Teaching Thursday: Teaching Things

Next semester, I’m teaching a graduate course in the English Department on “things.” I haven’t taught a full-blown graduate class for close to a decade. It’ll also be an adventure because I actually don’t know any of the students in the class and I’m even less familiar with what they might know or what to talk about! 

I also have to admit that the class is a bit half-baked. It was based originally on a couple of chapters from the book that I’m currently revising on the archaeology of the contemporary world, but as I started to put my syllabus together things pretty quickly got out of control. 

The final syllabus will include some supplemental reading for each week and, of course, some information on assignments and the like. I’ll blog more about this next week, perhaps, but I’m going to try to make this class as open ended as possible in terms of class time, writing, and outcomes. 

For now, here is the “core” reading list. I’ll share the full syllabus when it’s done sometime next week.

Week 1: Thinking with Things

Week 2: Introduction to Things
Chapters from my book.
Hicks, Dan and Mary C. Beaudry, “Introduction: the place of historical archaeology.” In The Cambridge Companion to Historical Archaeology, eds. Dan Hicks and Mary C. Beaudry, 1-11. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Week 3: Things and Literature
Tim Jelfs, The Argument about Things in the 1980s: Goods and Garbage in the Age of Neoliberalism. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press, 2018.

Week 4: Things in Thought
Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke 2010.

Week 5: Things and Agency
Bruno Latour, Aramis or The Love of Technology. Translated by Catherine Porter. Harvard 1996.
Severin Fowles, “The perfect subject (postcolonial object studies)” Journal of Material Culture 21.1 (2016), 9-27.

Week 6: Consuming Things
Daniel Miller, Stuff. Wiley 2010.

Week 7: Things and Archaeology

Bjørnar Olsen, In Defense of Things: Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects. Lanham: Altamira, 2010.

Week 8: Nature

Eduardo Kohn, How Forests Think: Anthropology Beyond the Human. California 2013

Week 9: Things and History

Timothy LeCain, The Matter of History: How Things Create the Past. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2017

Week 10: Religion and Things
Maia Kotrosits, The Lives of Objects: Material Culture, Experience, and the Real in the History of Early Christianity. Chicago 2020.
Michelle M. Sauer and Jenny C. Bledsoe, “Introduction” in Sauer and Bledsoe (eds.), The Materiality of Middle English Anchoritic Devotion. Leeds: Arc Humanities Press 2021.

Week 11: Media Things
Jussi Parikka, The Geology of Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.
William Basinski, Disintegration Loops: https://youtu.be/Ha6LtRkqMpk

Week 12: Broken Things and Ruins
Shannon Lee Dawdy, Patina: A Profane Archaeology. Chicago 2013

Week 13: Warren Ellis, Nina Simone’s Gum. Faber & Faber 2021.

Week 14: Reza Negarestani, Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials. Re.Press 2008.

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