Every object that a person has fashioned or impacted in some way offers testimony about human life. Anthropology/History 211 provides an introduction to interpreting objects as a means of understanding the culture, history, and values of a society. Through reading, writing, and discussion, we will explore methods for analyzing objects in a variety of contexts: 1) objects in history; 2) objects in museums; and 3) objects in archaeological sites.

Over the course of the term, we will consider a wide range objects from various times and places, ranging from an ancient Greek vase to a Colonial American mill, the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, and twentieth century root beer cans. Almost every class will involve a hands-on project to illustrate and explore the concepts and theories in the readings.

The goal of material culture studies is the analysis of objects. But objects do not speak for themselves. Instead, we must learn to derive meaning from objects and then communicate that meaning with words. Therefore, this course focuses on developing analytical reading and writing skills. Anthropology/History 211 meets the Writing requirement for Bryn Athyn College’s Core program.