Graduate Catalog
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Material Culture & Public Humanities
College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
Formerly known as Barracks No. 1, it was completed October, 1888, at a cost of $20,000 and contained 33,049 sq. ft. It used to house 130 students until it was converted to academic office use in January, 1967. It is the centerpiece building of the Upper Quad. Named after James H. Lane who was the first commandant of cadets (professor of military tactics) from 1872 to 1881.
Lane Hall
Degree(s) Offered:
• MA
MA Degree in Material Culture & Public Humanities
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
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Fall: Aug 01
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Department Chair : Matthew Gabriele
Graduate Program Director(s) : Michelle Moseley Christian (Associate Professor), Aaron Ansell (Associate Professor)
Professors: Brian Britt (Religion and Culture); Matthew Gabriele (Religion and Culture); Sylvester Johnson (Religion and Culture)
Associate Professors: Ananda Abeysekara (Religion and Culture); Aaron Ansell (Religion and Culture); William Green (School of Architecture + Design); Ann-Marie Knoblauch (School of Visual Arts); Michelle Moseley Christian (School of Visual Arts); Emily Satterwhite (Religion and Culture); Peter Schmitthenner (Religion and Culture); Rachel Scott (Religion and Culture); Daniel Thorp (History)
Assistant Professors: Amaryah Armstrong (Religion and Culture); Danille Christensen (Religion and Culture); Zhange Ni (Religion and Culture); Shaily Patel (Religion & Culture); Dominique Polanco (Religion and Culture); Anne Ronan (School of Visual Arts); LaDale Winling (History)
Professor of Practice: Deborah Sim (School of Visual Arts)


This 30-credit cross-disciplinary degree has two interrelated emphases, material culture and public humanities, and prepares students for a wide range of careers in museums, historical societies, archives, and community-building organizations.  

We take material culture to mean those tangible things--objects, landscapes, bodies-- that humans have shaped to their use; our studies examine these things from critical, theoretical, and historical perspectives, viewing them as expressions of cultural logics and political struggles.

We take the humanities-- including the disciplines of anthropology, art history, history, literature, and music-- to refer to the study of how people make meaning out of the world. Public humanities, for us, entails the project of partnering humanities scholars with those actors who produce knowledge and remake the world outside the university  

The curriculum entails a minimum of 30-credits of graduate courses.  We recommend that students enter the program in the fall semester. The deadline for applications for fall semester is February 15 to receive consideration for a funding (tuition and stipend) as a Graduate Assistant (GA) or Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). 

For more information about the MCPH MA Program, please visit our website: , and feel free to contact the co-directors: Drs. Aaron Ansell ( and Michelle Moseley ( 


The curriculum entails a minimum of 30-credits of graduate courses.  Those students who wish to also complete a thesis will take an additional 6 credits, for a total of 36-credits. All students will take five common core courses, with an option to choose between a preservation course or a public history course, depending on their emphasis on either material culture or public humanities. All students will also complete an internship/practicum project and report in a museum, historical society or cultural organization. Each student will be formally mentored by at least one faculty member in the creative formation of their plan of study.

A. Required Core Courses (15 credits)

1. ART/HUM/RLCL 5104: Historical and Theoretical Frameworks in Material Culture and Public Humanities I (3 cr)

(Investigation of methodologies with specific application to cultural objects situated in the public sphere)

 2. ART/HUM/RLCL 5204: Research Methods in Material Culture and Public Humanities II (3 cr)

(Topics cover steps for developing an installation, from analysis, archiving, to writing and interpretation for various audiences.)

3. HUM/RLCL 5304: Material Culture and Humanities in the Public Sphere (3 cr)

(Advanced seminar on material culture and humanities in the public sphere through an examination of humanistic approaches to civic spaces, applying critical turns to public debates.)

4. ART 5984: Exhibition, Design, and Display (3 cr)

(Display and presentation of visual art, using local galleries as venues for student designed exhibitions. Provides experience in the public art arena and practical knowledge about planning, designing, and mounting an exhibition.)

5. ITDS 5124: Preservation of Historic Interiors (3 cr)

(Study of restoration and preservation practices, including economic, social, and legal aspects and an introduction to historical research methodology.)

or  one of the following public history courses:

HIST 5424 – Public History (3 cr)

(Introduction to the theoretical, interpretive, controversial, and practical issues facing public historians. Focus on interpretations and specific issues surrounding the presentation of history in museum inhibits, documentary films, photographic collections, community history projects, the Internet, and a variety of other public venues.)

HIST 5434 - Oral History Methods (3 cr)

(Theory and methodology of oral history methods. Use of oral history interviews in historical research, questions of ethics, interpretation, and the construction of memory. Technical operations and a variety of interview techniques, transcription, and historical use of interviews.)

HIST 5444 - Digital History Methods (3 cr

(Methods for researching and presenting history in a digital environment, with special emphasis on use of digital media as a tool for public historians.)

HIST 5454 - Topics in Public History (3 cr)

(Current methodological issues facing public history professionals, the intellectual foundations of these issues, and changing standards of practice in the field of public history to engage students in practical, experiential projects in public history. May be taken for a maximum of 6 credit hours.)

B. Restricted Electives in the Core (9 credits): 

1.     One of two rotating special topics courses (3 credits):

HUM/RLCL 5584: Topics in Public Humanities (3 cr)

ART 5584: Topics in Material Culture (3 cr)

 2. An additional 2 electives (6 credits) subject to approval by an advisor.


C. Experiential Core Requirement (6 credits)

ART/HUM/RLCL 5904: Project and Report

A 6-credit practicum/internship experience in such places as historical societies, humanities foundations, cultural planning agencies, heritage or cultural tourism, museums, historic preservation offices, or community arts programs. This semester-long experience will give students invaluable experience developing and practicing skills that they are likely to encounter in future jobs.  Our project and report course can place students in a wide variety of cultural institutions and geographical areas.


D. Optional Thesis (6 credits)

ART/HUM/RLCL 5994: Thesis.  Students who pursue the thesis option may choose to write about material culture and public humanities in any geographical area of their interest. It is expected that students planning on further graduate study will write a thesis, whereas those students intending to enter the employment field upon graduation will not.  Thesis students will have an advisory committee comprised of a thesis chair, and two other faculty, one from SOVA and one from the Department of Religion and Culture.  If the student does not pass his/her written and oral thesis defense, they will still graduate with the M.A. in Material Culture and Public Humanities (non-thesis option).


Offered In ()

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0

  • Undergraduate B.S. or B.A. degree in a humanities or design discipline, with preference given to students with degrees in Art History, Anthropology, American Studies, History, Political Science, English, Communication, History of Design, Classics, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Religion and Culture, Interior Design, or Industrial Design.
  • Minimum of a 3.5 in-major undergraduate GPA, 3.0 overall undergraduate GPA.
  • Official transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation, and all other documents required by the Graduate School.
  • Applicants with work or internship experience in a related field will be given special consideration.


Students in the MA in Material Culture and Public Humanities can draw upon a variety of facilities, listed below, that will enrich their education. 

Armory Gallery

Art + Architecture Library

Center for the Arts

Department of History

Department of Religion and Culture

School of Visual Arts

Special Collections, University Libraries