Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston, Massachusetts is unique in history and design. Originating as a privately held collection, the Gardner Museum reflects its namesake’s eccentricities and stands in stark contrast to the backdrop of contemporary Boston. Although much has been written about the individual masterpieces held within the Gardner collection and there are numerous biographies of “Mrs. Jack,” as Gardner was sometimes called, little work has been done to investigate the museum in light of contemporary research in museology and the practices of collecting and display. Understanding collecting and curating as modes of knowledge production, this study seeks to discover the types of knowledge produced by and within the Gardner Museum. Because the museum highlights forms of knowledge other than that associated with textual criticism, I focus on the affective and historical material transfers at work in museum practice. As such, this study offers an opportunity to explore the nature of a performance-based method or orientation to scholarship. I both make use of and question “performative writing” as a mode of presentation, so that what emerges is an understanding of a method that, like the Gardner Museum, seeks to discover ways of knowing beyond (but not in lieu of) processes of representation and signification. In a sense then, performance methodology becomes both an object of study and my method. In bringing the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum into relationship with the disciplinary problem of performative writing, I have conceived of my research and writing practices as processes of collecting and curating.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Bowman, Ruth Laurion



Included in

Communication Commons