History through objects
History through objects 2023-24
School Of History, Law And Social Sciences
Module - Semester 1
Lowri Ann Rees
During this module you will engage with the study of material culture within the discipline of History. We will consider how objects are interpreted as historical sources. The material properties, but also the way objects were created, consumed, passed on, and preserved (or not) will be explored. This is an exciting opportunity to engage with the academic field of material culture, and develop object analysis skills. You will learn to analyse material culture and develop an appreciation of objects as source material for historical study. The module will be assessed through a 2,500-word project and a 2,500 word essay.
Over the course of this module, you will explore topics that may include, but are not limited to: the 'material turn' and the emergence of the field of material culture; methodologies and the skills needed for working closely with objects; ethics of using items of material culture; challenges of using items of material culture as historical sources; close study of specific examples of objects.
Excellent Excellent students (A- and above) will show strong achievement across all the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis. In written work, they will support their arguments with a wealth of relevant detail/examples. They will also demonstrate an acute awareness of the relevant historiography and give an account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical debate. They may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, nuancing their argument in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. Good Good students (B- to B+) will demonstrate a solid level of achievement and depth of knowledge in all the criteria in the C- to C+ range, and will in addition exhibit constructive engagement with different types of historical writing and historiographical interpretation. Ideas will be communicated effectively and written work will include a good range of sources/reading and demonstrate a clear understanding of the issues and of the existing interpretations expressed in a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument. Students at the top end of this band will engage with and critique the ideas that they come across, and synthesise the various interpretations they find to reach their own considered conclusions. Written work will be correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate. C- to C+ Students in this band (C- to C+) will demonstrate a satisfactory range of achievement or depth of knowledge of most parts of the module, and will make successful, if occasionally inconsistent, attempts to develop those skills appropriate to the study of History at undergraduate level. In the case of the written assessments, the answers will attempt to focus on the question, although might drift into narrative, and will show some evidence of solid reading and research. The argument might lose direction and might not be adequately clear at the bottom of this category. Written work will be presented reasonably well with only limited errors in grammar, punctuation, and referencing, and not to the extent that they obscure meaning. Threshold Threshold students (D- and D) will have done only a minimum of reading, and their work will often be based partly on lecture notes and/or basic textbooks. They will demonstrate in their written assessments some knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partially-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with historical controversies, but they will fail to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; and/or deploy only some relevant material but partly fail to combine it into a coherent whole; and/or deploy some evidence to support individual points but often fail to do so and/or show difficulty weighing evidence (thereby relying on unsuitable or irrelevant evidence when making a point). Alternatively or additionally, the presentation of the work might also be poor, with bad grammar and/or punctuation, careless typos and spelling errors, and a lack of effective and correct referencing.
- Analyse closely individual objects as pieces of historical evidence i.e. setting them in context, judging their qualities as evidence, and explaining their significance.
- Carry out independent research on a case study object, and present the findings of this research clearly in written form.
- Demonstrate engagement with material culture, and the ability to analyse these sources and use them as evidence in historical arguments.
- Identify and relate the material culture methodologies and approaches adopted by Historians
2,500-word essay engaging with arguments and providing a critical analysis of theoretical issues of material culture.
Logbook Or Portfolio
A portfolio presenting a close analysis of a chosen object, placed within its wider historical context.