Year of Award

2018

Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Betsy Bach

Committee Co-chair

Dr. Sara Hayden

Commitee Members

Dr. Valerie Hedquist

Keywords

curation, rhetoric, place, visual, museum, gender

Publisher

University of Montana

Abstract

In this study, the author uses mixed methods to analyze a three-dimensional place as a rhetorical artifact. The artifact, Axmen, is a family owned, for-profit retail store and a non-profit museum outside of Missoula, Montana. Using examples of the tangible and semiotic features found within the place, the author demonstrates and translates the rhetorical messages communicated there. These messages are then contrasted with the messages the owners and curators of Axmen want to communicate. The author argues that the current curation of museum artifacts and retail products is exclusive to white males, romanticizing blue collar work. This single-lens narrative of the past excludes “othered” demographics and undermines Axmen’s intended message of valuing the past and hard work. Reworking the tangible and semiotic features of the place with intention to authentically represent intersectional narratives will help this storytelling site appeal to a wider demographic and stay current America’s efforts to reframe history more authentically.

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© Copyright 2018 Rebekah A. McDonald