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Material Culture Studies

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by

Lisa Levesque

on 9 July 2015

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Transcript of Material Culture Studies

Material Culture Studies
Shared ANT/DH Themes
Networks: the Internet
The impact of technology
Authorship and collaboration
User Interface considerations
Data collection and dissemination
Interdisciplinary connections
What is Material Culture Studies, anyway?
It focuses on the interpretation of physical objects as a way of understanding the cultures that created them
Some helpful examples
Overview
The Impact on the
Digital Humanities

Library specifics
It's an
interdisciplinary
set of approaches.

Derived from Anthropology, Archaeology, and Museum Studies, it has become very popular in the humanities
Influenced by phenomenology, postmodernism, post-structuralism, constructivism, and new materialism
The
impact
of
an object
: Mahogany in
Jane Eyre
Non-humanities examples about our relationships with objects:

Networks
ANT (Actor-network theory) is very influential in Material Culture studies. It comes out of STS (Science and Technology Studies). STS is concerned with drawing a direct connection between the study of the natural world (science) and technology, and abstract thought.
The
impact
of
objects
: Victorian objects as portable signifiers of home and identity
Areas of study that these examples touch on:
History of the Book
Colonialism Studies
Feminism
Textual Studies
Media Studies
Media archaeology

The big question in Material Culture Studies: why do objects matter?


Blogjects
Tracking blogjects:
http://aqicn.org/city/beijing/
http://gis.metrovancouver.org/airmap

Imperfect Blogjects

Example:
http://goose-watch.uwaterloo.ca/

Hybrids!
Cyborgs!
http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/the-internet-of-things-a-primer/
More digital object tools: The Internet of Things
How does our perspective on human/nonhuman relationships change if we look at the nonhuman side of the equation first?
Consider:
material composition
usage
effect on humans/nonhumans/networks
how life would be different without it
how does it impact human labour?
how would it be different if digitized (cultural objects only)?
EFFECTS EXERCISE
Describe a scenario involving this object and its effect on other actants (humans and nonhumans). How does its physicality matter?
Example: a book about climate change may change a person's attitude towards fossil fuel consumption and cause them to drive less often. A digital version of this book could hyperlink to the Beijing AQI site, while a physical book may be better for ready reference. The version accessed may impact a reader's overall experience.
Science!
"Electronic objects are as dependent upon material instantiation as printed books"
(Manoff 312)
#onegooseonegopro
Objects
Overlooked but essential in shaping our lives
http://aqicn.org/city/beijing/
(nonhumans, things, actants, companions)
Materiality
Objects that matter
Pop Science
Bruno Latour
4 versions of EEBO

Original books themselves
Microfilm
Online - Scanned pages of the books as pdfs
Online - transcriptions of the pages themselves

http://goose-watch.uwaterloo.ca/
Full transcript