Eamc 602 Material Life in America Introduction

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EAMC 602

Material Life in America

Material Culture scholars work in a variety of disciplines—American studies, anthropology, art and architectural history, conservation, English, folklore, geography, history, sociology—and in the academy and various branches of the public humanities. Critical theories and questions differ by discipline, and practitioners typically do interdisciplinary work. While some scholars are more comfortable with field-based learning than others, the Winterthur Program trains students to work with objects as a form of evidence.

Because the field is too large to apprehend in a single semester or course, we will concentrate on the following intellectual goals:
• Learning to ask meaningful questions

• Studying critical historiography

• Thinking about theory and method
We will focus our study on the Americas between 1600 and 1865 with an occasional foray into later eras if they help us understand particular themes. This time period represents the core strength of the object collections and facilitates critical thinking about objects and ideas. America was one node in a world economy, and we will situate it in the broader context of colonizing empires. Finally, I hope to refine your ability to work with scholarly texts, research with primary documents, and communicate via accessible writing in an era of new media.
Books to purchase:

T. H. Breen, The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence (New York, Oxford University Press, 2004).

John E. Crowley, The Invention of Comfort: Sensibilities and Design in Early Modern Britain and Early America (Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).
Michael Snodin and John Styles, Design & The Decorative Arts: Britain 1500-1900 (London, V&A Publications, dist. by Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 2001).
Reading assignments are DUE the day they are listed

Class time: Wednesdays 9-12

Class place: Culture Classroom

Office hours: 1-3 p.m.


1. All students will select one class and lead the discussion of readings.

2. Using the object you chose for Summer Institute, prepare a 7-10 page paper that situates your object in its domestic context. To do this you should employ probate inventories, newspaper accounts, works of fiction, art works, and business records. When did your object emerge as a commodity for display and use? Who would have used it? When did people stop using it if they did? How, where, and in what ways have people valued it over time? Was your object used with a constellation of other objects? How do you think the context of the object shaped its design?

DUE October 10
3. All students will select an object in the collections to share with their classmates that will illuminate the theme of the week. They will not present this object on the week they are leading discussion.
4. Using the object you selected for Summer Institute, prepare a 7-10 page paper that situates your object in its local, regional, and international contexts. Where did the inspiration for its design come from? Who made it? How did it get here? What did it cost over the course of its “life”? What does it mean?

DUE November 7
5. For the final written project you will have a choice:
A: Prepare a written blog about your object, refining and editing your previous written versions for public consumption. You will submit your blog to the Winterthur staff for review and editing; if accepted, it will go online in the future as part of the Museum’s effort to reach out to and broaden its audience. For those firmly committed to a museum related career, this is a good choice.
B: Revise and write up our previous object papers as a “From the Collections” piece. This paper will be submitted to Amy Earls for possible publication in the Winterthur Portfolio. Plan on studying back issues to get ideas. For those contemplating future doctoral work, I recommend this approach as it would give you a paper submission to list on your application.
In either case, you should prepare a short oral report (15 minutes) on a web site that interprets your artifact. Using the medium of Power Point, discuss how other web sites or forms of scholarship influenced your approach to writing pages and selecting imagery for your object. These conceptual skills will help you in the future. DUE December 5
6. Class participation is essential.

Grading policy:

Assignment 1 10%

Assignment 2 25%

Assignment 3 10%

Assignment 4 25%

Assignment 5 25%

Assignment 6 5%
Schedule of Class Meetings
August 29



Daniel Miller, Stuff (Malden, Mass., Polity Press, 2010), 1-41.
Ian Woodward, Understanding Material Culture (Los Angelis, Sage Publications, Ltd., 2007), 57-83.
Carl R. Lounsbury with Willie Graham, Carter L. Hudgins, Fraser D. Neiman, and James P. Wittenburg, “Adaptation and Innovation: Archaeological and Architectural Perspectives on the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake,” in Carl R. Lounsbury, Essays in Early American Architectural History: A View from the Chesapeake (Charlottesville, University of Virginia Press, 2011), 33-74.
Alfred W. Crosby, Jr. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (Westport, CT., Greenwood Press, Inc, 1972), 64-121.
Discussion Leader: Ritchie Garrison

Object study: Ritchie Garrison

September 5


Peter Guillery, “The Vernacular Metropolis: Looking Across Eighteenth-Century London,” in The Small House in Eighteenth-Century London (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2004), 6-37.

