In this first Writing Assignment, you will use the exhibit Cultural Crossroads:
In this first Writing Assignment, you will use the exhibit Cultural Crossroads: Missouri in the Era of Statehood currently on display at the State Historical Society of Missouri to explore the role printmaking plays in how we learn about history. Many of the objects in the exhibit use various printmaking techniques, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with them in the readings before looking at the exhibit. As you walk around the exhibit, consider what objects were chosen for it and what they tell us about Missouri’s history. Who is highlighted in the exhibit and how does this align with the exhibit’s goals? How are historically underrepresented groups, such as women or Missouri’s First Nations, present in the objects? Your assignment is to write a formal paper in which you focus your thesis on printmaking and how it can teach us about the past. While gender does not need to be your main focus, make sure to discuss it at some point. Feel free to bring in your own life experiences. Did you view any objects in the exhibit that taught you something you had never considered before? Make sure to reference specific objects in the exhibit (at least four), including their title, maker (if applicable), and date.* In addition to centering your paper on the exhibit, you must bring in some of the readings from class, such as one of the essays from Paper Museums or perhaps the Sara Ahmed reading. You must include at least two different author references and discuss them in your paper (i.e., don’t just cite a comparison to a print included in one of the readings, you must engage with the article’s topic). Your paper can argue any perspective and I encourage you to come up with your own research questions, but here are some questions for you to consider if you’re having trouble on where to start: How do prints allow us to reconstruct Missouri’s history? Are there any objects or images that tell us certain things about the past that are radically different from today? Do they fill in any blanks that are frequently left out from history books? What do the objects and images in the exhibit tell us about history that you cannot get from just reading a book? Why is it important to see these objects? How is printing used to perpetuate certain ideas? What role does printing play in furthering an agenda (political or otherwise)? What is the significance of copying and the print as a reproductive artform in this? How does a print with a unique aspect to it (such as hand coloring) factor into this? How is identity a factor in any of the objects? Consider gender, race, economic status, nationality, etc.

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