The Collecting and Displaying of Knowledge: Historical Perspectives

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 5LH006

Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
History of Science and Ideas A1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 14 September 2021
Responsible department
Department of History of Science and Ideas

Entry requirements

A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, the student will be able to:

  • demonstrate a broad understanding of the history of knowledge collecting and how different historical processes shaped the collection and displaying of knowledge in e.g. museums;
  • apply a selection of analytical concepts central to the understanding of how knowledge is and has been organized, and critically engage in discussions concerned with both past and present exhibitions practices; 
  • apply a selection of methods useful for researching archives of collections and museums. 


The course is concerned with the use of objects, collections, and archive materials created by museums and other knowledge-institutions as starting points for research on knowledge making and circulation. A further aim is to address how such institutions have had, and continue to have, a crucial role in displaying, organizing, and generating knowledge. The layout of the course is thematic. We will discuss how knowledge has been organized, focusing on the use of epochs, geographies, taxonomies and different knowledge systems. The display of bodies - animal and human - and how ideas about gender, race and evolution were disseminated and constructed through exhibitions form another theme. A further theme is concerned with the material turn and how knowledge and object circulation can be traced in collection and museum archives. The historical perspective will prove a backbone;  the development from early-modern wonder chambers to palaces of science, to digital collections will provide a starting point for discussion of how different ideologies, and social and political circumstances shaped the collection and display of knowledge across time. The course will also address issues at the centre of contemporary debates relating to repatriation, and issues of privilege of certain types of objects and knowledge over others.


The course consists of compulsory seminars and lectures.


Assessment will be based upon written and oral assignments.

No reading list found.