WiSe 12/13: HS- Literary and Cultural Theories: Material Culture Studies
The seminar aims to introduce students to the expanding field of Material Cultural Studies, which has shifted the focus of cultural analysis from texts to the world of things. Material Culture ... read more
The seminar aims to introduce students to the expanding field of Material Cultural Studies, which has shifted the focus of cultural analysis from texts to the world of things. Material Culture Studies challenge the commonsense notion that 'things' represent "the most 'pure' form of objectivity" (Mieke Bal). Instead, material objects acquire (and change) their meanings in specific historical and cultural contexts, while in turn contributing to processes of cultural signification and the construction of individual and collective identities. Seminar discussions will be concerned with various theoretical approaches to Material Culture and explore a variety of questions of analysis, including the narrative potential of material objects, textual and visual representations of material culture, the complex relationships between subject and object, and the contribution of material culture to the constitution of gender, class and national identities. In addition we will analyse a number of specific (types of) objects and related cultural practices in more detail, including fashion, interior design and museum culture. The historical dimension, i.e. the 'genealogy' of our contemporary consumer culture, will also be taken into account. Language: The course will be taught in English (C 1). Texts: Texts will be made available in a reader at the beginning of the semester. Assessment will be on the basis of active participation in classroom activities and the submission of an essay of c. 7,500 words.