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. Possible questions for discussion might include, but are not limited to:

  • 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:
  • 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?

Publication Format:

This born digital edited collection will be published on an open access platform that will incorporate rich community discussion. The collection will include an editors’ introduction and two sections: The first section –“Theorizing Digital Archives”– will contain articles of no more that 7000 words; this section will define what digital archives are and how they have helped shape the humanities in the past few decades. The second section – “Working with Digital Archives” – will contain case studies of no more than 3000 words. The section will describe authors’ work with particular digital archives and the affordances and challenges of working with such archives.

Abstract submission guidelines:

We invite authors to submit an abstract of no more than 500 words by May 1st 2013. Abstracts should be sent in .doc or .rtf format to Madhu Narayan at Please indicate whether your abstract is aimed for the first or second section of the collection.


Acceptance notifications will be sent out by June 10, 2013. Authors will be asked to submit their manuscripts by October 1st 2013 for a first round of peer-review that will be open to the public, as well as other authors submitting to the collection. After this first round of peer review comes to an end on November 15th, authors will be asked to revise their manuscripts. Final drafts of articles will be published by January 31st, 2014. All works will be released under a Creative Commons license.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Madhu Narayan at