How have artworks and artifacts shaped life and culture in the United States? This course considers a variety of objects, from canonical eighteenth-century paintings to decorative art, children’s books, “outsider art,” and other creative expressions often overlooked in traditional surveys. How do art historians come to know such objects and, importantly, the past with them? How might we understand the historical implications of visual and material culture and share them in our writing? Close and creative looking, methodologies from art history and material culture studies, and an engagement with the wider visual, material, and literary worlds of these years will help us explore these and other questions. A final paper produced in stages throughout the term will afford students an opportunity to produce a six-page art historical essay of their own on an artwork or artifact of their choosing, preferably in a local collection. What might these objects and their study reveal to us about our history, present, and future?