Student Spotlight: Zachary Marschall Defends His Dissertation

Student Spotlight: Zachary Marschall Defends His Dissertation

Zachary Marschall defended his dissertation entitled "Forward to Heritage: The Future of the American and British Art Museum in their Communities" and worked with Dr. Michael G Malouf, Dr. David Kaufmann, and Dr. Dina M. Copelman. Check out the interview with Zachary in which he reflects on his time at Mason.



How have your research interests changed from the time you began the PhD program to now, and in which direction do you envision your work moving upon graduating?

I entered the program wanting to research the intersections of cultural criticism, aesthetics, and political ideology. Over time, I refined my focus to cultural hierarchies, institutions, and policies. Cultural policy studies—the Australian iteration of cultural studies—then became the methodological basis for my dissertation on innovation in art museums. My future cultural policy research will likely investigate the relationship between the state, art museums, and their utilization of heritage curation and community partnership building.


What kinds of professional development did you pursue while a student and which do you think will best position you to get the job you want: publishing, presenting, teaching, service in the department, engagement in non-university service projects, acquiring particular research skills?

I spent two-and-a-half years working as managing editor for Arts & International Affairs, a peer-reviewed journal run by then-Cultural Studies professor JP Singh. I also served as coordinator for an academic conference at the University of Edinburgh, for which AIA published a special issue. From there, I secured a publishing role at the Policy Studies Organization and then my current editorial position at a market research startup in Washington, DC.


What is one of your best memories from your time in the PhD program in Cultural Studies?

I did a presentation on Guy Debord for CULT 804, which went very well. That positive experience helped me think independently about where I wanted to position myself within cultural studies discourses on taste and cultural hierarchies.