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Dissertation Information for Kiersten Fourshe Latham

NAME:
- Kiersten Fourshe Latham

DEGREE:
- Ph.D.

DISCIPLINE:
- Library and Information Science

SCHOOL:
- Emporia State University (USA) (2009)

ADVISORS:
- John Agada

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
- Jeonghyun Kim
- Elizabeth J. Wood

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: Numinous experiences with museum objects

Abstract: The framework of Library and Information Science (LIS) underscores libraries, archives and museums alike, as they are all cultural institutions with many parallel issues. One area of inquiry within LIS is the study of information behavior--how individuals encounter and make sense of their world. This study explores experiences of the museum user that are non-practical goal-oriented and deeply affective--specifically numinous experiences with museum objects. A numinous experience in the museum context refers to a deeply meaningful, transcendent encounter. The aims of this study were to: (1) describe the meaning museum users make of these special encounters; (2) identify patterns or themes, if any, that emerge from their descriptions of these experiences; and (3) contribute a perspective to the overall understanding of the museum user experience. This inquiry used interpretive phenomenological methodology, drawing on perspectives informed by documentation studies, reader response theory, and Deweyian notions of transaction and experience.

Data analysis based on five intensive interviews with museum users revealed four essential themes (meanings) of these experiences, with the first theme acting as an overarching grand theme to the others: (1) Unity of the Moment--the experience is a holistic, uniting of emotions, feelings, and intellect with the experienced object; (2) Object Link--that the object links the experiencer to the past through both tangible and symbolic meanings; (3) Being Transported--the experience is felt as if one is being transported to another time and place, and is felt temporally, spatially, and bodily; and (4) Connections Bigger Than Self--the experience consists of deeply felt epiphanic connections with the past, self and spirit.

These four themes are interpreted in the frames of Dewey's aesthetic experience, Csikszentmihalyi's psychological flow, and William James' mystical consciousness. The combination of these three sets of concepts helps illuminate the meanings behind the numinous encounter. This research demonstrated that the physical object is central to the user's numinous experience, as part of this total holistic encounter. These findings underscore the multidimensional modes by which museum objects affect visitors, and the need to compare such experience with the effect of surrogates such as digital images on people.

MPACT Scores for Kiersten Fourshe Latham

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2010-02-03 23:15:37

Advisors and Advisees Graph

Directed Graph

Students under Kiersten Fourshe Latham

ADVISEES:
- None

COMMITTEESHIPS:
- None