Methods in material culture

The discovery, recording and study of material objects has always been central to disciplines such as archaeology and museum studies.

In recent years, scholars across the wider arts and humanities have become aware of how taking ‘stuff’ seriously can help them better understand past and contemporary cultures.

This hands-on introductory workshop will outline various theoretical and methodological approaches to material sources, encourage you to consider the benefits and issues of working with objects, and provide you with a concrete starting point for further investigation.

Online Resources

  • Material World blog - Essays, observations, notes from the field, call for papers and more on all aspects of material culture studies. Strong links with the Material Culture Studies group at University Collge London (UCL)
  • England: The other within website - Fascinating set of object biographies and themed essays based on English objects in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Particularly useful for thinking about how single objects can be connected to wider themes
  • Rethinking Pitt Rivers website - This also has a really interesting set of object biographies and contains references to the literature on object biography and a very useful bibliography
  • A History of the World - A collaboration between the BBC and the British Museum, this attempts to tell the history of the world in objects. The now archived project has gone beyond museums and 100 objects, and includes photos and descriptions uploaded by the public
  • David C Roberts website and blog - A History of Manchester in 100 Objects - A crowd-sourced google document that aims the gather the history of Manchester in objects. Use it as a guide to seek out objects and places new to you or add to it!
  • What is Material Culture? - resources from methods@manchester

Introductory materials