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.
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.
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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.
Let me recommend a new book brimming with short, lively case studies designed to engage students:
Tangible Things: Making History through Objects, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Ivan Gaskell, Sara J. Schechner, and Sarah Anne Carter (Oxford University Press, 2015). (https://global.oup.com/academic/product/tangible-things-9780199382286?cc....)
I've used this piece with students in undergraduate courses before a museum visit to work on "reading" artifacts: http://www.princeton.edu/~hos/h398/readmach/modeltfr.html
Juliet Burba, Chief Curator
The Bakken Museum
For an American Studies theories and methods course I'm asking students to choose an object and analyze it within its historical context (e.g., making sense of the advent of Tupperware within the postwar context, for instance). I'd like to assign a few short sample pieces that provide cultural histories of specific (American) objects. These could be scholarly articles or shorter pieces from NYT Magazine or other popular sources. Thank you in advance for any suggestions!
I've cross-posted this discussion post to H-Sci-Med-Tech, hoping to hear some thoughts from Social Historians of Medicine. I was thinking about a chapter by Roger Cooter (2004) on ‘“Framing” the End of the Social History of Medicine’, in: Warner, J and Huisman, F, (eds.) Locating Medical History: The Stories and Their Meanings (Johns Hopkins University Press). A somewhat controversialist piece, but interesting.
How would we as historians define social history? This question might seem broad, but it allows us to create boundaries that significantly affect Material Culture. It's easy to periodize history and classify each era as a culture, but Social History needs to have more commonalities.
Sure, why not.
A while back I had ideas about doing some sort of project on The Material Culture of Sports to coincide with the World Cup...and then I woke up this morning and realize it's time for the World Cup! Oh well...
To follow up on the Future of the Museum CFP, I have spoken with the editors at H-Sci-Med-Tech and the conference seems like a pretty good place to expand some of the discussions of museums and digitization in the The Stuff of Science page. It's also right in line with conversations going on in the field of Material Culture Studies (and it's free and online, which I like).
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.