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Material Culture Caucus

Twenty Years, Twenty Questions to Ask an Object: The Video

Since its formation 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. To celebrate its twentieth birthday, the Caucus sponsored a workshop on Friday November 7, 2014, during the ASA national meeting in Los Angeles.

In the spirit of fun embedded in the conference theme, Debby Andrews, Sarah Anne Carter, Estella Chung, Ellen Gruber Garvey, and Catherine Whalen challenged workshop participants to play a variant of the classic game, “Twenty Questions.” Videographer Mark Escribano documented the event. To see how the workshop played out, and how such questions can inspire object-based exercises in the classroom or the museum, watch the video at:

Twenty Questions to Ask An Object
http://www.artbabble.org/video/chipstone/twenty-years-twenty-questions-ask-object


About the Workshop

Debby Andrews, University of Delaware, moderated the session, which included four groups each focused on different objects and led by a different facilitator:

Sarah Anne Carter of the Chipstone Foundation shared several bags of Fritos with her group. She asked the participants to look closely at the chips and to consider how and why what they saw (and felt, tasted, and smelled) was produced. Their close examination led them to consider questions related to histories of race, ethnicity, and class. Her object selection was inspired by Sarah’s team-teaching with Laurel Ulrich in the course Tangible Things at Harvard, which is available online via HarvardX and will soon be published as a book.

Estella Chung of Hillwood Museum presented her group with two sets of French heel protectors that were purchased by heiress, businesswoman and collector Marjorie Merriweather Post for use by her guests at Hillwood. What can these objects tell us about gender, class, fashion, and performance—and the hard work of creating and maintaining a beautiful home? Estella explores the working of Hillwood House in her book Living Artfully: At Home With Marjorie Merriweather Post (GILES, 2013).

Ellen Gruber Garvey of New Jersey City University shared a newspaper clipping scrapbook, with clippings, predominantly of stories and poems of the 1890s pasted on top of the pages of a clothbound copy of Saint’s Everlasting Rest, a book of sermons by the 17th-century Puritan minister Richard Baxter. The group noticed the many layers of use that this volume embodied, and considered its different uses for different generations, from 1843 when one sister inscribed it to another, to its 1890s use as a scrapbook; to an unknown time when a fern was pressed between two pages, to its repurposing as a scrapbook, to Ellen’s 21st-century sticky notes from her own work with the book. Without reading it, the group explored the book’s physical characteristics, such as pages sliced out to accommodate the bulkiness of clippings, to consider the values attached to a well bound book repurposed over decades. Ellen discusses this scrapbook and others in Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance (Oxford UP, 2013) and on the blog Scrapbook History.

Catherine Whalen of the Bard Graduate Center shared a cocktail shaker similar to many produced in the United States during the 1930s and 40s. Its form echoes Euro-American silver coffee pots of the late eighteenth century, yet is made of a white-metal alloy with a chrome finish and a streamlined aesthetic. This shaker is a particularly useful object for teaching because many observers do not immediately discern its intended use, and it bears no easily readable text, hence prompting close examination of the artifact itself. The shaker also offers many avenues for further inquiry: the performance of class, gender, and racially specific domestic labor; changes in foodways and dining practices; industrial design and patents; materials and manufacturing technology; marketing and advertisements; related new commodities, such as cocktail dresses, rings, and tables; and the production of glamour and sexuality in film and print media. The object also exemplifies the politics of historical reference, more specifically modernist aesthetics vis-a-vis the romantic nationalism of the American Colonial Revival, a subject Catherine explores further in her book Material Politics: Francis P. Garvan, American Antiques, and the Alchemy of Collecting in the Interwar United States, forthcoming from the University of Massachusetts Press.

**Look for the objects in the video. **Post your comments to the blog.

The original questions appear at the end of the video. Based on our discussions, Catherine Whalen revised the list. Here is the revised version. Use this list to create your own questions, and post your revisions on the blog. The game continues!

