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

Madhu Narayan (PhD Candidate, WRAC) Related

In 2008, Kate Eichorn wrote: “To write in a digital age is to write in the archive.” She reflects on how the ubiquitous nature of “the archive” may be “inflected in our writing, especially in emerging genres of writing.” 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.

The open access, born digital edited collection Composing In/With/Through Archives explores these issues, contributing to discussions about the archival turn in humanities scholarship

The edited collection is interested (but certainly not limited to) the following questions:

  • How are we theorizing digital archives?
  • How are we drawing from the work of digital archivists as we build our own archives and conduct digital archival research?
  • How do digital archives mediate how we write/compose?
  • How do we differentiate between digital archives/repositories/libraries? Why are these distinctions important?
  • What is the role/function/purpose of archives within the digital humanities?
  • How are digital archives being used for cross/interdisciplinary work?
  • How are digital archival objects material? What is the value in thinking of such objects as material entities with complex histories and identities of their own?
  • How do we build complex digital archives that describe and house objects? How do we provide access to such digital objects?
  • How are scholars decolonizing archives? How can we build more archives along the lines of the Trust and Technology project developed in Australia?
  • How do we build participatory digital archives (such as the project being developed by Liza Potts: http://www2.matrix.msu.edu/2012/09/upcoming-project-in-participatory-memory-will-focus-on-creating-interactive-digital-archives/)?
  • How are digital archives being used by activists for social justice projects?
  • How are digital archives theorized differently from material archives?
  • What opportunities for decolonization do digital archives afford?
  • How can digital archives make the process of selection and display transparent?

This born digital edited collection is published using CommentPress, a WordPress plugin designed to support rich, fine grained, and sustained discussion around scholarly works. The collection includes an editors’ introduction and two sections: The first section –“Theorizing Digital Archives”–  defines what digital archives are and how they have helped shape the humanities in the past few decades. The second section – “Working with Digital Archives” – contains case studies describing authors’ work with particular digital archives and the affordances and challenges of working with such archives.