As part of the Museum Studies course “Museum as Active Learning Space” during the fall of 2021, participants co-created a virtual Amoeba Tour with this online gallery. Amoeba is a reference to the changing shape of the group as it morphs to follow one guide and then another. Each person chooses an image and decides which will be a corresponding passage from the text we were using as material for interpretation of the image. Of course this means interpretation of the text as well. This is the charm of Pre-Texts, to peruse a collection of art objects, in this case, and to return to a challenging text in order to read the object closely while close-reading the text. In this session we used Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.
Participants choose an object, then choose a text from Discipline and Punish to help interpret the object, and then post anonymously. Anonymity allowed us to appreciate the contributions before we knew who had contributed. During the Tour a first participant asks about one of the postings, and the person who offered it now offers a reason for choosing and pairing. All the goals of Pre-Texts are evident here: literacy, innovation, citizenship. That first presenter then chooses another posting to invite the contributor to speak about the book, the object, and the relationship that can be established between them. The chain of invitations and explanations continues until we have considered all the postings. Then we applaud all the “amoeba” guides, including ourselves.