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Course Description

In “Remote Archival Encounters” we will take an interdisciplinary and participatory approach to archival research. In so doing, we will attend to how current health protocols have fundamentally shifted the practice and possibilities of working with archival materials. Part seminar, part individualized research tutorial, part laboratory, part skills workshop, this course will combine traditional scholarly practices with emergent ones through analog and digital methods. We will consider new modes of access (for both scholarly and public audiences) to archival materials, paying attention to how our current situation has limited physical access to materials. By the end of the course, students will assemble a portfolio that articulates the challenges to archival research, approaches scholars may take to continuing their work, regular short public writing about archival research during troubled times, and a plan for how to move their individual research forward in the coming year. 

The course will have four main units, including an introduction to current scholarly debates about the politics of archival work (readings may include work by Lisa Lowe, Jennifer Morgan, Britt Russert, and David Kazanjian), virtual “field visits” with archivists and librarians (crafted in response to the interests of the enrolled students), training in textual editing and book history (readings may include Greetham’s Textual Scholarship, McGann’s Radiant Textuality, Hayles and Pressman’s Comparative Textual Media), and workshops in digital research methods, platforms, annotation and encoding, and design (including but not limited to Archive Grid, HathiTrust, Bitcurator, JStor Labs, Omeka, and Tropy). Students will have an opportunity to interact with curators and archivists working at the various libraries, repositories, and special collections with which we aim to partner (including such possibilities as The New York Public Library, The Morgan Library, The New-York Historical Society, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Library for the Performing Arts,The Lesbian Herstory Archives, and the Interfernce Archive).

The course will provide PhD students the opportunity to advance (or experiment with) their own research agendas by pursuing further study in archival research, book history, and scholarly editing. For students in the MA in Digital Humanities program, projects could be expanded to form a digital capstone project–a requirement for completion of the degree.

Course Requirements: Students can take the course for 2, 3, or 4 credits. Please refer to the syllabus for exact requirements based on the number of credits you have registered for. Active and engaged participation is required of all students.