Using Material Culture in History

History 103U.003

Fall 2013
Day & Time: 
Tu 2-4P

In a world that is ever more visually oriented, historians tend to use more and more images.  But the meanings originally attached to images seen now are usually not transparently obvious, even a few years after their production.  This course aims to teach undergraduates interested in any field of history (including art history and archaeology) how to investigate, query, and deploy images in a convincing manner in reasoned arguments.  While about half of the secondary readings illustrating good practices will be drawn from the China field (early to modern), the rest will draw more broadly from other periods and places.  Students will also be encouraged to write papers on cultures other than China, if they so wish, because the ideas taught in this course can be imported easily to other times and places, for example, to Japanese architecture, to Italian Rennaissance gardens, or to French illustrated manuscripts.

Course Books

The Gift by Mauss, Marcel Norton. ISBN: 039332043X Required
History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor British Museum/Penguin. ISBN: 978-0670-02270-0 Required