Courses Designed to
Meet General Education Requirements
World Cultural Studies
St. Lawrence University
The Cultural Encounters Program
Dr. Dorothy Limouze
Fine Arts/Cultural Encounters 220
The Museum as Cultural Crossroads
Course Outline and Objectives:
This course has been initiated in connection
with the Cultural Encounters Program
at St. Lawrence University. It is therefore
designed to meet both the criteria of
200-level Art History courses and to
reflect Phase 2 of the Cultural Encounters
track, the investigation of the dynamics
of cultural interaction between the
"west" and the "non-west."
The course explores the museum as a
largely western phenomenon and as a
lens through which the western world
views other cultures. Readings and class
discussions will consider such topics
as the history of collecting and the
origins of the great western museums,
the growth of museums in the eras of
colonial empires and superpowers, the
politics of collection and public display,
the role of museums in constructing
and mediating cultural "otherness",
and the museum as redefined by post-colonial
and postmodern thought. This course
is therefore not a "training course"
or practicum for the museum profession,
but rather a critique of the institution,
that will familiarize students both
with its history and with contemporary
I. Completion of required readings;
participation in class discussion; attendance
of field trips': This course will involve
some lecture but will be strongly oriented
towards in-class discussion of readings.
Students will also be required to attend
scheduled field trips (3, listed below),
and on-campus events.
II. Journals: Students are required
to keep a journal in which they reflect
upon and critique readings and other
materials and activities related to
the course. Entries must be made in
the journal twice per week, and must
be at least two full pages each (single
spaced, handwritten). Due dates for
journal entries written thus far are
scheduled at various parts of the term.
III. Written Assignments/creative assignments:
Many of these will be in-class; due
dates otherwise indicated. Written up
descriptions of these assignments will
be handed out two weeks or more prior
to the due date. These assignments will
include the following: critiques of
field trips and on-campus events; and
the final project, which is your plan
for an ideal museum, and should reflect
your readings throughout the term, and
your field trips. This project will
be presented in class and submitted
on as a paper at the end of the term.
The following four texts must be purchased
for this course from the university
- Annie Coombes, Reinventing
Africa: Museums, Material Culture
and Popular Imagination in Late Edwardian
England. New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1994.
- Carol Duncan, Civilizing
Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums.
London: Routledge. 1995.
- John Elsner and Roger Cardinal,
eds. The Cultures of Collecting.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
- Sally Price, Primitive Art
in Civilized Places. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press. 1991.
A further, optional text on sale at
the bookstore is: Ivan Karp and Steven
Lavine, Exhibiting Cultures.
Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institute
- Class Activities and Participation
- Final Presentation and Paper 25%
- Other writings/creative assignments
Schedule of Classes:
Class 1 Course introduction; the concept
of "Museum" and how museums
Class 2 Recent Controversies and the
ethics of international collecting.
Readings: For Wednesday, three exposes
of the museum world from popular journals
Class 3 Otherness as a motivation for
collecting objects and data; Video,
Class 4 The early history of western
collecting: collecting as a cultural
Readings: Edward said, Orientalism
(introduction); Donna Haraway, "The
Teddy Bear Patriarchy," from Primate
Visions. Elsner and Cardinal, chs. 9,
7, 6. Field Trip to Remington Art Museum
Class 5 Collectors' Museums: science,
cultural imperialism, and object worship.
Class 6 The Foundation of Great Western
Readings: Elsner and Cardinal, chs.
10, 8; Duncan, Chs. 1, 2, 3, 4
Class 7 The Epistemology of Museum
Class 8 Field trip to the National
Gallery of Canada and the Natural History
Readings: Ludmila Jordanova, "Objects
of Knowledge." from Peter Vergo,
ed., The New Museology. Cultures. Barbara
of Ethnography," in Karp and Lavine,
Class 9 Cultures on Display: Africa
as a Case Study. Discuss field trip.
Class 10 Cultures on Display, II:
Readings: Coombes, Introduction and
Ch. 1, 4, 5, 6.
Class 11 Containment and Marginalization:
Africa viewed by Western eyes.
Class 12 Containment and Mariginalization:
Readings: Coombes, Chs. 3, 7. Krupat,
"The Concept of the Canon,"
from The Voice in the Margins.
Class 13-14 Museums and Marketing
Readings: For Wednesday, Neil Harris,
Cultural Excursions, chs. 3, 7.
Class 15 Video, "In and Out of
Class 16 Art Historical Methods and
Fallacies: Connoisseurship and Determinations
Readings: Sidney Kasfir, "African
Art and Authenticity"; Price, Ch.
Class 17 Class Run discussions of Price,
Class 18 Class Run discussions of Price,
Class 19 Viewing and Discussion of
Class 20 Native American Art and European
Class 21 How Some Museums Tackle the
Problematics of Display
Readings: Susan Vogel, "Always
True to the Object, in our Fashion,"
and James Clifford, "Four Northwest
Coast Museums," in Karp and Lavine;
Janet Burlo and Ruth Phillips, "The
Problematics of Collecting and Display,
part I" Art Bulletin LXXVII, no.
1 (March 1995), pp.5-10.
Class 22 Field Trip to Canadian Museum
of Civilization, Hull
Class 23 Women in Museums
Readings: George MacDonald, A Museum
for the Global Village; Kendall Taylor,
Robert Sullivan, Heather Paul, and Barbara
Clark Smith, Gender Perspectives: Essays
on Women in Museums.
Class 24 Viewing and Discussion of
Videos: "At the Museum," and
"Between the Frames."
Class 25-27 Student Presentations.
Final Papers due last class.