module specification

DN6027 - Collections (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module title Collections
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
 
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Curated collection with apparatus
Coursework 70%   Essay (2500 words)
Running in 2019/20 No instances running in the year

Module summary


Material objects and images, in the broadest sense, never appear alone. They form part of productive environments in which they may occur ‘naturally’ and produce meaning poetically and through serendipity. But more often, things are organised and appear in specific networks and systems with strict rules and value systems, according to political, economic or ideological ideas. Students will have begun to think about this in the level five module ‘Practice: Manipulation (Portfolio)’.

This module encourages the development of a critical position on the narratives used to present objects and artefacts, and how these narratives are used to create and uphold meaning. Collections, archives and cultural institutions organise and preserve material objects for the future – but by deciding which objects are included and which are omitted, collections construct value systems which influence the image we have of our own culture, and how our culture is perceived by generations that follow us. But this is an idea that sits in stark contrast to early human societies and cultures. Collections and archives are in themselves artefacts with a history and subject to changing ideas.


A series of lectures, visits and seminars offer an opportunity to explore these various systems of presentation and classification and to interrogate the narratives and ideologies that they uphold. Students will write an essay on an agreed subject critically examining the practices of collecting, classifying, exhibiting and the cultural institutions that support them and the contexts and purposes that relate to them. Students will also undertake a supporting individual project to curate a collection of existing things (in the broadest sense – things that they have made, collected, borrowed or are working with) as a critical engagement with the ideas explored throughout the course and/ or illustration of the subject of the essay.

The study of the discourse relating to collecting and exhibition will inform work undertaken in the Level 6 module ‘Practice: Curation (Exhibition)’.

 

Prior learning requirements

Pass and completion of prior level

Module aims

This module will enable you to:

  • understand and critique the ways that strategies of display and classification uphold and express certain ideological, cultural, or scientific narratives
  • demonstrate familiarity with a range of collections, their histories and the ideologies expressed, and have deep knowledge of selected examples
  • engage with a variety of historical, theoretical, and creative discourses on the making, interpreting, and critiquing of collections
  • curate things and images as collections both creatively and critically
  • plan and deliver a significant independent project

Syllabus


This module is organised around visits to a diverse range of collections and museums. Lectures, seminars and discussions will introduce key ideas and thinkers that suggest ways to begin to interrogate the collections visited. Some marginal collections, experimental approaches, and creative interpretations from fine art practice and other disciplines will be explored. 

Tutorial and support and group presentations will support students to initiate and carry out the independent major project.

Learning and teaching

Students are required to attend weekly lectures, seminars, workshops and study trips.  Readings for seminar discussion will be provided on Weblearn in advance and students are expected to have read those. 

Students will be required to make regular preparations for weekly sessions beyond the readings. These might include short writing assignments, visual research, seeing out relevant secondary literature, working with photography and recordings, diaries, or developing seminar discussions and presentations in advance with fellow students.

Students will be offered feedforward and feedback tutorials for assignments.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate a critical position on modes of display and classification
  • understand the multiple sources of critique regarding the building and presentation of collections
  • interpret and analyse a range of collections in terms of their assembly, interpretation and display
  • confidently propose a curatorial strategy
  • reflect on and contextualise their practical or curatorial work in relation to appropriate historical, theoretical and creative frameworks

Assessment strategy

Students will submit two assessment items.

An essay on an agreed subject critically examining collecting, classifying, exhibiting and the cultural institutions that support them and the contexts and purposes that relate to them (2500 words).

A supporting individual project of a ‘curated’ collection of existing things (in the broadest sense – things that they have made, collected, borrowed or are working
with) as acritical engagement with the ideas explored throughout the course and/ or as an illustration of the subject of the essay. Expectations of presentation and
accompanying material will be specified according to the nature of the proposal.

Bibliography

Barthes, Roland (2009), Mythologies. London: Vintage.
Elsner, J. and Cardinal, R. (1994) The Cultures Of Collecting. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Henrot, C. (2013) Grose Fatigue [Film]. extract: https://vimeo.com/86174818
Foucault, M. (2002) The Order Of Things. London: Routledge.
Hiller, S. (2000) After the Freud Museum. London: Bookworks.
Journal of the History of Collections. Available: https://academic.oup.com/jhc
Mmuseumm, New York: http://www.mmuseumm.com
Nys, R., et al. (2009) Neues Museum Berlin. Köln: W. König.
Olalquiaga, C. (2005) ‘Object Lesson/ Transitional Object’, Cabinet, vol. 20. Available: http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/20/olalquiaga.php

Pamuk, O. (2012) The Innocence of Objects. New York: Abrams.

Rapid Response Collection, London:  http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/r/rapid-response-collecting/
Weschler, L. (1996) Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet Of Wonder. New York: Vintage Books