Special Museums Topics: Cultures of Collecting: Museums, Histories and Literature
This course develops historical and theoretical perspectives for understanding the intersections of post-Enlightenment European literature and museum culture. By probing the specific ways literary texts and exhibitions organize and arrange objects to tell a culture's stories, the course works to understand what museums and literature also have in common and how the novel and public museum are driven by similar cultural forces. With this framework, the course offers fresh approaches to a wide range of contemporary issues, ranging from why more museums are being built around the world today than ever before to why memory, identity and heritage figure are as key problems in global culture. The course includes theoretical perspectives by Foucault, Adorno, Benjamin, Malraux, and Bal; literary texts by Goethe, Flaubert, Rilke, and Sebald; and art and architecture by Schinkel, Rodin, Gehry and Pei (among others). The course will additionally introduce methods for using primary sources in research and consider the utility of museum studies as a contemporary paradigm for interdisciplinary cultural analysis.