GDCV1916/GDSS1916 The Material Life of Things


What is the course about?

Objects are the material leftover of human experiences, speaking to us about how our ancestors oriented themselves in the world. This course attempts to explore the concepts of material culture in order to contextualize place, identity and heritage in both a personal sense and within the large cultural boundaries and extend students’ knowledge and experience beyond their major study.

Exploring the formal qualities, functions and histories of “things” – ranging from personal items, works of art, geographical places of memories, monuments, and landscapes –using current examples of case studies and events in Hong Kong, this course discusses how objects shape our culture and how the material world is integral to meaning-making processes. By considering material culture of artifacts from the past, it introduces material culture theories from various disciplines, including anthropology, cultural studies, social sciences, art history and art theories, to critically study objects within a cultural, social and historical context. Students will examine objects and explore how their own personal history, interweaves with the social life of things, within a wider perspective of cultures.

This course will enable students to consider, how heritage objects can be a part of their own memories, what objects they would like to preserve, and how the presence of the past shapes, and has shaped, the cultural life of Hong Kong, with particular attention on interdisciplinary and/or community issues and situations. Through the study of tangible and intangible heritage, students will have better understanding about their personal experiences within the context of local history, and the significances of heritage preservation in embodying civil values and sustainable development of Hong Kong.

Course Code Offering Department(s) Area of Learning Units & Hours
GDCV1916 AVA COMM/VA (3,3,0)
Download the course syllabus


IGEThis is an interdisciplinary GE (IGE) course.
  1. One IGE course is listed for more than 1 area of learning. You can decide which area of learning you would like the course to fulfill, by enrolling in the course with the corresponding course code.

Notes for all GE courses

  • You can take a maximum of 6 additional units of GE courses from any categories as electives.