Museums are “democratising, inclusive and polyphonic,” addressing “the conflicts and challenges of the present,” and aiming to advance “human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing,” according to a recently proposed definition from The International Council of Museums (ICOM, “Museum definition” 2019). With this definition in mind, this special issue invites scholarship about museums as a social force.
While visitor studies are often concerned with measuring learning outcomes, communication scholars consider the capacity of museums to summon and move audiences. Carole Blair (1999) notes the capacity of memorial sites to induce affective responses and prescribe a preferred interpretation (pp. 46-47). John Lynch (2013) describes a “spatial sermon” (p. 2) at a museum that seeks, not merely to inform, but to convert the visitor. Kenneth Zagacki and Victoria Gallagher (2009) describe an outdoor exhibition as enacting environmental concerns via extra-discursive means (p. 188). According to Dickinson, Ott, and Aoki (2006), an exhibition can hail visitors visually, aurally and haptically (p. 35).
These and other museum studies foreground the museum as a prescriptive force. While informing or entertaining, they also inculcate world views and advance political agendas. In museums, visitors behold, interact with, and consume exhibits. In what ways do the exhibits, in turn, act upon the visitor? How could an exhibit be seen as normative or prescriptive, containing admonishments to see the world differently, or to change one’s behavior?
This issue seeks to address these, and other issues that consider museum exhibitions as forces for change. We seek submissions at the juncture of social science, humanistic inquiry and museum studies, from a wide variety of disciplinary, theoretical and methodological orientations. Submissions invited from those who study historical or science museums, as well as art museums.
This special issue invites scholarship that considers the influence, impacts or effects of museums. The unit of analysis can be the institution itself, or a particular exhibition or exhibit. The special issue also seeks submissions from global scholars whose work may promote comparative, cross-cultural understandings. It welcomes various methodological approaches (qualitative, quantitative, etc.) and theoretical orientations (critical, rhetorical. empirical, historical, etc.). Topics may include, but are not limited to: Museum exhibits as agents of change, Museums and environmental threats, Museums as communication systems, Museums, inclusivity and social justice, Museums as built and material rhetorics, Museums and public memory, Museums and social issues/ public policy, Museums and medicine/ public health, Museums with political agendas, Museums and gender, race, ethnicity, social class, etc., Museums and public understanding of science, Museums and soft power, Museums as ideology, interpellation or governmentality, Museums and performativity; performative exhibits, Museum exhibits as discourse, multimodality, pragmatics or speech acts, Museums and interactive technologies.
Submitted manuscripts must be in MS Word (.doc) format with a separate title page that includes the title of the paper, full names, affiliations, email addresses, telephone numbers, complete addresses, and one or two sentence biographical sketches of all authors. The main texts should remove any indicator of authorship, and thus ready for a blind, peer-review process. Manuscripts should be in Times New Roman, 12 point, double spaced, and must adhere to the APA (6th ed.) style. Manuscript should contain between 5,000 and 8,000 words, including a 250-world abstract with 5-6 key words, all references, and notes. Up to three images can be included as appendices. Manuscripts must contain original material which has not been previously published elsewhere or is currently under consideration by another journal. Please email manuscript and separate title page to David Lee.
CFP Announcement: November 1, 2019
Submission deadline: April 1, 2020
First Review / Decision by: June 30, 2020
Revision by: September 30, 2020
Second Review/ Decision by: November 30, 2020
Publication Date: Spring 2021
Blair, C. (1999). Contemporary U.S. memorial sites as exemplars of rhetoric’s materiality. In J. C. Selzer, S. (Ed.), Rhetorical bodies (pp. 16-57). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Dickinson, G., Ott, B. L., & Aoki, E. (2006). Spaces of remembering and forgetting: The Reverent Eye/I at the Plains Indian Museum. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 3(1), 27-47. doi: 10.1080/14791420500505619
Lynch, J. A. (2013). Prepare to believe: The creation museum as embodied conversion narrative. Rhetoric and Public Affairs, 16(1), 1-28.
Museum definition. (2019). The International Council of Museums.
Zagacki, K. S., & Gallagher, V. J. (2009). Rhetoric and materiality in the museum part at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 95(2), 171-191.