subject
Intro

edX: Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You

 with  Sara Schechner, Ivan Gaskell, Sarah Carter and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Have you ever wondered about how museum, library, and other kinds of historical or scientific  collections all come together? Or how and why curators, historians, archivists, and preservationists do what they do?

In Tangible Things, you will discover how material objects have shaped academic disciplines and reinforced or challenged boundaries between people. This course will draw on some of the most fascinating items housed at Harvard University, highlighting several to give you a sense of the power of learning through tangible things.

By “stepping onto” the storied campus, you and your fellow learners can explore Harvard’s astonishing array of tangible things—books and manuscripts, art works, scientific specimens, ethnographic artifacts, and historical relics of all sorts. The University not only owns a Gutenberg bible, but it also houses in its collections Turkish sun dials, a Chinese crystal ball, a divination basket from Angola, and nineteenth-century “spirit writing” chalked on a child-sized slate. Tucked away in storage cabinets or hidden in closets and the backrooms of its museums and libraries are Henry David Thoreau’s pencil, a life mask of Abraham Lincoln, and chemicals captured from a Confederate ship. The Art Museums not only care for masterpieces of Renaissance painting but also for a silver-encrusted cup made from a coconut. The Natural History Museum not only preserves dinosaur bones and a fish robot but an intact Mexican tortilla more than a century old.

In the first section of the course, we will consider how a statue, a fish, and a gingham gown have contributed to Harvard’s history, and you will learn the value of stopping to look at the things around you.

In the next section, we will explore some of the ways people have brought things together into purposeful collections to preserve memory, promote commerce, and define culture.

Finally, we will consider methods of rearranging objects to create new ways of thinking about nature, time, and ordinary work.

Along the way, you will discover new ways of looking at, organizing, and interpreting tangible things in your own environment.


HarvardX requires individuals who enroll in its courses on edX to abide by the terms of the edX honor code. HarvardX will take appropriate corrective action in response to violations of the edX honor code, which may include dismissal from the HarvardX course; revocation of any certificates received for the HarvardX course; or other remedies as circumstances warrant. No refunds will be issued in the case of corrective action for such violations. Enrollees who are taking HarvardX courses as part of another program will also be governed by the academic policies of those programs.

HarvardX pursues the science of learning. By registering as an online learner in an HX course, you will also participate in research about learning. Read our research statement to learn more.

Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact harvardx@harvard.edu and/or report your experience through the edX contact form.

6 Student
reviews
Cost Free Online Course
Pace Self Paced
Subject Anthropology
Institution Harvard University
Provider edX
Language English
Calendar 5 weeks long

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6 reviews for edX's Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful
4 years ago
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Anonymous completed this course.
Tangible Things at Edx (Harvard-x) It was a great course, very refreshing. It covers about 400 years of historical items. This reflects how society and the culture gathers, collects, and exhibits ancient artifacts. The Teaching Duo (pair) is a good one. Prof Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Sarah Carter are both wonderful. Read More
Tangible Things at Edx (Harvard-x)

It was a great course, very refreshing. It covers about 400 years of historical items. This reflects how society and the culture gathers, collects, and exhibits ancient artifacts. The Teaching Duo (pair) is a good one. Prof Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Sarah Carter are both wonderful.

Lessons Learned from this course.

Every week, every Lesson is a surprise ! They cover diverse, eclectic subjects.

My favorite Lessons were on - A Toga, Hidden in Plain Sight, Time and Time Again, Orphan Sewing Machine, and ‘Whose Collections and Heritage ?’

The Teachers speak well and have a fine appearance. They are classy, pleasant, and use color and aesthetics to their advantage. They are Feminine, honorable, and reflect the taste and style of an Ivy League College.

Innovation and change. They divided the Discussion Thread into smaller parts, so a student posts HW (Essays) to only 100 classmates, not 500. This makes the student feel welcome and “At-Home” in a virtual classroom. It also SAVES a lot of your time, avoiding hangups, lockups, BSOD, a system Crash.

Recommend this as a very first MOOC, or 1st course in Edx. In it you discover the Nuances of a MOOC, how to post an image (Photo) with your text.

The students are polite and friendly, and the Support Team is dynamic. If you contact the HELP team, you may get an answer in 2-3 days. I’ve only seen this short of a response time at Harvard-x. If you report a problem at other schools, you may not hear from them.

If you want to be successful, hang out with Successful people. If not possible, then take this course. These two ladies will entertain and surprise you, with one amazement after another. They plant new ideas in your head that are useful for almost any occupation.

Harvard once again sets the standard, raises the Bar, and leads the way for better learning.
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful
3 years ago
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Sheri Havens audited this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
I took this as a self-paced class. I found Professor Ulirch's class quite interesting. The class has you looking at items with a new perspective.
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12 months ago
Dave Rawlings completed this course.
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3 years ago
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Aana completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
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2 years ago
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Niki Nicholson completed this course.
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