Category Archives: Blog Project Prompts

Blog Post 9: Prownian Description of the Gold Awareness Ribbon

This weightless object bears an equivalent color as that of the golden glow from the rising sun. Measuring 24 cm long and 2 ½ cm wide, a long rectangular object feels smooth on one side and rough on the other. A closer look reveals that this aureate fabric is formed with a satin weave in which the threads of polyester intersect to purposely create a smooth, lustrous surface and a dull, matte back.


Side stitching is noticeable on each side of the fabric’s width but on each end of the fabric’s length exists frays. With one simple pull on one of these frays, the fabric will quickly and easily unravel, which discloses the object’s delicacy.


Holes created by pinningFour tiny pin holes are visible on the fabric, two of which appear approximately 6 cm from each end indicating that these two tiny holes were created by the same pin. When metamorphosing the object to have the two pin holes from each end align, the fabric acquires varied symbolic shapes to which depends on the consumer’s purpose. The shape is now similar to that of the Ichthys yet without a profound loop and more fabric dangling below the pin. The position of the pinholes suggest that, unlike that of the Ichthys, this object is to be represented vertically.


Blog Post #7: The Culture Behind the Shoe

While doing research for my timeline project, I encountered the article Classic Campaigns- “ It’s Gotta Be the Shoes.” This article by Catherine A. Coleman does a wonderful job adding to the importance of our understanding of material culture studies exploring the culture behind Air Jordan brand.

In the article, Coleman begins by giving an overview of an ongoing debate about the Jordan Brand. When Nike’s advertising agency hired Spike Lee, an African-American film director, in the mid 1980’s to direct commercials for the up and coming basketball star Michael Jordan, they had no idea the amount of success and controversy it would cause. While Nike, Spike Lee, and Michael Jordan were successful as businessmen, critics of their business practices resulted in the trio being implicated in what came to be known as the “sneaker killings.”

A columnist for the New York Post, Phil Mushnick, was credited for sparking the debate about the questionable practices of Jordan, Lee, and Nike. Muschnick had paralleled Jordan to that of a drug dealer. Mushnick’s argument rested on the premise that Lee, Jordan, and Nike lacked social responsibility for endorsing sneakers at such a high price, which in turn caused young teens to commit crimes as bad as killing to acquire a pair. Spike Lee responded to Mushnick’s claim by calling his comment “thinly veiled racism.”  Furthermore, Lee asked why Muschnick would single out three of the most important role models for young African-Americans. Lee argued that Mushnick’s logic implied that


“ poor whites won’t kill for a pair of Jordans, but poor blacks will. . . . It is crazy to think that all black kids who can’t afford the sneakers are resorting to selling crack to buy them. Any kid who is selling crack is not doing that just to sport a pair of Jordans.”


For the purposes of material culture, who is right or wrong is not as important as the debate itself. The argument at hand speaks directly to the culture behind the sneaker. The object of my timeline is the Air Jordan Retro 11, and even though Michael Jordan has been retired from the National Basketball Association for a little over a decade, sales from his sneakers are just as high as they were while he was still playing; the reasons for this these sales are some of the same topics of debate highlighted in this article.

Before researching the Air Jordan Retro 11 for my timeline, I was under the misapprehension that Air Jordan sneakers were still popular because of the accomplishments of Michael Jordan, but this has proved to be far from the truth. The popularity of Air Jordan sneakers is where marketing, Jordan’s accomplishments, hip-hop, and urban culture all meet together. An understanding of material culture allows one to study these various components and put them together to create what is—the success of the Air Jordan Retro 11.

Blog Post #10: What is exposition?

The full title of this class, from the course catalog, is “History, Theory, and Practice of Expository Writing.” Over the course of the semester we have identified some of the formal and rhetorical characteristics of expository writing. In general, the purpose of expository writing is to explain, inform, and describe. Its organizational structure tends to be narrative or associative. Expository writing is often found in “essays,” a form or genre that, as Lynn Z. Bloom explains, often operates as a catch-all category for the heterogenous canon of short works studied in first-year composition courses.  Expository writing that describes or explains the author’s subjective experience and perception displays the markers of “expressive discourse,” that is writing through which the author develops and comes to a better understanding of her identity as a human subject in the world.

