Genre and the Museum Exhibition
Keywords:Genre, Museum, Museum Exhibition, Systemic-functional Linguistics, Text, Communication, Multimodal Text Analysis
This paper applies a linguistic understanding of genre to the domain of museum exhibitions, interpreting these exhibitions as communicative texts. Genre will be seen to be not just a useful metaphor, but an important analytical tool in approaching the analysis of museum exhibitions as texts. Two concurrent exhibitions from a science and technology museum are compared in terms of genre, and it is argued that genre is a useful tool for identifying their distinctive social purposes. It is also noted that the unique nature of these complex, three-dimensional, multimodal texts requires some of the linguistic understandings of genre to be adapted. Connections are made both ‘below’, to aspects of register variation, and ‘above’, to the ideological stance and communicative potential of the museum as a whole as a communicative entity.
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