The H-Net Network on Material Culture and Vernacular Landscapes and Artifact Preservation will promote and support the study of objects, buildings, sites, structures, landscapes and other material cultural productions as part of the visual record of life.
We welcome announcements, CFP's, queries, contributions, and discussions of all things material! To add yours, click the orange "Start a Discussion" button above this text.
We also welcome totally new projects. If you have an idea for a new on-going feature or a one time resource for the field, let us know. We are barely scratching the surface of what this website can do and we have a great staff of tech-minded folks at H-Net. If you've got a grand idea, we have people who can help make it happen. Podcasts? Video tours? Image galleries? Digitization projects? We can do those, and more! There are a few thoughts here, but the internet's the limit. Let us know what you're thinking.
And we tweet, too! https://twitter.com/H_Mat_Culture
You can see Recent Queries and Recent Discussions below, and Recent Announcements at the bottom of the page below the scrolling "Occasional Objects" images. All CFP's posted to the site can be found in the links on the right, as can Jobs in Material Culture Studies.
Another place to look for objects analyzed in both their material and cultural contexts is the "Object Lessons" column that appears occasionally in Common-place: http://www.common-place.org/.
Take a look at this review by Lucasta Miller of The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects by Deborah Lutz -- the book appears to provide some excellent practical examples of creative engagement with historical artefacts and their contexts, in this case objects associated with the lives and deaths of members of the Brontë family. OK, we're looking at Victorian England here, not America, but nevertheless this may be of use.
My favorite for a grad seminar I teach on MC is Kenneth L. Ames, “Meaning in Artifacts: Hall Furnishings in Victorian America,” in Dell Upton and John Michael Vlach (eds.), _Common Places: Readings in American Vernacular Architecture_ (Athens: Univ. of GA Press, 1986), pp. 240-260. It does a nice job of taking the furniture from a Victorian front hall and uses it to decode social structures, architectural spaces, calling cards, and domestic/public spaces and expectations. Might be a bit historic for your purposes, in terms of the objects.
This thoughtful discussion on the fair market value of museum jobs continues the previous discussion on the museum sacrifice measure. (Scroll down past the goofy Mona Lisa photo.) This time the author takes into consideration the prospects of landing careers in academia.
Many of us who subscribe to H-Material Culture are highly educated and many of us also do museum work in some way (picture the Venn diagram...) So I thought I'd pass along this recent blog post about The Museum Sacrifice Measure .
John Breuilly, author of Nationalism and State, recently took part in a series labeled “What is History,” which was published by History Today. Breuilly poses the question of if there is even society to study. By doing a simple internet search, Google classified “societies” as, the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community, or an organization formed for a particular purpose.
Occasional Objects series
The scrolling images to left are from H-Material-Culture's "Occasional Objects" series--a periodic informal examination of objects sent in by our subscribers. View the full collection, read the essays, and add your contribution here in Occasional Objects.