II. Archive

Archive wordcloud
Archives are not just repositories but complex histories of activities, cultures, memories, and sociocultural values. — Deborah Kuzawa


[Intro music: “Dubucket” by Twink w. Kairos]

Hello, and welcome to the second section of The Archive As Classroom. In this section, we’re all about the archives! The archive is, after all, the noun of the DALN, its material reality as well as its mission.

With approximately 7,500 submissions as I record this, the DALN offers scholars an invaluable resource for studying literacy in its various inflections. And as a tool for teaching, the archive is immensely valuable as well: it’s a site where students can read, watch, or listen to models of personal literacy narratives to emulate; it’s a site where they can study the conventions that make up the genres and subgenres in the archives; it’s a site they can explore as yeoman researchers as they come to learn about the key questions that characterize literacy studies; it’s a site to which they themselves can contribute their own narratives, thus helping the archive grow more valuable in the process.

We are in the middle of what some have called the “archival turn” in rhetoric, composition, and literacy studies—we see the selections in this chapter contributing to that ongoing conversation about the value of the archive in fostering student learning and research. As we consider the various ways that educators use the DALN in their classrooms and beyond, we asked contributors of this section to consider a couple high-level questions in their explorations and investigations: One, how do you use the DALN to teach archival (and other) research methods? And two, what approaches to the archive engage students in critical examinations of qualitative research?

Below, you’ll find a collection of chapters that demonstrate the power of the archive as a site for preserving the literacy stories of people whose voices are historically marginalized or underrepresented. Or as a means of theoretically reconceptualizing the classroom itself as a kind of archive. The archive can be a site that enables educators to enact transformative pedagogy. Finally, the DALN’s capacity as a new breed of archive can radically destabilize or queer conventional notions of archival practice. Taken together, the pieces in this section challenge and change our thinking about the relationships between literacy, identity, power, as well as the practices associated with curating the material artifacts that reflect and enact those relationships.

[Outro music]


CHAPTER 1 Cynthia Selfe & H. Lewis Ulman,  “Black Narratives Matter: Pairing Service-Learning with Archival Research”
This chapter explores an oral history model for service learning through The Literary Narratives of Black Columbus course. In the course, students assist African-American community members in Columbus, Ohio as they audio- or video-record autobiographical accounts of their literacy practices and values, and preserve these narratives in the DALN. In the process, students learn how to interview participants; record and edit texts; analyze qualitative data; document and archive primary sources for public access; design archival materials for wide accessibility (e.g., transcribing and captioning audio and video); report research findings and design projects that provide reciprocal benefits to students and community participants. These characteristics link the course with the goals and practices at the heart of the DALN, allowing us to provide students a range of learning opportunities, while contributing to the community an invaluable historical record of African-American literacies, told in community members’ own voices. The chapter includes insights and recommendations for further community-oriented, DALN-based pedagogical projects.
Hashtags: #curation, #inclusion, #researchmethods
Chapter 2 Johanna Schmertz, “Archiving and Re-Narrating Selves in an Online Writing Course”
Archives are primary sources for creating knowledge, not just storing what is already known. The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives is ideally positioned for students to create knowledge about literacy by serving as both a repository for narratives of literate selves in community and a tool for creating them. If a digital archive is a “digital resource that collects and makes accessible materials for the purposes of research, knowledge-building, and memory-making” (Enoch & VanHaitsma, 2015, p. 219), an online writing course may be considered a kind of archive as well: it stores readings, exercises, discussions and class writings while enabling students to chart their own paths through it and contribute to its shape. This piece applies principles of narrative and archive theory to an upper-division online writing course. Following Jerome Bruner’s precept that “Any story one may tell about anything is better understood by considering other possible ways in which it can be told” (2004, p. 709), students in my class navigated and curated the DALN in order to stage and then restage their identities. They cultivated critical thinking and new identity repertoires by retelling their original narratives in ways that acknowledged their own performances. By adding both sets of stories to the DALN archive at the end of the semester, students in an online writing course laid the foundation for ongoing self-revisions as well as made those selves publicly accessible for the construction of new narratives of literacy.
Hashtag: #curation, #reflection
Chapter 3 Bill FitzGerald & Brynn Kairis, “Year of Living DALNgerously: Breakthrough Encounters with Archival Pedagogy”
This dialogic essay recounts a “year in the life” of an instructor (Bill) and undergraduate student (Brynn) in their mutual encounters with the DALN as a site for teaching, learning, and scholarship. Initial exposure to the DALN in an undergraduate course on “Community and Literacy” marks a turning point for both as the affordances of the DALN prompt significant growth and shift of perspective. For Bill, teaching with the DALN enabled him to own his desire to develop as a researcher; for Brynn, learning to use the DALN as a resource encouraged her to embrace a new identity of a scholar in addition to that of a student. This year continued into a second semester in which Bill taught a graduate course in research methods in composition and literacy, and Brynn found herself developing a publishable project through archival research in the DALN. In a postscript, Bill and Brynn reflect on the ways that this year of living DALNgerously continues to impact their growth as scholars (both), teachers (both), and writing program administrator (Bill) and address the potential for the DALN to serve as a site for transformation of not only individuals but the field of English studies itself.
Hashtag: #curation, #facultydevelopment, #researchmethods, #sponsorship
Chapter 4 Deborah Kuzawa, “A Tool of Queerness? Queerness and the DALN”
What might queerness (as an epistemological and ontological concept untethered from sexuality and gender) and the DALN offer to the discipline of composition studies? I contend that the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives is both a queer and queering archive for classrooms and research. The underlying structures and implicit values of the DALN are queer in that they simultaneously push against and embrace dominant binary values that shape archives, archival research, and literacy. The DALN’s structure and values surf between the values, structures, and conceptions of conventional archives and Archives 2.0 (technologically-enhanced archives), embracing a queer middle ground that values movement and both/and. Instructors and students may use the DALN to better understand conventional binary values of archives (restriction/openness, impersonalness/personalness, expert-direction/self-direction) and how they manifest in archival spaces, classrooms, and research. These binary values normalize and privilege particular configurations of archives and classrooms, including when, where, and how archives and the personal appear (or don’t) in composition classrooms and research. The DALN may be used to expand understandings of what archives and literacy can be, what archives and literacy look like, how archives and literacy are used, and who/what are preserved in archives or who is considered an expert. I argue the DALN may be used in classrooms to meet practical and institutional goals for composition courses as well as meet the personal, philosophical, and intellectual goals of instructors, students, and researchers.
Hashtags: #inclusion, #reflection, #researchmethods