Refer to this schedule regularly, as I will make updates to it over the course of the term (i.e., I don’t recommend printing it off at the start of the semester as there will be additions and changes!)

Please note that our two weekly classes are usually combined in theme and content. You should therefore look at both class assignments at the beginning of the week to plan your work.

Unit 1: Things and our Everyday Lives

Week 1: January 24th and 27th


What to do before class:

Please gather a few items that you think reveal something about yourself to bring to our first class. These can be things that you purchased and own, gifts you received from others, or objects that you inherited from a family member or friend.

Here are some broad guidelines to help you choose:

-Choose at least one item that, simply put, makes you happy. This can be anything: an item of clothing, a book, a souvenir, a knick-knack, etc….but whatever you choose, have it be something that sparks a bit of joy whenever you look at it or hold it in your hand.

-Please bring at least one object that says something about your family or personal history: an heirloom, antique, tchotchke, piece of clothing or jewelry, book, or other object that tells something about you or where you come from. If your parents or family members are nervous about you bringing the object to campus (or if it is very large) you may use a picture (or assure them that you are going to be performing serious scholarship on the object and will be very careful!!)

Class Activities:

  1. Introduce ourselves and our objects
  2. Discuss course requirements


What to do before class:

Review the “Introduction to Material Culture” module available through Open University. Begin with the “Why Study Things” topic (including videos) and work through to the “Conclusion” section. It isn’t necessary to write anything out for the “Activities” in this module, but you might find it helpful to do them as thought experiments.


Class Activities:

1. Discuss the reading

2. Talk about blogging, tweeting, and other technologies for this class

3. Address any questions or concerns

Week 2: January 31st and February 3rd


What to do before class:

  1. Read assigned sections of The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
  2. Choose a category of objects in your household or personal living space and sort through them using the “joy test” described by Kondo: clothing or books are probably the best choices, but you can select category you’d like (just be sure you have enough of those items to make this a successful experiment). Take photographs before, during, and after to document the process. (Please note: you do not actually have to give away or discard the things that you decide do not give you joy, as Kondo instructs! But at least take those items and set them aside or place them in another room so that you can better reflect on the experience of this experiment.)


What to do before class:

  1. Post a 500-800 word reflection on the process of going through your personal objects to the course blog. In your reflection you should firstly describe the category of things you chose to work with. With how many objects (books, items of clothing, “komono“) did you begin? How many did you have at the end? Use the photographs that you took to document this experiment to illustrate. Then describe the experience of going through these items. Was it easy? Difficult? Strange? Emotional? How so?  Did you experience “joy” when you were left with only the objects you chose to keep? You should also discuss what insights this experiment gave you to your relationship with objects. What did you notice about your things that you hadn’t before? Were there particular objects that you felt drawn toward? Where do you think your attitudes about objects come from? Post due by 5:00 Friday

Week 3: February 7th and 10th


  1. Post two comments to our blog and send out one tweet about last week’s posts on Tidying.
  2. Reading Assignments Everyone: Read Prologue and Portrait 1 (“Empty”) in The Comfort of Thingsby Daniel Miller, then, read (at least) your assigned chapter of The Comfort of Things:

Portrait 2: Full (Allison), Portrait 3: A Porous Vessel (Andrew), Portrait 5: Learning Love (Caryn), Portrait 6: The Aboriginal Laptop (Anthony), Portrait 8: Tattoo (Emily), Portrait 9: Haunted (Brianna), Portrait 13 McDonald’s Truly Happy Meals (Nathan), Portrait 15: Re-birth (Jessica W.), Portrait 17: Heroin (Sarah), Portrait 20: A Thousand Places to See before You Die (Steven), Portrait 22: The Orientalist (Jessica S.), Portrait, 24: An Unscripted Life (Carina), Portrait 26: José and José’s Wife (Natalia), Portrait 28: The Carpenter (Khaddija), Portrait 29: Things that Bright Up the Place


  1. Read Chapter 3: “Houses: Accommodating Theory,” in Daniel Miller’s Stuff.
  2. Write post on our blog that considers the place of an object within a network of other objects, a “habitus,” to use Miller’s term. You can approach this assignment in a couple of ways. You might take one of the objects you shared or wrote about already in class and now consider its place and meaning among the objects in your room, house, or wherever it “lives.” You could also shift gears and write about the objects that constitute the living environment of a friend, family member, neighbor, or roommate. Whichever approach you take, try and use the anthropological methodology modeled by Miller in The Comfort of Things. How does the environment in which an object is situated contribute to its meaning? What can you learn about the person or people who inhabit the space by looking at the things that surround them? Post due by 5:00 Friday

February 14th and 17th



What to do before class:

  1. Post two comments to our blog and send out one tweet about last week’s posts on “Habitus.”
  2. Read assigned sections of Daniel Miller’s Stuff: Chapter 1: “Why Clothing is Not Superficial” and Chapter 2: “Theories of Things”

Seminar Presentation: Sarah, Jessica W., and Carin


What to do before class:

  1. Read these web pages on taking good pictures of objects and on describing objects.
  2. Using the guidelines described in these resources, post a detailed description of one of your objects (about 500-800 words) to the course blog. Include at least one image of your object in your post. Post due by 5:00 Friday. For a model, here is an examples of what these posts can look like: “Victorian Needlework Case,” by Sandy Marsh.



Unit 2: Objects as Witnesses to History


February 21st and 24th


  1. Post two comments to our blog and send out one tweet about last week’s posts on object descriptions.
  2. Read Prologue and Part I of The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal.


