Object Analysis Annotated Bibliography for Renaissance Maiolica
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The methodologies presented by the various authors listed in the bibliography below are useful for the purposes of my project in certain ways. Here are three steps:

Step One:Jules Prown, E. McClung Fleming and Charles Montgomery list methodologies which are directly utilized in the formation of my maiolica model. All three approach material culture studies from the decorative arts approach, and pay specific attention to the cultural implications of these objects in a wider societal context. Prown also indicates the need to speculate further on the object's metaphors and purposes, which is useful in taking my analysis further than the historical context of the Renaissance. The weakness of their approaches, which I have attempted to modify by synthesizes the models of all three, is that each is lacking a specific historical focus in their approach which clearly portrays the use of textual sources to modify their artifact findings.

Step Two: For textual approaches integrated with material culture analysis, I am going to rely on the examples provided by Kenneth Ames, Jean Claude Dupont, Katherine Grier, and Adrienne Hood and David Thier-Ruddel. Their approaches, which utilize the methodologies in the first step, clearly state the value of integrating documentary research and material culture analysis to arrive at new conclusions and speculations. I would use their approaches to enhance the understanding I already have of Renaissance society, culture and philosophy. Documentary study would take place after object study. Hopefully, once I am completed, I will alter the original understanding I had of the role of maiolica in society. With my research, I would like to contribute to the relationship between maiolica ware which exist in Toronto and their context in Renaissance society.

Step Three:Finally, for a broader understanding of the context of object analysis, I turn to Roland Barthes and George Kubler, who indicate that it is necessary to look at objects from a general perspective, as a series of signs, metaphors, and semiotic signposts within the wider sphere of art historical , anthropological and ethnographical studies. This kind of approach, although complex, will help situate the objects I study in a larger overall framework, although the danger is to start with this perspective and taint the methodological clarity with which objects are analyzed. I hope to refrain from this by doing a general analysis as a final step in my artifact study.


Ames, Kenneth L. "Meaning in Artifacts: Hall Furnishings in Victorian America." Material Culture Studies in America. editor Thomas J. Schlereth, 206-22. London: Altamira Press, 1999.

Abstract: Ames's essay is based on the material culture analysis of manufactured goods as a system of objects worthy of study. By looking at manufactured Victorian hall furnishings, particularly the detailed analysis of design qualities, size and position in a space, Ames's ascertains the societal implications of these objects and the rituals surrounding them. His use of both textual and visual sources in a complementary fashion makes his conclusions both fascinating and believable.

Barthes, Roland. "Rhetoric of the Image." Image, Music, Text. editor S. Heath1964.

Abstract: In his semiotic analysis of advertising images, Barthes engages in a discourse which attempts to link the text of the image with the image itself. His approach is contextualized by the methodology of material culture studies through his systemization of the connotative and denotative meanings imbedded in images and our perception of them. Barthes proposes that the historical inquiry of photographic material and its relationship to text (as related to advertising) is complicated by the means of masking the constructed meaning of imagery under the appearance of the given meaning with the progress of technology.

Dupont, Jean Claude. "The Meaning of Objects: The Poker." editor Gerald L. Pocius, 1-18. St. John's, Newfoundland: ISER, 1991.

Abstract: Jean Claude Dupont's evaluation of the poker in early Quebec culture, moving through an analysis of its real functions (technique) and its imaginary functions (ritual/symbolic), reflects the theory set out by other material culture historians, such as Prown and Fleming, that objects carry meaning far beyond their obvious use. His serialization of pokers is especially useful in understanding the kinds of interpretations and conclusions one may make after looking at a overall series of objects, their transformations, usages and manifestations in society.

Fleming, E. McClung. "Artifact Study: A Proposed Model." Winterthur Porfolio 9 (1974): 153-73.

Abstract: Fleming's model is based on the idea that object analysis should move from the obvious physical analysis to its classification. It should then be evaluated within the context of modern culture and the culture within which it was created. The object analysis begins with an identification of the object's materials, moves to a description of its design, style and function, which is part of the identification stage, and the evaluation of the object's qualities and physical attributes. Finally, the object is interpretated according to the cultural values of our times.

Grier, Katherine C. Culture and Comfort: People, Parlors and Upholstery 1850-1930. Rochester: Strong Museum, 1988.

Abstract: Grier's study of the interiors of the Victorian period through to the Second World War is fascinating in its dependence upon the objects themselves as means to evaluating the societal norms regarding parlours. By supporting her object analysis with documentary research, Grier makes a strong case for the historical significance of material culture study, as a viable means to uncovering information which are exempt from the written sources. Her chapter on the gendering of the parlour through the use of particular 'female' objects, such as lace and dainty upholstery, and her architectural analysis of the position of the parlour within the home are two aspects which only visual sources could indicate, confirming her case for material culture analysis.

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Hood, Adrienne D. and David-Thiery Ruddel. "Artifacts and Documents in the History of Quebec Textiles." Living in a Material World: Canadian and American Approaches to Material Culture. editor Gerald L. Pocius, 55-91.