Revised Questions: Twenty Questions to Ask an Object

Two principal entities at play: the object and the inspector. A third component is the setting in which the inspection takes place. The initial questions guide close scrutiny of the object. Try to answer them through inspection only. Resist the temptation to quickly identify and categorize the object, or to make assumptions about its purpose or meaning. As you make inferences about the object, consider the kinds of cultural knowledge that they are based upon. As the questions begin to address the object in larger contexts, answering them will most likely require other modes of inquiry alongside inspection.

1) What are the object’s sensory properties?
a. Sight: Line and shape (two-dimensional); form (three-dimensional); color (hue, light, dark); texture (reflective, matte)
b. Touch: Form and shape (round, angular); texture (smooth, rough); temperature (cold, warm); density (hard, soft)
c. Sound: Consider what sounds the object makes when manipulated
d. Smell
e. Taste, if appropriate

2) What are the object’s physical properties?
a. Materials (wood, stone, plastic; identifying materials may not be possible through inspection alone)
b. Size (length, width, depth, volume)
c. Weight
d. Number of parts and their organization (symmetrical, asymmetrical, distinct, merged)
e. Inscriptions (printed, stamped, engraved)

3) Does the object appear to be human made?
a. If it is human made, does it show evidence of natural processes? (oxidation, decay)
b. If not human made, does it show evidence of human intervention? (modification, wear)

4) How does the object interact
a. With human bodies?
b. With other species?
c. With its surroundings?

5) How is the object oriented?
a. Unidirectional?
b. Does it have an obvious front, back, bottom, or top?
c. Does it have open and closed parts? If, for example, it appears to have a “handle” or a “lid,” how do you know?

6) What is the object’s purpose or possible purposes?

7) Does the object prompt some kind of action or performance?
a. Individual
b. Social

8) What is your emotional response to the object? What might it evoke for others?

9) How was the object produced?
a. Techniques
b. Social structures

10) Who made the object and under what circumstances?
a. Was it made by one or more individuals?
b. Was the maker also the designer?
c. When was it made?
d. Where was it made?

11) What is the object’s history?
a. Who owned and/or used it?
b. When?
c. Where?

12) Is the object part of a group of objects? If so, how?
a. Is it part of a genre? If so, what features does it share with other objects of its genre?
b. What is its spatial relationship to other objects?
c. Does it have a metaphorical relationship to other objects? If so, how?
d. Is it part of a collection, whether personal or institutional?

13) How does, or did, possession of the object relate to individual and/or group identity (e.g., class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nation, religion)?

14) Does the object relate to a set (or sets) of beliefs (e.g., spiritual, ideological)? If so, how?

15) Is the object part of a system (or systems) of exchange (e.g., commodity, gift)? If so, how?

16) What is its value (e.g., economic, cultural) and how might you locate it within systems of value?

17) Does the object reflect and/or structure human agency? If so, how?

18) What is the object’s contemporary context and relevance?

19) What is special or distinctive about the object?

20) How would you interpret it to others? What questions would you ask?

By Susan Garfinkel, Wed, December 17, 2014 - 7:25 pm
Categories:

Call for Participation: Material Culture Caucus at 2015 ASA Conference

The Material Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association wishes to encourage participation in the 2015 Annual Meeting: “The (Re)production of Misery and the Ways of Resistance,” October 8-11, 2015, Toronto, Canada. To read the conference Call for Papers please see:
http://www.theasa.net/annual_meeting/page/submit_a_proposal/

Areas of interest related to the theme include (but are not limited to) the material culture of:

* War and other forms of violence
* Empire and colonialism
* Slavery
* Crisis and trauma
* Diaspora and immigration
* Prisons
* Poverty
* ‘Basic needs’: food (and water), clothing, and shelter
* Alienated/unalienated labor
* Inequitable/‘fair’ trade
* Racism
* Patriarchy/feminism
* Heteronormativity/queerness
* Ruins and preservation
* NAGPRA, repatriation, and cultural patrimony
* Climate change/sustainability
* Religion and spirituality
* Failure in business, technology, architecture and design, or relationships
* depression/the Depression
* Disability/access
* Consumerism: excess, ethical consumption, advertising, shopping malls, dark stores
* Entertainment
* Comfort/discomfort
* Self disciplining: beauty rituals, dieting, exercise, organizing, ‘happiness’ coaching

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, 2015).