Michael J. Jarvis, In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 64-184.
Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2000), 16-40.
Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1977), 8-18, 34-50.
Discussion Leader: Ritchie Garrison

Object study: Ritchie Garrison

September 12



Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley, Univeristy of California Press, 1984), 29-42.
Neil Kamil, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Disappearance and Material Life in Colonial New York,” American Furniture, 1995, 191-249.
Bernard Bailyn with the Assistance of Barbara DeWolfe, Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution (New York, Vintage Books, 1986), 126-233.
Matthew Mulcahy, “Building for Disaster: Hurricanes and the Built Environment in South Carolina and the British West Indies,” in Material Culture in Anglo-America: Regional Identity and Urbanity in the Tidewater, Lowcountry, and Caribbean, David S. Shields ed. (Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 2009), 29-57.
Discussion Leader:

Object study:

September 19



Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday Anchor Books, 1959), 17-76.
Bernard L. Herman, “Tabletop Conversations: Material Culture and Everyday Life in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World,” in Gender, Taste, and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830 (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2006), 37-59.
Daniel K. Richter, The Ordeal of the Long House: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 75-104.
Michael Snodin and Johns Styles, Design and the Decorative Arts, Britain 1500-1900, (London, V&A, 2001), 3-153.
Discussion Leader:

Object study:

September 26



Cary Carson, “The Consumer Revolution in Colonial British America: Why Demand?” in Cary Carson, Ronald Hoffman, and Peter J. Albert, eds., Of Consuming Interests: The Style of Life in the Eighteenth Century (Charlottesville, University Press of Virginia, 1994), 483-697.
Ellen Hartigen-O’Conner, “Collaborative Consumption and the Politics of Choice in Early American Port Cities,” in Gender, Taste, and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700-1830 (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2006), 125-149.
Discussion Leader:

Object study:

October 3



Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste (Cambridge University Press, 1984), 260-317.
Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2000), 41-76.
Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1987), 289-371.
Discussion Leader:

Object study:

October 10


First Paper DUE


Kathleen Brown, Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2009), 58-116.
John Styles, The Dress of the People: Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth-Century England (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2007), 180-245.
Michael Zakim, Ready-Made Democracy: A History of Men’s Dress in the American Republic, 1760-1860 (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2003), 1-67.
Discussion Leader:

Object study:

October 17

No class this week

Read for October 23:

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “The Phenomenological Field” and The Body as Object and Mechanistic Physiology,”in The Phenomenology of Perception (London and New York, Routledge Classics, 2002, orig. ed., 1958), 60-102.
John E. Crowley, The Invention of Comfort: Sensibilities and Design in Early Modern Britain and Early America ( Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, 2001).
October 23



Alexander Nemerov, The Body of Raphael Peale: Still Life and Selfhood, 1812-1824 (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2001), 1-57.
David S. Shields, Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America (Chapel Hill, University Press of New England, 1997), 1-10, 99-140.
Dell Upton, Another City: Urban Life and Urban Space in the New American Republic (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 19-83.
Discussion Leader:

Object study:

October 30

The Public Sphere


Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York, Vintage Books, 1977), 195-228.
Richard L. Bushman, The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities (New York,

Vintage Books, 1992), 61-99.

Maurie D. McInnis, The Politics of Taste in Antebellum Charleston (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 160-194.
Discussion Leader:

Object study:

November 7


Second Paper DUE


T.H. Breen, The Marketplace of the Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence (New York, Oxford University Press, 2004).
Discussion Leader:

Object study:

November 14



Alfred DuPont Chandler Jr., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Cambridge, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1977), 1-121.
Carolyn C. Cooper, “A Patent Transformation: Woodworking Mechanization in Philadelphia, 1830-1856,” in Early American Technology: Making and Doing Things from the Colonial Era to 1850, Judith McGaw ed., (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1994), 278-326.
November 21,

No Class
November 28



Kenneth Ames, Death in the Dining Room and other Tales of Victorian Culture (Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1992), 1-43.
Katherine C. Grier, Culture and Comfort: People, Parlors, and Upholstery, 1850-1930 (Rochester, N.Y., The Strong Museum, 1988), 103-127.
December 5

Concluding presentations

Blogs or papers DUE
Directory: local--files
local--files -> Richard Hannay, Gentleman Adventurer
local--files -> Inhoudstafel 1Algemene onderwerpsverkenning 3 2De basistekst 5 Context: 5 Auteur : 6 Structuur 6 Gelijksoortige informatie 6 Lijsten 6 3Beschikking krijgen en meer zoeken 11 4Contextualiseren 13 5Persoonlijk besluit 16 6Bronnenlijst 17
local--files -> African Civilizations Group Project Introduction
local--files -> The Historical Significance of Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience
local--files -> Writing Effective Comparison or Contrast Essays
local--files -> Speaking 3 Cross-cultural Comparative Interviews, written summary and oral report due feb 24th
local--files -> The Role of Violence in the Works of Wright and Fanon
local--files -> ‘friend’ and
local--files -> Crossmedia or Convergence?: Reflections from an editor
local--files -> World History October 2009

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