Welcome to our digital exhibit, collaboratively created in our spring 2018 seminar, “Objects as Texts: Materializing Race, Gender, and Sexuality.” Over the course of the semester, the students have critically explored the relationship between objects and identity.

Through readings in cultural studies, queer and feminist theory, and critical race studies, students have analyzed how material objects reflect and produce representations of identity that map onto the body. Each student selected a particular object of analysis—condom, vibrator, Alexa, shoe—which they used as a case study to critically consider how material culture constructs, performs, and negotiates race, gender, and sexuality.

The organizational structure of this digital exhibit reflects their research and different writing methods. Under “Object Biographies,” students have focused on the look and feel of objects and how the materiality of objects encourages or discourages interaction. Under “Objects of Research,” students have situated their object in a historical or theoretical context to locate themselves in relation to other scholarship.

Collectively, this digital exhibit seeks to complicate naturalized or neutral relationships to everyday objects to instead notice and parse the ways in which power circulates at the level of the material.

Many thanks to Emily Contois and Monica Muñoz Martinez, who developed the digital projects “Defining American Food” and “Remembering Race at Brown” with their students. Their pedagogical models and digital structure inspire this digital exhibition.  Thanks also to Melissa Kane, Instructional Designer, who helped develop this website.

Maggie Unverzagt Goddard
PhD Candidate
Department of American Studies
Brown University