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 6, 2015). Feel free to be in touch, by email with any questions

Sarah Carter, The Chipstone Foundation
Anne Verplanck, Penn State, Harrisburg
Catherine Whalen, Bard Graduate Center

By Susan Garfinkel, Wed, December 17, 2014 - 6:25 pm
Categories: News

Some follow up from the 2014 business meeting

Some Follow-up: 2014 Material Culture Caucus Meeting

Saturday 8 November 2014
Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles

Participants:
Debby Andrews, Sarah Carter, Estella Chung, Susan Garfinkel, Ellen Gruber Garvey, Will Moore, Katherine Ott, Aaron Rich, Janneken Smucker, Catherine Whalen

[The meeting, unfortunately, coincided with a material-culture-oriented panel, and several would-be participants were thus unable to attend. Others left the session early to attend this meeting.]

After a seminar-style introductory period in which we learned about ongoing projects and explored inviting areas of common interest, we focused on the following items.

Plans for next year’s MCC-sponsored panels
Sarah Carter and Catherine Whalen (with the assistance of Anne Verplanck, who could not attend the meeting but agreed to this responsibility)
We discussed the theme (“The (Re)production of Misery and the Ways of Resistance”) and its somewhat daunting implications. We also discussed the possibility of a sequel to the highly successful “Twenty Years, Twenty Questions” workshop this year, but decided to wait a year for that (until 2016). Instead, it was agreed that we use the development of these panels as a way to mentor emerging scholars and teachers in the field and spread awareness of the discipline, the Caucus, and the ASA.

Susan Garfinkel reminded us of the politically charged and burdensome process for getting panels selected and identified as sponsored.

Will Moore offered to assemble a panel addressing vernacular architecture. We agreed that such a panel would be good and brainstormed about how it might be aligned to fit the theme, a necessity for acceptance.

Plans for next year’s reception with the Visual Culture Caucus
Debby Andrews and Aaron Rich

We agreed to pursue the possibility of a venue close to but not in the hotel for our meeting in Toronto. This year’s reception was as always enjoyable, but the hotel’s signage did not indicate the two sponsors and a large number of people swarmed in, probably unaware of their hosts. I did acknowledge the sponsorship publicly (with broken glass), but I’m not sure that did much to aid in our recruiting and outreach. We’ll coordinate with the Visual Culture Caucus on the 2015 reception, to be held, as usual, on the Friday evening.

Plans for an off-site event/tour
Available opportunity for anyone interested!
Estella Chung (with Robin Veder of the VCC) arranged a terrific tour of the Autry Museum during the conference this year.

Outreach and Recruiting New Members of the Caucus
Debby Andrews, as coordinator

This is a big ongoing matter that led from an agenda item to the open discussion. We noted the importance of attending panels that address aspects of material culture, broadly conceived. To that end this year, Catherine Whalen developed a list of such panels. She did a close reading of the program and searched under the “material culture” heading for those sessions in which panelists self-identified as fitting that category. She then posted the list to our ASA caucus blog, to the Facebook group, and to all registrants via ASA central. That was a terrific initiative and should be in place for next year, too. Caucus members who attend such session are encouraged to talk informally with panelists afterwards, especially those we don’t already know, to welcome them to the Caucus. We might also get in touch with chairs of such panels before the session to ask them to alert attendees to the Caucus, our reception, and our meeting.

Will Moore reiterated his offer to post items of interest to our MCC Facebook group, which he moderates. Join the group and you can also post on your own. Susan Garfinkel also encouraged us to post to Artifact, which she moderates.

