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Beyond Spring Cleaning: Confronting the Strange Magic of Personal Possessions

100 Friday Center Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Dates: April 30, 2024
Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Price: Free

Many of us have been—or will be—called upon to clean out the home of a loved one or cull our own possessions when moving or downsizing. When the antique-dealer parents of writer and professor Julia Ridley Smith passed away, they left behind a house chock full of furniture, books, artifacts, and paper. Smith wrote about the huge task of going through it all in her first book The Sum of Trifles. Her thoughtful, tender, and often funny memoir explores the strange magic of objects, what they mean to us, and how hard it can be to let them go. In this lecture, Julia Ridley Smith will share excerpts from her book, discuss how material culture shapes our identities, and how we often think of our possessions as defining who we are and even what we can do. She’ll talk about the challenges of tackling a house clean-out when grief makes it difficult to give up cherished objects. While the topic can feel heavy, she approaches it with humor, reminding us that there’s also room during a house cleanout for finding joy, discovery, and human connection. After the lecture, there will be a brief, optional writing activity, with plenty of time for questions, discussion and book signing. Join us for an insightful and engaging session!