Can things speak, and are we listening? If objects can be used as evidence, then how can we interpret them? And why think about objects at all? In this class, students will learn how to use material—from pot sherds to iPhones—to develop and test hypotheses about societies and individuals past and the present. Using things from our own daily lives (sweatshirts, toothbrushes, photos of grandma) as case studies, we’ll together investigate what things can tell us about the people who make and use them, and about ourselves and our own relationship with our possessions. Over the course of seven weeks, we’ll create portfolios based on our own objects, working toward a thick description of it and making a case for its worthiness as evidence. Along the way, we’ll explore the potentials and pitfalls of different kinds of interpretation and reasoning, and also explore the biases and assumptions that impact on the very notion of empiricism itself.