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An introduction to material culture
This unit is an introduction to the study of material culture. It asks why we should...
This unit is an introduction to the study of material culture. It asks why we should study things and outlines some basic approaches to studying objects.
By the end of this unit you should:
- understand what material culture is
- have an understanding of the origin of material culture as an area of study in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century
- have begun to understand the concepts of ‘object biography’ and the ‘life cycles’ of things.
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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 unit, there’s no getting around the ubiquity of things.
This free course is an adapted extract relevant to The Open University course A151 Making sense of things: an introduction to material culture, which is no longer taught by the University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this.
This is an extract 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: Friday, 9th March 2012
Last updated on: Wednesday, 24th September 2014
- 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 section.
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