Skip to main content

The Inside Out of Culture: Theories and Institutions

Overview

  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Assessment: a 5000-word critical essay (100%)

Module description

From the website to the foyer, the meeting room to the gallery, the production of culture is made possible and limited by demarcating technologies and structures. Who or what is in or out, what is visible or hidden, all depends or where you are positioned and how the space is arranged. In this module, using case studies of cultural institutions, we will explore, room by room, the intersections of politics, technology and cultural form. Along the way, we will examine the background to the working practices and policies of arts and cultural organisations and encounter theoretical notions, such as cultural capital, cultural hegemony, creative and cultural industries, institutional critique, technocracy and the labour market.

You will develop an understanding and subsequently be able to apply key notions from cultural theory to your working practices and institutional realities, and you will be able to articulate the political and ideological construction of different cultural forms and their institutions.

Indicative module content

  • Before arriving: how do you understand culture?
  • The foyer: how does it operate and manage our expectations of cultural experience?
  • Walls, stages, screens, plinths, frames, lights: how do technologies of support structures frame our experience of culture?
  • The storeroom, the archive, the janitor’s cupboard: what are the hidden and discrete mechanisms by which institutions maintain their authority and position?
  • The classroom: how do spaces of culture conceive themselves as sites of knowledge and experience?
  • The boardroom: how do everyday bureaucracy and high-level meetings determine the ethics and practices of cultural institutions?
  • The staff room: considering conditions of cultural labour and issues and ethics surrounding it.
  • The shop and the café: how are cultural organisations considered sites of entertainment, leisure and commerce?