“The History of the Book in the Americas and Beyond.” Co-taught with Neil Safier and Stijn van Rossem. John Carter Brown Library, Brown University. Spring 2019. Undergraduate seminar.
In this interdisciplinary graduate seminar we will explore theoretical and practical issues related to the creation, access, and discovery of archives and special collections, including acquisition, description and technical specifications, community building, and post-custodial models. With emphasis on critical archival theory and state-of-the-art digital humanities approaches, this course draws from literary & cultural studies, information studies, critical indigenous studies, history, art history, and anthropology as we build a rigorous theoretical framework and engage in hands-on practice. This course will pair humanistic approaches to the (de)colonial archive with practice and theory from information science and the digital humanities.
The first unit focuses on colonial archives and special collections, using the Benson Latin American Collection as a case study. This unit surveys the field of critical archival studies from literary studies, history, and information studies. The final assignment asks students to consider the ethical obligations of special collections with colonial holdings by proposing a response to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, recently endorsed by the Society of American Archivists.
The second unit focuses on human rights and social justice archives, using the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional of Guatemala as a case study. This unit explores the ethical complications of working with sensitive collections, as well as the practical application of these theories to digital archvies with a human rights component. As a final assignment, students are asked to propose a humanities media project that will create supplemental materials to the AHPN website that address some of the ethical concerns addressed in the unit.
The third unit focuses on indigenous and community archives. This unit explores archival structures and activities that exist outside of or beyond academic or state institutions. The final assignment, which will be designed collectively by students, asks students to propose and enact a community-centered action responding to needs, problems, or opportunities posed by a collection or archive of their choice.