Centre for Modern Thought
School of Language & Literature
University of Aberdeen
I have worked in museum education for over eight years: first as the Cultural Program Developer for the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the world's first museum designed for entirely and expressly for children and then as the Director of Programs at the Long Island Children's Museum. My work has evolved from developing lessons and interactive exhibit spaces that were object-centered and based in the museum's extensive collections to creating original cultural events by forging new partnerships with community-based organizations.
Reflecting on this shift in both the material and discursive means, the contested mission statements and far reaching impact of a museum's work has led me to study at the Centre for Modern Thought. With a background in Comparative Literature and Biology, I knew that the lauded Museum Studies programs and Education degrees—although providing me with an instrumental preparation into the field and practical knowledge of the contemporary issues curators and educators face in the museum world—would fail me in terms of providing a more rigorous philosophical investigation of the intellectual history that grounds those invisible principles governing the visible in museum work and allowing for a creative engagment with the fundamental questions of education understood as e+ducere, literally to lead out.
How does a children's museum engage in a responsibility to the other? Multiculturalism has been deployed as that discourse used to renegotiate relations between museums and communities. What are the historical contingencies of multiculturalism? How are political paradigms of the Enlightenment—in terms of how we understand identity, diversity, community and the discovery/invention of the culturally defined other—operating in the present practices of multicultural educational initiatives and policies in children's museums? How do these residual unexamined concepts shape, censor and inscribe our pedagogy? What is at stake for children, for community, and for hospitality if multiculturalism, born of postcolonial sympathies as a doctrine of tolerance and diversity only serves to replicate, that is multiply precisely that which it claims to change?
I am interested in how to make world world for children—that is, in what the conditions of possibility are for authentic encounter in a museum—between child and object and between child and child. I am interested in experiences that are unique to a museum which foster not only the kind of thinking that produces a critical distance of “given” knowledge but those experiences which challenge the exteriority of mastered knowledge and the interiority of masterful subjectivity as such. My work in museum education has repeatedly brought me to questions of the politics of home; my work at the Centre is focused on ideas of citizenship, the “who” of the stranger, reciprocal guest-host relations and the excesses of hospitality. My thesis explores these ideas in the light of a disavowed Kantian legacy of the cosmopolitical ideal, Heidegger's ontological themes of being-with, Mitsein and its relation to Unheimlichkeit and the ancient Hebrew texts on Genesis hospitality.
- Aberdeen University: Centre for Modern Thought—Masters of Literature by Research, to be completed in October 2007
- Binghamton University: State University of New York—Bachelors of Arts, Comparative Literature
- Bachelors of Science, Biology
Presented “A Guest at the Table: How Can Museums Practice Community?” at Association of Children's Museum's annual Interactivity Conference, 6/02
Led discussion on teaching and learning in a Museum for the graduate student internship program, Global Voices at the American Museum of Natural History, 1/02
Interviewed in the Fall 2001 special edition of Musings
Developed and led Face to Face: Dealing with Prejudice and Discrimination, a professional development workshop for middle school teachers dealing with social and educational challenges after 9/11
Wrote Birthdays: Celebrating Life in NYC, a lesson plan for the teacher resource publication America Begins in New York, a collaborative project developed by the New York Historical Society, the NYC Board of Education and the NY Times, 01/01
Presented “Writing, Hysteria and Adultery with a Darwinian Twist in Gillman's The Yellow Wallpaper” for English postgraduate Conference, “Crossing the Boundaries: Power and Resistance Across the Disciplines,” 12/92
Produced research and critiques for a study of gender differences in Neo-Darwinian readings of sociobiological literature for the Human Behavior and Evolution international conference
Awarded 1st prize from English Department for essay “Writing, Hysteria and Adultery with a Darwinian Twist in Gillman's The Yellow Wallpaper”