I had a difficult time analyzing the relationship between humans and kaolin other than the basic/topical relationship of humans using kaolin individually or modifying it with another to cater towards their needs. It’s interesting that it’s difficult for a rhet/comp major to get creative within research. All of the readings related to material culture were fascinating, but for some reason I wasn’t coming up with much to make my object to really analyze its significance to humans. It’s just as Prown said in his piece on Material Culture:
The underlying premise is that human-made objects reflect, consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, the beliefs of the individuals who commissioned, fabricated, purchased, or used them and, by extension, the beliefs of larger society to which these individuals belonged.
In process of trying to connect these random cultural uses of kaolin together, I noticed a shift from domestic uses (agriculture & ingestion) to industrial & artistic uses to beautifying uses in modern day. It was interesting to see how things were first used as a means to make health and domestic activities easier and then moved in a more artistic and cosmetic direction. I think one main concept I pulled away from material studies is that people see in objects what they either culturally know or individually desire. For example, pertaining to the pipe, men of war in the 1800s saw pipes as a means to ingest tobacco to calm their nerves or as a remedy for illness, whereas other European artistic people saw pipes as art and wanted to start a culture of artistic and antique pipes.
In terms of multimodality of my object analysis, each mode was used except gestural. In terms of expository functions, I used explanation, description, definition, and summation the most. This was an informational piece for the audience because most of the uses attributed to kaolin were randomized and hard to connect to each other, but found some interesting conclusions and comparisons between cultural usages.
I thought this project was interesting, but finding connections and nuances within each connection or analysis was so difficult for me because I didn’t know what was a valid or trustworthy source. Researching and weeding out the fake sources took up the most time for me. The only major downfall I felt during this project was the lack of inspiration I had in connecting with my object. The lava lamp piece was so interesting, but for some reason it was difficult to come up with ideas to research about a pipe. Otherwise, this analysis and presentation was fun to personalize and find relations that would tie into current-day relevance.