Catalogues as instituting genres of the nineteenth-century museum: the two Hunterians

Porter, D. (2022) Catalogues as instituting genres of the nineteenth-century museum: the two Hunterians. In: Mee, J. and Sangster, M. (eds.) Institutions of Literature, 1700–1900: The Development of Literary Culture and Production. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 157-177. ISBN 9781108830201 (doi: 10.1017/9781108909501.009)

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This chapter makes a case for writing the institutional history of museums as the history of process. Rather than focusing on the choices of individuals or structural elements that uphold museums’ claims to permanence and stability, I examine manuscript and published catalogues to excavate the nineteenth-century museum’s ‘procedural rhetoric’, the way processes were used persuasively to support systems of meaning and instill specific values. Through comparative analysis of the Hunterian museums in London and Glasgow, I argue that processes of sequencing, labeling and organizing objects on paper were deployed to forge and consolidate, or, alternatively, disrupt and dispute, each museum’s nascent institutional identity. Catalogues function as ‘instituting genres’—that is, genres of writing that enact and thereby make visible the dynamic processes of institutional formation and evolution.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Porter, Dr Dahlia
Authors: Porter, D.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Published Online:30 June 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in Institutions of Literature, 1700–1900: 157-177
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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