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Virtual Material Matters: It’s in the Details

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The Twelfth Annual Material Matters: It’s in the Details conference takes place online on January 21, 2023. We invite you to join us online for this conference on material culture spanning 1609-to 1815.

This conference is only available online through Fort Ticonderoga’s Center for Digital History, streaming through Zoom Webinars. A laptop, tablet, or smartphone is required to participate in the conference. Advanced registration is required.

Participants will receive a Zoom link three days before the conference by email (a reminder link will be sent the morning of the conference as well).

Participants are invited to ask questions of each presenter using the “Q&A” button in Zoom.

10:00am Welcome

Scheduled Speakers: 

10:15-10:45am The Sepoy and his Lota—As an essential utility item, the lota—a brass pot used by Hindus for drinking and cooking—has travelled a long journey and finds its way into present-day Indian kitchens as a secular belonging. The lota finds references in many old texts in relation to the Indian military soldier (commonly called the sepoy) across religious affiliations. Through an in-depth review of Indian military literature, this presentation explores the materiality of the lota as an important possession that lasted a sepoy’s lifetime, how the vessel interacted in society, and recording narratives built around the humble utensil while crossing borders in the early 19th century. Pragya Sharma is an independent researcher, designer, and maker based in New Delhi, India. She records and documents narratives around domestic crafts and culture in Indian communities.

11:00-11:30am The Porcelain-Regiment of Prussia: Chinese Porcelain and Military Material Culture in 18th-Century German Lands—A military cooperation and political exchange between the Soldier King of Prussia and the Strong Elector of Saxony under the guise of porcelain gifts. This talk explores the role of Chinese monumental porcelain in the formation of identity and collective memory of 18th-century German armed forces. Through archival and visual analyses of the transcultural artifacts, the talk highlights a fragile yet enduring piece of early modern global history. A former museum curator in Shanghai, Feng Schöneweiß is completing his doctoral dissertation in East Asian art history and transcultural studies at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

 11:30am-12:00pm Lunch Break

12:00-12:45pm Made for Trade: Model canoe groups illustrating Native Americans from 1750 to 1800—Birch bark, cedar wood, paint, textiles, and wax have been transformed into highly detailed miniatures. Ursuline nuns made model canoe groups for sale depicting Indigenous people of the lower St. Lawrence lowlands in the second half of the 18th century. Based on the surviving models and contemporary accounts, this presentation will address Native American fashion and foreign perception in the French and British Empires. Dr. Nikolaus Stolle, associated researcher at the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris, France, specializes in Native American material culture and history from 1600 to 1900.

1:00-1:30pm The Cultural Evolution of the Gorget in North America: its Transformation from an Insignia of Military Rank to a Tool in Diplomacy and Trade—The gorget is an example of an object of military material culture whose transformation crossed cultural, national, and geographic lines. This presentation will incorporate archaeological, documentary, portraiture, and other sources to reconstruct the historical “life” of the gorget and its evolutionary path from personal protective armor to an insignia of military rank and a symbol of diplomatic alliance, to a presentation and trade object. Steve Delisle, holds an M.A. in Decorative Arts and Museum Studies through the Winterthur Program of Material Culture/University of Delaware. He is currently the Master Tinsmith of the James Anderson Armoury Tin Shop in the Historic Trades Department at Colonial Williamsburg.

1:45-2:15pm Gorgets, Empire, and Revolution in the Great Lakes, 1775-1812As the Anishinnaabeg of the Great Lakes confronted successive waves of British and American encroachment between 1775 and 1812, silver gorgets became important tools of intercultural diplomacy, mediation, and conflict. This presentation examines the production, exchange, and utilization of gorgets, and situates gorgets in broader discussions of Indigenous-Imperial trade and exchange, Indigenous autonomy, and Imperial power. Jonathan Quint is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. 

Teacher Scholarships 

Fort Ticonderoga offers teacher scholarships for teachers who are first-time attendees at “Material Matters: It’s in the Details.” Teachers can apply for a scholarship to attend virtually through the Fort Ticonderoga Center for Digital History. Virtual scholarships waive the registration fee and provide virtual access to all sessions on Saturday, January 21, 2023. 

Applications are due December 10, 2022. Complete the application here.

Event Details

Scheduled For:

Saturday, January 21, 2023 @ 10:00 am2:00 pm


$60 Association Member

$70 General Public

$250 Honorary Lieutenant Colonel



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