dimension of hoarding in order to “put the things in the foreground and the people in the background”, I would argue that extreme hoarding is inextricably bound to a pathology that is not attuned to the animacy or vibrancy of the material. I think Bennett’s understanding of hoarders is instead more helpful to thinking about the collector or connoisseur whose preoccupation with the material is in a greater degree aesthetic. Taking into consideration speculative realist and psychoanalytic understandings of the links between the subject and the object, I would then like to explore the representations of hoarders, collectors, misers and fetishists in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. I will aim to interrogate the different types of collecting/material attachment presented by individuals in this text.

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