Call for papers: "Curiouser and Curiouser:Challenging Convention and Celebrating the Unusual in Museums and Heritage

Curiouser and Curiouser:
Challenging Convention and Celebrating the Unusual in Museums and Heritage A THREE-DAY Phd Symposium School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester 28TH – 30TH of march 2011)


Definitions of what is acceptable within museums and collections are changing, catalysed by the blurring of boundaries once enforced by such factors as national identity, ethnicity, socio-economic position and public and personal ideologies. Is what was once considered bizarre or strange becoming more mainstream? What exactly is meant by ‘curious’ or ‘eccentric’, and need such words have pejorative connotations?

Building upon the success of our last conference, ‘Materiality and
Intangibility: Contested Zones’, which took place in December 2009, the PhD community in the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester has set up ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ with the intention of exploring these ideas and challenging conventional perceptions of cultural institutions and the roles which they play in contemporary society.

The School of Museum Studies at Leicester is a leading and internationally renowned centre for the subject, and has been training museological practitioners and theorists since 1966. The School works with museums, galleries and related cultural organisations internationally to develop creative practice through cutting-edge teaching and research. Recently, the School was assessed as having the highest proportion of world-leading research in any subject in any UK university (RAE 2008).

‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ sets out to deconstruct notions of normality and eccentricity in museums and heritage institutions. What exactly is normal, and what is idiosyncratic? In an attempt to begin to answer some of these questions, we are inviting submissions for papers or practical workshops on subjects including, but not limited to, the following:

Eccentric: display strategies
education and learning strategies
visitor research and engagement
uses of display space
uses of media and technology in museums
research methods
portrayals of museums in other media
museological theories and paradigms
What is eccentric/idiosyncratic?
What is acceptable, and who decides?

*Collections, Collecting and Collectors* Eccentric/idiosyncratic collections/objects collectors collecting methods Intangible heritage and its retrieval Historical interpretations of collecting, and how what is acceptable has changed The value of collections, what is worth collecting and why?

*Spaces and Places*
Eccentric/idiosyncratic architecture, both deliberately designed and unusually used environment and surroundings Physical compared to virtual collections Displays in unexpected places Transformations of spaces

*Presentation Requirements*

‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ is not only about the unusual and the new, the unconventional and cutting-edge in museums and heritage sites. We are also looking for submissions from those who are willing to experiment with original presentation strategies. As a result, preference will be given to presentations or practical workshops delivered in an innovative way. Some suggestions might be: Film, Practical Demonstration, Object Handling, Interpretive Dance, Art Installations, Poetry, Creative Writing, Music

If an abstract is accepted for the Symposium, applicants will be asked to provide further details on the ways their presentation or workshop will be delivered. At the end of the Symposium the most enjoyable presentation will be voted by the delegates and the winner will receive a *prize*. In addition, a limited number of *bursaries* will be offered to delegates who do not have support available from their institution of affiliation. Though the bursaries are open to anyone, international applications are particularly encouraged. Further information on how to apply for the bursary will be available soon on ‘the Attic’ website (, the virtual home of the PhD students of the School Studies.

We welcome submissions from researchers working in the field museums studies, cultural studies and allied subjects, but we especially encourage responses from PhD students and early career researchers. Submissions will be accepted for presentations (20 minutes plus 10 minutes Q&A) and practical workshops (between 30 and 60 minutes). We hope to publish – in some form, yet to be determined – the best selected papers accepted for and presented at the Symposium. All papers will be eligible for publication.

*DEADLINES: *300 words* *abstracts must be submitted via email or post by the 15th of November 2010 to the addresses detailed provided below. The abstract should contain the following information: a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, (including the intended nature of your presentational form) d) 3-4 keywords.

Successful applicants will be notified by the 22nd of December 2010, and asked to supply further details about the nature of their paper. Booking details for delegates will be sent out in January 2011.

*PLEASE CONTACT:* Julia Petrov (on behalf of Museobunny) via e-mail:


via post:
School of Museum Studies
University of Leicester
Museum Studies Building
19 University Road
Leicester LE1 7RF

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