Abstract: Hood and Ruddel joined scholarly forces in this paper to uncover new findings about the nature of the production of Quebec textiles. Hood, with a textile background honed by her curatorial work at the Royal Ontario Museum, and Ruddel, a Quebec historian, amalgamated both material analysis (imploying methodologies proposed by both Fleming and Prown) techniques with historical information of the Quebec region to discover that the impact of colonialism was far greater in the textile industry of Quebec than at first realized. Rather than being local and provincial in their textile production and motifs, which shows the influence of British design concepts and modes of weaving. This essay makes a firm case for the usefulness of complementary analysis of both artifact and text, where one enhances the other, and in this case, even corrects assumptions that were traditionally viewed as indisputable aspects of national folklore.

Kubler, George. The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1962.

Abstract: Kubler's thesis that art cannot be considered only temporally, but needs to be categorized according to metaphorical and visual similarities to works of all contexts, was a groundbreaking one for its time. His interdisciplinary approach to understanding objects motivated the understanding of objects as being linked by their similarity of ideals and constructs, rather than temporal classifications. His study, which picked up on the great changes and shifts in academic thinking about art, influenced scholars such as Kenneth Ames.

Maquet, Jacques. "Objects As Instruments, Objects As Signs." History From Things: Essays on Material Culture. editors Steven Lubar and Kingery W. David, 30-40.

Abstract: Maquet indicates that the reading of objects as signs, for their connotative meanings, is a different exercise than that involved in interpretating their role and function. Symbolism is more difficult to derive, and Maquet suggests, through examples such as the 1851 Greek Revival steam engine, that implicit cultural meanings are bound by temporal and geographical contexts and are thus changeable. Historians need to be aware that utilizing objects as sources for history requires interpretation of varying sorts: as symbols, as images, as indicators, and as referents (from the less culture-specific interpretation to one entirely dependent on a particular culture). The last aspect of historical analysis of objects is the most difficult and arbitrary, for it does not allow understanding without learning the conventional code of a culture, a task, once achieved, will help, in Macquet's opinion, illuminate the words that substantiate both the object and its culture.

Montgomery, Charles F. "The Connoisseurship of Artifacts." Material Culture Studies in America. editor Thomas J. Schlereth, 143-52. London: Altamira Press, 1999.

Abstract: Montgomery's approach is based on the high decorative arts philosophy, which places all the emphasis on the object itself, and does not give insight to the viewer. It is helpful,however, in systematically describing the obvious physical characteristics of the object in question and historically contextualizing it. His model investigates the decorative features of the object, moves through a systematic analysis of material and construction,and concludes with a historical contextualization of production and consumption.

Prown, Jules. "On the 'Art ' in Artifacts." Living in a Material World: Canadian and American Approaches to Material Culture. editor Gerald L. Pocius, 144-55. St. John's, Newfoundland: Institute of Social and Economic Research, 1991.

Abstract: In this essay, Prown applies his thesis, which states that artifacts are cultural indicators of the beliefs, values and metaphors of a certain society, to the analysis of tea kettles. His approach, which moves through his methodology structure, begins with the analysis of the obvious features of tea kettles, to its utilitarian aspects, and finally moves into the conceptual and metaphorical realm, where he concludes that the design of these objects,and the ritual accompanying them, can metaphorically be related to breastfeeding (which he substantiates on both physiological and artistic premises). Also interesting is Prown's discussion of the gendering of the ritual of tea drinking, which is the final conclusion he makes based on his interpretative model.

Prown, Jules. "Style As Evidence." Winterthur Portfolio 15, no. 3 (1980): 197-210.

Abstract: Prown, as Professor of Art (at Yale), interprets style as those elements and visual characteristics which enable us to categorize an object into a certain period and method of production. Prown says style is "inescapably culturally expressive..the formal data embodied in objects are therefore of value as cultural evidence, and that the analysis of style can be useful for other than purely art historical studies".(197) Prown's methodology is based upon his belief that style is expressed in the way in which something is done, produced, or expressed, and is manifested in the form of things rather than in content. Object analysis thus is based upon the understanding that objects reflect cultural values in their style, which can be apprehended through stylistic analysis. Through various examples of chairs and tables, Prown concludes that a society reflects a cultural stylistic identity when there are shared stylistic elements in a whole range of objects, beyond the limitations of a specific period of time.

Prown, Jules David. "Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method." Winterthur Portfolio 17, no. 1 (1982): 1-20.

Abstract: Prown outlines the methodology of object analysis as related to material culture studies. After evaluating the broad scope of material artifact analysis, Prown indicates that the method of artifact study is based upon semiotics and the underlying principle that the formation of the object in itselfis a manifestation of human behaviour, and is in itself significant. His methodology begins with substantial analysis, which takes into account the descriptive physical inventory of the object, including the use of scales, UV lamps, X-rays, etc. The next step is the description of the object's content, its decorative aspects, with the final step of its formal analysis, which is its overall line, form and shape. From this point on, the object analysis moves into the realm of its relationship with the perceiver, which is termed by Prown as the deductive stage, and involves sensory and intellectual engagement, emotional response, and moves into speculation, where theories and hypotheses for the object in question are defined and a program of research takes place. Prown investigates the potential of interdisciplinary research and the wealth of knowledge this approach brings to the overall understanding of the object being analyzed and its cultural connections. In this way, Prown argues, artifacts become manifestations of the realities of belief in other people of differing time and place, and through careful analysis and description, could be a vital historical tool.

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