Prownian Analysis

What does the Prownian Analysis do?

The Prownian Analysis allows us to recognize and interpret the historical significance of the objects we encounter.

What does it mean for an object to “embody” culture?

Every object represents an aspect of the culture that created it. For example, a pencil “embodies” our culture’s value of writing- of self-expression. This need to put to paper what we think or see or believe is what lead to the creation of the pencil.

What do you think it means for an object to be “expressive” or “culturally potent?”

Some objects are more explicit with their cultural significance. For example, a fire hydrant may be seen to represent the culture’s concern with safety or maybe their fear of death and destruction. However, what is the cultural aspect does a cork board embody? There is a universe of answers, they just are not as obvious as with the fire hydrant.

According to Haltman/ Prown, what is most important when composing a description of an object of study?

The most important part of the description is to avoid conclusions. Describe the container of clear liquid rather than just concluding that it is a water bottle. These conclusions not only shorten your description but they limit your interpretation.

What are the steps of a Prownian Analysis?

  1. Description
  2. Deduction
  3. Speculation
  4. Research
  5. Interpretive Analysis

How does the use of “signify” in this text conflict with Berthoff’s theory of language?

Haltman claims that objects signify their culture and we must work with words to interpret them, however, Berthoff claims that our words signify our own perception, which was built by our experiences and environment (the objects that surround us).


Also see:

Analysis of “Essays in Material Culture”

What is a “thick description”?


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