While only one or two panels at Boston’s American and New England Studies Conference on March 23rd are explicitly about waste or ruination, I’m posting it because I think discard studies could use a push beyond the oft-used frames of production and consumption. Many of us are doing such work, including the complication of “production” and “consumption,” but a fresh look at the topic via material cultural studies could be refreshing. If anyone is in the Boston area and will be attending the conference, I would look forward to a report back and how some of  the conference’s themes might relate to discard studies in particular. To that end, guest posts, comments or private emails welcome.

The American and New England Studies Program at Boston University is pleased to announce its Saturday, March 23, 2013 graduate student conference, “Beyond Production and Consumption: Refining American Material Culture Studies.” Led by a keynote address from Prof. Edward S. Cooke of Yale University, the conference seeks to enlarge our understanding of what Arjun Appadurai has identified as “the social life of things,” and to extend the analytical and methodological processes that underpin material culture studies. Our presenters will engage material culture from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives and examine processes of appropriation, transformation, reclamation, and reinvention related to American material culture. This event is sponsored by the Graduate Student Association of the American and New England Studies Program, the American and New England Studies Program at Boston University, and the Boston University Center for the Humanities.

Saturday, March 23, 2013
SCHEDULE of EVENTS
(all events to be held at 147 Bay State Road, Boston, MA, unless otherwise indicated)

9:00 Registration: coffee, tea, and pastries

9:30 Keynote Lecture
Professor Edward S. Cooke, Jr., Charles F. Montgomery Professor, History of
American Decorative Arts and Material Culture, Yale University

10:15 Break: coffee, tea and pastries

10:30 Evocative Commodities and Material Imaginaries
Molly Rosner, American Studies, Rutgers University
“Reinventing History Through Nostalgic Material Culture: The American Girl Doll
Empire”

Rebecca Scofield, History of American Civilization, Harvard University
“You a Real Cowboy?: American Masculinity and the Marketing of Western Wear
in the 1980s”

Mary Beth Finch, Sociology, Northwestern University
“The Sacralization Process and the Meaning of Fair Trade”

12:00 Lunch: boxed lunches provided! !

1:00 Interrogating Material Traditions and Rituals
Gina Guzzon, History of Decorative Art, Smithsonian Institution Associates at
George Mason University
“Crafting Material Culture: Activism, New Domesticity, or Pop-culture?”

Diana Greenwold, History of Art, University of California Berkeley
“The New Old: Lace Making at New York’s Scuola d’Industrie Italiane”

Kelsey Brosnan, Art History, Rutgers University
“Tea with Mary Cassatt in the MFA’s Art of the Americas Wing”

2:30 Break: coffee, tea, and pastries

2:45 Material Signs, Changing Fortunes (two mini-panels)
Emily C. McEwen, Public History, University of California Riverside
“Inn Ruin: Display, Decay, and Renewal at Riverside’s Mission Inn”

Carla Cevasco, History of American Civilization, Harvard University
“The Brutality of Gentility: A Massachusetts Merchant Family, 1737-1787”

Self, Inscribed: Bound Material Strategies
Caroline M. Riley, History of Art and Architecture, Boston University
“Traversing a Vision: Harriet S. Tolman’s Views from a Trip to California,
1888-1889”

Amy N. Breimaier, History, University of Massachusetts Amherst
“‘For the Use of all good Little BOYS and GIRLS’: Children’s Use of Their
Literature in the Early Republic”

4:30: Reception

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