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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Thinking with Things: History and Material Culture Studies (PGHC11496)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course is designed to introduce students to the use of material objects for historical research on the early modern period. We will look at the development of the field of material culture studies and how it intersects with the discipline of history. We will read works of scholars with expertise in different regions of the world who have used material culture studies methodologies to add to fields such as gender history, global history, intellectual history and social and cultural history.
Course description The goal of this course is to familiarize students with the key issues, questions, and debates surrounding the writing of object-based histories. We will analyse critical questions and concepts scholars have developed as tools for thinking about material culture as a means to know, create, and learn history. We will look at examples from around the world, mostly focusing on the early modern period, and pay attention to the methodologies different scholars use and how the use of material objects allows them to contribute to their respective field of expertise. Whenever possible, the course will consist of visits to the University of Edinburgh Collections as well as the National Museum of Scotland and students will be asked to write and present object-studies of their own.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  16
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay (80%): 4000-5000 words

Non-written skills (20%):
- Lead class discussion once - 5%
- Class participation - 5%
- Object-study presentation -10%.
Feedback Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning material culture studies and use by historians;
  2. Analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. Understand and apply specialised research or professional skills, techniques and practices considered in the course, such as using material objects as sources for historical research;
  4. Develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence considered in the course;
  5. Demonstrate originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy.
Reading List
Suggested Reading List
- Appadurai, A. and I. Kopytoff. The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1986.

- Gerritsen, A. and G. Riello. Writing Material Culture History. Bloomsbury, 2012.

- Thatcher, L.U. The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001, Vintage Paperback 2002.

- Welch, E. Shopping in the Renaissance: Consumer Cultures in Italy, 1400 - 1600. Yale University Press, 2005.

- Brook, T. Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World. Bloomsbury, 2008.

- Edwards, E et. al., eds. Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums and Material Culture.

- McCants, A. "Exotic Goods, Popular Consumption and the Standard of Living: Thinking about Globalization in the Early Modern World," Journal of World History, 28, 4, (2007): 433 - 462.

- Hoskins, J. Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of People's Lives.

- Ko, D. The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China. Washington University Press, 2017.

- Smith, P. The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution. University of Chicago Press, 2004.

- Bleichmar, D. and M. Martin, eds. Objects in Motion in the Early Modern World. WileyBlackwell, 2016.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Meha Priyadarshini
Course secretaryMr George Bottrell-Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)50 8349
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