Proseminar: Writing Skills for Museum Studies Scholars and Professionals, Fall 2016, Spring 2017 & 2018 (Instructor)



In this interdisciplinary proseminar, students develop the writing skills necessary to produce a successful graduate-level research project on a topic relevant to the field of museum studies. During the first half of the course, students read classic scholarly texts in museum studies and complete short assignments designed to hone their use of core elements of academic writing: summary, analysis, argument, counterargument, evidence. During the second half, students write a 10-page research essay that reflects their particular areas of interest within the field of museum studies. We study the theory that informs museum practice. In particular, we examine how museums can powerfully mediate encounters with the collective past and reflect the politics of race, class, and gender as well as individual, communal, and national identities. We analyze how museums create meaning and invite interpretation. Furthermore, students draw upon the resources of their local museums as well as Harvard University's own museums to see how museums create what James Clifford has called contact zones between specialists (such as artists, researchers, scientists, and scholars) and the general public.