Catherine Whalen introduced the issue of recruiting both undergraduate and graduate students into material culture studies courses and degrees (including the PhD). We agreed that university programs had much to gain from collaborations to increase the total level of interest in the field and little to fear about unwanted competition among programs. Sarah Carter mentioned that Matt Thurlow at the Decorative Arts Trust has scholarships related to material culture and dec arts
http://www.decorativeartstrust.org/scholarships.shtml

We talked about developing a panel on “popular education,” perhaps addressing community outreach, or the introductory course, but we did not pursue that.

By dandrewsde, Wed, November 26, 2014 - 8:27 am
Categories:

More Material Culture at 2014 ASA Annual Meeting

ALL DAYS

**EXHIBIT: The Autry National Center in Griffith Park (Off-site)**
Gratis Admission with ASA Badge. Co-sponsored by the Material Culture Caucus and Visual Culture Caucus.
Wed. Nov. 5-Fri. Nov. 7, 10am-4pm; Sat. Nov. 8-Sun. Nov. 9, 10am-5pm


THURSDAY NOVEMBER 6, 2014

ASA Women’s Committee and Digital Humanities Caucus: Feminist Making I: Building Critical Contexts
Thurs. Nov. 6, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Beaudry A (L1)

Memory and Disruption: Sites for Seductive Possibilities
Thurs. Nov. 6, 12:00-1:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica A (L3)

Doing It Themselves: The Discourses of Radical Homemaking in the Twenty-first Century
Thurs. Nov. 6, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Beaudry B (L1)

Roundtable: The Transoceanic Pacific in the Age of Sail
Thurs. Nov. 6, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Beaudry A (L1)


FRIDAY NOVEMBER 7, 2014

Fashioning Fury: Math, Computing and the Politics of Things
Fri. Nov. 7, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica A (L3)

Fabricating Tech: Pleasure and Pain of Design Communities
Fri. Nov. 7, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica D (L3)

Girls, Girls, Girls: Gender and Popular Culture
Fri. Nov. 7, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Santa Anita A (L1)

Serious Children, Serious Childhood
Fri. Nov. 7, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Santa Anita A (L1)

**MATERIAL CULTURE CAUCUS SESSION: TWENTY YEARS, TWENTY QUESTIONS TO ASK AN OBJECT**
Fri. Nov. 7, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Los Cerritos (L1)
Abstract: Since its formation 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. We invite you to join a panel of scholar-teachers in a very interactive session playing twenty questions. We’ll provide the questions; we’ll have evocative (and questionable) objects at hand. Bring your own as well. The goal is to riff on this list and play with the objects as we develop rich strategies for using objects in the American Studies classroom. Everyone is welcome!

Archival Time Machine: Queer Cultural Production and Ephemeral Worlding
Fri. Nov. 7, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Los Cerritos (L1)

**RECEPTION: MATERIAL CULTURE AND VISUAL CULTURE CAUCUSES**
Fri. Nov. 7, 5:30 to 6:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Beaudry Foyer (L1)


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2014

Racist Memorabilia and Classist Collectibles
Sat. Nov. 8, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica C (L3)

The Filth and the Fury: Cultural Politics of Waste in America
Sat. Nov. 8, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Los Cerritos (L1)

American Empire and Its Objects of Desire: Mutilated Bodies as Art and Artifact
Sat. Nov. 8, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Anita B (L1)

Hurts So Good: Desiring Bad Objects
Sat. Nov. 8, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Pedro (L1)

**BUSINESS MEETING: Material Culture Caucus**
Sat. Nov. 8, 10:55am to 12:00pm, Westin Bonaventure, La Cienega (L1)

Global Circuits of Beauty and Fashion: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue
Sat. Nov. 8, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Gabriel C (L1)

James Baldwin and the Question of Privacy
Sat. Nov. 8, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Los Feliz (L1)

