Employ a method commonly used by historians to make sense of the past by conducting a material culture analysis of well-known artistic interpretations of Pontiac’s War.
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For this assignment, you will employ a method commonly used by historians to make sense of the past by conducting a material culture analysis of well-known artistic interpretations of Pontiac’s War. Material culture refers to human-made objects, ranging from paintings to buildings to clothing to cars to household goods.
While we often associate material culture with museums—with few exceptions, everything you see in an exhibit is likely to be considered material culture—historians also analyze objects in their articles and books to help us understand the everyday lives of people who lived before us and how they perceived the world around them and its history.
Drawing on this week’s readings for evidence to support your claims (cite your sources!), write a 750-word essay analyzing John Mix Stanley’s depiction of events related to Pontiac’s War in his painting Unveiling the Conspiracy (1863).
Your task is to explain the historical context in which the art was produced and what this might tell us about popular understandings of early Detroit’s history at the time. Using the readings assigned for Week 3 to provide historical context, you should do the following (in whatever order makes the most sense for the structure of your essay):
Briefly describe the events depicted in the painting
Explain what the painting conveys about historical understandings of Pontiac’s War at the time it was made
Interpret the story depicted in the painting: which version of history does it tell, and which and whose stories does it erase?
Your grade on this assignment will be based on:
How well you analyze the painting as a piece of material culture
How well you support your claims with evidence from the Marrero and Poremba readings (make sure to cite your sources!)
The quality of your writing (make sure to write in a formal style appropriate for an academic paper; do not write in the first person or use colloquial language)