Tag Archives | material culture

NEH Summer Institute on American Material Culture

American Material Culture: Nineteenth-Century New York
NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers

At the Bard Graduate Center, New York City, July 1-26, 2013

Objects matter. Material culture scholars use artifactual evidence such as consumer goods, architecture, clothing, landscape, decorative arts, and many other types of material.

The Bard Graduate Center will host a four-week NEH Summer Institute on American Material Culture.  The institute will focus on the material culture of nineteenth century and use New York as its case study because of its role as a national center for fashioning cultural commodities and promoting consumer tastes. We will study significant texts in the scholarship of material culture together as well as in tandem with visiting some of the wonderful collections in and around New York City for our hands-on work with artifacts.

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The Future of Ethnographic Museums

Pitt Rivers Museum & Keble College

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

19th – 21st July 2013

 Ethnographic museums have a long and distinguished history but they have also been the subject of criticism and complaint. During the second half of the twentieth century they therefore underwent something of an identity crisis. More recently however, many of these institutions have been remodeled or rethought and visitor numbers have only increased. This conference seeks to analyze these shifts and to ask what the remit of an ethnographic museum should be in the twenty first century. Keynote lecturer: Prof. James Clifford. Other distinguished speakers include: Ruth Phillips, Sharon Macdonald, Wayne Modest, Corinne Kratz, Kavita Singh, Annie Coombes and Nicholas Thomas. Join us for lectures, debate and a series of art and music events in the unique environment of the Pitt Rivers Museum.…

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CFP: Material Culture Caucus of the American Studies Assoc. 2013 Conference

The Material Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association wishes to encourage participation in the 2013 Annual Meeting: “Beyond the Logic of Debt: Towards an Ethic of Collective Dissent,” November 21-24, 2013 at the Hilton Washington, Washington, DC. To read the conference Call for Papers please see: www.theasa.net/annual_meeting/page/submit_a_proposal/

Ideas and Abstracts due to the organizers before January 5, 2013.

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

·       Consumerism, including credit, layaway, second-hand shopping
·       Money, credit, mortgages, loans, and other forms of currency
·       Banks, banking, and the architecture and culture of financial
·       Objects/Spaces of poverty and luxury
·       Occupy and other movements of dissent against debt or property
·       Exhibitions or representations of debt
·       Spaces and material culture of academic debt and employment

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CFP: “A Matter of Time: Temporalities of Material Culture”

9th Visual and Cultural Studies Graduate Conference University of Rochester April 5-7, 2013

Deadline: Submit a 250-word abstract for 20 minute paper presentations and CV via vcsconference@gmail.com by no later than January 15, 2013.

As cultural critics have noted over the past thirty years, we seem to be living in an age of dematerialization. Increased information transfer speed, the disintegration of boundaries between private and public, and the commercialization of image networks have provoked anxiety regarding the control of objects and images. Yet, taking a critical stance toward the temporal thrust of this thinking—its teleology, its faith in progress—we seek to historicize this anxiety as merely another renegotiation in a continually evolving relation of time and matter. Has our relationship to material objects ever been fixed?…

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Call for Papers: the In Betweenness of Things

The In-Betweenness of Things: 

Materializing Mediation and Movement between Worlds

A One-Day Symposium at The British Museum

22 March 2013

This one-day symposium is scheduled to coincide with the Sowei Mask: Spirit of Sierra Leone exhibition, on display at The British Museum between 14 February and 27 April 2013. The mask at the centre of the exhibition could be said to mediate between worlds. It materializes the interconnectivity between the worlds of the colonized and the colonizer in 19th-century West Africa. On the one hand it represents the radical ‘otherness’ of an African masquerade tradition, on the other hand it illustrates how those very traditions incorporated Western objects – such as the European top hat – and made  them symbols of power.…

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Materiality Matters at the Association of Internet Researchers Conference

In October I attended the 13th annual Association of Internet Researchers conference (AoIR or IR13) which was held in Salford, England at the University of Salford in the heart of the new home of the BBC, Media City UK. As a conference, AoIR has always been at the cutting edge scholarship on internet research and digital cultures. This year, the presence of Conference Chair Lori Kendall — author of Hanging Out in a Virtual Pub, one of the very first ethnographies of online communities — significantly shaped conversation by productively highlighting issues of gender and the changing relationship between various dichotomies (real/virtual, online/offline) emerging in everyday practice.

While I was not able to attend all of the sessions (there were up to seven simultaneous tracks on October 19th and 20th!!…

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A History of New York in 50 Objects

[Greek Coffee Cup, 1960s; from the NY Times site]

An artichoke and an elevator. A Checker taxicab and a conductor’s baton. A MetroCard and a mastodon tusk.

Inspired by “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” the British Museum’s BBC radio series and book, the NY Times recruited historians and museum curators to identify 50 objects that could embody the narrative of New York.

Perhaps coincidently (perhaps not), the same issue also contains this article about the value of souvenirs (although readers of Material World might want to defend the term “stuff” from its headline-writing detractors, as the author herself goes on to do).


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Beyond Representation: an Interdisciplinary Approach to the Nature of Things


September 27–29, 2012

Bard Graduate Center and the Institute of Fine Arts-NYU

The past two decades have been marked by a renewed concern with the agency, presence, and ontological status of crafted things, witnessed in a shift of interest across several fields from questions of iconography and meaning to questions of affect and efficacy. These developments call into question some of the binary oppositions that are foundational to the epistemologies and ontologies of Enlightenment (and post-Enlightenment) thought: animate-inanimate, subject-object, material-meaning, and so forth. They raise significant questions about the nature and operation of things in the world, their materiality, their ability to act or inspire action, and their relation to speech, texts, and words. Acknowledging the need for an interdisciplinary approach to the profound questions raised by these developments, the conference aims to examine the historical antecedents for these ‘new’ ways of thinking about the material world, to consider their implications, and to imagine the ways in which they might help us develop novel approaches to images, things, and words.…

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Toying with Gender Stereotypes in Estonia

Sirli Peeduli (Tallinn University)

Typical Soviet toys

As I grew older, a certain indisposition about imposed gender roles stayed within me. Probably for that reason I did not pay much attention in our homemaking (home economics) class in elementary school. I wanted to take the woodwork class with the boys. I know for certain that many girls felt exactly the same way.

Naffziger & Naffziger (1974: 255) confirm that “the institution of the school helps to reinforce stereotypes”. They explain that some classes are still sex-segregated, for instance physical education, home economics and woodwork classes. They bring out, that while physical eduction for boys is about competitive team sports and physical activity then for girls it is about docility and proper posture. From my own school years I remember that physical education was not so sex-segregated, the activities of boys and girls were relatively similar.

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