Methodologies for material culture: skills for study

Course date(s): 
31 May 2013
10:00-17:00, London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre, Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London N1 7ED


This workshop is part of the AHRC Collaborative Skills Development Programme Methodologies for material culture, which aims to provide postgraduate students and early career researchers in the Arts and Humanities with training in the skills required in the study of material culture, concentrating particularly on the employment of digital technologies and methodologies across disciplinary boundaries. Introductory training will be delivered through a series of practical workshops to be held at the Institute of Historical Research, Museum of London, The London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre and the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent. The workshops will address the practical application of research methodologies and will be organised on the themes of Status, Power and Authority, Literary Culture, Warfare and Domestic Culture. The workshops will incorporate theoretical overviews employing early modern textual and visual sources, as well as practical hands-on sessions – both in terms of access to material objects as well as the use of technology (e.g. laser scanners).

Each free-to-attend workshop is designed around existing collections of objects, special library collections and digital collections at the respective institutions, and will include a two hour ‘masterclass’ to expose participants to the practical application of skills within an environment of unique collections. The workshops will be used to allow students and researchers to inform directly the development of more advanced, tailored training packages to be disseminated online.

Course details

The first workshop (in a series of four to take place over the summer and autumn) will take place at the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre. It will focus on objects drawn from the Museum of London’s collections, primarily from its archaeological archives. Hands-on sessions will be the main feature of the day with practical training in how to ‘read’ and interpret objects. The day will explore how, in the words of Fran├žois Dagognet, ‘any object, even the most ordinary, embodies ingenuity, choices, a culture’.

The day will be led by Alex Werner, Head of History Collections, and Roy Stephenson, Head of Archaeological Collections. The theme of the day – Status, Power, and Authority – will be applied to objects from the period 1500-1800. 

Reasonable travel costs will be reimbursed on production of receipts.


10:00  Coffee

10:30  Master class: Roy Stephenson, Head of Archaeological Collections and Alex Werner, Head of History Collections, Museum of London

12:30  Lunch

13:30  Workshop session one - individual object study

14:30  Study presentations

15:00  Tea

15:15  Workshop session two - group object study

16:00  Study presentations

16:30  Concluding remarks

17:00  End