Material Culture in its Contexts: History and Theory | Susan Garfinkel | Spring 2004

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  1. Weekly response paper (2-3 pages; 15% of final grade). You can either concentrate on one required reading, find a way to relate several or all of the required readings, or relate at least one required reading with a combination of required and recommended readings. Create a focused, coherent argument in 2-3 pages relating to some aspect of "material culture history and theory" as inspired by the readings. Be prepared to present a brief statement about your thoughts during class, and to answer questions.

    Grading will be check, check-plus, or check-minus (with comments) as we go. At the end of the term, each student will collect her marked weekly responses into a folder and prepare a cover statement to submit the accumulated work for a letter grade. Selective revisions are invited but not required; further instructions on the cover statement will be provided.

         due date: weekly, in class.

  2. Exhibition review (4-6 pages; 15% of final grade). Students will select and visit an exhibition in a local museum that presents material cultural artifacts within an interpretive framework. The review will focus on the way material culture evidence is presented, the underlying theories and assumptions about material culture either explicitly or implicitly evident, and the effectiveness with which material culture is presented within the context of the exhibition's stated goals. (15% total grade)

         due date: March 9

  3. Book review (4-6 pages; 15% of final grade). Students will select a material-culture-based monograph from a list provided by the instructor, or request approval for an alternate similar title. The book review will focus on the way material culture evidence is used within the author's larger argument, and how the work both draws on and contributes to the body of scholarship in material culture study. (15% total grade) --> to list

         due date: April 13

  4. Research paper (15-20 pages; 45% of final grade) Topic to be determined in consultation to the instructor, relating to an issue in material culture theory or historiography. Students will also provide a short prospectus, and will share a 20-minute oral presentation with class members at last class.

         due date: May 14 by 12:00 noon.

  5. Participation (10% of final grade). Active, ongoing participation in all aspects of the course is expected.


Book Review Options

Please select from the following, or propose a similar monograph that consciously treats material culture evidence in historical/cultural context. This particular list is chosen to cover a range of approaches; some I'm familiar with and others I'm curious about: