Two Discourse Dimensions for Interpreting Artworks in Classes and Museum Visits: Interactive/Non-interactive; Dialogic/Authoritative

By Rachel de Sousa Vianna.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 24, 2014 $US5.00

This paper presents research on the discourse used for interpreting artworks in art classes and museum visits. Conversations between teachers and students, and between gallery educators and visitors, were audio recorded and transcribed. A framework based on sociocultural theory structured the discourse analysis around a continuum of two dimensions: “interactive/non-interactive” considers whether one or more persons participate in the dialogue; “dialogic/authoritative” observers whether one or more points of view are heard and explored. Findings indicate a wide variation in the type of discourse used by teachers and educators: one of them hardly gave students a chance to speak; another avoided positioning herself regarding any matter; yet another four teachers/educators varied their ways of talking. These results are in accordance with existing methodologies for interpretation of artworks, which can roughly be divided into three tendencies. On one cluster stand traditional methods, while on the other stand student-centered approaches. Somewhere along this continuum are the methods that propose a balance between knowledge of the art field and views and experiences of the observer. Based on the data, the paper discusses the challenges of modulating the two dimensions of the discourse defined by the framework for achieving this balance.

Keywords: Arts, Pedagogies, Interpretation, Discourse

The International Journal of Arts Education, Volume 8, Issue 1, April 2014, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 24, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 332.938KB)).

Rachel de Sousa Vianna

Lecturer, Escola Guignard, Universidade do Estado de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Rachel de Sousa Vianna is a lecturer at Universidade do Estado de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She has a M.A. in art education from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in education from Universidade de São Paulo. Her research interests include interpretation, perception, and built environment education.