**TOUR: Historic Downtown Walking Tour with LA Conservancy Docent (Off-site)**
Co-sponsored by the Material Culture Caucus and Visual Culture Caucus
Sat. Nov. 8, 1:00-4:00pm, Pershing Square (Downtown LA), Olive Street & 6th Street at Orange Groves

Pleasure in the Land: Marking the Spatial Boundaries of the “Good Life” in Twentieth-Century
Sat. Nov. 8, 2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Palos Verdes (L1)

Time and Temporality in Theme Parks
Sat. Nov. 8, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Santa Barbara B (L1)

Artifacts of Labor and Leisure: The “Serious Fun” of Nineteenth-Century Transnational Material Culture
Sat. Nov. 8, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica B (L3)


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2014

Playing In the Past: The Promise and Peril of “Fun” History
Sun. Nov. 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Gabriel A (L1)

Techno-objects and the Racial: A Roundtable on Material Pleasures and Violence of the Post-American Century
Sun. Nov. 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Anita B (L1)

Playing at Work: Food, Sex, the Home and the Labors of Leisure
Sun. Nov. 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Santa Barbara A (L1)

Feeling Hands: Pleasures and Perils of Haptic and Visual Encounters in Transnational U.S. Culture
Sun. Nov. 9, 8:00 to 9:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica A (L3)

Imagined Pasts, Happier Presents: The Functions of Nostalgia in American Culture
Sun. Nov. 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Fernando (L1)

Contesting Gender and Sexuality Through Performance and Play
Sun. Nov. 9, 10:00 to 11:45am, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, San Gabriel A (L1)

The Sites, Sights, and Design of Tourism
Sun. Nov. 9, 12:00 to 1:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 3, Santa Monica B (L3)

NOTE: This list is based on session descriptions in the online program. Please post add posts as needed.

By Catherine Whalen, Mon, November 03, 2014 - 5:13 pm
Categories: News

Twenty Years, Twenty Questions to Ask an Object

The Questions:
1)  What are the object’s physical properties?
a.  Materials (wood, stone, plastic)
b.  Size (length, width, depth, volume)
c.  Weight
d.  Number of parts and how they are organized (symmetrical, asymmetrical, distinct, merged)
e.  Inscriptions (printed, stamped, engraved)

2)  What are the object’s sensory properties?
a.  Sight: Line and shape (two-dimensional), form (three-dimensional), color (hue, light, dark), texture (reflective, matte)
b.  Touch: Form and shape (round, angular), texture (smooth, rough), temperature (cold, warm), density (hard, soft)
c.  Sound: Consider what sounds the object makes when manipulated
d.  Taste
e.  Smell

3)  How is the object oriented? Is it unidirectional, or does it have a presumed front, back, bottom, top, or open and closed parts?

4)  What is the object’s purpose?

5)  Who made the object?
a.  One or more individuals?
b.  Was the maker also the designer?

6)  How was the object produced?
a.  Techniques
b.  Social structures

7)  Does the object fit into a known genre? If so, what features does it share with other objects of its genre?

8)  Is the object part of other groups of objects? If so, how?
a.  Spatially
b.  Metaphorically
c.  In an institutional collection?

9)  How does the object interact with human bodies?
a.  Other species?

10)  Does the object prompt some kind of action or performance? 
a.  Individual
b.  Social

11)  What is the object’s contemporary context and relevance?

12)  What is the object’s history?
a.  Who owned and/or used it?
b.  When?
c.  Where?

13)  How does, or did, possession of the object relate to individual and/or group identity (e.g., class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nation, religion)?

14)  Does the object relate to a set (or set) of beliefs (e.g., spiritual, ideological)? If so, how?

15)  Is the object part of a system (or systems) of exchange (e.g., commodity, gift)? If so, how?

16)  What is its value (e.g., economic, cultural) and how might you locate it within systems of value?

17)  Does the object reflect and/or structure human agency? If so, how?

