Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
Bread is an object that is always in process of becoming something else: flower to grain, grain to dough, dough to loaf, loaf to crumb. Bread is also often a figure or vehicle of social cohesion: from the homely image of “breaking bread together” to the mysteries of the Eucharist. But bread also commonly figures in social conflict – sometimes literally, in the “bread riots” that punctuate European history, and sometimes figuratively, in the ways bread operates as ethnic, religious or class signifier. Drawing on a wide range of sources, from the scriptures to modern pop culture, Bread tells the story of how this ancient and everyday object serves as a symbol for both social communion and social exclusion.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.