Tag Archives: Jules Prown

Telling objects: which one would you choose?

Jules Prown, then Professor of the History of Art at Yale, would sometimes start a seminar, I’m told, by slipping into class, and taking his seat at a table at the head of the room.  As students began to settle, Professor Prown would produce, say, a 18th century teapot from his brief case, and place it ever so carefully at the center of the table.

And then he would wait.

Students would eventually gather that the teapot was the object of study.  And they would warm to the task of making the teapot speak.  More exactly, they would begin to extract illumination from the object, discussing and when necessary, surmising the producers, the consumers, the economy and the culture from which the teapot sprang. 

The question: of all your possessions which one would you place before a group of students? What does this object say?  What illumination can be extracted from it?  It can be any object. It need not be art and a museum-worthy artifact.  Sleds, without "rosebud" decals, are most welcome.    

I am hoping the comments section below takes photos.  I have an uneasy feeling it does not. If that’s the case, send me your photos and wee essays.  I will post them both in a future entry.