Literature at the Museum: The Muzealisation and Exposition of Literature

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ILLI - A Multilingual e-Journal of Literary Studies - special issue

Special issue edited by Marie-Clémence Régnier

Until now, research devoted to the complex and changing relations between literature and the museum has often focused on the literary side of things. Less frequently, publications also consider literature itself as a museum object. Yet they often do not deal explicitly with the ways in which literary practice is appropriated by the museum environment. This issue aims to propose a first map of the issues involved in the musealization of literature in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, both in terms of discourses and practices. It will describe the modalities of a process, understood as an operation which extracts, physically and conceptually, an object from its natural or cultural context and assigns it a museal status, transforms it in musealium or muséalie, a museum object, and makes it enter the field of the museal. The goal is not to reduce the subject to a limited set of examples and institutions, nor to particular forms of musealization but rather to reflect on the system of practices which are used to integrate literature into the museum space without obliterating its peculiar identity. In this sense, can the museum be considered a medium or, more broadly, as a space of mediation between literature and the social sphere ? These reflections ultimately lead to the question of the adapation and appropriation of literary codes (authorship, literary groups and movements…), which are to a large extent logocentric, by museographic codes, which are more explicitly founded on attention to the material dimension of the objects under consideration. Contributions which approach the topic from a pluri- or interdisciplinary perspective or which compare different national and/or linguistic spaces and contexts, are particularly welcome.

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