Historical Research Workshop

Reading Response: Material Culture

The Lubar and Kingery reading was, I believe, somewhat limited. Much of the beginning seemed to follow, with the example of differing  expectations embodied in the construction of the  rococo vs. Federal card tables seeming sensible (the rococo one being, in my opinion, far superior for actually playing cards). However, towards the ending, the assertion that many crucial parts of life have remained the same, especially such things as birth and death, and this allows a privileged view into those objects and thus can analyze them meaningfully, is wrong. Although I am less qualified to speak of birth, death has shown tremendous change from even the 1940′s to present, and the medical objects which surround it- from modern ventilators to beaked Venician doctor’s masks to ancient bloodletting basins- have shifted so much as to be unrecognizable without significant context. The manner of death and its cultural meanings have changed so much it seems difficult to use death as a common linkage in such an important role, and the same applies for birth.

As a result, the reading’s somewhat grandiose and inflated claims to their own field’s importance are somewhat punctured, as least in my view.

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