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Courses

Here are some descriptions of our core courses. For many of these classes, we’ve included both the terse and generic-sounding descriptions of the Graduate Catalogue, as well as the meatier, more specific descriptions that particular faculty offer for any given section of the class.  

ART/HUM/RLCL 5104: Historical and Theoretical Frameworks in Material Culture and Public Humanities
Catalogue Description: Investigation of methodologies with specific application to cultural objects situated in the public sphere

Sample Course Description from Fall 2018: This course is a cozy, seminar-style introduction to the most important theories guiding scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. Students read original and discuss Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Feminism, Post-modernism, Post-colonialism and other “posts” and “isms.” The course is open to graduate students from across the University and requires no prior theory experience. The weekly reading load averages 100 pages, and the assignments consist of two papers (5-10 pages each) and weakly reading responses.  

ART/HUM/RLCL 5204: Research Methods in Material Culture and Public Humanities.
Catalogue Description: Topics cover steps for developing an installation, from analysis, archiving, to writing and interpretation for various audiences.

Sample Course Description from Spring 2018
This semester, our thematic focus is commemoration, and we’ll investigate a range of personal and public material forms that people have used to remember and reflect. Throughout the semester, we’ll attend to contexts and performances, emphasizing the value of close looking, careful reading, critical thinking and appropriate writing. The course will follow a seminar format, meaning that on most days the first half of each class will largely be devoted to verbal and written analysis, reading discussion, and short in-class writing assessments, while the second half will be given over to films, guest speakers, or practical work on course assignments. On a few days, we’ll spend all of our time at a field site. Class assignments will help you develop skills useful for work in the public sphere, including archival research, field research, and grantwriting. You will have the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned as you prepare a grant application for a public program or research project.

HUM/RLCL 5304: Material Culture and Humanities in the Public Sphere.
Catalogue Description: Advanced seminar on material culture and humanities in the public sphere through an examination of humanistic approaches to civic spaces, applying critical turns to public debates.

Sample Course Description from Spring 2017
In this class, we ask: What is truly public in a culture that prizes private property? What is private in a world of social networks and widespread surveillance? This advanced seminar examines humanistic approaches to civic spaces, applying critical turns to public debates. The course will linger on two questions: (1) What can and should we mean by the term “public humanities”? (2) What is the current “crisis” of the humanities, and what can be done about it? Through reading, discussion, presentation, essay-writing, and independent research, students in this seminar will engage key texts and debates in the study of public humanities in relation to material culture.

ART 5984: Exhibition, Design, and Display                                                                      Catalogue Description: Focus on the display and presentation of visual art, using local (including university) galleries and sites as venues for student-designed exhibitions. Provides experience in the public art arena, and practical knowledge about planning, designing and mounting exhibitions.

ITDS 5124: Preservation of Historic Interiors                                                                 Catalogue Description: Aspects of historic preservation as it relates to historic interiors, including options and approaches to historic interiors, sources for researching structures, codes and standards for adaptive use as they apply to the design of historic interiors, barrier-free design and historic structures, appropriate use of components of an historic interior, such as wall coverings, lighting, and flooring materials.

HIST 5424 – Public History
Catalogue Description: Introduction to the theoretical, interpretive, controversial, and practical issues facing public historians. Focus on interpretations and specific issues surrounding the presentation of history in museum exhibits, documentary films, photographic collections, community history projects, the Internet, and a variety of other public venues.

HIST 5434 – Oral History Methods 
Catalogue Description: Theory and methodology of oral history methods. Use of oral history interviews in historical research, questions of ethics, interpretation, and the construction of memory. Technical operations and a variety of interview techniques, transcription, and historical use of interviews. Pre: Graduate standing.

HIST 5444 – Digital History Methods                                                                                Catalogue Description: Methods for researching and presenting history in a digital environment, with special emphasis on use of digital media as a tool for public historians. Pre: Graduate standing.

HIST 5454 – Topics in Public History       
(As a “special topics” course, the theme of this classes continually changes.)

Sample from Spring 2018                                                                                                        Archives and Special Collections: This course is an overview of the theory and practice of archival work, with a particular focus on archives and special collections programs in an academic setting. The first half of the course examines the roles of an archivist within different contexts, including society, technology, social justice, communities, leadership, and professions. The second half of the course reviews archival practice through topics such as identifying, selecting, preserving, organizing, and accessing archival and special collections materials. Students will complete regular assignments and participate in class discussions. As the final course project, each student work with leaders of a local community based archives program, asses their needs, prepare a detail written report of recommendations, and deliver a short in-class presentation.

HUM/RLCL 5584: Topics in Public Humanities  (As a “special topics” course, the theme of this classes continually changes.)

Sample Description from Fall 2018                                                                                Foundations in Appalachian Studies: This course serves as a graduate level introduction to multidisciplinary scholarship in Appalachian Studies with particular emphasis on history & sociology. We will examine classic & recent studies to explore interpretive shifts & debates in the field, especially as they relate to the study of race, class, gender, and place.

ART 5584: Topics in Material Culture (As a “special topics” course, the theme of this classes rotates every year.)

Sample Description from Spring 2018:
Museum Ethics: An exploration of the practical and philosophical challenges faced by public institutions that are tasked with the preservation and display of material and visual culture. The course will examine dilemmas and controversies relevant to contemporary problems in cultural preservation, including issues of governance, acquisition, finance, collecting, audience, copyright, conservation, and the politics of display (among others).