Working Groups

The Center currently supports six working groups that serve to bring students and faculty together in an intellectual community beyond the classroom. Groups are goal-oriented, thematic and will work collaboratively towards things like exhibitions, publications, and speaker series.

Specific goals for each group can be seen below.

Media Old and New
Conveners: Jason Hill, Department of Art History and
Sarah Wasserman, Department of English 

The Media Old and New working group brings together scholars from an array of disciplines with interests in the materiality of media. From the phonograph to the photograph; the typewriter to the tweet: this group considers medium specificity as a crucial issue productively viewed through the lens of material culture studies. We are especially interested in how contemporary media may be historicized and how historical media can be understood in light of contemporary developments. Our group also considers which forms of pedagogy can engage media not only as conceptual forms but as material ones and how the “hands-on” dimensions of media studies can be best practiced in research and in the classroom. Learn about their meetings below.

Contact Sarah Wasserman at or Jason Hill at for further information.

Convener: Martin Brückner, Department of English

ThingStor is intended to become an interactive database that will enable students and scholars to recognize and better understand the form and function of material objects referenced in the works of literature and the visual arts. Currently, a team consisting of members from the Department of English, Computer Science, and the University of Delaware Library is building a prototype entitled “American Literary Things” that will illustrate objects ranging from early references to the “Continental Dollar” or the “London Doll” to later ones such as the “Bowie knife” or the “Shirley Temple cup” cited in Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye.

ThingStor working group members will help build this prototype into a first-rate interdisciplinary searchable archive while also gaining skills to help you design your own featured project involving objects significant in the media central to your respective disciplines. More importantly, the ThingStor working group is intended to offer you the opportunity to connect your research on objects beyond the archive to critical scholarship, publishing venues, public engagement projects, and much more.

Contact Martin Brückner at for further information.

Object Fight Club: The Methods in Material Culture Graduate Student Working Group
Conveners: Michelle Everidge Anderson, Department of History
Alex Ames, Department of History

The Methods in Material Culture working group will be facilitated by and for grad students to encourage communication across departments, and exchange ideas about research methods. The primary goal of the group is two-fold: first, to build a sense of community around material culture studies here at UD, and second, to equip attendees with a toolbox of research methods drawn from across the disciplines.  We want to celebrate UD’s leadership in material culture studies and support the success of our collective research efforts. Upcoming meetings and events for Fall 2017:

  • Noon – 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 20: Round 1 – Fight!  UD History Department Conference Room (203 Munroe Hall).  Join the group for our first meeting of the semester to eat lunch, discuss our successful summer, share plans for field trips and the material culture manifesto, and talk about upcoming material culture work.
  • 2:00 – 4:30 p.m. Monday, October 9: Object study workshop at Winterthur, 5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19807.  Join Winterthur scholars, professors, curators, and librarians for an object study session focused on furniture and textiles, and a discussion of the period room as interpretive tool.  UD faculty guest: Prof. Sarah Wasserman (English)  Drinks and complimentary hors d’oeuvres to follow at Buckley’s Tavern. View/Print Flyer Here!
  • 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Sunday, November 5: Field study in Historic New Castle, Delaware, 30 Market Street (The Arsenal), New Castle, DE, 19720.  Explore three landmark sites—the Dutch, Amstel, and Read Houses—and then discuss strategies for researching and interpreting historic spaces and landscapes.  UD faculty guest: Prof. Sarah Wasserman (English)  Drinks and complimentary hors d’oeuvres to follow at Jessop’s Tavern. View/Print Flyer Here!

Please note that advance registration is required for each event, and there are attendance limits for each event, so a spot cannot be guaranteed.

Contact Michelle Everidge Anderson at or Alex Ames at for further information.

Theory, Method, and Pedagogy
Convener: Julian Yates, Department of English

The working group in Theory / Method / Pedagogy serves as the venue for a multi-disciplinary conversation about the objects of material culture studies; how they are configured and approached by different disciplines; how they orient our various curricular offerings (undergraduate and graduate level); and what resources they offer us for collaborative research and teaching both in the classroom and the field. In Fall 2016, the group will embark on a series of shared readings and discussion of questions of method and pedagogy.

Contact Julian Yates at for further information.


Conveners: Jon Cox, Department of Art and
Monica Dominguez-Torres, Department of Art History

The Ese’Eja working group collaborates with the Ese’Eja community in the Peruvian Amazon–a foraging society known in their own language as “The True People”–in a cultural mapping project that seeks to document their lifestyle, create a community “plan de vida,” and implement educational programs for their schools and surrounding communities. Funded by the National Geographic Genographic Legacy Fund, UD’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center, the Institute for Global Studies and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning, the overall goal of the cultural mapping project is to help community members to strengthen their sense of identity and to raise international awareness about the issues this indigenous society faces nowadays. Members from the UD team–including students and faculty from various disciplines–have traveled to Peru to work alongside Ese’Eja elders to document their knowledge of the land, traditional practices and rituals that are at risk of vanishing. An important outcome of this project is a public exhibition at the University of Delaware campus featuring photos, videos, and objects gathered during these field trips.

Contact Jon Cox at or Monica Dominguez-Torres at for further information.