Philosophy and Religion

About UNCW Material Culture

UNCW Material Culture is a campus-wide initiative designed to foster the study of material culture among faculty, students, and the Wilmington, NC community. Material culture studies is an interdisciplinary field and scholarly method that acknowledges the roles of objects in constituting and transforming societies.This initiative is sponsored by an Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series (IRSS) grant from UNCW’s Office of Research, Innovation and Commercialization.

Join Our Year-Long Seminar Series

UNCW Material Culture Logo

Please join our seminar series “The Material Culture of Racial Justice and Healthcare Equity.” Fall 2021 focuses on objects and racial justice. Spring 2022 examines objects and healthcareequity. Each semester includes roundtables, lunches, lectures, and community engagement events for UNCW faculty, students, and the Wilmington community. This seminar series engages how objects construct and deconstruct racial justice and healthcare equity to better understand how our past and present relationships with objects inform our worldviews, politics, medicines, media, and religious practices.

Our Goals

The goals of UNCW Material Culture are to:

  • Introduce faculty and students to material culture as a method of study;
  • Encourage engagement with the newest object theories;
  • Identify collaborative opportunities;
  • Establish a network of material culture scholars
  • Engage community resources related to material culture; and
  • Expand object-centered research at UNCW.

If you would like to be added to our e-mail list, please contact Jamie Brummitt (brummittj@uncw.edu).


The Principal Investigators

Jennifer Le Zotte, PhD Jennifer Le Zotte, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the History Department. Le Zotte earned her PhD from the University of Virginia. She also holds an MA and BA from the University of Florida. Le Zotte is an historian of the post-Civil War United States, specializing in the material culture of dress as it intersects with the history of capitalism. Her teaching and research focus on the ways the material world reflects and affects historical changes in assumptions about gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity. Le Zotte’s first book From Goodwill to Grunge (UNC Press, 2017) examines the history of secondhand styles and alternative economies. Her current book project, "Well Suited: A Hidden History of Dressing for Success in America,” looks at changes in expectations of dress in America coinciding with the rise and consolidation of corporations. Between 1880 and 1940, population demographics, business structures, public interactions, and clothing distribution changed. So, too, did the rules governing public appearances. "Dress for Success" became naturalized advice, masking the directive's roots in racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia.


Dr. Jamie BrummittJamie L. Brummitt, PhD is an Assistant Professor of American Religions in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. Brummitt holds a PhD in American Religion from Duke University’s Graduate Program in Religion as well as graduate minors in American Islam and Art, Art History, & Visual Studies. She earned her an MA in Religion from Duke University and BA in Philosophy and Religion and Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Brummitt researches the visual and material cultures of American Protestantism. Her first book project “Protestant Relics in Early America” traces the history and presence of Protestant relics in nineteenth-century mourning practices. Ohio Valley History published a preview of this project as “‘Sacred Relics To-morrow’: The Presence of Protestant Relics in the Mid-Nineteenth-Century Ohio Valley” (2020). Brummitt also studies Bibles in the Civil War. Material Religion featured this work in “'How Dare Men Mix up the Bible so with Their Own Bad Passions': When the Good Book Became the Bad Book in the American Civil War” (2022).


Dr. Michaela HowellsMichaela Howells, PhD is an Associate Professor of Biological Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology. Howells earned her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Colorado-Boulder. She also holds an MA in Anthropology from Iowa State University, BA in Anthropology from Central Washington State University, and BA in Primate Behavior and Ecology from Central Washington State University. As a biological anthropologist and human biologist, Howells is in interested in how material culture influences biology. She is the director of the UNCW Growth Adaptation Pregnancy Stress (GAPS) Lab. The central focus of the lab is adaptation and health, predominantly in American Samoa. Howells has co-authored several articles about the material culture of health in American Samoa, including “Trends of Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Hepatitis and Syphilis Infections in Samoa from 2012 to 2017” in World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Surveillance and Response Journal (2020).


Stephanie CroweStephanie Crowe, MS is the Interim Associate Director for Research and Instructional Services at Randall Library. Crowe holds her MS in Library Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She also earned her MA in Public History from North Carolina State University and her BA in History from the University of Maryland. Some of her recent research centers on the intersections of material culture, applied learning, and information literacy. She has collaborated on a project to investigate how cooperative exploration of a physical environment can contribute to student understanding of the concept of authority and trust in information gathering and analysis. Crowe has co-authored and co-edited several pieces relating to material culture in information literacy and libraries, including Games and Gamification in Academic Libraries (2020), “Taking a Virtual Archaeological Site Tour: A Class Visit to the Baths of Caracalla” in Makerspaces for Adults: Best Practices and Great Projects (2020), and “The Context of Authority and Sociological Knowledge: An Experiential Learning Project” in Communications in Information Literacy (2019).


Organizing Committee

  • Jamie Brummitt (Philosophy and Religion)
  • Nathan Crowe (History)
  • Stephanie Crowe (Randall Library)
  • Michaela Howells (Anthropology)
  • Angela Sardina (School of Health and Applied Human Sciences)
  • Meghan Sweeney (English)
  • Jennifer Le Zotte (History)