18)  What is special or distinctive about the object?

19)  What is your emotional response to the object? What might it evoke for others?

20)  How would you interpret it to others?

By dandrewsde, Sun, November 02, 2014 - 11:49 am
Categories:

Agenda

Agenda 2014
Business Meeting. Material Culture Caucus
Saturday 8 November
10:55-12:00, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, La Cienega

-Introductions and announcements
  Survivor objects symposium, University of Delaware
  http://sites.udel.edu/materialculture/2014/08/30/survivor-objects-a-center-of-material-culture-studies-symposium/
  Other announcements?

-Updates
  Syllabus collection on H-net Material Culture

-Planning for the 2014 ASA meeting in LA
“The (Re)production of Misery and the Ways of Resistance”

-Projects to extend the caucus’s reach
  Increasing caucus membership
  Tours
  Summer institutes/seminars
  Online symposium

-New business and open discussion

By dandrewsde, Sun, November 02, 2014 - 11:46 am
Categories:

Events at the national meeting

Wednesday through Saturday
10:00 to 5:00. Gratis admission with ASA badge to the Autry National Center in Griffith Park, including the current “Route 66: The Road and the Romance” exhibit. [off site] The Friday tour is closed.
http://theautry.org/

Friday 7 November
2:00 to 3:45, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Los Cerritos (L1)
Twenty Years, Twenty Questions to Ask an Object
Game on! See list of questions in a separate post

5:30-6:45, Westin Bonaventure Level 1, Beaudry Foyer
Reception (with the Visual Culture Caucus
Sponsored by Boston University’s American and New England Studies Program, University of Delaware’s Center for Material Culture Studies, the MA Program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design (a program run jointly by Parsons The New School for Design & Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum), and the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of the History of Art.

Saturday 8 November
10:55-12:00
Westin Level 1 La Cienega
Caucus Business Meeting
See the agenda in a separate post

By dandrewsde, Sun, November 02, 2014 - 11:41 am
Categories:

Material Culture Caucus events in Los Angeles

Friends of Material Culture,

Please join us for a variety of material culture-oriented events at the American Studies Association annual convention in Los Angeles, 6-9 November. The theme is mixed (“The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain In the Post-American Century”), but we’ll emphasize the fun and pleasure side, even while some panels dip a bit into the dark.

The caucus business meeting will be held from 10:55-noon on Saturday in La Cienega room, Level 1 of the Westin. Please send along any agenda items you’d like to address in that meeting. I’ll compile an agenda and post that in late October.

Check the program for specific panels of interest in addition to our Caucus celebration described below.

Friday 7 November
Tour: 10:00 am to 1:45 pm. The Autry National Center in Griffith Park: Museum & Special Collections (co-sponsored by the Material Culture Caucus & Visual Culture Caucus) (Off-site, transportation arranged) CLOSED

Twenty Years, Twenty Questions to Ask an Object
2:00 to 3:45pm, Westin Bonaventure, Level 1, Los Cerritos (L1)

Since its formation in 1994, the Material Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association has bridged the gap between university-based and museum-based scholars to promote the study of material culture in American Studies programs. It has organized field trips and sessions at the ASA’s national meeting to explore important themes, things, and places of material culture interest, especially those that may be otherwise overlooked.

At age twenty, the Caucus will devote a very interactive session to a game of twenty questions to commemorate our anniversary with a suitably wide scope. We’ll have evocative (and questionable) objects at hand. Participants can bring their own as well. Before the session, facilitators will prepare twenty questions, available in advance of the workshop on the web as well as at the session. The questions will derive from theories and methodologies in material culture over the last twenty years, spanning literary theory; gender/sexuality, race and material culture; the role of public humanities in American studies, including museums; consumerism, secondhand goods, and exchange economies, to name but a few topics.

