ANTHRCUL 458 - Topics in Cultural Anthropology
Section: 003 The Power of Display
Term: FA 2007
Subject: Anthropology, Cultural (ANTHRCUL)
Department: LSA Anthropology
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior & above/permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

This course explores museums as dynamic sites of intellectual and cultural debate. Now more than ever, as the process of globalization raises questions about the fluidity, preservation, and “authenticity” of culture, museums of all kinds are attracting great interest both as places to visit and as a subject of critical analysis in their own right. As places defined by the collection, display, and interpretation of objects, museums are bound up in questions of permanence and transience, difference and identity, equity and privilege—issues shaping both popular and scholarly discourse on the politics of culture today. Historically, museums have been vested with the authority to construct particular ways of knowing and seeing the world. How, why, and to what ends? Focusing on the exhibition as the primary site of representation—of art, science, culture, or history—this course will explore the interpretive practices of museums—how they tell stories with objects—and what is at stake in the narratives they create about the past, others, and ourselves. Three “behind the scenes” fieldtrips will provide insight into the social and political complexities and constraints of exhibition-making. Assigned readings will explore how the notions of “authenticity”, authority, ideology, memory, identity and alterity figure into the (sub)texts of exhibitions. While you will be writing two formal exhibition critiques as part of your course requirements (see below), you are encouraged to visit more than two exhibitions during your stay in Washington. The more exhibitions you encounter, the more you will hone your skills of visual analysis. Another “way into” museums is through their websites, some of which are quite elaborate and include “virtual” exhibitions. Indeed, these are also of interest, especially since they raise questions about the nature of the “museum experience” in which we seek and value a direct encounter with objects.

ANTHRCUL 458 - Topics in Cultural Anthropology
Schedule Listing
002 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
003 (SEM)
Note: Michigan in Washington Program: The Power of Display: Museum Exhibitions in Washington, D.C.
004 (SEM)
W 4:00PM - 7:00PM
Note: (Meets with LACS 455.002 & 619.001 and History 478.001 & 617.001) This class is only open to advanced undergrads.
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