Reading Blog 3

The mahogany in The Costs of Luxury in Early America really impressed me. From waste wood to luxury product, it revamped her image successfully. As Jennifer demonstrated that this transformation was caused not so much by coincident as by a confluence of events. The methods that she used to interpret the mahogany was simple and understandable. First, regrading to the objects per se, the natural features of them were significant to observe. For instance, the ecological and the geological situation gave the mahogany special physical properties which determined the exact use of them. Second, objects always associated with human performance and gained identity from those social activities such as the consumer fixations, labor regimes. The most interesting thing was that “enslaved Africans may have experienced and valued their natural surroundings in very different ways than their masters”. The extent to which individuals got involved in revealed the direct connection with objects. People who consumed those materials had different motivations and various goals. To have a better understand of people’s behavior at that time, the best way is to dig into the material evidence and interpret them in a proper way.

Another article just broadened my mind, “Makers, Buyers, and Users” provided me a totally different and new model to learn objects. The first time when I read the “Meaning in Artifacts: Hall Furnishings in Victorian America”, I had some questions about the people who bought the hall furnishing, like why did they buy this kind of things? And what did the design of the hall furnishings mean? In this case, I never thought about that the consumerism was a suitable way to study household goods even when I wrote my method research assignment. The method in “Mind the Matter” was so strong and impressive in my mind that it just became kind of my bias and I could not get out of the stereotype.

From this paper, Ann Smart Martin gave me a general view about consumerism. As shopping gradually became the mainstream of our pastime, the wish for material things was the new world power. (01) The buyers’ behavior of consumption was a vital part of social activities, so how consumerism effected people and interacted with objects was essential for historians to focus on. On the other hand, users also gave new meaning to objects. Also, learning from each subject could gave us new insights into the objects which were symbolic and complex to understand. Through searching the material information, there might be some patterns here to produce and assemble the goods. And it reminded me the experience from last class and presented a question to me about how to organize the order and make every step in good sense. So, in regard to the “makers”, I think that refining the methods or maybe deconstructing the methods is significant for qualifying the description of our objects.



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