Material Life of a Thing

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Anthropology

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

Material Life of a Thing

Spring 2020

Taught By: Shannon Mattern

Section: A

CRN: 7141

Credits: 4

Where were your sneakers born? And where will they end up once they’ve served their pedestrian purpose? What about your smartphone, that BILLY bookshelf from IKEA, those compostable containers in the cafeteria, the glass bottle that held your afternoon kombucha? In this class we’ll draw on literature and methods from anthropology, science and technology studies, design studies, materials science, environmental studies, and allied fields to study the material lives of things. We’ll engage two case studies: [two emblematic objects yet to be determined]. We’ll create collaborative dossiers that chart their life cycles, excavate their geological and environmental histories and futures, digram their constituent parts, map those parts’ pathways of agglomeration, and narrate their biographies -- as well as the biographies of those individuals, communities, and institutions who come into contact with our artifacts at various stages of their lifespans. We’ll conduct interviews and fieldwork where applicable. Each student will then create their own dossier, which can take on any form and incorporate a variety of media, for a single thing that emblematizes their own areas of research interest.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Anthropology (LANT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 18

Enrollment Status: Open*

*Enrollment status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 12:32pm 8/23/2019

Meeting Info:

Days: Monday, Wednesday

Times: 4:00pm - 5:40pm

Building: TBD

Room: TBD

Date Range: 1/22/2020 - 5/11/2020