Honors Program

Honors in History

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

John Rankin

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Jennifer Adler, Scott Contreras-Koterbay


The study of material culture study has long been estranged from mainstream academic discourse often dismissed as the examination of pots and pans. Historians are beginning to realize that material culture and cultural reconstruction offer vital insights into the past. Building upon new developments, my project reconstructs the items painted by Joshua Reynolds in his famous painting of Lord Dunmore. This reconstruction allows for the efforts of unnamed tradesmen to be retraced, making a few people and their efforts which were lost to history known once again. By employing written documentation in tandem with extant artifacts, the project recreates every object in the portrait as it would have been done in the past. This study put to the test the benefit of material culture as an academic discipline. By employing an interdisciplinary approach, it allowed for new insights into the past by combining most notably experimental archeology, material culture studies, and academic history. The findings of this research provide insight into the effectiveness of the experiential analysis technique for the purpose of historical study and how it benefits not only current understanding of artifacts themselves but also fills gaps in the lives of those who created and used these items.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.