The Museum Studies Research Seminar Series 2007/8
The next Museum Studies Research Seminar will be held on Wednesday 21 November at 1.00pm in the Museum Studies Seminar Room, 105 Princess Road East. The seminar is 'brown bag' (bring a sandwich!).
Museum Studies is an interdisciplinary field and all are welcome.
For further details, or to join the email list, contact Viv Golding.
'Analysing the politics of cultural institutions: a study of La Scala, Milan, 1945-2005'
By Dr Paola Merli, De Montfort University, Leicester
In the post-war period, La Scala, the opera house in Milan, has been the site of significant political struggles that have led, under changing historical circumstances, to significant attempts to carry out institutional reforms. This pattern did not start in 1945, but dates back to the intellectual-moral reform of the theatre according to Jacobin ideals at the end of the eighteenth century, and the cultural reforms of the institution that were carried out by the city governments in 1898 and 1920. However, reforms since 1945 have been only partially successful, and political control at the institution has remained unstable and provisional. The objective of this paper is to examine the reasons for this historical pattern. By drawing on archival sources never utilised before, and by applying an original interpretation of Gramsci's writings in relation to the analysis of cultural policy and politics, the paper will examine key turning points in the relationship of the opera house with political dynamics. It will finally explore the possibility of applying the same methodology to a study of the Italian Museums of the Risorgimento, the nineteenth-century movement for national unification, in relation to questions of national identity and historical memory.
Dr Paola Merli is Lecturer in Cultural Policy on the Arts Management degree in the School of Media and Cultural Production, Faculty of Humanities, De Montfort University, and was formerly a professional musician and cultural administrator. Her academic interests are in the areas of Cultural Policy Studies (the history and current developments of cultural policy, politics and institutions; the analysis of the role of intellectuals and cultural organisers in cultural policy and politics) and Cultural Studies (cultural theory, with a particular focus on the work of Antonio Gramsci, and representations of cultural institutions and artists in documentaries, film and other media). Her PhD thesis was on 'The opera house and cultural policy: the post-war politics of La Scala, Milan'. She has published in the International Journal of Cultural Policy, the International Journal of the Humanities, and the International Journal of the Arts in Society. She has also provided a commissioned scholarly introduction to a book by Senator Carlo Fontana on his experience as general manager of La Scala, from the leading Italian publisher Mondadori Electa. This is the first reconstruction of the life of the famed cultural institution in the period from 1990 to 2005. She has recently been appointed reviews editor for the journal Cultural Trends.
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.