Dr Jennifer Walklate
I am a museologist, historian and literary theorist, studying the intersections between museums and other cultural media, including literature, drama and comics. I utilize novelistic and poetic forms and concepts to open up new ways of considering visitor experience in museum contexts, and literature as an analytical framework for understanding the construction and performance of museums. Drawing upon this study, I am looking at new ways to create more representative, inclusive, egalitarian, and intellectually open institutions.
I completed a PhD at the School of Museum Studies, Leicester, in 2013, and an MA in 2009. I have worked as a Collections Assessor, Research Assistant, Editor, and Docent, and have volunteered with the Galleries of Justice Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, and the Royal Shakespeare Company Collections. I am a member of the Museum Ethnographers Group (MEG), the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Ethnography (ICME), and work as editor for Museum & Society, and the Best in Heritage Projects of Influence Award.
Spatial and temporal museum design, literature, philosophy, cultural theory
My research focuses on the experience and ethics of spatial and temporal design in museums. I use the methods, theories and concepts of literature to illuminate and analyse the methods, theories and concepts of museology and museum practice. You can see me talking about one of my literary resources - comics - by clicking this link.
Currently, I am researching the literary concept of Carnival, and how its ethical and political dimensions might be utilized in museum spaces. At present, I am exploring how temporal aspects of Carnival, such as grotesquery, billingsgate, and embodiment, relate to anthropological and ethnographic displays; how Carnivalesque aspects already appear, and how they might enhance ethical practice and theory. I have spoken about this at conferences, including Museum Temporalities: Time, History and the Ethnographic Museum, and have published articles on the subject in publications such as Museum Worlds, with my article 'Heterotopia or Carnival Site?: Rethinking the Ethnographic Museum'
I am also examining negative and ambiguous affect in museum spaces, notably notions of the grotesque, uncanny and abject. I am writing on anxiety and unease as powerful productive forces in museum spaces, and their relation to contemporary activism, within and without museums. In a recent contribution to Knell's The Contemporary Museum: Shaping Museums for the Global Now, I argue that anxiety has the potential to produce a radical critique of museum practice and museology.
As a historian and 'accidental ethnographer', I also have an interest in the behind the scenes practices of museum production. In particular, I am interested in documentation, and how it can inform us about museum attitudes, staff roles and relationships, object and collection histories, and displays, past and present. Two articles from the Journal of Museum Ethnography, 'Paper Identities: Constructing the Curator in Museum Documentation' and 'Unforseen Constellations: Documentary Porosity and the Ethnographic Museum' might be of interest. I plan to work with the University of Aberdeen's collections to examine historical practices of documentation from 1850-1950 in some upcoming research.
Some of these projects arise from my AHRC Funded PhD thesis, Timescapes: The Production of Temporality in Literature and Museums. This thesis considered how temporal experience is manipulated in museums, and how this affects their performance and the people who interact with them using literary production and theory as analytical frameworks. It can be accessed via the Leicester Research Archive at http://hdl.handle.net/2381/27954. I hope to have it published as a monograph soon.
I am currently supervising tutorial groups in first year anthropology, and lecturing on the Museum Studies MLitt programme. I am currently leading on the Museums in the Digital World programme, due to begin in 2020.
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Engaging with the dead: exploring changing human beliefs about death, mortality and the human body. Edited by Jennie Bradbury and Chris Scarre, Oxford, Oxbow, 2017, 288 pp., £55 (hardback), ISBN 978-1-7857-0663-9Time and Mind, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 331-332Contributions to Journals: Reviews of Books, Films and Articles
Museums and Communities: Diversity, Dialogue and Collaboration in an Age of MigrationsCambridge Scholars PressBooks and Reports: Books
Anxiety: Unease in the museumThe Contemporary Museum. Knell, S. (ed.). RoutledgeChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Heterotopia or Carnival Site?: Rethinking the Ethnographic MuseumMuseum Worlds, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 32-47Contributions to Journals: Articles
Alfred Russel Wallace Notes 7: Wallace, Bates and John Plant - The Leicester ConnectionThe Linnean, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 18-24Contributions to Journals: Articles
The Museum in the Global Contemporary: Debating the Museum of Now, University of Leicester School of Museum Studies Fiftieth Anniversary Conference, 18-22 April 2016Museum Worlds, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 205-210Contributions to Journals: Articles
What if this present were the world's last night?: Simultaneity and Interval in the Temporal MuseumChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Conference Proceedings
The Museum on the Edge of ForeverTeorie Vedy/Theory of Science, vol. 36, no. 1Contributions to Journals: Articles
Museums in a Global World: A Conversation on Museums, Heritage, Nation and Diversity in a Transnational AgeMuseum Worlds, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 179-194Contributions to Journals: Editorials
The symbiotic academy: On specialisation and interdisciplinarityScience Progress, vol. 95, no. 4, pp. 447-465Contributions to Journals: Articles