The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Life Story: HomeWednesday, 4th May 2016 14:00 - EdenA shelter and a refuge. But even some of the creatures of the wild can face a housing crisis. Read more: Life Story: Home
All in the Mind - Summer 2016: All in the Mind Awards and psychology in filmsWednesday, 4th May 2016 15:30 - BBC Radio 4
Thinking Allowed 2016: Migrant WomenWednesday, 4th May 2016 16:00 - BBC Radio 4
Life Story: HomeWednesday, 4th May 2016 20:00 -
All in the Mind - Summer 2016: All in the Mind Awards and psychology in filmsAvailable for over a yearMeet Jane, who has been nominated as a finalist for the All in the Mind Awards. There's also discussion on... Read more: All in the Mind - Summer 2016: All in the Mind Awards and psychology in films
Thinking Allowed 2016: The Flaneur - Walking in the CityAvailable for over a year
Shakespeare Speaks: A pound of fleshAvailable for over a year
Everyday Miracles: The Genius of Sofas, Stockings & Scanners: AwayAvailable until Saturday, 28th May 2016 21:00
The Hairy Bikers Interviews: Dave Myers on the shared benefits of the 'Old Sc...In this short, exclusive clip Hairy Biker, Dave Myers, looks at how the shared benefits of 'Old... Watch now: The Hairy Bikers Interviews: Dave Myers on the shared benefits of the 'Old School' project
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
Artists and authorship: the case of RaphaelIndividual artists have been the traditional focus of art history, but how do we evaluate the... Try: Artists and authorship: the case of Raphael now
Forensic psychologyIn this free course, Forensic psychology, you will discover how psychology can help obtain... Try: Forensic psychology now
This free course, An introduction to material culture, introduces the study of material culture. It asks why we should study things and outlines some basic approaches to studying objects.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand what material culture is
- understand the origin of material culture as an area of study in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century
- understand the concepts of 'object biography' and the 'life cycles' of things.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- Why study things?
- How to study material culture
- What is material culture?
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
An introduction to material culture
Why study things? Or put another way, what can we learn from objects that we can’t find out from the reading of texts? There’s no simple answer to these questions but, as we shall discover in the course of this course, there’s no getting around the ubiquity of things.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 1 study in.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Visual Art courses or view the range of currently available OU Visual Art courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Monday, 11th January 2016
Last updated on: Monday, 11th January 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (798 KB)
- PDF (1.3 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (29.3 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (618 KB)
- Kindle (318 KB)
- RSS (122 KB)
- HTML (29.4 MB)
- SCORM (29.4 MB)
- OUXML Package (19 KB)
- OUXML File (49 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (29.5 MB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.