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Madhu Narayan

Madhu Narayan

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March 3, 2013

Born Digital Collection: Call for Abstracts

March 3, 2013 | By | No Comments

Composing In/With/Through Archives: An Open Access, Born Digital Edited Collection

In 2008, Kate Eichorn wrote: “To write in a digital age is to write in the archive” (1). She reflects on how the ubiquitous nature of “the archive” may be “inflected in our writing, especially in emerging genres of writing ” (1). In other words, archives have changed the way we compose – our writing and ourselves – in a digital age. We are composing and being composed by archives. Additionally, while the pervasive nature of archives is generally acknowledged among humanities scholars working in the digital realm, there does not seem to be a general consensus about what digital archives are or how they differ from digital libraries, collections or repositories.

For this edited collection, we invite articles that theorize archives within the digital humanities. We envision that this collection will contribute to discussions about the archival turn in humanities scholarship. Read More

Madhu Narayan

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February 10, 2013

What we talk about when we talk about archives:

February 10, 2013 | By | One Comment

On January 4th, I attended an MLA panel titled “Representing Race: Silence in the Digital Humanities.” Adeline Koh – a speaker on this panel – talked at length about her current project “Digitizing Chinese Englishmen: Representations of Race and Empire in the Nineteenth Century. (This panel provoked a great deal of discussion. For now, here’s a storify version of the panel: xhttp://storify.com/crunkfeminists/representing-race-silence-in-the-digital-humanitie?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=email&utm_medium=email. Koh has also discussed her project on the CHI Blog: http://chi.anthropology.msu.edu/2012/05/28/race-in-dh-postcolonial-studies-and-digitizing-chinese-englishmen-an-interview-with-adeline-koh/#respond). Koh introduced “Digitizing Chinese Englishmen” as a postcolonial archive intended to digitize and annotate “the Straits Chinese Magazine, a journal produced by the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” She talked persuasively about the need to decolonize archives and to also interrupt the logics of imperial archives that try to consolidate knowledge and power by effectively silencing and co-opting representations of the Other.

Koh’s discussion of this postcolonial archive got me Read More

Madhu Narayan

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February 1, 2013

On Archival “discoveries”: What does it mean?

February 1, 2013 | By | No Comments

In June 2012, The Atlantic published an article by Suzanne Fischer titled “Nota Bene: If you ‘Discover’ Something in an Archive, It’s not a Discovery.” [http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/nota-bene-if-you-discover-something-in-an-archive-its-not-a-discovery/258538/]. Fischer wrote the article in the aftermath of the publication of the Leale Report. Briefly, Charles Leale was the Surgeon-General when President Abraham Lincoln was shot. He was the first doctor to arrive on the scene after the shooting. His report of the shooting was found by Helena Iles Papaioannou, a researcher who has been working on a project titled “The Papers of Abraham Lincoln.” The Leale Report has the potential to change the way historians write about the days following Lincoln’s assassination.

Fischer’s contention is interesting: the Leale report was “discovered” by researchers within the National archives because “(a) 19th-century professional knew about the Leale report and decided that, as a part of the Surgeon General’s correspondence, it was worth keeping in the nation’s collections.” Read More

Madhu Narayan

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December 11, 2012

Some reflections on The Lesbian Herstory Archives digital collections

December 11, 2012 | By | No Comments

Over the past couple of years, as part of my dissertation, I have been writing about the Lesbian Herstory Archives (LHA), located in New York. The LHA lives in a beautiful brownstone building in Parkslope, Brooklyn. Its first home was in the Upper Westside of Manhattan, in the apartment of Joan Nestle, who was one of the founders of the archives. The LHA is a community-based archival space: according to its founding principles, the archives is committed to collecting living histories; as such, the LHA houses historical materials from the past and the present. All lesbians are encouraged to donate materials about their lives. As per this model of archives, decisions about what counts as archival depends on community members. The community decides what is important to its history rather than institutions that may be removed from the community entirely. This is a model of radical archiving that depends on Read More

Madhu Narayan

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November 6, 2012

“I just like making things.” – Madhu Narayan, Rhetorician/Writer

November 6, 2012 | By | No Comments

My name is Madhu Narayan. On twitter, I go by @ladymadrietta. I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University. My research interests include rhetorical history, theory, archives, queer rhetorics and cultural rhetorics. I also like nonfiction writing. This year, in addition to being a CHI fellow, I am teaching, finishing up my dissertation, and applying for jobs. Phew. In my “free” time, I like to knit, crochet and cross-stitch. Currently, I have several craft projects in-progress, most notably a blanket that I have been working on for over a year. I am not sure when I’ll finish it. I also like making zines, although I am not very good at it. Really, I just like making things.

In my dissertation, I put rhetoric and composition scholars in conversation with archivists and archival theorists. I develop a framework for studying archives as material Read More