Re-Orienting Ourselves in a Knowledge Economy: Reflections on a Victorian Era Trade Card Collection

M. Jenna Musket
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Ephemera are treasures of material culture that provide clues to our past, and so are artifacts that can contribute to what Foucault referred to as an “archaeology of knowledge” that give us a glimpse of “the order of things.” Tradecards, forerunners of American business cards, were often post-card sized advertisements for newly-manufactured goods or products for sale, or services made available to the public. In addition to offering specific information about particular businesses and industries, the cards also communicate, visually, contextualization clues of cultural “norms” and social “interactions” within and between cultures. The trade cards as visual representations of daily life in a by-gone era illustrate (quite viscerally at times) interactions of class, gender, race and ethnicity, analysis of which can offer insights into perceptions, realities and stereotypes that were shaped by the domestic and foreign policies of the times..

Keywords: Material Culture, Visual Communications, Knowledge Economy, “Post-industrial” Societies
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication, Aesthetics, Design
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Re-Orienting Ourselves in a Knowledge Economy

M. Jenna Musket

Adjunct Professor, Social Sciences, School of Liberal Arts, Philadelphia University

From 2004-2006, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at Philadelphia University where I have taught such courses as "The Changing Face of America", "Diversity and Commonality in American Lives", "Class, Gender and Race" and "Evil and Good." For the past several years, I have been working on a PhD in Anthropology at Temple University on issues of culture, history and power relative to differing "communties of practice." My work is largely informed by a framework of historical perspectives, ethnography of communication and anthropology of visual communications.

Ref: H06P0604