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Material Culture Home

Campus folklife also has its physical aspects: the things that we treasure; the settings in which our stories take place; and the objects around which our customs revolve.


Although the buildings and other physical structures on campus serve official functions, the alternative ways in which people use or view such architectural features belong to the realm of folklore.

Landscapes/Natural Settings

Most of the campus landscapes are carefully crafted to serve aesthetic and practical functions, but as with architectural features, students create meanings for these places based upon their adopted uses.


Treasured objects are easily found with fraternities and sororities where they are easily housed and maintained through the generations (paddles, clothing traditions), but other objects, such as statues, are often beloved by the entire student body.


The term "foodways" can refer to recipes that are handed down, traditions that revolve around particular foods, ways of consuming, or unique combinations of foods (such as putting peanuts in your coke). This category overlaps with campus expressions since renaming cafeteria food is a perennial favorite pastime among students everywhere. “Mystery Meat,” anyone?