Image credit: “Message #1” by John Nicholls on Flickr.

In this blog post, you will offer your answer to the question presented in the title: What is expository writing? Or, in a formulation that includes modes of composition that employ more than alphabetic text: What is exposition? How is exposition different from persuasion? And what is the relationship between exposition, as a rhetorical activity, and material culture studies, as an interdisciplinary field of cultural study and analysis? What, if anything, can we learn about the history, theory, and practice of exposition from material culture studies? Or, how does material culture studies draw upon the theories, or reproduce the practices of exposition?

Posting: Group 2

Commenting: Group 1

Category: What is exposition?

In your Blog #10 post, you should do more than offer a list of answers to these questions. Rather, you should offer a cohesive, reasoned answer to the central question presented in the prompt title: What is exposition? In the course of attempting to answer that question, you may also be offering answers to these or other related questions. Your post, though, should read as a coherent statement about, perhaps even an argument in favor of the criteria you are using to define what exposition is. You are encouraged to draw upon any of the texts we have read this semester, including Writer/Designer and Everyone’s An Author.  Please carefully read and follow the guidelines and posting information for this blog as they’ve been outlined in the Blog Project Description.

Feature Image: “moleskine” by Jochen Handschuh on Flickr.

BLOG #9 Baby Anatomy

The anatomy of a baby doll is equivalent to that of a baby. The structure of the baby doll is about the size of a one month old baby. The body of the baby doll is very delicate, S-shape spine taking usually up until one year to develop. Divided in to multiple stages, the uniqueness of the baby doll spine is essential to the way the baby is carried, held and even feed. The baby muscles are not strong enough to straighten up.
While the baby doll is at such a young age, it is important that we pay close attention to the anatomy, some of the baby doll Skeleton is still cartilage and bones haven’t completely formed. This process takes year and not finished until humans are completely grown

The baby doll will need to be properly held, the younger the baby the more supported need for the spine. A good baby carrier therefore supports the baby back firmly. The baby doll has short legs and arms. Also small round head,very comforting and extremely soft. The baby doll temperature is warm. In addition bring a scene of new beginnings and reminds me of the way little baby rely on adults for security.

Blog Post #9: Air Jordan 11 Description

The Air Jordan Retro 11, which serves as the subject of my analysis measures to twelve inches long and six inches high above the ankles. The sole is divided into two parts, which the designers have said create a more flexible feel for Jordan’s feet while he played basketball games. The bottom portion of the sole is a light shade of red and resembles that of a rubber material. Horizontal ridges begin at the toe of the shoe and transition around the entire sneaker. The upper portion of the sole is an inch and a half of white cushion that when contrasted with the lower red portion and the materials of the actual shoe, make the shoe more noticeable.

The section of the shoe that covers the toes rest on the double-layered sole, and is made of black patent leather, which resembles the dress shoes of an army command sergeant major. The black patent leather on top of the double-layered sole creates a red, black, and white combination that goes perfectly with the Chicago Bulls game jerseys. This patent leather was unpopular when the shoe was first released, because of the fact that before the shoe’s release, the only shoes that made use of patent leather to date were worn by women.

Above the patent leather portion of the sneaker is a material with more texture than the black patent leather and possess six vertical slits on each side in order to hold the shoelaces.  On the tongue of the shoe, there is writing that if you look at forwards resembles Greek lettering, but if you turn it sideways reads, “Jumpman Jordan.” In between the words “Jumpman” and “Jordan” is the iconic Jordan symbol, which is also on the back of the sneaker.The Jumpman Jordan symbol, which is also the logo for the entire Air Jordan brand, is a silhouette of Michael Jordan flying through the air palming a basketball over his head with his right hand in what appears to be an attempt to slam dunk the basketball. His left hand is lowered behind his body with all five of Jordan’s fingers extended near his thigh. His legs are spread as if Jordan is attempting to do a split in the air. His left foot is pointed in forward, which one can only guess is the location of the basketball rim Jordan is attempting to slam the basketball in, and his right foot is pointing outward making Jordan’s posture a position only a well trained athlete could accomplish.

