course focuses on how consumers use material things to negotiate desire,
difference and power: We will examine the concrete politics and
imagination invested in seemingly commonplace things ranging from Barbies to
subcultural fashion to household garbage. The course revolves around how a
broadly defined archaeology of the modern material world can contextualize
everyday goods as symbolically contested vehicles for desire. Rather than
see commodities as flat reflections of pre-existing identities or dominant
economic organizations, the course examines how objects provide insight into who
we wish to be and who we are. The class champions a critical,
self-reflective perspective on cultural and subcultural difference, and we will
stress how archaeology's systematic analytical techniques provide a mechanism to
probe the technological, social, and ideological meaning in the apparently
meaningless minutia that surrounds us everyday.
There is a separate
web page with directions for each exercise and another page with the
term paper guidelines. Those pages include the details of each
assignment, so please review them closely when completing the
assignments. This syllabus includes deadlines for all assignments
and test dates, and it is your responsibility to know when assignments
are due and tests are scheduled. If any errors are made on this
syllabus, they will be corrected and those changes will be placed on Canvas
and announced in class.
You will complete two exercises analyzing contemporary material culture. These will be worth 50% of the course grade (25% each). The major project for the semester will be a term paper worth 30% of the course grade. Each student will lead the class discussion on one course reading worth 10% of the course grade. Attendance will be worth 10% of the course grade.
The first exercise will be an
"archaeological" analysis of a genuine contemporary
garbage deposit. You will make a detailed record of
your own garbage for seven consecutive days and turn that in on February 13th.
These records will be distributed anonymously to other students in the class,
and you will then analyze a classmates' refuse sample (25% final grade).
The final analysis of another student's refuse sample is due on March 6.
The second exercise (25%) will be an
analysis of a contemporary
collection. Collecting creates the
illusion of adequate representation of the world, but that representation can
come in the form of matchbook covers, snowglobes, banana magnets, and any number
of serialized assemblages. You will prepare a paper that analyzes a single
collection, outlines how it conforms to or departs from our working definition
of a "good" collection (e.g., public, pedagogical, etc.), and examines
the ways in which it is a reflection of the world or an indication of how the
collector wishes the world could be. The analysis is due on March 27.
At some point in the semester, each
student will present a selection of the readings assigned in the same night (10% of your final grade). The readings page will
include all readings and indicates the class members who will present those
readings. You must prepare a Powerpoint on the reading to present
in class. You should expect to direct the class' discussion of
the reading: your review should minimally be about 10-15 minutes.
You absolutely must pose at least three questions for the class at the
end of the presentation. Anybody whose presentation is too short,
fails to include questions for discussion, or is otherwise disorganized or
unprepared will not receive the full credit for the assignment. You can
volunteer to present any reading of your choosing on a first-come, first-serve
basis; any students who do not sign up by the second class will be assigned a
reading. Anybody who does not attend on the night of their reading will
receive no credit unless they have a substantial excuse.
During the semester you will produce a term paper that interprets some object,
material space, or class of modern material objects using the concepts and
examples examined in class (30%). You will be required to provide a proposal for
your term paper subject by February 20. Students who do not turn
in a paper proposal by February 20th will automatically lose a letter grade from
their paper's final grade. I reserve the right to reject any unapproved
topic: please do not skip the proposal.
students' term papers must be a minimum of 20 pages in length. Graduate
student papers will be expected to include a rigorous range of resources
including peer-reviewed literature and in many cases some original research.
You are encouraged to develop a project that fits your own research interests or
preparation for your thesis or another project. You are required to meet
with me to discuss your topic and structure an appropriate paper. Graduate
students are expect to complete all remaining course assignments as they
outlined in the syllabus.
Participation in class discussion and attendance
at lecture are key to comprehension, especially since we cover so much material
in each weekly class meeting and we meet just 14 times. Students who miss
no class meetings will receive 10% of the course grade. After that absence
the grade will fall by two points for each subsequent absence. For
instance, if you missed one class you will receive 8 points; if you miss two you
receive 6 points; if you miss three you receive 4 points; if you miss four you
receive two points; and if you miss five or more classes you receive no points. Please
do not plan to leave at the break or I reserve the right to record you as absent.
