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.
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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.
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.
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
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.