Prospectus

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Material histories: The impact of things on human thought, society and evolution

Course 2014-2015

Compulsory attendance

Yes.

Admission requirements

Admission to the ®MA-programme.

Description

Scholars in fields ranging from political theory and literature to sociology and economics are currently moving away from an understanding of the world centered on people, texts and representations, and instead are moving towards a reconsideration of the ways in which humans and things constitute each other. This “material turn” is, of course, explicitly relevant for the 3 disciplines that have always been centered around the object, and that now seem to rediscover its agency in cultural historical terms: art history, anthropology and archaeology.

In this course we will take a critical look at this exciting development from the perspective of (historical) archaeology. Where does the material-cultural turn come from? How to understand its philosophical foundations? How has it taken shape within Prehistory, art history and anthropology? What can we do with it? What should we do with it?
The main focus will be Greek archaeology or, in other words, material culture we call ‘Greek’.

Course objectives

For MA-students:

  • Knowledge of the main theories on material agency and their historiography;
  • Ability to compare weaknesses and strengths of such theories;
  • Ability to discuss what archaeology can add to the material-cultural turn;
  • Ability to propose possible avenues of future investigations on material agency;
  • Ability to characterise and understand relations between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture in terms of material agency.

For RMA-students:

  • Knowledge of the main theories on material agency and their historiography;
  • Ability to critically compare weaknesses and strengths of such theories;
  • Ability to critically apply the concept of material agency to a particular case study;
  • Ability to evaluate what archaeology can add to the material-cultural turn;
  • Ability to propose possible avenues of future investigations on material agency;
  • Ability to critically investigate relations between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture in terms of material agency.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);
  • 280 pages of literature and summaries (2 ects);
  • Final essay (3,000 words) (2 ects).

Timetable

Course schedule details can be found in the RMA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Students will be asked to read a relevant article prior to each meeting. In the first half of the meeting the (guest) lecturer will present further background to the theme of the class and his/her own take on the subject.
Subsequently student(s) will present a short discussion of the article they read for the meeting and/or prepare a debate with the (guest)lecturer, which they will embed in the broader framework of the class. This is then followed by a group discussion.
Finally, the students will submit an essay of 3,000 words on one of the themes addressed in the course.

Assessment method

  • Participation in class and discussions;
  • Final essay.

Assessment deadline

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

Students are expected to have read the book by T. Ingold, Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture (Routledge, 2013) before the start of the course.
The content of this book will be discussed in the first lecture. Additional lecture for each course will be distributed via BlackBoard well in advance.

Registration

Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Contractonderwijs: all information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudents is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact dr. M.J. Versluys.