Object Lessons: Materiality and Aesthetic Formation in the American Sunday School

Fall 2017
Th 1:30-3:20pm
Permission Not Required
No Limit to Enrollment
Course Description: 

Through a focus on the material culture of Christian education, this course explores the history of the American Sunday school. Tracing the development of the pious pedagogical method known as the “object lesson,” this course examines the relationship between seemingly spiritual performances such as prayer, memorization and the sensory experience of sacred presence, and material things such as picture cards, finger games and optical devices. The overarching theme of this course will be aesthetic formation, or the particular ways in which pedagogical techniques attune the senses to particular experiences of divine presence and sacred immediacy. Grounded in questions of materiality and sensation, the course will relate the formation of Protestant religious instruction to the broader fields of advertising, popular culture, museum display, racial classification and foreign missions.

Background Expected: 


Course Requirements: 

Regular attendance coupled with meaningful class participation

Project presentation and several short object-talks

Final term paper: 15-20 pages

Basis of Evaluation: 

Attendance/participation: 30%

Presentations: 30%

Term Paper: 40%