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Title: Studies in Gender and Representation in British History Museums
Authors: Porter, Gabriel Caroline
Supervisors: Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean
Award date: 1994
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: In this study, I develop a critical practice relevant to museums, drawing from feminist practice and poststructuralist theory. I examine the process through which museums construct, order, represent and interpret history to make meaning: how history comes to be true in the museum text. My focus is this process of production, not history itself. If the text is recognised as a construction, then it is available for deconstruction, to reveal the process of production of the text, the relations of production, the materials used, and their arrangement. In the activity of deconstructing the museum text, I take a feminist perspective. From this perspective, I argue that the process and relations of production are themselves gendered: the identities 'man' and 'woman' are formed and articulated through a range of relationships. The categories of 'man' and 'woman' are set against each other but, at the same time, are bound together and interdependent. 'Woman' becomes the background against which 'man' acts: 'his' existence and ascendance depend on 'her' presence and subordination. Together, they provide a thread for museums in the histories and narratives which they make. I examine the development of museums in England, and especially the development of history collections and museums in the late eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Here, I draw attention to those elements which have contributed most strongly to the articulation of a gendered history in museums. Moving from a general overview to specific case studies, I examine the articulation of history in three museums, whose identities and themes are related to production and consumption, work and leisure. These are chosen to represent the dominant forms through which museums articulate history, and at the same time as important sites for the construction and articulation of gendered narratives and histories. Finally, I look beyond the materials gathered in the case studies, and the conclusions drawn from them, focus on practices and projects which are broadly relevant to the thesis and which, implicitly or explicitly, challenge the conventions of museum work. In these examples, I have looked beyond Britain and beyond history museums, to open up wider possibilities for change.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Museum Studies
Leicester Theses

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