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The Barnum Museum Social Concerns

This Study Guide consists of approximately 12 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Barnum Museum.
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Despite the whimsical nature of Steven Millhauser's stories in The Barnum Museum, they address important issues concerning the role of the artist in society. As the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s escalated and the National Endowment for the Arts came under fire for funding controversial projects, the place of the artist in society became more and more embattled.

According to some reviewers of The Barnum Museum, Millhauser is speaking directly to those controversies.

The title story, "The Barnum Museum," and the final story in the collection, "Eisenheim the Illusionist," both concern themselves with the role of the artist in society, and the criticism of those who believe artistic expression does—and should not—come into conflict with the public good. In the allegorical "The Barnum Museum," a fanciful museum of wonders comes under attack for blurring the lines between illusion and reality, for...

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This section contains 1,012 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Barnum Museum Short Guide
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