Understanding Material Culture In American Studies

1589 words - 6 pages

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Wilson Fung Instructor Izetta Mobley AMST205: Material Aspects of Life 17 October 2014Understanding Material Culture In American Studies.Culture has been the substance of most of the disciplines studied in institutions of higher learning for centuries. It is one of the surest subjects that will continue to be discussed turning it again and again since it is a product of man's existence on earth. In presenting material culture, a scholar would need to have a proper perception of it in order to discuss it meaningfully. Material culture has to be discussed in light of how it is formed, perpetuated and modified through the many years it has been passed on to succeeding generations. This means that the material culture has kept on being modified from one generation to the next and hence its significance taking up new dimensions as well. A scholar who puts this fact into consideration in discussing material culture touches on the core of it. It should be presented in the form of what significance its creation; modification and perpetuation holds to mankind who produce it. This forms the basis upon which to carry out an evaluation of the manner in which material culture is presented by different authors to ascertain if they capture what most matters about the subject.In Thomas J. Schlereth's work "American studies And American Things" he focuses on how material culture has been integrated with various disciplines of study. While he presents a recount of the changes that have seen material culture made an interdisciplinary subject, he does not focus on the essence of having material culture studied. Thomas presents a history of how material culture was never incorporated in studies in the founding disciplines of study- literature and history. This disciplines only studied culture in its verbal and abstract senses and never in the material sense. Such a recount of the genesis of the existence of material culture in the curriculum is useful in showing how scholarship recognizes and appreciates tangible technological products of people's daily activities. The presentation of the feelings of dissatisfaction by scholars about a lack of appreciation of man's ingenuity in adapting to his environment through creation and recreation of materials led to the enshrouding of material culture as part of the curriculum1.The permeation of material culture into the curriculum out of agitation and advocacy is used by the author to show how American studies were transforming from the abstract to the concrete. It was in the twentieth century that the movement towards the culture that was material rather than immaterial made remarkable steps. With multi- and interdisciplinary education taking root, culture was now seen in its real forms. Culture was no longer just about intellectualism and perception of the mind but products of it as well. Research started focusing more on field experiences, digging of moulds and...

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