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The rhetoricity of museum design : an analysis of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a rhetorical text / Billie J. Jones.

Publication | Library Call Number: D804.175.W37 J66 1998

The purpose of this project was to demonstrate the rhetoricity of the design, en toto, of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Using the work of Kenneth Burke and Roland Barthes, definitions of text and rhetoric were reviewed, so that it was shown that the USHMM, works as a text comprised of a number of sign systems—linguistic, artifactual, spatial/temporal arrangement, and architectural—which perform in concert to compose a cohesive persuasive text. More than mere written text set in context, the discursive and non-discursive sign usage along with their architectural moorings all work as equal partners to form the warp and woof of the complex tapestry of museum text. Then, using a schema proposed by Sonja Foss, three rhetorical functions were identified and analyzed in the museum text: education, memorialization, and assuaging guilt. It was concluded that the functions of education and memorialization were clearly evident in the text, and that they worked well with one another. However, the function of assuaging guilt was more implicit in the text and could prompt visitors to doubt the veracity of the narrative thread about which the museum seeks to educate. Nevertheless, it was ultimately concluded that the text of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is successful in presenting a persuasive message to its audience. This dissertation was drafted to share this demonstration, analysis, and conclusions.

Jones, Billie Jo.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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