Museums offer rich material environments for studying narration as jointly accomplished by institutions and audiences. Following the narrative and participatory turns museums have taken, the research explores the narrative actions audiences' texts perform vis-à-vis museums' narrations. It examines audience participation in two history museums, as elicited by response vehicles - onsite media that serve to invite and capture audience written responses. The research argues that museum response vehicles offer narrative affordances and entitlements, which shape how audiences negotiate participation as publicly documented and displayed. Comparative findings indicate that participation is shaped by response vehicles' spatiomaterial affordances, including how brief textual segments function as audience-based contributions in and to the historical narration. A range of audience-generated narrative actions, entitlements, and speech acts are discerned and discussed, which typically conform with, but sometimes 'override', museums' affordances. These narrative actions shed light on the mechanics, politics and policies of public narration and agency.
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© 2020 John Benjamins Publishing Company.
- Communicative entitlements
- Language and social interaction
- Museum audience
- Visitor studies