Use the exercises and activities provided to test your knowledge of the text.

The activity here is to design an exhibition about the abolition of slavery, which may or may not include a piece of contemporary art that would engage with questions of slavery and its abolition.  In true panoptic style, your aim should be to consider both the physical design of the exhibition – its ‘technologies’, to use Foucault's term – and also how the visitors to your exhibition will react to it.

Go to the 'Reports' section of the ‘1807 Commemorated’ site, then click through to 'Phase 2: exhibitions'


This is divided into two topics, museums and art.  The first focuses on exhibitions about the abolition of slavery in a range of UK museums, and the second looks at the role that contemporary art played in those exhibitions.  Choose one of these and look through some of the pages carrying reports of specific exhibitions and artworks.

There are also some very interesting interviews with museum curators in the 'Interview' section of the website


Read through some interviews relevant to your choice of either exhibitions or art.  And finally, take a look at the 'Audiences Toolkit' you can download from the '1807 commemorated' site directed at curators


Pay particular attention to the report's remarks about how people reacted to the various sort of exhibits and displays that they saw in the museums.

Your design depends on what you would want your exhibition to achieve.  Think about this, particularly in the light of what the ‘1807 Commemorated’ project found out about the audiences for the exhibitions that were held.  Then think about how you would design your exhibition, imagining it would take place in a gallery in a public building you are already familiar with. 

1. Use the list of what Chapter 9 calls the ‘technologies of museums and galleries’ as a starting point.  How would you design:

  • technologies of display, such as display cases, open displays;
  • reconstructions and simulacra; the spatial organisation of displays, and how images are framed and hung (see Section 9.4.1);
  • visual and spatial technologies of interpretation such as labels, captions, panels and catalogues (see Section 9.4.2);
  • technologies of layout, such as the layout and design of individual rooms (see Section 9.4.3);
  • architectural technologies, for example the facades and entrance hall of your museum (Section 9.4.4);
  • are any of the spaces behind the exhibition space relevant to your design (Section 9.4.5)?
  • and finally, how will you deal with the visitor in terms of the rules for visiting the exhibition, the spatial routing for visitors, the placing of benches and so on (Section 9.5)?

2. You should also reflect on something that scholars using discourse analysis II tend to ignore – which is the actual effect your design would have on its visitors.  How would you research the subjectivities of your visitors as they were visiting your exhibition?  How would you assess the legacy of their visit to your exhibition?

3. Finally, consider again how distinct these two methods – discourse analysis I and discourse analysis II – actually are.  Can each support the other?  Are their different emphases irreconcilable?