No More Material Culture

Patrick Cox, H-NET President-Elect and Editor's picture

As I’m sure many of you have read, the President of the Material Culture Association, Dr. Prudence Fleeting, has announced a radical shift for our beloved organization. In her recent blog post she writes, “It is with great optimism that I announce we will be changing the name and remit of the MCA to the ICCY. A shifting of focus within academia as well as in the broader culture to the digital, the virtual, compels us to adapt from away from the study of bits of pieces to the study of bits and bytes. In the coming weeks you will see us roll out our new identity as the Immaterial Culture Collaborative Yeoman.”

In order to stay relevant in a changing world, the formerly physically focused fiat will now focus exclusively on the digital, the ineffable, the intangible, and the ethereal, or ss Fleeting put it, “Now we must DIEE.” In a press conference, she teased some of what the future holds for the venerable organization in a dizzying Prezi (which was quickly posted to the Collaborative’s Snapchat feed for brief viewing). The Association’s journal title will change from What Matters to Wht Wz That? LOL . Print copies will of course disappear, and the online version will be written entirely in binary.

President Fleeting went on to suggest Material Culture Studies departments, journals, and other outlets for the now defunct endeavor follow suit. Several have already begun making plans to roll out new course work to reflect the passing of material culture and their embrace of the immaterial. We have already received some syllabi to add to our collection and will have them posted soon. Titles of courses for our new field include “In Small Things Stored in Databases,” “What Objects Were,” “The History of the World in 100 Blogs,” The Social Life of Snapchat,” and “Wireless: The Age of Unspun.”

These syllabi and other changes will appear soon as we reform our ways, our practices dematerialize, and our name changes to H-Immaterial-Culture. In the words of President Fleeting during the Q&A session following her prepared statement, “Hey, the way things are heading in terms of funding, jobs, and general interest, it was either this or Irrelevant Culture Studies. Something had to be undone.”


Since it's already April 2 here in China, I had to think twice before I continued reading! Thanks for the laugh, which is, by the way, the focus of a new subgroup of Immaterial Studies: Chuckle Culture.

Indeed, that was my little April Fool's jape. Fear not materialists everywhere: material culture studies is alive and well.... well as anything not STEM can be in the academy... hmmm...

Chuckle Culture! The new multi-disciplinary field! Love it!