Secret Life of Things: Material Culture

Subject CULS40010 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: 10 hours per week: total time commitment 120 hours
Prerequisites: Usually admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth-year honours in history (or in a relevant program) or enrolment in a relevant coursework Masters program
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Ms Joanna Clyne


Andrew May  
Subject Overview:

What role have objects, artefacts and places played in the shaping of culture? Are we 'prisoners' of objects'? This subject engages critical approaches to objects as emissaries of culture. Field trips and class-based explorations of the everyday world of objects, many of which we take for granted, stress the importance of things as sources of evidence unavailable in written texts or documents. Through addressing the importance and meaning of everyday things, insights will be gained into technology, consumer society, gender, popular culture, ethnic identity, and the built environment. Through discussions of making, losing, exchanging, inventing, collecting, desiring, inheriting, eating and recycling things, students will learn to interpret objects in their historical context.

  • understand significant issues in the theory and practice of material culture analysis
  • be able to evaluate and synthesise the research and professional literature in the discipline
  • show the application of historical artefact analysis in a practical research area
Assessment: An artefact statement of significance (1000 words) 25% (due mid-semester), and a research essay of 4000 words 75% (due at the end of semester).
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • show an advanced understanding of the changing knowledge base in the specialist area.
  • be able to evaluate and synthesise the research and professional literature in the discipline.
  • have an appreciation of the design, conduct and reporting of original research.
Related Course(s): Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Cultural Material Conservation)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 200 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 24 months
Australian Studies
Australian Studies
Cultural Studies
Cultural Studies
Cultural Studies
Moving Image
Screen Studies
Screen Studies
Screen Studies

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