Friday, January 30, 2015

My Family History In A-Yet-To-Be-Determined-Number of Objects: Introduction

I am working on a second masters degree in public history. When told this almost everyone asks, "What is public history?" I tell them that it is like museum studies. If they nod knowingly I clarify further by stating, "It is how the public engages with history." Usually then they glaze over and if they hadn't already, they ask me what I do for a living or they move on to someone else, typically someone taller.

If they pursue a line of inquiry into the type of classes I take: "Ooo, what are you taking this semester?" Currently I tell them,"The History of Material Culture." And then they most definitely move on to someone else, definitely someone taller.

But since I have you here and you can move on of your own freewill, and I don't have to know about it, let me tell you what material culture is. In the simplest of terms it is the study of artifacts and what objects tell us about a people and their culture.

We have what hopes to be one of the coolest class projects in this course. The class is going to define the history of the University in a specific number of objects. We don't know what that specific number is yet - - maybe each student will research one object, maybe more. The assignment, however, is based on the book The History of New York City in 101 Objects by Sam Roberts.

This project has gotten me to thinking about how I might define my family history, or even just myself, in a objects. Like what would it be like to have a museum exhibit on me. How utterly insufferable that would be. This pondering also has me thinking up synonyms for self-absorbed: egotistical, narcissistic, conceited, pompous, megalomaniac...

Eh but who knows, maybe someday you'll want to do an exhibit on me. You could call it: "April Lynne Earle and The Shit We Had to Clean Out of Her Room."

I've been thinking how would I define myself in objects. Like what are the quintessential objects that people associate with me? What are those things I would take with me were - God forbid - if my world were on fire? And also if in those objects one might be able to see my family history. Hmm.

Maybe you can help me figure out what these things are and what they say about me and/or my family. I think there is no better place to experiment with this idea then right here on my blog. So be prepared to see some upcoming posts about the stuff I own. And feel free to contribute to the list of things I should include.

Or the synonyms for self-centered.

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