After reading the Introduction of Kenneth Haltman’s “American Artifacts” I think I have a gained a better understanding of how this English class will operate throughout the semester. Haltman writes about a process of historical interpretation called Prownian Analysis. The Prownian Analysis, created by Jules Prown, is a process writers use to observe a historical object and create an interpretation of the culture from which that object was formed. Haltman writes, “While only some of culture takes material form, the part that does records the shape and imprint of otherwise more abstract, conceptual, or even metaphysical aspects of that culture that they quite literally embody” (Haltman, page 1). Haltman uses the Prownian Analysis to describe a way to interpret and write about these historical objects. Haltman places an emphasis on the language writers use, saying “While we work ‘with’ material objects, i.e. we refer ‘to’ them, the medium in which we work as cultural historians is language” (Haltman, page 4). Every word used by a writer should be carefully chosen in order to more accurately reflect his or her interpretation of the object and culture.
Throughout the semester we will be researching and studying the NAMES Project and the quilt with which it is associated. The quilt is a historical object created by people who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. After reading the Kenneth Haltman passage I am assuming that we will be using the Prownian Analysis to interpret the culture from which the quilt was created. This will be an interesting research project because I would imagine that the culture surrounding the quilt is very diverse. The Kenneth Haltman reading provides a great instructional manual for how to write about an object such as the quilt.