Reading and Writing about Art: Literacy Events in the Context of the Museum

Dr. Shari Sabeti, Chancellor’s Fellow, School of Education, University of Edinburgh.
A study of an adult creative writing class in a major urban art gallery in the United Kingdom.

This project, which forms part of a larger ethnographic study of museum education, focuses on an adult creative writing class situated within a major urban art gallery in the United Kingdom. It has involved a long-term engagement with members of this class and the gallery educators who work with them as facilitators, tour guides and writing tutors. The research process has involved participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and photography.

The project seeks to explore the role of reading, writing and ‘creativity’ within the gallery context, and to gain a deeper understanding of the value of engagements with text and art objects for the individuals under study. In particular, the project explores the intricacies of the process of writing itself, questioning popular theories of creativity such as inspiration, individuality, and novelty. It asks questions such as: What motivates people to write fiction? What happens during the process of composition? What are educators’ assumptions about creativity and creative processes, and how do these compare with the experiences of class participants?

The findings have implications for curricular planning and pedagogies in museums, but also for those teaching creative writing in more traditional educational institutions such as schools and universities.

See also:

Sabeti, S. 2014. Creative Ageing?: Selfhood, temporality and the older adult learner. Submitted to International Journal of Lifelong Education. DOI: 10.1080/02601370.2014.987710.

Sabeti, S. (2015) ‘Inspired to be Creative?’: ‘persons’, ‘objects’ and the public pedagogy of museums. Anthropology and Education Quarterly (46:2) 113-128.

Sebeti, S. (2016). Writing Creatively in a Museum: tracing lines through persons, art objects and texts. Literacy, 50 (3), pp141-148. View this article:

Book: Creativity and Learning in Later Life: An Ethnography of Museum Education, Routledge Education Research Monographs.


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