Southern Object Essay
AMST 390: Southern Material Culture
The goal of this typed, double-spaced, three-page assignment is to describe an object thoroughly, to place it in a historical and regional context, and to explain its significance as a southern artifact. Choose an object that appeals to you and describe it in sufficient detail so that it could be recognized by a person who has never seen it.
1. Use E. McClung Fleming’s steps of artifact study to write about your object. Fleming described:
a. Five properties for understanding an object’s meaning and significance: material, history, construction, design, and function.
b. Four steps for object analysis: IDENTIFICATION (physical description: material, dimensions, shape, decoration, color, place of origin, maker, value), EVALUATION, CULTURAL ANALYSIS, and INTERPRETATION. Refer to Fleming’s article for more information on these steps.
2. Explain the object’s meaning both to the purchaser/collector and to the student of material culture. This is the “cultural analysis” section---a critical aspect to your paper. In what ways is this object important? This section should discuss secondary sources---the scholarly literature on this particular example of material culture. What have scholars written about this object? How does this object compare to other similar pieces? Are there primary sources—published or unpublished---about your object? If so, use them!
3. Discuss the southern significance of the object. What makes this object southern? How does this object expand our understanding of southern culture and history? Does the object reflect southern values? Describe.
4. Consider James Deetz’s three levels of object functions that we discussed in class: technomic, socio-technic, and ideo-technic function. Which of these best describes your object? If your object has more than one function, explain.
5. Sketch your object on the back of the third...