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

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8/10 stars
based on  9 reviews
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Cost FREE
Start Date TBA
Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You

Course Details

Cost

FREE

Upcoming Schedule

  • TBA

Course Provider

edX online courses
Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, are just some of the schools that you have at your fingertips with edX. Through massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the world's best universities, you can develop your knowledge in literature, math, history, food and nutrition, and more. These online classes are taught by highly-regarded experts in the field. If you take a class on computer science through Harvard, you may be tau...
Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, are just some of the schools that you have at your fingertips with edX. Through massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the world's best universities, you can develop your knowledge in literature, math, history, food and nutrition, and more. These online classes are taught by highly-regarded experts in the field. If you take a class on computer science through Harvard, you may be taught by David J. Malan, a senior lecturer on computer science at Harvard University for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. But there's not just one professor - you have access to the entire teaching staff, allowing you to receive feedback on assignments straight from the experts. Pursue a Verified Certificate to document your achievements and use your coursework for job and school applications, promotions, and more. EdX also works with top universities to conduct research, allowing them to learn more about learning. Using their findings, edX is able to provide students with the best and most effective courses, constantly enhancing the student experience.

Provider Subject Specialization
Sciences & Technology
Business & Management
22630 reviews

Course Description

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...

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.


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Reviews 8/10 stars
9 Reviews for Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You

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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.

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Paul Hundal profile image
Paul Hundal profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 138 reviews
  • 119 completed
4 years, 1 month ago
Very interesting course. Practice looking at things in a different way and interesting discussion topics. Factual knowledge is more limited, instead it is more about learning ways to learn and how to pass on that knowledge. Good summer course.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 5 months ago
If you love objects, you'll love this course! The teachers are phenomenal and the videos superb. Perfect for anyone wanting a better understanding of how history surrounds us.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 6 months ago
It was a great course, very refreshing. The Teaching Duo (pair) is a good one. Prof Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Sarah Carter are both wonderful. The Teachers speak and look great. They are classy, pleasant, and use color and aesthetics to their advantage. Innovation. They divide the Discussion Thread into small parts, saving time. This MOOC was pure joy, many laughs, and Tons of fun. :)) This is THE very Best MOOC to learn and master Courseware Skills, and etiquette. From the Lessons on the 1st Week to the very last, they deliver a Knock-Out Punch.
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student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 4 months ago
This is a fantastic, mind-stretching course that teaches you the many ways that everything in the world is connected (from social phenomena, to culture and politics, all of these things are refltected in the creation, design, and uses of physical objects), and encourages you to change the way you look at the things around you.
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c j profile image
c j profile image
2/10 starsDropped
  • 5 reviews
  • 4 completed
5 years, 3 months ago
This was my second MOOC, and almost put me off them for good. I had high hopes, but I found, for instance, that the videos did not give enough information, and then people were asked to comment on the item. For example, in one case, we were asked if Thoreau would approve of a fashion item students at Harvard wore in the early 1800s. Many of us came to the conclusion that he would approve because it was hand-sewn. Staff never commented on the fact that pretty much everything was hand sewn in those days, as sewing machines didn't come into common use for another 30 years or so, and the item was produced in a workshop by 'sewing-girls.' So Thoreau would have taken that quality for granted. I thought that the basic idea was interesting, but that the implementation was unsatisfactory.
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10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 6 months ago
This is an amazing course--creative, interesting, beautifully produced. I've always thought of history as something dry, but Tangible Things how that history is everywhere in the objects that surround us.
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Student

8/10 starsTaking Now
5 years, 4 months ago
I loved the variety of "things" the course looked at, and the way the course revealed new ways of looking at things. I would have preferred an in-depth study of some of the "things", but I do appreciate that taking this course has given me a new perspective on history and artifacts, revealing new connections that I would otherwise never have noticed. My favourite topics were "Look at the Fish" and "A Museum in a Box", which have given me ideas about ways to teach.
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student

6/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 5 months ago
I find this course wonderful and it really gives you the tools to "read" anything and find out its history. I would very much like to know if it is possible to get the same in Spanish inorder to share it with friends.
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3/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 5 months ago
History indeed provides a streak of knowledge about the evolution of mankind. But, one point which seems to smear this treasure is that historical developments have been recognised, evaluated and analysed by different people at different times. There are different views and different perceptions amongst people in different parts of the world and different cultures, not to speak of religions, which have their own
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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.