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ANSO 290: Learning from Things: Material Culture Studies

Term: Fall

Credits: 4

Degree Requirements: Archaeology Requirement, Greek and Roman Studies Elective

While we are symbol users and inhabitants of imagined worlds, we are also toolmakers whose hands are dirtied in manipulating the world. This course will focus attention on materiality and our engagement with the material world. Examples of material culture studies will be drawn from such disciplines as archaeology, anthropology, geography, history, folklore, popular culture, architecture, and museum studies. We will also use our everyday environments – from Rhodes dorm rooms to greater Memphis – as our laboratory, as we explore how our own material culture defines, enables, and circumscribes our cultural worlds. Material culture studies, while a rich source of information, is also a challenging arena for the study of individuals, societies, and cultures, because objects speak neither 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 Archaeology 210.)

Prerequisites: none.