Excused absences do not count
toward your attendance grade if they are documented illnesses (i.e., a
physician's note, not simply sniffles in the next class or sounding really
crappy on the phone). I am sympathetic to the things in life that you
cannot control--work schedules, sick family, a broken-down car, everyday
malaise--but I reserve the right to excuse absences on a case-by-case basis. I
will not consider excusing you for an absence if you do not provide me an email
documenting the reason for an absence. Attendance will be taken
at the beginning of each class meeting on a course roster that circulates
through class. If you come in late, you must ensure that you sign this
roster at the end of class; at the end of the semester I will not negotiate over
the days you actually attended but forgot to sign the attendance roster. I will
not allow students to sign the roster if they arrive halfway through the class
meeting; please email me an explanation of late arrivals that are outside your
control with me (e.g., caught in traffic jam, but not an errant alarm clock). I
will be reasonably forgiving about things over which you have no control, like
weather and sick children. I will negotiate these things on a case-by-case
basis and do not make any promises that any particular absence--boss requiring
you to show up for work, dog needing a trip to the vet, no parking spaces-- will
be excused. Please let me know immediately via email and
do not plan to barter over these absences at semester's end.
If you cannot complete an assignment
on time for any reason, you must contact me. I will only extend a deadline in
cases where you demonstrate sufficient reason to be granted an extension. I can
always be contacted after class, you can schedule an appointment, and I check my
email virtually everyday. Even if it is embarrassing to acknowledge that you
simply forgot an assignment due date or your boss unexpectedly demanded a long
shift when you planned to do the assignment, please come see me and I will do my
very best to resolve it in some way that doesn't mean you receive no credit at
all. Do NOT wait until after a deadline to talk to me, and do NOT postpone
talking to me if you are having any difficulty completing an assignment for any
reason. Late assignments will be penalized significantly if you do not negotiate
an extension with me beforehand. Students who do not turn in the term paper on
time will receive no credit for the assignment. To miss any of the
exercises or turn in the term paper late is, at best, mathematically
All work in the course is conducted in
accordance with the University’s academic misconduct policy. Cheating includes dishonesty of any kind with respect to
exams or assignments. Plagiarism is the offering of someone else’s work as
your own: this includes taking un-cited material from books, web pages, or other
students, turning in the same or substantially similar work as other students,
sneaking a peek at the neighbor's exam, or failing to properly cite other
research. If you are suspected of any form of academic misconduct you will
be called in for a meeting at which you will be informed of the accusation and
given adequate opportunity to respond. A report will be submitted to the
Dean of Students, who will decide on further disciplinary action. Please
consult the University Bulletin’s academic misconduct policy or me if you have
Be absolutely certain to keep a copy
of any emailed assignments you send to me should the email disappear or not
arrive at my end, and save every single assignment until grades have been
assigned: Don't just save it on your laptop or one thumb drive, since they
can crash, get lost, or be purloined by somebody who undervalues your commitment
to education, and do not delete assignments instantly after their due date.
If you email me an assignment and do not turn it in during class, you absolutely
must keep the sent mail confirmation should the assignment not reach me for
The Office of Adaptive Educational Services
(AES) ensures that students with
disabilities receive appropriate accommodations from the University and their
professors. Students must register with the AES office in order to receive
Portable electronic devices such as
cell phones and laptop computers must have their sound turned off before the
start of class. You can use a laptop in class for note-taking but should
silence it; I know it is nearly impossible to ignore a Facebook message or email
notifications popping up on your laptop or phone, but please do not plan to
answer your emails, monitor Twitter, answer texts, and monitor Candy Crush
during class. Please let me know if you expect to need to respond to
your phone for specific reasons (e.g., pregnancy monitoring, disabled family, or
contact with kids--not to stay in touch with a significant other who just likes
to hear your voice, buddies planning the evening pub crawl, and so on). Anyone
whose clever Family Guy ringtone disturbs class will be given a verbal warning
on first offense and will be asked to meet with me after class if you can't
remember to turn off your phone before class.
