Cultural Objects 1
The five projects included here were created in the Spring of 1995 in a capstone course for American Studies students here at The University of Virginia. The topic of the course was American Icons, objects, persons, or events that were perceived to be representative of American cultural values, beliefs, or ideas. Of the fifteen students enrolled in the course,  seven chose the option to present their work as web projects. Given the state of the web at that time -- Mosaic and Netscape had just appeared, serving up long lists of pointers to sites virtually empty of actual content; browser standards stood at 1.0 and no one knew when 2.0 might arrive; scanners were interminably slow, graphics software fairly crude; and nobody, including myself, had any sense of the various ways in which this new medium might work.

In this context, the reticence of the majority of students to serve as guinea pigs for me seems quite reasonable; the courage of the students represented here altogether remarkable. Looking back to that time from 1998, the projects seem primitive as web documents; at the same time, the analysis of each project is sound, useful, often original, often unusually articulate.

All in all, then, a fair beginning for the kind of hands-on learning that has since become the hallmark of the American Studies Programs at The University of Virginia.

                Alan B. Howard