ARCE 210 Learning from Things: Material Culture Studies


While we are symbol users and inhabitants of imagined worlds, we are also tool makers whose hands are “dirtied” in manipulating the
world. This course will focus attention on our “materiality” and our engagement with the material world. Examples of material culture
studies will be drawn from such disciplines as archaeology, anthropology, geography, history, art history, folklore, popular culture,
architecture, and museum studies. Material culture studies, while a rich source of information is also a challenging arena for the study of
individuals, societies and cultures because objects neither “speak” unambiguously nor directly to us. Students will come to appreciate
how astute observation underpinned by theoretical acumen and the clever framing of questions can allow us to “learn from things.” This
course is cross-listed as Anthropology/Sociology 290.