Spectacles: Museums to Theme Parks

Subject 107-405 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 25.00
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2009.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: As well as site visits there will be the equivalent of two hours of on-site lectures and two hours of tutorials per day for 21 days
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: Postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in cinema studies.
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: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability

Subject Overview: This subject is taught in the United States during a study tour. The subject is concerned with exploring the concept of spectacle and display in contemporary urban environments. The focus will be on key spectacle venues in selected cities of the US: New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando. The primary models of analysis will be the museum and the theme park, and their role and function as spectacular spaces within the twenty-first century city. The impact of new media technologies within the contexts of consumerism and 'infotainment' will be explored through specific case studies found in the theme park and museum sectors. Cinematic and spectacular features of these microcosms of culture will be tested against current arguments ­concerned with the 'empty spectacle' of our postmodern era. Attention will be drawn to the theme park-logic that infiltrates these urban structures as evidenced especially in the city of Las Vegas. Sites to be visited will include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Film and Television, the Frick Museum, Museum of the American Indian, Rockefeller Center/NBC studios, the Picture Palaces, Disneyland/Disneyworld, Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure, Getty Museums, Huntington Library/Museum, San Simeon (Hearst Castle), Vegas casino/theme parks.
  • develop an understanding of the history of museum display and theme park complexes as they relate to developments in spectacle culture in the C21st;
  • be able to critically evaluate the applicability of various theoretical models to such structures;
  • have an understanding of the theoretical ramifications of ways in which the confines present in the film frame are collapsed in various embodiments of the "city as film";
  • be able to analyse the impact of new technologies within the theme park and museum sectors.
Assessment: Written work comprising a paper, a journal and an essay totalling 10 000 words.
Prescribed Texts:
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be skilled in critical thinking and analysis;
  • possess effective written communication skills;
  • have an understanding of social, ethical and cultural context.
Notes: Special entry conditions apply. Itinerary and travel arrangements ­available from Australians Studying Abroad. Prospective students must ­register with ASA prior to approval of enrolment at http://www.­asatravinfo.com.au. This is an intensive 23-day fieldwork program in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando and New York. Strict enrolment deadlines apply to subjects taught intensively. Any enrolment in, or withdrawal from, this subject must be made in line with HECS/course fee census dates.
Related Course(s): Master of Art Curatorship (Coursework and Minor Thesis)
Master of Cinema Management
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Art History
Art History
Art History
Cinema Studies
Cinema Studies
Cinema Studies
Cultural Studies
Cultural Studies
Cultural Studies

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