The classroom is a safe speech
situation in which it is your responsibility to treat other classmates fairly
and with mutual respect, even if they have the audacity to disagree with you,
champion an opinion that is inconsistent with your worldview, or simply bore
you. Anyone who talks when someone else is talking, is hostile, or
otherwise violates classroom etiquette will be considered to be in violation of
this policy and will need to meet with me.
The course material includes numerous
advertisements and images from a variety of popular discourses over more than a
century, and some of them may strike us individually as ideologically
problematic or outright tasteless. Surprisingly crass images are part of
our everyday life and are commonplace in many mass media, but they often pass
beneath our consciousness. However, seeing them projected onto a screen at
the front of the classroom several feet high and contemplating these graphics
outside the contexts in which they are most often presented can be potentially
unsettling. I do not display images simply for "shock value,"
but some advertising symbolism may strike many of us as tasteless if not
offensive. It is perfectly reasonable to be offended by some advertising
symbolism, but I will always do my best to use specific images to help us think
reflectively about precisely what sorts of social meanings are being used to
sell goods, even if we may find that symbolism unpleasant.
All work in this course is intended to
fulfill the University's Principles of Undergraduate Learning. The class focuses on critical, self-reflective thinking,
integrates knowledge from a variety of disciplinary and sociocultural
perspectives, examines social and cultural complexity, and probes the impact of
knowledge on our everyday decision-making. Do let me know if the course
does not satisfy any of the missions included in the Principles.
A basic requirement of this course is
that you will participate in class and conscientiously complete writing and
reading assignments. If you miss more than half our class meetings within
the first four weeks of the semester without contacting me, you will be administratively withdrawn from this section. If you miss more than four classes in the
first four weeks, you may be withdrawn. Administrative withdrawal may have
academic, financial, and financial aid implications. Administrative withdrawal
will take place after the full refund period, and if you are administratively
withdrawn from the course you will not be eligible for a tuition refund. If you
have questions about the administrative withdrawal policy at any point during
the semester, please contact me.
|A 93-100 (95)
A- 89-92 (90)
B+ 86-88 (87)
B 82-85 (84)
B- 79-81 (80)
C+ 76-78 (77)
C 70-75 (73)
D 60-69 (65)
|The reading schedule for the class is in bold on
the course schedule. Some of the readings come from the assigned text,
but nearly all individual readings are articles available as PDFs; some
are accessible to IUPUI students on ebrary including Subculture: The Meaning of Style;
and others are accessible by clicking on the title in the syllabus.
Linked readings require that you first log into the IUPUI University
Library page with an IUPUI Network ID (i.e., a username and password)
when accessing University Library's electronic resources from
off-campus. Some e-journal services are temperamental or may take
you to the whole journal's contents rather than a single article.
You are responsible for completing readings prior
to class. We will discuss the readings in class,
and you will be expected to integrate concepts and
examples from the readings into your term paper, so you should purchase
them or arrange to share with another class member. We will not discuss
the additional readings, which are included here to provide you with
supporting scholarship on the research that interests you most.
Hopefully many of you can use them for your term papers, though that is
The course has only one assigned text, and it is
available online for no charge. All IUPUI students have access to a digital version of the book FREE
OF CHARGE on ebrary
Course Outline and Schedule
January 9, 23
Introduction to course: Defining
anthropology, archaeology, and material culture
What is culture?
Mass culture? Popular culture?
What makes it modern?
NO CLASS JANUARY
What is material
culture? Why Collect Things?
Donor: Viking Masculinity on the Line (Charlotte
Krolokke, Journal of Consumer Culture).
