The certificate in material culture studies has two interrelated goals. First, students will become acquainted with the field of material culture studies and its methodologies. They will learn what kinds of objects are considered in the study of material culture (from small, intimate artifacts of daily life to large cultural landscapes) and how scholars and professionals from different fields and in different contexts enlist material culture in their research and activities. They will gain an appreciation for the information artifacts can provide. They will learn the kinds of questions that can be asked of objects and the kind of information that artifacts can show us. They will become familiar with (and able to distinguish between) descriptive and interpretive components of material culture study, and gain an awareness of the variety of methods. Second, students will gain an appreciation for the ways that “things” help us to connect to the world and see it in a new way, and the ways “things” give meaning to our lives and the lives of those around us.
All undergraduate students in good academic standing are eligible to apply for the Material Culture Studies Certificate. Connect with an Academic Advisor for application information and the October and February deadlines.
*Note for students who are thinking about declaring the Material Culture Certificate as well as the Art History Certificate: Undergraduate students may request permission to complete both the Material Culture certificate and the Art History certificate but only one course may overlap between the two certificates. Please consult with an Academic Advisor with any questions.
The Material Culture Studies Certificate Program requires that students complete 13 credits, which includes the two core courses and two elective courses from the list below. An internship/practicum experience is recommended, but not required.
Please note: Students who are thinking about declaring the Art History Certificate as well as the Material Culture Certificate: Undergraduate students may request permission to complete both the Art History Certificate and the Material Culture Certificate but only one course may overlap between the two certificates. Please consult with an Academic Advisor with any questions.
Goal of Certificate Requirements
The goal of the certificate requirements is to provide students with a set of interdisciplinary skills, including the development of visual literacy, and an understanding of specific methods and theories of material culture analysis as they are most often practiced. A student might select electives to specialize in a particular geographic area of study or type of object, or to provide maximum depth in a certain period of time.
|Core Courses (select two):
|ART HIST/ANTHRO/DS/HISTORY/LAND ARC 264
|Dimensions of Material Culture 1
|ART HIST 563
|Proseminar in Material Culture 2
|Select at least two courses to reach 13 credit minimum: 3
|Principles of Archaeology
|Lithics and Archaeology
|Ancient Technology and Invention
|ANTHRO/AMER IND 354
|Archaeology of Wisconsin
|Field Course in Archaeology
|Bones for the Archaeologist
|Archaeological Methods of Curation
|ART HIST 210
|A History of the World in 20 Buildings
|ART HIST/CLASSICS 300
|The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece
|ART HIST/CLASSICS 304
|The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Rome
|ART HIST 305
|History of Islamic Art and Architecture
|ART HIST 307
|From Tomb to Temple: Ancient Chinese Art and Religion in Transition
|ART HIST 308
|The Tastes of Scholars and Emperors: Chinese Art in the Later Periods
|ART HIST/DS 363
|American Decorative Arts and Interiors: 1620-1840
|ART HIST 364
|History of American Art: Art, Material Culture, and Constructions of Identity, 1607-present
|ART HIST/RELIG ST 373
|Great Cities of Islam
|ART HIST/ASIAN 379
|Cities of Asia
|ART HIST 413
|Art and Architecture in the Age of the Caliphs
|ART HIST/ASIAN 428
|Visual Cultures of India
|ART HIST 440
|Art and Power in the Arab World
|ART HIST 457
|History of American Vernacular Architecture and Landscapes
|ART HIST 468
|Frank Lloyd Wright
|ART HIST 475
|Japanese Ceramics and Allied Arts
|ART HIST/RELIG ST 478
|Art and Religious Practice in Medieval Japan
|ART HIST 506
|Curatorial Studies Exhibition Practice (Both 601 & 602)
|ART HIST 601
|Introduction to Museum Studies I (Must complete both 601 & 602)
|ART HIST 602
|Introduction to Museum Studies II (Must complete both 601 & 602)
|ART HIST/HISTORY/JOURN/L I S 650
|History of Books and Print Culture in Europe and North America
|History of Fashion, 1400-Present
|History of Architecture and Interiors I: Antiquity through 18th Century
|History of Architecture & Interiors II: 19th and 20th Centuries
|History of Textiles
|Folklore of Wisconsin
|FOLKLORE/L I S 490
|Field Methods and the Public Presentation of Folklore
|Ethnic Representations in Wisconsin
|Local Culture and Identity in the Upper Midwest
|GEOG/URB R PL 305
|Introduction to the City
|Geography of Wisconsin
|HIST SCI 222
|Technology and Social Change in History
|History of U.S. Media
|LAND ARC 260
|History of Landscape Architecture
|LAND ARC 677
|Cultural Resource Preservation and Landscape History
|SCAND ST 296
|The Scandinavian Heritage in America
|SCAND ST/FOLKLORE 440
|Scandinavian American Folklore
|History of Costume for the Stage
Prerequisite: no prerequisites. Course is rotated among teams of two faculty members from the core material culture staff. The course explores the field of material culture, introducing the range of approaches and topics within it. Faculty, staff, and professionals from different disciplines and fields are invited to discuss their work and perspective, and discuss current literature.
The intent of this requirement is to have an intensive small-size seminar to teach the methods used by material culture scholars, a set of tools for analysis, hands-on training and more familiarity with material culture theories, themes and objects.
