KL. ARK Humanistic Theory of Materiality

Course content

The humanities have increasingly oriented themselves towards what is broadly defined as ‘materiality studies’. Since the 1990s, and seeping into the 2000s, the fields of archaeology, ethnology, anthropology and, to some extent, history have been defined by the so-called ‘material turn’, wherein the material dimensions of ideas, technology and social relations have become the point of focus. A material lens examines relationships between people and things, as well as interpersonal relationships through things. In recent years such studies have been complemented by posthumanist thinking and ‘object-oriented’ thought.


Yet, what are the consequences of orienting the humanities towards a study of things rather than (only) humans as the points of conceptual departure or subjects of inquiry? What do social relations or the reality of ideas look like when they are illuminated through the lens of material culture? How can we understand the relationship between the material and the immaterial—both theoretically and in practice? Additionally, how may we define our work within this space both methodologically and practically while exploring these conceptual challenges?


The course centres around archaeology with the basic premise that it is a field which anchors itself in the study of materials, while widening its perspectives by placing it in humanistic discourses. It could be said that archaeology as a field of study would not exist without things. The course is divided into three main parts: the first examines how archaeology establishes and assembles knowledge through objects; the second explores the social lives of things, in other words, the ways in which the agency of objects plays a role in assembling ways of knowing, experiencing and encountering the world in terms of its relations; and the third focuses on the speculative dimensions of things in the conceptual space of heritage futures.


The course gives students an interdisciplinary introduction to studies in materiality and enables them to independently carry out smaller field projects, and more detailed studies of an aesthetic and creative nature. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to perform in-depth analyses of published material, with a focus on detailed literary criticisms of a more theoretical nature. Students will be introduced to - and work in depth with - basic texts and issues related to the study of materiality. The course gives students an opportunity to work critically and creatively with the general themes outlined over the semester while aiming to train the ability to independently define a concrete problem within materiality theory in the humanities and archaeology via a written exam.

Prehistoric Archaeology

Lectures, teaching, exercises and individual coursework

Students are assigned a mixture of core archeological texts related to materiality, and other materials that provide professional perspectives on the subject. Course materials are not limited to text-based material and will include communication of a more creative and aesthetic nature.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • English
  • 56


Course number
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice

1 semester

Se skemalink
Study Board of Archaeology, Ethnology, Greek & Latin, History
Contracting department
  • SAXO-Institute - Archaeology, Ethnology, Greek & Latin, History
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinators
  • Stefanie Langaa Jensen   (3-78716f456d7a7233707a336970)
  • Margaréta Hanna Pintér   (3-726675456d7a7233707a336970)
Saved on the 21-11-2023

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