Blog Post #9: Object Description

The final project for this class asks you to craft a multimodal object analysis. This project, Project 6, is modeled on an assignment designed by Jules David Prown for his students, which is described in Kenneth Haltman’s “Introduction” to American Artifacts. The first stage of the assignment requires students to write a detailed description of an object:

Thoroughly describe this object, paying careful attention, as relevant, to all of its aspects–material, spatial, and temporal. Be attentive to details (for which a technical vocabulary will almost certainly prove useful), but ever keep an eye on the big picture. Imbue your description with the thick texture of taxonomy yet with the flow of narrative. Render it as easy and appealing to read, as effortlessly interdependent of its parts as the object itself. Producing a sketch or schematic drawing may further this process, but avoid wasting precious words at this point on introductions, conclusions, restatements of the assignment, or autobiographical confessions; just describe what you see. But be sure to enjoy the pleasures in close looking–in translating material object into narrative description.

Posting: Groups 1 and 2

Commenting: N/A

Image Credit: “Eye” by Helga Birna Jónasdóttir on Flicr.

For your blog posting this week, everyone will post an object analysis written to Prown’s specifications. This should be a description of a particular material object. So, even if your object of study up until this point has been relatively abstract–necessity, college, value, motherhood; even pizza is a kind of abstraction–your description will focus on one specific and material thing. That thing may be an empty Coke can, a slice of leftover pepperoni pizza from your refrigerator, a doll, the Pounce statue in front of the GSU Student Center, the left shoe from your pair of vintage Air Jordans, your two-year-old iPhone with the cracked screen and the leopard print case, the papier mache sculpture you created for Project 5, etc. The object you select will be the focus of the description you post in response to this prompt, and it will provide the central focus of your multimodal object analysis for Project 6.

Featured Image Credit: Robberfly Macro by Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel on Flickr.

Blog Post 8: Breaking the Vicious Circle of Desire

According to Jean Baudrillard, sociologist and philosopher, there are “three orders of simulacra” in  which we can divide the course of history. In the first order, called “the counterfeit” or the early capitalism, people desired things because of their socially symbolic value. In other words, people thought in terms of signs: the different classes were recognizable through distinct objects, such as a particular attire, beautiful houses, expensive accessories, etc. In the second order, called “the series” or industrial capitalism, the large-scale factory production instilled a desire for things that was based on their sign value, namely the idea that people define their identity through the things they possess. People bought things that were not directly related to the idea of survival, but rather tied to the culture in which they lived. Finally in the third order, called “the hyperreal” or postmodernism (right after World War II), commodities became a language; the signifier  became digital, a machine, DNA. Society began programming people to acquire things not because they operate as signs, but because they work as human language: the rapid technological development created an environment in which the media conditioned us to buy unnecessary objects. I believe that we are living in this kind of society  nowadays. Indeed, we are conditioned to want something and, once we have satisfied this initial desire, we are programmed to immediately desire something else. It is a cyclical process including the following stages: a strong desire, the appropriation of the object and a temporary sense of satisfaction, and finally a new desire for something that replaces the previous object.

For example, for trivial it might be, the invention of the mobile phone is a revolutionary step in the postmodern technological wave that changed the way in which people live all over the world, affecting social customs and cultural conventions, as well as economic and political practices. At the same time, however, it has opened the door to a mechanism of alienation and self-destruction that probably was not foreseen when the first models were introduced to the market. Indeed, we are obsessed with mobile! Although this technology is supposed to bring people together through a global net of communication, it often drives them apart as norms such as etiquette and genuine conversation are ignored in favor of a more digital approach to social conventions. That is why recently it has become a fashion to ask the first person who reaches for his or her phone during a meal to pay for the bill.

blog-post-on-mobile-etiquette (1)

In my experience, buying something is always tempting, and this temptation takes the form of clothes for me. The obvious benefits is that I can enjoy and display something new and beautiful, receive compliments from other people, have a confirmation of my sense of fashion and enhance my self-esteem. The equally obvious costs literally weigh on my wallet and reflect in a wardrobe that after a certain period of time I just want to replace, and figuratively traduce into a constant stress for the money I dissipate and the urgency of finding new storage in an already cluttered closet. There is a real disease termed “oniomania” for those who have the uncontrollable and compulsive desire to shop, a clinical addiction that might have disastrous results in one’s private life.

