Folklore | Theories of Material Culture
F540 | 22200 | Jackson

Meets with C701.  Material culture—the stuff of human existence—is
again at the center of many key debates and discussions in the
humanities and human sciences. Centered on the concerns of
folklorists and ethnomusicologists, but open to students across the
humanities and social sciences, this course will examine key
theoretical perspectives used in the study of material culture.
While some attention will be given to literatures and topics
grounded in historical and archaeological methods, the course’s
methodological center of gravity will be ethnographic and
ethnological. We will read and critically examine a combination of
classic and contemporary studies and will explore an array of
theoretical perspectives not only on material culture per se, but
also on the ways that social and cultural life are, according to
various perspectives, reflected in, mediated by, fashioned through,
recast via, or contested around, things and peoples’ relations with
things. We will begin and conclude by considering the roots and
fruits of the distinctive tradition of material culture studies
associated with the Indiana University Department of Folklore and
Ethnomusicology, but we will place our school of material culture
studies, which is dominant in American folklore studies at-large,
into dialogue with important older perspectives and with other
contemporary ones that are increasingly influential in the wider
field of material culture studies today.