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Timescapes: The Production of Temporality in Literature and Museums

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posted on 10.06.2013, 08:49 by Jennifer Anne Walklate
Timescapes: The production of temporality in museums and literature seeks to partially resolve a significant gap in the literature concerning museums and time. Certain temporal qualities of museums, such as their roles as sites of memory and history, have indeed been explored, and their temporal oddities have been obliquely expressed by thinkers including Foucault. However, direct investigation of the temporal ontology of the museum is seriously lacking; the explorations above focus on the relationship between museums and the past, and certain Foucauldian descriptions of the temporality of museums have been taken on without being subjected to in depth, critical analysis. In order to counter this lack, this thesis aims to directly investigate temporal production by developing and deploying a new critical framework based on tools taken from the creation and analysis of literary works and concepts from academic literary theory, in a physical setting and written analysis. It asks how temporality is manipulated within museums and how that temporality, in turn, affects certain ontological characteristics of the constituents and interlocutors of those museums. As a result, it shows museum temporality to be manipulated and manipulative, paradoxically porous and bounded, and inherently relational, stemming from everything which constitutes a museum. Temporal investigation also reveals questions regarding the ontological and representational natures of museums; this thesis indicates the ways in which they represent others, how they approach, display and build relationships between themselves and their visitors, and something of their own ontological self-awareness. It suggests that cross fertilization between museum and literary studies could prove productive for both the analytical investigation and practical creation of museum spaces. Timescapes seeks to be a thesis powerfully conceptual, one able to highlight the philosophical and ethical dimensions of museums as media, and yet also be demonstrably, productively, of use in the physical, practical world.



Knell, Simon; Dudley, Sandra

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University of Leicester

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