In an article entitled “Addition to Shopping Becomes a Serious Mental Disorder,” psychologist Nadezhda Yugrina claims that “shopping addiction resembles drug, gambling or alcoholic addiction. One should look for its reasons in the childhood of every particular individual. As a rule, such people suffered from the shortage of human care and tenderness when children. A person can grow in a normal family and receive good education, but experience a strong need in love. When such people grow up, they can find attention in various stores.” The first symptoms of shopping disorder were identified in the 1990s. This mental disorder is common mostly with women. “Researchers found out that about twenty percent of German women acknowledge their insuperable desire to buy something all the time. The addiction has conquered 40 percent of American women, whereas 52 percent of British females said they found shopping a lot more enjoyable than sex.”

In this case, people use things as a compensation and a form of extended self. To the disease of oniomania, it has been dedicated a movie called “I Love Shopping” in which the female protagonist has the uncontainable urge to buy clothes. Despite the happy ending, the movie clearly shows the costs of wanting things. The same addiction can be found in other female figures on the screen: Rachel Green from “Friends, ”Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City,” Caroline Channing from “2 Broke Girls,” and so on.

In conclusion, there are many benefits and costs for wanting things. Although the reason why people desire material things changed in the course of history, there is still a strong connection between humans and the artifacts they produce, and it is a psychological, cultural, and social connection in nature. However, I believe that the costs of human desire are often superior to the benefits as we sometimes fall in a vicious circle in which we constantly desire things that we don’t need without ever reaching a complete and enduring satisfaction.

Blog #8 Object Needs and Consumption

After reading all these interesting blog post and really asked to consider the idea’s behind the writers. I find that each individual look at consumption and fetish with consumption, and the connection with object from different experiences, and backgrounds totally different. However, ultimately has the same conclusion. In Sneezy article he poses a very interesting point. He made a statement “Food is good, we need to consume to survive”. However, I have a different aspect on it. I agree we need food to survive. But what I do think is that modern Americans are spoiled and totally abuse the idea, and confuse obsession and necessity. I think American is obsessed with having what they want, when they want, not particularly with food. I just feel like they’re so accustomed to having thing whenever they want. A great example is this image sneezy posted, it’s clear that this man do not need this to survive or even satisfy his hunger.
Similarly in Daniels blog post, I’ve noticed the connection to Sneezy post. In Daniel post he talks about the need to be part of the modern word. In my experiences people are indulging in the world of social media because it’s a reflection of who they are, a senses of wanting to belong. I agree in breathes a sense of loneliness because social media and technology alienates and causes loneliness. On the surface it appears that it connects people. However, in my experience I have observed people in the same room not communicating with each other, but on social media. People are no longer communicating on an intimate level.

People have the desire and want for thing according to the influences of modern America, However, it does the change the fact that individuals connect to things according to their needs of society it determine the object of significance. Like the idea of baby wearing, in certain society it was used and relied on to cope and survive.

Blog Post #8: Wanting Things

In their responses for Blog Post #7, Daniel, Sneezy Deezy, Lakisha, and Alex all take up issues related to how we produce ourselves and our culture through the consumption of objects. For example, Daniel muses about how post-modern consumerism may contribute to the construction of an extended, but ultimately alienated self:

Here, I reach the crossroads: Belk and Marx present related, but contrasting points of view- does having enhance or alienate the self?  I tend to think it’s a paradox– both things are happening in real time– the multifaceted existential concepts of self (Sartre via Kinneavy) could, at once, be at odds with one another within the individual, creating a sense of an enlarged and alienated self.

Sneezy Deezy explores how desires created by the marketplace may be feeding (pun intended) our unhealthy obsession with food. It’s an obsession unhealthy not only because it might make us physically sick, but also because it may distract us from significant intellectual work:

Do you think that Americans are obsessed with food? If so, where do you think this tendency to place our emotions on our eating habits comes into play? Is this why obesity and other health problems are an issue? Society focuses so strongly on food that people are becoming famous for their eating habits, or their food creations. For instance, The Guy who Survived on Pizza for 25 Years , now has his own documentary and is famous for having a complete obsession with pizza–his fridge is stocked full with the item–he only eats cheese pizza and claims to never eat pizza. Surprisingly, this so-called “Pizza King” is still healthy, according to his doctor, but is his obsession with one food? The main existence of food is to provide sustenance. What else does it provide and is this a beneficial thing or is it detrimental?