Choices should be clustered around a focus. For example, one strategy is to take a range of courses related to a specific geographic area, specialization, or time period. Other students may choose to pursue a cluster of courses that emphasizes nationally emerging specializations within the field of material culture including courses related to museums/exhibitions, historic preservation, archival technology, or product design. Students should work with a material culture faculty member to develop this focus. Other courses can be selected as electives from traditional disciplinary approaches and content, but must be approved by the chair of the Material Culture Advisory Committee. Students must work closely with both their advisor within their home major and an advisor among material culture advisors to assure that both major and certificate requirements are fulfilled.
Students must earn a minimum 2.000 GPA on required certificate coursework. Completed courses listed within the certificate curriculum, whether or not they meet a specific requirement, are included in the calculation of the GPA.
Certificate COMPLETION REQUIREMENT
This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.
- Acquisition of skills to describe and analyze objects of multiple types, scales and media that constitute the material world across time and space.
- Understanding of the complex and multiple ways that objects and people relate in both the past and in the present using trans-disciplinary perspectives.
- Ability to interpret and otherwise make meaning from objects using methods and theories from multiple disciplines including but not limited to art history, archaeology, anthropology, design, folklore/folklife studies, geography, history, literary studies, landscape history, and science studies.
- Discernment of the importance of materiality and making in the production and shaping of culture.
- Fluency in using research resources and tools appropriate for specific kinds of objects.
- Demonstration of particular skills for object-based research projects, as well as online and in-person exhibitions, using objects and collections to prepare students for careers that include positions in museums, archives, and other professional contexts.
- Coherent presentation of ideas in multiple media (oral, visual, digital, and written).
Advising & CAREER CENTER
The Advising & Career Center (ACC) fosters undergraduate students' personal, academic, and professional development. Through advising, academic planning, and career education, we support students as they navigate the college experience—from exploring our majors as prospective students to becoming SoHE alumni.
Each SoHE student is assigned to an academic advisor in the Advising & Career Center. SoHE academic advisors support academic and personal success by partnering with current and prospective SoHE students as they identify and clarify their educational goals, develop meaningful academic plans, and pursue their own Wisconsin Experience.
To explore academic advising resources or schedule an appointment with a SoHE academic advisor, visit Advising in SoHE.
Note for students who are thinking about declaring the material culture certificate as well as the art history certificate: undergraduate students may request permission to complete both the material culture certificate and the art history certificate but only one course can overlap between the two certificates. Please consult with the Art History undergraduate advisor, Teddy Kaul (email@example.com), with any questions related to the art history certificate.
Active engagement in the career development process is a vital component of a student’s personal growth in college and future success as a lifelong learner, professional, and global citizen. SoHE career advisors help prepare students for life post-graduation through individual and group advising and integration of career readiness throughout our curriculum.
To explore career development resources or schedule an appointment with a SoHE career advisor, visit Career Development.
Careers: What can material culture do for you? Life-practice and Careers
Interdisciplinary practice is central to material culture analysis. Significant engagement with material culture can have a noteworthy positive effect on students from a wide range of majors in their preparation for future careers. Understanding principles of design, analyzing the cultural meaning of physical objects, and gaining knowledge of varied systems of making, distributing, and using artifacts and consumer goods throughout history are all broadly applicable learning outcomes. The curricula of the 21st century often place extra value on science and technology, to the detriment of the study of the arts and humanities. The Material Culture Program helps integrate these and other disparate spheres into a university education. One undergraduate student summed it thus:
I ended up being able to use what I learned in material culture for my research in human computer interaction and design. I think having a background in material culture strengthened my skills as a user experience designer (which is what I will be doing at Intel after graduation).
Erica Lewis, 2016
Undergraduate certificate student
Other material culture certificate holders have gone on to careers in museums, galleries, historic sites, historic preservation, digital media, design practice, universities, and business. Another former student comments:
Having worked in museums large and small, in education, exhibition design and development, collections, and interpretation—I draw on my background in Material Culture on a daily basis. As a historian, the practice of reading and contextualizing objects as primary sources is essential. But even more than an academic approach, the empathy one develops when learning to understand the world through the stuff of daily life is invaluable to the interdisciplinary collaboration of today's workplace.
Anna Altschwager, 2004
Assistant Director, Guest Experience
Old World Wisconsin
Stanley and Polly Stone Professor, Art History
Anna V. Andrzejewski, Professor, Art History
Sarah Carter, Visiting Executive Director, Center for Design and Material Culture
Yuhang Li, Associate Professor, Art History
Marina Moskowitz, Lynn and Gary Mecklenburg Chair in Textiles, Material Culture and Design
Lynn K. Nyhart, Vilas–Bablitch–Kelch Distinguished Achievement Professor, History
Jennifer Pruitt, Assistant Professor, Art History
Sissel Schroeder, Professor, Anthropology
Jonathan Senchyne, Assistant Professor, Library and Information Studies
Sarah Thal, Professor, History
Lee Palmer Wandel, Professor, History
William Aylward, Professor, Classics
Nicholas Cahill, Professor, Art History
Preeti Chopra, Associate Professor, Art History
Susan Cook, Director, School of Music
Thomas Dale, Professor, Art History
Sam F. Dennis, Jr, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture
Colleen Dunlavy, Professor, Department of History
Nan Enstad, Professor, Department of History
Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, Professor, Anthropology
James Leary, Emeritus Professor, Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies
Tom Loeser, Professor, Art
Jung-hye Shin, Associate Professor, Design Studies
Associated Museum Professionals
Jody Clowes, Director, James Watrous Gallery
Jon Prown, Director, Chipstone Foundation