Oh no – mutant objects!

A blackboard that has been erased.
Is this a mutant object?

You probably don’t know that your home is full of mutant objects. Don’t panic. They’re not out to get you. A mutant object is something that used to function as one thing, but now functions as an object of memory.

Jean-François Gauvin, an assistant professor with the Department of History at Université Laval, Québec City, coined the term mutant object. Gauvin uses the example of a blackboard that Albert Einstein left his marks on in 1931. Einstein wrote on the board during a short lecture on cosmology at the University of Oxford. So, what happened after Einstein left? Was the blackboard erased?


The blackboard was preserved because if Einstein’s equations were erased, Oxford would lose its connection with the scientist. Thus, the blackboard was turned into a mutant object.

I’ll be talking at a conference in October about how our everyday things morph into mutant objects and become subjects of strong emotions. Then, when we need to downsize or declutter, we can’t let our things go. My workshop, Write Stuff: Preserve your memories – not your stuff, teaches you how to write the stories behind your things so you can give the items away. The class is being held at the Inscribe 2021 Fall Conference on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 along with many other great writerly activities like author readings, fellowship and insightful speakers.

Contact me for more information or tell me a story about one of your mutant objects.