Water: The Pure Commodity in the Age of Branding (Richard Wilk, Journal of Consumer Culture 6(3):303-325
Cowboys, Outlaws and Artists: The Rhetoric of Authenticity and
Contemporary Jeans and Sneaker Advertisements (Jacqueline
Botterill, Journal of Consumer Culture 7(1):105-125 ).
to Starbucks: Boycotts and the Out-Scouring of Politics in the Branded World (Bryant Simon, Journal
of Consumer Culture 11(2):145-167).
Context and Capitalism: The link
between Ronald McDonald and inequality
Not Forever': The Material Culture of Hope (Fiona
R. Parrott, Journal of Material Culture 10(3):245-262 ).
Remaking Inside Places (Jane
E. Dusselier, Artifacts of Loss: Crafting Survival in Japanese American
Concentration Camps, Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, NJ 2008,
to IUPUI students who log into ebrary.
in East Germany: The Seduction and Betrayal of Things (Milena Veenis, Journal of Material Culture 4(1):79-112
REFUSE ANALYSIS EXERCISE COLLECTION DUE
Ideology and Material Culture
of the Self: The Social and Cultural Work of the H2 Hummer (Jeremy Schulz, Journal of Consumer Culture 6(1):57-86
The Cult of Macintosh (Russell W. Belk
and Gulnur Tumbat, Consumption, Markets and Culture 8(3):205-217
and Inability: Cultured Materials and the Reason for Some Retreating Lawns in
London (Russell Hitchings, Journal
of Material Culture 11(3):364-381 ).
TERM PAPER TOPIC DUE FEBRUARY 20
Puritans and Romantics: the Roots of
Modern Consumer Society
Memorial Culture: The Material Response to Loss, and The
Cross-cultural Roadside Cross (Holly
J. Everett, Roadside Crosses in Contemporary Memorial Culture,
University of North Texas, College Station , pp.1-37). Available
to IUPUI students who log into ebrary.
Tourism and "Sacred Ground":
The Space of Ground Zero (from Marita Sturken, Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma
City to Ground Zero , pp.165-218).
Normal and Homely": The Presence, Absence and Othering of Consumer Culture
in Everyday Imagining (Rebecca Jenkins, Elizabeth Nixon and
Mike Molesworth, Journal of Consumer Culture 11(2):261-281).
Important Places and their Public Faces: Understanding Fenway Park
as a Public Symbol (Michael Ian Borer, The
Journal of Popular Culture 39(2):205-224 ).
Sell Them Their Dreams:
Advertising and Consumer Desire
Prisoners in Paradise: Subcultural
Resistance to the Marketization of Tattooing (Anders Bengtsson, Jacob Osterberg,
and Dannie Kjedlgaard, Consumption, Markets and Culture 8(3):261-274
An Ironic Fad: The Commodification and Consumption of Tattoos (Mary Kosut, Journal of Popular Culture 39(6):1035-1048
Discount Dreams: Factory Outlet Malls, Consumption, and the
Performance of Middle-Class Identity (Marianne
Conroy Social Text 16(1):63-83 ).
REFUSE EXERCISE ANALYSIS DUE MARCH 6
Constructing the Material World: Space
Words in Stone?: Agency and Identity in a Nazi Landscape (Sharon Macdonald, Journal of Material Culture 11(1/2):105-126
Bring Home the Dead: Purity and Filth in Contemporary Funeral Homes (Kyro Selket, in Dirt : New Geographies of
Cleanliness and Contamination, eds. Ben Campkin and Rosie Cox, pp.49-59. I.B.
Tauris, London ). Available
to IUPUI students who log into ebrary.
Bloodless Battles: The Civil War Reenacted (Rory Turner, The Drama Review 34(4):123-136
the French Fry: McDonald's and Consumerism in Moscow (Melissa L. Caldwell, Journal of Consumer Culture 4(1):5-26
Post Modern Identity: Pastiche and
Introduction and Chapter 1, Subculture
Chapters 5-6, Subculture
Chapters 7-8, Subculture
Disentangling the Paradoxical
Alliances Between Art Market and Art World (Joy Annamma and John F. Sherry, Jr., Consumption,
Markets and Culture 6(3):155-181 ).