  1. Read Part II of The Hare with Amber Eyes
  2. Read “What was the object’s function?” and “Who made, owned, or used the object?
  3. Write a post for our blog that discusses what you know about how your object was used, what it was designed for, and what you know about its original manufacture, chain of ownership, and how it might have been used. You might find it useful to discuss, too, if the object’s use changed over time (from an item that had utilitarian use, for instance, to an object meant for display). Feel free to choose a new object, or pursue further an object about which you have already written. Post due by 5:00 Friday

Seminar Presentation: Andrew, Natalia, and Caryn


February 28th and March 3rd


  1. Post two comments to our blog and send out one tweet about last week’s posts on object descriptions.
  2. Read Parts III and IV of The Hare with Amber Eyes

Seminar Presentation: Jessica S. and Nathan


  1. Read “Coda” to The Hare with Amber Eyes
  2. Read “Where is it now and how did it get there?” and “What is its date?”
  3.  Write a post for our blog describing what you have been able to find out about the chain of ownership and specific history for one of your objects (once again, you can choose to do this on the same object you selected for your description last week, or on a new object). Post due by 5:00 Friday


Unit 3: Books and Objects/Books as Objects

March 7th and 10th


1. Read Hamlet, Acts I and II and review “Shakespeare in 100 Objects

2. For class, choose one object that appears in the opening acts of Hamlet and come to class prepared to discuss it. This can be an object that is named in a stage direction or in speech, or it can be something whose presence is suggested by the text. If you’d like you can do some research to determine how it would have been used historically. Why does Shakespeare place it in the play in the moment it appears? How does it contribute to the overarching plot or ideas in the play?


1. Read Hamlet, Acts III-V

2. Review Quarto and Folio versions of the play online:

-The British Library “Shakespeare in Quarto” site allows you to compare digital versions of the First Quarto (Q1, 1603) and Second Quarto (Q2, 1604) (as well as other later quarto editions, all of which are based off Q2).

Here is a link to Hamlet as it was printed in the first collected works of Shakespeare (1623, usually referred to as “The First Folio”).

Choose a scene that interests you and find it in each of these editions. What do you notice about the differences between texts? Are there any alterations that you find especially significant?

3. e-mail Professor Mulready with preliminary ideas (at least two) for final project by Friday, 5:00.

Seminar Presentation: Steven, Anthony, and Brianna

March 14th and 17th 

March 14th Class Cancelled Due to Weather


March 21st and 24th: No Classes (Spring Break)

Unit 4: Objects and Local History

March 28th and 31st:

Tuesday: Introduction to Collaborative History Project and Visit from Historic Huguenot Street Staff (in our Seminar Room)

What to do before class:

Read For the Village: The Story of Huguenot Street and at least 3-5 entries on Historic Huguenot Object of the Week Blog 

Friday: Chris Ware, Building Stories and “Introduction” to McSweeny’s Quarterly Comics Issue

Seminar Presentation: Allison, Khaddija, and Emily


April 4th and 7th (No Seated Class):

Tuesday: Read 2-3 entries from Storied Objects Exhibition

We will not have seated class on Tuesday, but you must come and meet with me in my office hours or during our class time on Tuesday (I will circulate a sign-up sheet). We will use this time to talk about your final projects and object selections for the Historic Huguenot project.

Friday (No Seated Class):

Visit Archives that pertain to your local history object: at Historic Huguenot Street, Elting Memorial Library, Sojourner Truth Library. Write a brief summary of research activities and preliminary findings and e-mail to Prof. Mulready due by 5:00 Friday.

April 11th (No Class) and 14th:

Tuesday (No class–Passover)

Friday: Presentations of Collaborative Works in Progress. Come to class prepared to discuss your object for the Historic Huguenot project: what you have discovered, problems you are facing in your research, and remaining questions you have to answer.

April 18th and 21st:

Objects Workshops–First Draft of Collaborative Project Due (Please post, with accompanying images, to our our blog by your assigned class time Tuesday or Friday).

Unit 5: The Revenge of Objects in the Age of the Digital?

April 25th and 28th:


What to do before class:

  1. Read assigned selections from The Revenge of Analog and plan your own “analog experience” to write about in this week’s blogging assignment (see Friday’s assignment).


1. Plan and carry out your “analog experience.” You should choose to do something in analog that you normally use a digital technology to accomplish. Here are some possibilities:

-Listen to music on an LP or cassette tape
-Take photographs using film
-Write a letter to someone
-Have a conversation on the phone (it’s okay if it’s on your cell)
-Write a paper (even this week’s blog post) on a typewriter (there are typewriters available in the Sojourner Truth Library “Maker Lab”)
-Keep a daily journal in a notebook
-Play a table-top board game with some friends
-Read a newspaper or magazine in print

If you have an idea you don’t see listed here let me know! This assignment will work best if you choose an experience that you rarely (or never) have in analog form. Thus, if you are already a record enthusiast with a large collection of LPs, or a photographer who works regularly with film, I encourage you to choose a different experiment.

Write a 500-800 word reflection and post it to our blog. In your piece you should write about the experience of working with the analog technology. How does it compare to the digital experience you are used to? Instead of simply saying one is better than the other, write about the strengths and weaknesses of each. Do you think you are likely to use the analog technology again? Why or why not? Also be sure to comment and compare the ways in which the digital and analog experiences you are discussing are connected to material culture. How was your experience with analog enhanced (or lessened) by its materiality? Post Due by 5:00 Friday


May 2nd and 5th

Tuesday: Work-in-progress “lightening talk” on final project for the course: Come to class with a THREE MINUTE talk/presentation on your final project (you can use images or a PowerPoint, but be prepared and be sure to set-up ahead of time!)

Friday: Final Revisions for Community History Project Due (Post to the Blog by Class Time) Community presentation of project.



May 9th:

Last Day of Class–summing up and final reflections.

May 16th End-of-term celebration and presentation of final projects, 10:15 in Seminar Room


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