Deanna Kashani, 2017 Public Fellow
Visual Studies PhD student Deanna Kashani worked with Bowers Museum as part of the Humanities Out There Public Fellows Program in 2017.I worked on a project based at the Bowers Museum, serving as a consultant to Education staff regarding how they may best restructure their docent program. I surveyed approximately twenty museums nationwide to research best docent and touring program practices. I compiled a report to be reviewed by museum staff and volunteer docents and then created a proposal for the Bowers' docent program structure moving forward. I brought to this project insights gained from my background in museums as well as my art historical research on museums. I was able to synthesize qualitative information I gathered and present this information in a clear and persuasive way, due in large part due to my humanities training.
Working with a local cultural organization (in addition to speaking with museum staff across the country and visiting these sites) made my dissertation research about museums and art institutions multidimensional and tangible for me. This work helped me understand the museum as the site of multiple and sometimes contesting visions and goals of the individuals who make up the institution.
It was quite rewarding and joyful to experience what of course is an obvious goal of the Public Fellows program – to step outside the classroom and the routine of scholarly work in its strictest sense – and to find an application for my humanities degree that interacts more directly with the messiness and unpredictability of the so-called "real world." I really enjoyed feeling that I made very practical and critical connections that may help me in my professional path beyond graduate school. I met many individuals both at the Bowers and other museums nationwide with whom I intend to keep contact. It was an enjoyable growing experience to be called upon as an "expert" due to my humanities training, something that does not happen often in graduate school.
The Humanities Out There Public Fellows Program gives humanities graduate students the opportunity to intern with local cultural organizations. Public Fellows apply and expand their humanities research, writing and analytical capacities—skills developed in a PhD program—in a non-profit setting. The 2017 Public Fellows were supported by a grant from the Luce Foundation, as well as by donor and School of Humanities funds.