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Scampering Sofas and “Skuttling” Tables: The Entertaining Interior

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Abstract:

This article examines the role taken by the domestic interior as a performing character in many familiar entertainments, particularly those of a comic, melodramatic, or fantastic nature. The attribution of personality and agency to spaces, objects, and settings has led to a variety of stereotypes that have become stock characters in the human comedy. These stereotypes can be traced in both “elite” and in popular culture since the mid-eighteenth century. Such animated interiors, with their quasi-magical character, embody and reflect something of both the dreams and the anxieties of the societies and times that created them. In particular the article examines the evolution of two such stereotypes whose characters formed the setting for “magical” performances in the nineteenth century, and suggests that they continue to have a place in the popular imagination today

Keywords: AGGRESSIVE FURNITURE; ANIMATED OBJECTS; FICTIONAL INTERIORS; MAGICAL INTERIORS; SITUATION COMEDY; STAGE MAGIC

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/204191210X12875837764093

Publication date: November 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Interiors: Design, Architecture, Culture brings together the best critical work on the analysis of all types of spaces. The journal investigates the complexities of the interior environment's orchestration and composition, and its impact on the inhabitant from a trans-disciplinary perspective.

    The interior is the journal's central focus and contributions from interior design practitioners and theorists are welcome. The journal embraces perspectives from a range of disciplines, including anthropology, architecture, art and design history, cultural studies and visual culture, and places no limits in terms of either geography or chronology. The journal sets out to challenge divisions between theory and practice, and aims to provide an essential forum for all those with an interest in the design, history and meaning of interiors.

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