Objects for Object Analysis Paper

by Leslie Madsen-Brooks on September 2, 2010

You may use any of these objects for your object analysis paper, or you may propose an alternate object to the instructor.

Objects #1-17 come from the collections of the Idaho Historical Museum, and photos of the objects are used with permission of the museum. Object #18 comes from an advertisement.  Objects #19-21 were found on Flickr, and are used under a Creative Commons license; clicking on objects 19, 20, or 21 will take you to the original photo page on Flickr.  See the note on Object #22 for more information on its provenance.

Objects #1-17 are also available in a photo set on Flickr.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of the image.

Object 1:

Object 2:

Object 3:

Object 4:

Object 5:

Object 6:

Object 7:

Object 8:

Object 9:

Object 10:

Object 11:

Object 12:

Object 13:

Object 14:

Object 15:

Object 16:

Object 17:

Object 18:

Object 19:

Object 20:

Note: if you would like to study Object #20 from other angles, it is on exhibit at the Idaho Historical Museum in Julia Davis Park, next to campus.

Object 21:

Object 22:


(This final image shows Object #22 after it was damaged in recent years.  Compare it carefully with the similar image above to see if you can tell a story about the object and its importance.)

Object #22 has a plaque connected with it, and I have blurred out much of the plaque because it gives away too much information.  I’ll give the source of the images once you’ve turned in your papers.

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Object Analysis Paper

by Leslie Madsen-Brooks on September 2, 2010

Download this assignment as a Microsoft Word document (.doc).

Object Analysis: Practicing Prownian Analysis

For this 4-6 page paper, you need to:

  • pick one three-dimensional object from the collection on the course website*
  • analyze it using Jules Prown’s approach to material culture.

Your essay must include:

  • an original, compelling argument concerning what the object reveals about its owners’ values, beliefs, and habits;
  • a very brief discussion of Prown’s method;
  • a thorough description of the object (Prown step 1);
  • some deductions about the object (Prown step 2);
  • speculations/cultural daydreams about the object (Prown step 3);
  • if you feel it is warranted, some light research on the object or the context in which it might have been used (Prown step 4)
  • a reflection on whether you feel Prown’s method is a good one for approaching this object, or if there are other methods you might use that allow you to better understand the culture of the object’s owners.

Your essay must be well-organized. It should have an introductory paragraph that makes an argument (thesis statement), several body paragraphs that proceed logically with clear transitions, and a concluding paragraph.

A note on grades:

To earn an A, your essay must meet all of the requirements above and be free of errors of grammar, usage, spelling, and mechanics.  Overall, the “A” paper is interesting, thoughtful, and a pleasure to read.

A “B” essay will have a clear argument and will attempt to do all of the above, but the argument might not be entirely original or compelling.  In addition, the paper may be less than successful in fulfilling one or two requirements of the assignment.

A “C” essay will make a mediocre, unoriginal argument and/or fail to apply Prownian analysis to its best advantage.  It may leave out a minor requirement of the paper and/or exhibit several grammatical errors.

An essay without a clearly articulated argument, or one that shows its author does not understand Prownian analysis, will earn a D.  The D paper probably is missing required portions of the paper.

An essay that fails to meet several requirements of the assignment will earn an F.

This paper is due on Tuesday, September 20 at the beginning of class.  I am available during office hours and by appointment to help you craft your argument and portions of your paper.

*If there is another object you have your heart set on analyzing, come see me to talk about it. Please note: You may not choose to analyze objects that have been discussed in class (e.g., quilts).

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Sample object for discussion

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Click on the images below to view them in a larger size on Flickr:

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