I’d like to start a new forum on this site for discussion about objects. Each installment (every week or two, depending on how this goes) will feature one exemplary object and a brief essay about its significance, however you define that! The objects could have cultural, aesthetic, historical, or technological significance. They could be objects that have had widespread impact, or deep personal value to someone. You might suggest objects of particular significance or use to the field of Material Culture Studies. We will consider “object” and “material culture” very broadly so they might be objects used in daily life, artworks, architecture, publications, sites, locations, landscapes, handmade or mass produced, old or new, little known or over exposed--anything considered materially. The idea will be to offer some info or insight from a material reading of the object and see what kind of discussion it sparks among the nearly 1500 Material Culture Studies folks on this network.
These pieces of material culture will all have one thing in common: they will all be suggested by you! I am soliciting images of objects you find particularly germane, significant, or just plain interesting for the field of Material Culture Studies and a 50 to 500 word description of what the object is and why we should care. The object could be culled from your own research, but does not have to be. A special page will be created on the H-MATERIAL CULTURE website where the images and short essays will be posted. They will be open for comment, discussion, feedback, and questions from readers. The aim to to generate discussion among material-minded folks in a thoughtful but relaxed setting. In other words, this is a place to enjoyably stretch our minds without holding ourselves to the standard of peer-reviewed journal publications.
Please send your images of, and short essays on, objects to email@example.com (or by clicking "Write to the Editors" on the homepage) with the word “Object” in the subject line. I will set up for the items and start posting them after I have collected a few submissions.
(Special thanks for the inspiration to Deborah Andrews at the University of Delaware and the rest of the folks in the Material Culture Caucus of The American Studies Association with their “American Studies in 20 Objects” project. Send me a link when it’s up, Deborah, and I’ll get it posted here!)