CULTURAL OBJECTS

F95

CULTURAL OBJECTS is an anthology of hypertext projects by students in the American Studies Program at The University of Virginia. This particular set of projects was produced for ENAM484: Seminar in American Studies in the Fall of 1995  the topic of this course was American Icons, an exploration of the origins, construction, dissemination, and transformation over time, of those symbols which make up the diorama of our national identity.

We began by exploring a set of classic American iconic sites ranging from George Washington to the Brooklyn Bridge. Our objective was to discover if we could arrive at something like consensus about what we actually meant by iconic and at something like a paradigm for the construction and operation of icons within American culture. During the major portion of the seminar, students were asked to find and interpret particular icons. Their choices ranged from the monumental carvings of Jackson, Lee and Davis at Stone Mountain, Georgia to the blues singer Bessie Smith and the American Quilt.

In addition, students had acquired the rudimentary technical skills necessary for delivering research and analysis over the web in the previous semester, the results of their research were to be presented as hypertext projects.

The reader will, of course, judge the success of these projects for him/herself; as the instructor in this course, I am unrepentantly biased. I find them wonderful. Of course I am twice privileged in this matter. Unlike the reader, I know how much energy, imagination, and hard work went into these projects; and I also know that the projects are only virtual traces of the even greater intellectual development that was the actual purpose and product of this course.

                                Alan B. Howard

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