1) Upper Paleolithic Figurines;
2) Understand the concepts of objectivity and subjectivity and how they influence scientific inquiry.
In this exercise we will learn about the concept of "subjectivity". When something is subjective, it means that interpretation lies in the eye of the beholder, and that multiple interpretations are possible for particular phenomena, themes, or topics. Conversely, when something is objective, it means that interpretation is consistent and without variation. For instance, the law of gravity. The law of gravity is consistent with little to no variation. That is, when I drop my keys, 10 times out of 10 times my keys will fall to the ground. Everyone knows that to be the case.
On the other hand, Upper Paleolithic art is open to multiple interpretations on its meaning and symbology. The lesson here is to understand how differences in the observer, say between a male and a female, influence the way in which Upper Paleoltihc figurines are interpreted.
1) Read textbook discussion on Venus Figurines, written by males, who conclude that the figurines are some form of fertility cult.
2) Read the short article by Sarah Nelson on alternative interpretations of Venus Figurines written from a feminist perspective. The article is located here:
Home Page › Course Support Material › Extra Course Material › Articles › Upper Paleolithic Figurines
Consider the following questions:
1) What sort of explanations are given for why figurines were created?
2) In what ways do you think the interpretations differ between our textbook authors and Sarah Nelson?
3) Why do YOU think figurines were created?
4) Who do you think created the figurines, a male or a female?
5) Who do you think think the figurines were created for? For men, or for women? Both perhaps?
6) How does your gender, social status, age, life experiences, etc. affect your interpretation?
7) After reading Dr. Nelson's arguments, how do you think our textbook authors presented the material?
The book we are using is Images of the Past (5th ed.) by T. Douglas Price and Gary Feinman
we have read Chapters 1,4 and 5 from the text book
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