Historical Cultural Artifacts

Over the course of the semester, one of the skills that we have tried to develop together has been understanding the relationship between historical cultural artifacts and the politics, values and ideas of the cultures they represent. We have seen in multiple ways how texts, images, objects, buildings and music, when put into the context of their creation, can be deeply informative about the attitudes and ideals of the culture that created them.

For your final project, you will put these skills to use. The project will be divided into two parts. First, as I alluded to last week, you will be asked to choose an artifact relevant to our class. After you have selected one for your study, your task will be to research the artifact and come up with a historically-grounded object description – a description that combines your analysis of the elements of the object with your assessment of the historical forces that led to its creation and its meaning within fin de siècle Viennese culture.

Your description should include the following elements:
a clear analysis of the physical (or musical/linguistic) form of the artifact (that is to say, a description of the object that is dictated by your awareness of its most important features);some discussion of the artist, writer, composer or architect who created your artifact, including their background, training, influences, and evolution as artists; an in-depth historical contextualization; that is, you must place the artifact in its historical context, explain the ideas or forces which it seems to represent or to which it seems to be responding; finally, a thesis which will tie all of the above information together. The thesis should give your assessment of the reason why the artifact is important in understanding fin de siècle Vienna.

Your essay must include a bibliography of at least five sources you have utilized to construct your presentation and paper.

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