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Cornell University    
 
    
 
  Nov 19, 2017
 
Courses of Study 2017-2018
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ANTHR 4235 - [Meaningful Stuff: Interpreting Material Culture]

(crosslisted) ARKEO 4235  
(GHB) (HA-AS)      
Spring. Next offered 2018-2019. 4 credits. Student option grading.

Prerequisite: Junior standing or higher, and at least one course in Anthropology or Archaeology Co-meets with ANTHR 7235 /ARKEO 7235 .

F. Gleach.

“Res ipsa loquitur” – the thing speaks for itself. This common expression captures a widespread belief about objects’ roles in human lives, but “hearing” what objects have to say is actually a complex cultural process. An object rarely has a single meaning; they are read variously in different cultural settings, and even by different individuals within a cultural system. How does one know – can one know – the meanings of an object? How are objects strategically deployed in social interaction (particularly in cross-cultural interactions, where each side may have radically different understandings)? How does one even know what an object is? We will explore the history and variety of ways that material culture and its meanings have been studied, using archaeological and ethnographic examples.



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