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Michael Shanks

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Here is a version of the syllabus as a PDF - Document IconArchaeology-of-design-2013.pdf

Project web site - [link]

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A palaeolithic flint tool - up to 1.25 million years old

Ten Things: An Archaeology of Design


A class running Winter 2014

with Michael Shanks at Stanford

Mondays and Wednesdays 9.00-9.50 Braun Auditorium

TA - Simeon Ehrlich (Office hours W 11:30-12:30 in 110-217)

Office hours: MS - Wednesdays 10.00 am - 10.50 am - just come on up to our lab in the Archaeology Center. Otherwise phone or email for a time to meet.

contact - - 650 996 8763

Building 500 (Archaeology Center) Metamedia Lab

Making, sharing and exchanging, using and consuming, fixing and discarding

This class is about

how we get on with things

It is organized in a very simple way: we take apart ten things, looking at the workings of each in detail using a variety of toolkits drawn from a bunch of disciplines and professional fields that include archaeology, anthropology (cultural and biological), science studies, the history and sociology of technology, cognitive science and evolutionary psychology, the fine and applied arts.

We will be reading new philosophies of technology and materiality (Graham Harman is a favorite of mine), actor network theory (Callon and Latour), British cultural studies (Raymond William and after, the Birmingham Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies), material culture studies (archaeology and anthropology, British and French traditions), anthropologies of science, new sociologies of technology (Donald Mackenzie, John Law and after), cognitive science (from cognitive evolution to human factors research in design, from Leroi-Gourhan to Don Norman), as well as what gets called design studies (Margolin and Buchanan, for example).

The class assignment is to practice your own dissecting and dismantling skills on an eleventh artifact of your own choice, figuring out how it works, in every sense.

What makes the course particularly special is its long term perspective. We take an archaeological perspective, going back to the earliest stone tools and tracking their genealogical connection with contemporary high-tech design. This gets us

thinking outside the box about design



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Eddie and Joan Hall's Bentley - undergoing customization in the 1930s

Previous runs of the class

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