Tangible Things: How Do Cultures Measure the Past?

Tangible Things is a fascinating MOOC by Harvard University about material culture. Now finished, you can still cruise through the videos. You will be taken on a journey into the living, breathing history of material objects. Sound boring? It’s anything but! It may well change the way that you view mundane things like chairs, rocks and clothing.

Tangible Things: How Do Cultures Measure the Past?

Material culture is the study of everyday objects and how they reflect many different aspects of culture, not just simply history. A chair is never simply a chair: it is the sum and total of political history, design conventions, environmental science, engineering and craftsmanship, international trade, healthcare and a symbol of power. Within every object there are multiple overlapping histories and stories to tell.

The past is not dead, it’s not even past – William Faulkner.

This is a fascinating MOOC that is elegantly executed and delivered with verve and passion by people who really love the complexities of history. Unlike other more standard MOOCs, this one delivers each video in a story format along with compelling music and slick design. It’s unlike any other MOOC I’ve seen and I hope you will enjoy going through and viewing the videos as much as I did.

You can still audit the MOOC and enjoy it at your own pace, even though it’s finished. View it here. If you try it, let me know what you think!

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