Domestic architecture as a material culture artifact : its uses in the interpretation and teaching of American history.

No Thumbnail Available
Jones, James
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
This history dissertation explores the interpretive and teaching uses of domestic architecture as it relates to American history. Chapters one and two trace the use of artifacts by historians from Niebuhr to 1983. They show the historiography of the utilization of material culture artifacts by historians. They demonstrate that the use of artifacts is accepted by historians. To be properly employed, artifacts must be placed in context and studied with a multidisciplinary methodology.
Chapter three discusses architecture, values, and the development of an American vernacular aesthetic. Values are reflected in architecture, but it is simplistic to assume that any one architectural style reflects what are called core values. The architecture of the Romantic Revival, for example, expressed subordinate values.
Chapter four explores relationships between American culture, life styles, and architectural reform. It demonstrates that the values, life style, and reform of Andrew Jackson Downing were atypical. The domestic architectural reform Downing led was not accepted because it expressed alien values.
Chapter five focuses upon architecture, value conflict, and antebellum reform, relating the patterns of pre-Civil War reform and architecture to the culture and politics of the Jacksonian era. It shows that architectural reform, like most other antebellum reforms, was motivated by status-anxiety and social conservatism. This placed the reform in conflict with the American liberal tradition.
Chapter six discusses the process of value change, relating it to patterns of house form and the feminization of American culture. It shows that Catherine E. Beecher expressed American core values and strengthened the cult of domesticity by transforming architecture into a cultural tension management device. As American culture was feminized, so was domestic architecture.
Chapter seven explores the ways in which domestic architecture, some of its associated artifacts, and mail-order catalogs can be employed in the teaching of survey courses. Factual and interpretive material is presented to suggest how artifacts can be employed in a criterion-referenced teaching method.