PhD Masterclass: Prof. Frank Trentmann


The first HCA doctoral masterclass of the new term is on Thursday, 11 May 2017, 6-8pm  in the Dreyfus Room.

Birkbeck’s Professor Frank Trentmann will be talking about his book Empire of Things, exploring the rise of consumerism from the 15th Century to the present day:

What we consume has become the defining feature of our lives: our economies live or die by spending, we are treated more as consumers than workers, and even public services are presented to us as products in a supermarket. In this study, Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary history that has shaped our material world, from late Ming China, Renaissance Italy and the British empire to the present. Wide-ranging and richly detailed, Empire of Things explores how we have come to live with so much more, how this changed the course of history, and the global challenges we face as a result.

This masterclass will examine how he prioritised sources, and decided what was relevant, how he selected case studies, and avoided confirmation bias, in a thematic history across the longue duree.

The Guardian review of Empire of Things:


If you are planning to attend please drop Jack an email at

This is one of a series of doctoral masterclasses for Birkbeck HCA students. For the rest of the series, see:

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