The Concept of Home (Spring 2014) – “The Archeology of Home”

Historian Jules Prown defines “material culture” as:  “the study through artifacts of the beliefs — values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions — of a particular community or society at a given time.”

Using the film The Queen of Versailles and the Ann Cvetkovich article, “In the Archive of Lesbian Feelings” – as well as any other relevant readings we have covered during the semester – your assignment is to imagine your own domestic space as a type of archives containing the artifacts, objects, and other ephemera that constitute your own personal material culture. (For those of you able to attend the field trip to the Merchant’s House Museum, please feel free to reference this site as well.)

You are required to photograph, film, or upload (if using an audio file or textual document that is scanned), three items from your home.

Like all assignments, your goal is to make an argument and offer analysis about what these items represent and mean. In terms of themes that you might examine, here are some possibilities:

What does your own personal material culture, and the items you have selected to analyze, tell us about the “values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions” of our society in the present moment?

What are the individual meanings and emotional attachments that you have in relationship to these objects and artifacts? How does your individual relationship to them depart from their “typical” understanding?

What do these objects tell us about home specifically, and what goes into the creation of domesticity?

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