Dr Jen Walklate

Teaching Fellow in Museum Studies at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK


Teaching Fellow in Museum Studies

PortraitAs Teaching Fellow, I am working on curriculum development, language provision, and student experience. I offer pastoral tutoring in Museum Studies and Masters Research Project Supervision. I assist with the WordPress site, the Distance Learning Courses, and other aspects of teaching and learning.

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.

Teaching

My main contributions to teaching are to the MA/MSc in Museum Studies, in which I have taught museum histories, museum ontology and contexts, material culture theory, care of collections, embodiment and politics. In this capacity, I seek to address foundational aspects of museums, their meanings and their identities, and to allow students to begin to question the sweeping definitions which can and are made about museums. These definitions and roles are, thereafter, challenged throughout the course. I also work with Distance Learning, in particular in facilitating new interactive ways of engagement in the course materials through the use of VLEs and interactive fiction. I am also currently the School's Ethics and Plagiarism Officer, and in these roles seek to lay the foundations of academic integrity amongst all of our students, across all programmes.

Research Interests

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.

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.

PhD and MA Supervisions

I have supervised a visiting PhD scholar from an ethnomusicology background, and hope to, in time, seek further research students to support. My MA supervisions are wide-ranging in their focus, but I am particularly interested in work which pushes the conceptual analysis of museum design, which tackles museum ontologies, and which crosses a vareity of disciplines. My MA students have gone on to study PhDs and to work in practice very successfully.

Publications

Books

Walklate, J., (in progress), Who Knows Where the Time Goes? Museums, Literature, Temporality

Golding, V., and Walklate, J., (eds.), 2018, Museums and Communities: Diversity, Dialogue and Collaboration, Cambridge Scholars Press

Dudley, S., Barnes, A. J., Binnie, J., Petrov, J., and Walklate, J., (eds.), 2012, Narrating Objects, Collecting Stories, Routledge

Dudley, S., Barnes, A. J., Binnie, J., Petrov, J., and Walklate, J., (eds.), 2011, The Thing About Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation, Routledge

Book Chapters

Walklate, J., in progress, ‘ “…quintessence of dust’: Preliminary sketches on museums and carnival time’, in Pels, P. and Modest, W., (ed), Museum Temporalities: Time, History, and the Future of the Ethnographic Museum, Bloomsbury

Walklate, J., 2018, ‘Anxiety’, in Knell, S., (ed), The Contemporary Museum: Shaping Museums for the Global Now, Routledge

Walklate, J., 2012, 'The Mutuality Between Objects and Persons,' in Dudley et al., (eds.), 2012, Narrating Objects, Collecting Stories, Routledge

Walklate, J., 2011, 'Objects and their creation in the museum,' in Dudley et al., (eds.), 2011, The Thing About Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation, Routledge

Barnes, A. J., and Walklate, J., 2011, 'Afterword: A Conversation with Sue Pearce,' Dudley et al., (eds.), 2011, The Thing About Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation, Routledge

Journal Papers

Walklate, J. 2018 ‘Heterotopia or Carnival Site? Rethinking the Ethnographic Museum’ in Museum Worlds, 6(1)

Smith, C. J., and Walklate, J., 2017, ‘Alfred Russel Wallace Notes 7: Wallace, Bates and John Plant – The Leicester Connection’, in The Linnean, 33(2)

Walklate, J., 2016, ‘The Museum in the Global Contemporary: Debating the Museum of Now, University of Leicester School of Museum Studies Fiftieth Anniversary Conference, 18–22 April 2016’, review article, in Museum Worlds, 4(1)

Walklate, J.,2015, 'What if this present were the world's last night?': Simultaneity and Interval in the Temporal Museum', in Transtechnology Research: O/A Papers, 4

Walklate, J., 2014, 'The Museum on the Edge of Forever', in Teorie Vedy/Theory of Science: Journal for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science, 36(1)

Walklate, J., (ed.), McCarthy, C., (convener), 2013, 'Museums in a Global World: A Conversation on Museums, Heritage, Nation and Diversity in a Transnational Age', in Museum Worlds 1(1)

Walklate, J., and Richards, A., 2012, 'The symbiotic academy: on specialisation and interdisciplinarity', in Science Progress 95(4)

Walklate, J., 2012, 'Unforseen Constellations: Documentary Porosity and the Ethnographic Museum', in Journal of Museum Ethnography, 25

Walklate, J., 2011, 'Paper Identities: Constructing the Curator in Museum Documentation', in Journal of Museum Ethnography, 24

Binnie, J., and Walklate, J., as J2, 2011, 'In the Fold: Imagining Words and Images', in Museological Review, 15

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