Herring, “Pathological Collectables” (51-84)

Scott Herring, “Pathological Collectables” (51-84)

Keep the following questions in mind as you read Scott Herring’s, “Pathological Collectables,” (51-84). The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

1. According to Herring why did the cookie jars in Andy Warhol’s effects cause a “minor object panic” (51)?

2. Why do you think that the sale of Warhol’s effects elicited such a wide spread reaction from mainstream news outlets such as Time, The New York Times, and Newsweek, as well as trade publications such as Art and Auction?

Wharhol’s Cookie Jars at Sotheby’s before auction in 1987

3. How does the DSM-5, and psychologist David Greenburg et. al., distinguish “‘normal collecting’” from ‘pathological collecting, or hoarding’” (52-3)? Why might this distinction matter?

4. What subtle linguistic distinction does Herring make by saying, “Shifting the tenor of hoarding as pathological collecting to hoarding as a non-normative engagement with collectables” (53) open up for him?

5. Spend a minute looking at Figure 2.1. (54-5): what sorts of objects are foregrounded? What sorts of objects recede into the background? What do you notice about the ways in which the objects in the picture are arranged? What are some points of contrast/compliment? Who’s the audience for this photo: academics, collectors, people who work at that warehouse? Compare Figure 1.1. to Figure 2.2. (59).

6. When did garage and yard sales become a fixture of US suburban life? What other changes were going in post WWII US that changed the ways that people thought about what can and should count as collectable?

7. What’s the difference between a “collectable” and an “antique”?

8. According to Herring, how did Ralph and Terry Kovel’s “half century of published work” (58) help to facilitate the “institutionalization of collectible goods across the US—the ‘normal collecting’ later cited by scientists I their efforts to further refine hoarding as mental disease” (59)?

9. How does Herring’s “concise history of collectibles relate to the widening divide between normal collecting and pathological hoarders” (60)?

10. How does hoarding “haunt” collectable culture—both the collectors and the things they collect?

11. What motivates a person to become a hoarder?

12. What is unusual about the article Jane Glick and David A. Halperin wrote for Addictive Disorders?

13. What critiques have accounts of collecting/hoarding in material culture studies leveled at the collector/hoarder distinction imposed by psychology research/diagnosis?

14. How does The Andy Warhol Collection, the catalog of stuff from the Warhol estate that Sotheby auctioned, “remain a contradictory testament to modern object taxonomy” (69)?

15. How did the Sotheby’s publication of the auction catalogue, The Andy Warhol Collection, “reinforce the notion that Andy” was a mad collector, hoarder, and a pack-rat? OR, why do collection guides/catalogues provide a reaction readers that is directly opposite from the one they intend?

16. What are the Warhol Time Capsules (TC’s)? How do the TC’s “augment the anxieties that attached to Warhol’s effects during Sotheby’s estate sale?


Time Capsules at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburg