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Material Culture Caucus

Since its founding in 1994, the Material Culture Caucus has bridged the gap between university-based and museum-based scholars to promote the study of material culture in American Studies programs. It sponsors various activities connected with the annual ASA conference and also develops educational and scholarly resources for scholars and teachers in the field.

Annual ASA conference:
*  Scholarly panels. The Caucus solicits and arranges sessions related to material culture studies for presentation at the annual conference.
*  Business meeting. Participation in the meeting, where plans for the next year are addressed, is open to any interested member of the ASA. The agenda is posted in advance on this blog. As part of the Caucus’s activities we also maintain ties with the leadership of the ASA.
*  Reception. Usually held on the Friday night of the conference, the reception, which is jointly sponsored with the Visual Culture Caucus, presents an informal opportunity for interaction and collegiality among members of the Caucus and guests.

Educational and scholarly resources:

The caucus provides resources to promote teaching, research, and publication in material culture, broadly defined. The blog on the ASA site is one resource. Another is our page on H-Material Culture, which includes calls for proposals and course syllabi as well as links to videos, collections of postings from other blogs in the field, and the like:


The Caucus also supports a moderated email discussion list:

We welcome your comments and suggestions as we pursue material-culture oriented initiatives.

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Call for proposals 2016 ASA annual meeting

The Material Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association wishes to encourage participation in the 2016 Annual Meeting: “Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are,” November 17-20, 2016, Denver, Colorado. To read the conference Call for Papers please see:
Areas of interest related to the theme include (but are not limited to) the material culture of:
* Dwellings
* House vs. Home
* Consumerism - what things make a house?  What things make a home?
* Non-traditional houses/homes
* Communities
* Institutions
* Gender
* Feminism/patriarchy
* Heteronormism/queerness
* Racism
* Access
* Hospitality
* Defense
* Families, friendships, relationships
* Communications
* Diaspora/migrations
* Work and management
* Other uses or understandings of home
* Comfort/discomfort
* Youth and/or aging
* Social status
* Empire and colonialism
* Slavery
* Crisis and trauma
* Poverty
* ‘Basic needs’:shelter
* Household labor
* Ruins and preservation
* NAGPRA, repatriation, and cultural patrimony
* Religion and spirituality
* Disability/access
* Entertainment

We hope to help link potential panelists with shared interests in material culture topics. If you, your colleagues, or doctoral students are considering proposals for the conference, please email us your panel CFP or your paper idea and we will work to connect similar panelists and papers. We are also happy to offer suggestions on complete panels.

Additionally, we welcome opportunities to work with other ASA caucuses and committees.
NB: All interested parties who email us will still be responsible for following all posted instructions and for submitting their own panels or papers to the ASA by the ASA deadline (February 1, 2016).

After submitted panels are reviewed and selected by the ASA, the Material Culture Caucus may select one of those panels as an official Caucus-sponsored session. The MCC will publicize all related papers and panels.

If you are interested, please submit your ideas or abstracts to Anne Verplanck (aav3 at psu dot edu) as soon as possible (and before January 10, 2016). Feel free to be in touch, by email with any questions.

Interested in the 2014 Material Culture Caucus session that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the caucus: “Twenty Years, Twenty Questions to Ask an Object?” To view the video:

To read the questions: http://www.theasa.net/caucus_material/item/twenty_years_twenty_questions_to_ask_an_object_the_video/

Emilie Johnson, Monticello
Anne Verplanck, Penn State, Harrisburg

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Follow up, MCC meeting in Toronto

Summary, Business Meeting. Material Culture Caucus
Saturday 10 October 2015
Sheraton Centre, Peel Business Meetings Room

Attending: Cindy Falk, Zachary Violette, Emilie Johnson, Andrea Quintero, David Brody, Will Moore, Susan Garfinkel, Sarah Weicksel, Katie Lennard, Kyle Frisina, Sarah Scarlett, Matt Johnston, Debby Andrews (convener)

This brief follow-up summarizes some of our discussion of each agenda item and invites you to continue the conversation with any of the folks indicated below as having signed on for further duties. We welcome your contribution as we continue to keep material culture in our thoughts between ASA conferences.

Governance: With pleasure, I’ll continue as convener. But I welcome your participation on a steering committee that would assist in particular with the vetting of proposals for panels at the conference (see below). Please let me know if you’re willing to take on this role.

Sponsored Panels 2016. The theme is “Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are.” November 17-20. As in the past, we will sponsor two “official” panels although we can also help to solicit, mentor, and organize others. Susan Garfinkel reminded us about the history of such efforts, including the reminder that all proposals must be accepted by the ASA Program Committee first before we can designate them as appropriate for sponsorship. Last year, on the Caucus’s 20th anniversary, we created a file listing our panels over those years, available at https://networks.h-net.org/h-material-culture

  Mentoring panels: Emilie Johnson and Anne Verplanck
  Organizing a round-table on teaching material culture: Will Moore
  Cooperating with standing ASA committees on panels: Susan Garfinkel
Those charged with soliciting proposals will post statements about this opportunity on our Facebook page (curated by Will Moore), on H-MatCult, and elsewhere. Please email the individuals named above—and/or me—if you are interested in proposing a presentation or otherwise serving to advance our presence at the ASA conference!

Reception 2016. Matt Johnston and David Brody have agreed to spearhead the search for an off-site location in Denver, where the next conference will be held. One suggestion, the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, is in a building designed by David Adjaye:

Off-site Tour 2016: Possibly the Museum of Contemporary Art (David Brody) or the Shriner’s Mosque (you read that right): Will Moore.

As always, please keep our Facebook page in mind for your reading as well as for posting items of interest. You can see photos of our meeting there now! Include a brief, one paragraph introduction to why the link or event is of interest. In addition, Susan Garfinkel, who is on the redesign committee, welcomes your suggestions about how a new ASA website can serve your needs. And let me know if you have any corrections or additions to this follow-up. Thanks to everyone for taking on these various tasks on behalf of the Caucus.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Agenda, caucus business meeting

Agenda 2015
Business Meeting. Material Culture Caucus
Saturday 10 October 2015
Sheraton Centre, Peel Business Meetings Room

—Introductions and announcements

—Caucus governance: some questions for discussion

—Reception: comments on the 2015 reception and plans for 2016

—Soliciting and vetting two sponsored panels for 2016 (see below)

—Identifying theme-appropriate off-site event/tour options for 2016

—Guest-Curating ASA’s Facebook and Twitter feeds

—New business and open discussion

ASA 2016: Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are November 17-20, 2016, Denver, Colorado

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Material Culture events in Toronto

Thirteen sessions in the program for the ASA annual meeting have the keyword “Material Culture.”

See a full text of Material Culture related program listings here (put “Material Culture” in the “search” box for the specific listings).

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EAS forum on “Exhibiting American Studies”

From Simon J. Bronner:
The EAS Forum, an online publication on the American Studies Association website, invites contributions for its planned 2016 feature on “Exhibiting American Studies.” This theme follows previous forums with multiple authors on “Screening American Studies” (film and video work in American Studies), “Writing American Studies,” and “Teaching American Studies.” See Forum Archives. Each Forum includes three to five brief essays of 500-1000 words on the concepts and practices of producing American Studies work in different media. In “Exhibiting American Studies,” the editor seeks essays before December 15, 2015, on museum and online exhibitions and classroom activities involving American Studies approaches to objects and their interpretation. For more information, write Simon J. Bronner, Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of American Studies, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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