Image “Consume” by What What on Flickr.

Where Daniel and Sneezy Deezy take a look at how modern or post-modern consumption practices may be contributing to social alienation and mental and physical deterioration, Lakisha and Alex take an interest in how consumption of objects may actually help us form personal and cultural bonds that sustain individuals and strengthen societies. As Lakisha observes,  baby carriers not only make it easier for mothers to return to the labor of everyday life while caring for an infant, they can also promote bonding between mother and child by encouraging physical closeness between them. In thinking about how objects help forge connections between individuals and their culture–as well as between individuals and their families–Alex argues that cultural heritage objects function as aids to remembrance and communication of the cherished social experiences and learning processes from which they emerged.

Image “consume” by Nathan Siemers on Flickr.

Taken together, these four blog posts seem to suggest that, although consumption of objects–food, tools, art, etc.–is essential to human existence, satisfying our need for things can involve costs as well as benefits. What are some of those costs and benefits? How do you balance those costs and benefits in your own habits of consumption? What personal experience have you had that might help to illuminate the risks and rewards of our desire for things?

Carefully read or re-read the posts by Daniel, Sneezy Deezy, Alex, and Lakisha. Use those posts and some of the resources to which they link and cite as a starting point for some careful examination of your own consumption practices. Have you ever had to make a purchasing decision in which convenience or personal preference suggested one course of action, and the “greater good” weighed in favor of another? What is the most significant purchase or use of an object you’ve ever made, and why was it so important? How do you see the costs and benefits discussed in these four posts and their sources playing out in your own consumption practices?

Posting: Group 1

Commenting: Group 2

Category: Wanting Things

In your Blog #8 post, you should do more than offer a list of answers to these questions. Rather, you should frame your post around the description of a central experience or practice from your own life, and an examination of what that experience demonstrates about the relevance of consumption to you as an individual and perhaps culture or society more broadly. Please carefully read and follow the guidelines and posting information for this blog as they’ve been outlined in the Blog Project Description.

Feature Image: “CONSUMED” by Mark Colliton on Flickr.

Blog Post #7 : Artifacts without the Flash or Glamour

Featured in Tedx Talks, archaeologist Sada Mire discusses how cultural heritage is a basic human need. Through her experience with African culture ( in her video she primarily discusses Somalis), she explains how the women recalled ancient traditions,such as rug weaving, and hut construction passed down from generation to generation. Sada was surprised the women did not place importance on the actual tangible objects which archaeologists revered, and prized over, but the knowledge on how to construct such ‘artifacts.’ While on this archaeological expedition, when speaking to the Somalian women she discovered they did not care for the very artifacts she searched for, as they could construct their own, but they cherished the memories and experiences associated with their own version of these objects. She explains to the conference this knowledge of their cultural heritage provides future generation with the knowledge to survive in their environment, deeming cultural heritage as a basic human need.  When incorporating this source into my project I originally used it to convey the that objects gains significance and meaning through individualistic perspective. In the case of this source, individualistic changes to a culture’s perspective but the same theory applies. What I found interesting about this source is it provides an answer to why the actual tangible object is necessary. One thing I questioned Mire about was concerning her overall statement saying cultural heritage is a basic human need essentially states the oral communication of these tradition is necessary but not the actual object. She doesn’t place much emphasis on the actual artifacts and objects she discusses. Yet without the tangible object to display and use an anecdote, oral communication might not suffice by itself.Hence this proposes the question how necessary are these objects in correlation with cultural heritage and basic human needs. Without the object how necessary would culture heritage become for a basic human need? This source brought to mind how necessary objects become for not just individuals but societies and cultures as a whole. Myself now being a materialistic person, I don’t believe one really needs any of much objects for a survival and that our society is over-indulgent. Yet I’ve learned that objects provide genuine use for humans. Not just the  knowledge or practicals it provides, but also the feelings and memories we associated with them giving us our unique sense of self and humanity.