Mantlepieces: Narrating Identities and Materializing Culture in the Home (Rachel Hurdley, Sociology 40:717-733
Becomes the Object: The Use of Electronic Media at the National Museum of the
American Indian (Gwyneira Isaac, Journal
of Material Culture 13(3):287-310 ).
COLLECTING EXERCISE DUE MARCH 27
The Materiality of Memory and
The Contemporary Uses of Industrial Ruins (Tim Edensor, Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and
Materiality Berg Publishers, Oxford, pp.21-51). Available
to IUPUI students who log into ebrary.
Dr. Strangelove’s Cabinet of Wonder: Sifting through the Atomic
Ruins at the Nevada Test Site (Jonathan Veitch, in Ruins
of Modernity, eds Julia Hell and Andreas Schonle, pp.321-338. Duke
University Press, Durham, NC ). Available
to IUPUI students who log into ebrary.
Haggling Spoken Here: Gender, Class, and Style in US Garage Sale
Bargaining (Gretchen M. Hermann, Journal
of Popular Culture 38(1):55-81 ).
Rain: Children's Shrapnel Collections in the Second World War (Gabriel Moshenska, Journal of Material Culture 13(1):107-125
Cultural Landscape of Interplanetary Space (Alice
Gorman, Journal of Social Archaeology 5:85-107 ).
Flushing in the Future: The
Supermodern Japanese Toilet in a Changing Domestic Culture (Allen Chun, Postcolonial
Studies 5(2):153-170 ).
Meaning of Holiday Consumption: Construction of Self among Mature Couples (Anette Therkelsen and Malene Gram, Journal of
Consumer Culture 8(2):269-292 ).
Constructing the Body in the Material
Dark tourism and the cadaveric carnival: mediating life and death
narratives at Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds (Philip R. Stone, Current Issues in Tourism 14
Biopower, Bodies... the Exhibition, and the Spectacle of Public
Health (Hsuan L. Hsu and Martha
Lincoln, Discourse 29(1):15-34 ).
Experiencing Body Worlds: Voyeurism, Education, or Enlightenment? (Charleen M. Moore and C.
Mackenzie Brown, Journal of Medical Humanities 28(4): 231-254
TERM PAPER DUE APRIL 17
Productive Spaces: Girls' Bedrooms as
Sites of Cultural Production (Mary Celeste Kearny, Journal of Children
and Media 1(2):126-141 ).
Will You Marry Me?: Spectacle and Consumption in the Ritual of
Marriage Proposals (Phillip Vannini, Journal
of Popular Culture 38(1):169-185 ).
Stardom/Fandom: Celebrity and Fan Tribute Performance (Scott Duchesne, Canadian Theatre Review 141: 21-27 ).
Televised Consumption: Women,
Advertisers and the Early Daytime Television Industry (Inger Stole, Consumption,
Markets & Culture 6(1):65-80 ).
A Soldier's Body: GI Joe, Hasbro's Great American Hero, and the
Symptoms of Empire (Karen J. Hall, Journal
of Popular Culture 38(1):34-54 ).
He's Gotta Have It: Shopping
Dependence and the Homosexual Male Clothing Consumer (Christopher A. Dodd,
Amanda Linaker, and Nigel Grigg, Journal of Consumer Behavior 4(5):374-389
"The Unbearable Lightness of
Cleaning": Representations of Domestic Practice and Products in Good
Housekeeping Magazine (UK): 1951-2001 (Lydian Martens and Sue
Scott,Consumption, Markets and Culture 8(4):379-401 ).
Good Girls Gone Bad: The Consumption
of Fetish Fashion and the Sexual Empowerment of Women (Kathleen A. O'Donnell, Advances
in Consumer Research 26:184-189 ).
Domesticating Barbie: An Archaeology of Barbie Material Culture and
Domestic Ideology (Pearson, Marlys J and Paul R.
Mullins, International Journal of Historical Archaeology 3(4):225-259
Figurines: Molding a Collectable Germany (John
Chaimov, Journal of Material Culture 6(1):49-66.
Last updated November 30, 2016