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Podcast: The story of a children’s book

Posted on 29 June 2017

The third, and final, podcast episode has been released in series one of The Story of Things audio programme.

The three-part series is presented by archaeologist, Dr Penny Spikins, and philosopher, Dr Dorothea Debus.  In episode three they explore a children’s book and the personal inscription inside its pages to understand whether certain objects make human beings feel unique. 

The podcast, supported by the York Festival of Ideas, coincides with a public online survey where the researchers are asking for participants to submit their explanation of why particular objects are important to them. 


Dr Debus said: “This book was published in the 1990s and was submitted as a cherished object through our online survey.  It is written by a popular children’s author and was mass produced, so inevitably it appears in lots of bookshops and on many book shelves, making it not particularly special or unique.  

“There are, however, certain characteristics of this particular copy that makes it one-of-a-kind to its owner.  There is a dedication inside its pages from the owner’s parents; the spine is creased through multiple readings; and its pages have yellowed over time. 

“If we were to copy all of these unique characteristics and produce a perfect replica of this book, would the owner be tempted to give up the original for the replica?  In this episode we explore why it is difficult to let go of certain objects and whether the characteristics of the item gives us a sense of personal uniqueness as its owner.” 

The podcast series has been produced by third year students, Matthew Edwards and James Legros, from the University’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television.  Music for the series is written and performed by PhD student, Richard Evans, from the University’s Department of Music.

Listen to episode three, The Story of a Children’s Book, here.  

Series two of The Story of Things will be back with a new line-up of research in the autumn. 

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