Depending on the number of participants, facilitators will work with small groups to play the game of twenty questions and unlock the meaning and mystery of these object encounters.
Reception (with the Visual Culture Caucus)
5:30-6:45 Westin Bonaventure Level 1, Beaudry Foyer

By dandrewsde, Tue, October 14, 2014 - 9:30 am
Categories:

Print and Material Culture Opening at Delaware

Advanced Assistant or Associate Professor
Print and Material Culture Studies
Department of English
University of Delaware

The Department of English at the University of Delaware invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant or Associate Professor position.  The position includes a highly competitive salary, good teaching load, and excellent benefits.  We seek candidates, grounded in their primary literary, historical, or rhetorical disciplines, who can add to our strengths in Print and Material Culture Studies while also contributing to our vision of a deeply integrated and interdisciplinary department.  Associate or advanced Assistant Professors are preferred; other applicants will be considered only if they can guarantee Ph.D. in hand by August, 2015.

The successful candidate will be an intellectual leader of national reputation (at the Associate level) or an advanced Assistant Professor with an established publishing record who can work with UD=s Center for Material Culture Studies to build the university=s reputation as a leading destination for interdisciplinary research and teaching related to the physical evidence of culture. This position provides teaching opportunities in both our undergraduate and our graduate programs and will benefit from the department=s strong affiliations with interdisciplinary studies programs on campus (including Material Culture Studies, Digital Humanities, African American Studies, Environmental Humanities, Interactive Media Studies, and Race & Ethnic Studies, among others), organizations associated with UD faculty (including the Winterthur Museum, Folger Library, Hagley Museum, and The Library Company of Philadelphia), and numerous other archives and resources at the university and in the region.

Applicants should visit http://www.udel.edu/udjobs and read AApplicant Instructions@ under the AResources for Applicants@ tab before submitting their application. Applicants are asked to create and upload a single document that includes a letter of application and a CV.  We will begin reviewing applications on November 3, 2014.  The hiring committee will then solicit letters of recommendation and other materials from selected applicants.

Founded in 1743, the University of Delaware is one of the nation=s oldest institutions of higher education. Combining tradition and innovation, we seek faculty who are prepared to lead the way in responding to the most pressing challenges of our time.  The University of Delaware is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages applications from minority group members and women.

By dandrewsde, Thu, October 02, 2014 - 12:51 pm
Categories:

Survivor Objects Symposium

Please see the full program for panel and paper topics.

For more details, visit the symposium website:
http://sites.udel.edu/materialculture/2014/08/30/survivor-objects-a-center-of-material-culture-studies-symposium/

By dandrewsde, Tue, September 16, 2014 - 11:28 am
Categories: News

Call for Participation: Material Culture Caucus at 2014 ASA Conference

The Material Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association wishes to encourage participation in the 2014 Annual Meeting: “The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain In the Post-American Century,” November 6-9, 2014 at the Westin Bonaventure, Los Angeles, CA. To read the conference Call for Papers please see:

http://www.theasa.net/annual_meeting/page/submit_a_proposal/

Areas of interest for material culture studies related to the theme include (but are not limited to):


* The material culture of luxury and entertainment
* Places and landscapes of pleasure and escape
* Toys and games, both formal and impromptu
* Collecting and collectors
* Re-enactors and living history
* Domestic life and domestic pleasures and pains
* The beauty industry
* Theories of objects and things, and their intersections with affect theory
* Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and the pleasure and pain of constant connection
* Car culture
* Evolutions of manufacturing and making
* The advertising industry and the fraught pleasures of consumption
* Material cultures as revolution and protest

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.

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 2, 2014).

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 Sarah Carter (scarter at chipstone dot org) and to Rebecca Onion (rebeccaonion at gmail dot com) as soon as possible (and before January 5, 2013). Feel free to be in touch, by email or by Twitter (@retracharas and @rebeccaonion), with any questions.

Best wishes,

Sarah Anne Carter, Chipstone Foundation
Rebecca Onion, Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science

By Susan Garfinkel, Sat, January 18, 2014 - 7:25 am
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