EGMT 1510: The Lives of Everyday Objects

The Lives of Everyday Objects: Material Culture and What Your Stuff Means What are the hidden stories of your stuff? Pens, stockings, wrist watches, your rubber duck. From Marx’s idea of the commodity fetish as governing modern life and Sherlock Holmes’s uncanny ability to analyze the cultural markers of the things worn and carried by his suspects, to the shock of Tracey Emin’s late twentieth-century art installation My Bed and the webs of globalization in which everyday objects are embedded, how do we think about everyday objects, and how can literature and art help us think about them? We will look at the objects around us through a variety of aesthetic expressions in art, advertising and literature. This course will introduce students to key critical concepts of material culture and explore these ideas through aesthetic representations of the world immediately around us. How are you linked to the world through what you wear, the things you carry, the material residue or debris you leave behind? What social meanings, cultural values and emotional values do we invest in them?