Museums, Objects, Spectacles

Subject 131-071 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbookSearch for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2008.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: 12.5 points of first-year history, cultural studies, cinema studies, politics or art history is recommended.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Prof Kate Darian-Smith
Subject Overview:

This subject traces the historical development from the 19th century of Western practices of exhibiting cultures, ranging from the public spectacles of monarchy to international expositions, with a focus on material culture and the role of museums. Students should develop an understanding of the role of emergent disciplines (eg. ethnography) and technologies (eg. photography) in authorising and popularising exhibits of 'other' societies, particularly in the context of European imperialism and postcolonialism; the politics of collecting; concepts of tradition and nostalgia in public representations of the past; the exhibition of indigenous peoples; the ways collecting and exhibiting practices create and maintain ideologies of racial, class and gender differences; and new technologies and the 'virtual museum'. A range of visual and written texts, methodologies and theoretical frameworks will be examined, and the subject includes field trips to museums and guest lectures from curators.

Assessment: A research essay of 2500 words 60% (due mid-semester) and a review essay of 1500 words 40% (due end of semester).
Prescribed Texts: None
Recommended Texts:

Information Not Available

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • demonstrate research skills through competent use of the library and other information sources;

  • show critical thinking and analysis through recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion, and by determining the strength of an argument;

  • demonstrate understanding of social, ethical and cultural context through the contextualisation of judgements, developing a critical self-awareness, being open to new ideas and possibilities and by constructing an argument.


Formerly available as 131-290/390. Students who have completed 131-290 or 131-390 are not eligible to enrol in this subject.

Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts(Media and Communication) & Bachelor of Commerce
Bachelor of Arts(Media and Communications)
Diploma in Arts (Australian Studies)
Diploma in Arts (Cultural Studies)
Diploma in Arts (History)
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Australian Indigenous Studies)

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