Description: The main goal of the course is to establish the theoretical foundation for the students interested in pursuing future work and studies in history museums. Lectures, class activities, and field trips will introduce students to current practices and debates in the museum profession. Topics include the history and philosophy of museums; the social, economic, and political context that shapes museums; and the main functions of museums – collection and care of objects, exhibits, interpretation, education, and governance.
Outcomes: At the end of the class the students will be able to
(1) demonstrate a working familiarity with the organization, functions, and practices of museums;
(3) use critical thinking skills in evaluating museum exhibits and public programs.
The writing intensive component of this course will prepare the students to demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of
(4) varying strategies to convey arguments, main ideas, and support/ evidence;
(5) varying patterns of composition organization and development;
(6) appropriate voice, tone, and rhetorical strategies for a specified audience;
(7) the writing process.
Texts: All the readings (articles in academic journals and book chapters) are available in
electronic format on Canvas.
Canvas: This class uses Canvas, the school’s learning management system. Use your
regular school ID and password to log in to Canvas at: https://canvas.umw.edu/ You will find this class listed on the first page, under “Courses.” All the materials (syllabus, readings, assignments, etc.) and announcements for this class will go through Canvas. For tutorials and training for students, check: http://canvas.umwblogs.org/
Assignments: Reading and class participation (15%): This course combines lectures with class
discussions and class activities. Every week we will critically evaluate the argument and main themes of the assigned reading and formulate conclusions that will be further applied in other assignments. If you want a good grade in this class, make sure that you come to class with all the readingsdone and prepared to engage in the discussion with meaningful thoughts. The class participation grade will take into account both the quality and quantity of your contribution. You can check with me periodically about your partial grade and ask for help to improve your performance.
“Museum news” blog entries (15%) This assignment consists of a series of 5
entries that you will post on Canvas throughout the semester. Each entry will
be based on an article of your choice with news from the museum world, which
you will find in a U. S. source online. With a length of 250-300 words, each entry
should summarize the article and make meaningful connections to the ideas
discussed in class.
Assignment #1 (15%) To write this essay (1,200 -1,500 words) you have two topic choices:
1. visit an exhibit in a history museum of your choice (preferably outside of Fredericksburg) and write on your perception of the exhibit’s message and how the subject matter is presented to the public by the means of objects, labels, and the design of the space as discussed in the “Exhibits and Interpretation” section of the class. Essays on this topic are due in class on October 9, in hard copy.
2. visit a history museum of your choice (outside of Fredericksburg) and
discuss your perception of the entire museum space and visitors as discussed in
the “Museum and Audiences” section of the class. Essays on this topic are due in
class on November 6, in hard copy. Assignment #2 due in class on December 6, in hard copy (20%): This 2,000 –
2,500 word essay summarizes your research of a history museum of your choice.
Separate guidelines explain all the written assignments.
Exams (17.5% each): There will be two in-class tests with questions concerning
basic concepts, case studies, and readings we discussed in class.
Grading: The final grade will be based on the following components:
1.”Museum news” blog entries 15%
2. Assignment #1 “Exhibit Review” or “The Visitor’s Experience” 15%
3. Assignment # 2 “Museum Assessment” 20%
4. Mid-term exam 17.5%
5. Final exam 17.5%
6. Class participation 15%
Grading scale: A 4.00 93-100%
A- 3.70 90-92%
B+ 3.30 87-89%
B 3.00 83-86%
B- 2.70 80-82%
C+ 2.30 77-79%
C 2.00 73-76%
C- 1.70 70-72%
D+ 1.30 67-69%
D 1.00 60-66%
F 0.00 <60%
If a student has a C- or below in the course by the middle of the semester, a
report of unsatisfactory (U) will be submitted.
Honesty: Students in this class are expected to comply with the University of Mary
Washington Honor System. Please check the following website to find
out more about the university policy on academic integrity -- including the
Students who fail to cite their sources, plagiarize any part of their assignments
will be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs. Please consult me with questions about proper citation and attribution of sources.
Disabilities: If you have a disability and need special accommodations in this class, please made contact with the Office of Disabilities Resources (540- 654-1266) or online at http://www.umw.edu/disability/ and bring the official letter to me, no later than the end of the first week of the semester, so we can take the appropriate steps to meet your needs.
Tardiness: Attendance is required in this class and will be checked at the beginning of
each session. If you must miss a class due to exceptional circumstances, please
let me know IN ADVANCE, preferably over the email. I reserve the right to turn
down lame excuses and will not excuse absences for medical reasons that are
not supported by doctor notes. Each unexcused absence will cost you 1% from
the final grade for the entire class. Make-up examinations will be given only in exceptional circumstances. Should such a situation occur, please notify me well in advance. There will be no make-up assignments for missed field trips and
unexcused absences on those days will cost you 2% of the final grade.
Late turn in of Assignment #1 and #2 is penalized 2 points/ day. Late
blog entries are penalized 1.5 points regardless of the delay. To pass the class
you must turn in all assignments.
Etiquette: Please turn off your cell phone at the beginning of the class and refrain yourself
from checking text messages during our meeting time. Your effort to arrive to