Beyond the Cult of the Author: Museum Education in Literary Museums Today

Literary museums are institutions dedicated to the collection, study, conservation, and display of literature. For many people, the term is connected to author’s houses, time capsules dedicated to the cult of the author. Alternatively, the term literary museum may conjure up massive literary archives of diverse authors, with manuscripts and books collected and displayed in vitrines.

Such exhibitions of books, manuscripts and author homes can be understood as physical manifestations of a country’s claimed contribution to culture or a window into another culture or period of time. But in the selection of who is displayed and who not, literary museums have been accused of carrying undercurrents of jingoism and reinforcing colonial narratives of cultural sovereignty.

Today however literary museums of all kinds—from authors’ homes to larger institutions—are changing, using literature and authors’ values to engage visitors in contemporary debates about national identity, language, social justice, and the power of writing. In many such institutions, educators are often at the forefront of these changes.

This thematic edition of the Journal of Museum Education seeks to explore how educators are changing how we think about authors and literature, through programming that invites participation and asks questions; challenging the cult of the author in favor of exploring how literature relates to our lives today. We invite proposals that raise critical questions through the lens of museum education and interpretation about the role of literary museums today.

We are interested in article proposals that address one or more of the following questions:

  • How can author museums help us to understand not only of an author’s life, but also the creative process, the role of literature, and the author’s writing?
  • How can these spaces be used to open up questions about social justice, gender, race other and contemporary debates, using literature as a jumping off point?
  • How can author museums grapple with “difficult authors,” whose literary output or personal beliefs clash with our modern values of inclusivity and respect/support for gender, cultural, racial, and other forms of diversity?
  • How does the formation of the (national) literary canon reflect and shape the museum landscape and vice versa? And how can education challenge such assumptions or highlight admissions?
  • How can literary museums inspire love for reading and writing in children and adults alike?
Proposal Submission Process

Submit your article proposal online using this form. Proposals will be accepted until Monday, July 1, 2019.

If your article proposal is accepted and you agree to contribute, a draft of your 4,500-word article will be due on or before Monday, February 3, 2020 with the final version due for submission for peer review on Friday, April 3, 2020. All articles will undergo the standard double-blind peer review process, meaning you will not know who reviewed your work and reviewers will not know who wrote the article. Reviewers recommend publication, revision, or rejection of an article.

Feel free to contact the JME editors at JMuseEd @ with questions.


For Guest Editors and Authors

The Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Museum Education welcomes the submission of proposals to guest-edit themed sections and original papers on theory, training, and practice in the museum education field.

Each JME issue features an introduction from the Editor-in-Chief, a guest-edited themed section featured on the cover of the journal, and articles about new research, current trends, tools, frameworks, and case studies, perspectives, and book, exhibit, and program reviews. Articles are peer-reviewed in a double-blind process.


Guest editors shape themed sections of the JME. If you are interested in submitting a proposal to guest edit a section of the JME please follow the guidelines outlined in the document download below. Themed sections generally include 4-6 articles, plus an introduction by the guest editor.

Download Themed Issue Proposal Submission Guidelines


Manuscripts that fall into one of the journal’s recurring sections are accepted on a rolling basis. This process as well as writing guidelines are described in the document download below.

Download Article Submission Guidelines

Need help fleshing out an idea? Contact the JME Editor-in-Chief: Cynthia Robinson JMuseEd @