Course Information

Course website: http://cuny.is/archivalencounters
Course group: http://cuny.is/group-archival-encounters
GC Academic calendar

Course Requirements:

Active and engaged participation, a brief oral presentation, weekly reflections, a project outline, a brief mid-semester progress report, and the creation of the final textual edition.

Four Credit Requirements:

  1. Active and engaged class participation
  2. Final Archive Recovery Project with 6 page white paper.
  3. Oral presentation on a digital recovery / archive project & 250 blog post about it.
  4. Two 300-word blog posts about archival field trips.

Grade Breakdown for 4 Credits:

  • Participation 20%
  • Final Recovery Project 50%
  • Oral Presentation 10%
  • Field trip blog posts 20%

Three Credit Requirements

  1. Active and engaged class participation
  2. Final Recovery Project with 6 page white paper.
  3. Oral presentation on digital recovery / archive project & 250 blog post about it.

Grade Breakdown:

  • Participation 20%
  • Final Project 60%
  • oral presentation 20%

Two Credit Requirements:  

  1. Active and engaged class participation
  2. Oral presentation on digital recovery / archive project
  3. One 300-word blog posts about archival field trips.

Course Objectives:

The purpose of this course is to explore current trends, debates, and issues around questions of archival research, scholarly editing, and the praxis of recovery. As such, while we explore a range of extant digital archives and ongoing digital recovery projects our consideration will be aimed at thinking about how to undertake individual and collective recovery projects of our own. You should come away from this course with a heightened sense of how scholars are currently imagining and representing archival recovery projects, as well as a heightened sense of how you want to locate your own projects within these contemporary debates and practices.

Learning Goals:

Students successfully completing the course should be able to:

  1. Understand current trends in archival research, scholarly editing, digitization, and the praxis of recovery as reflected in ongoing digital projects, in contemporary scholarship, and in the professional practices of archivists and librarians.
  2. Understand the complexities of recovery, of public access, and of scholarly editing.
  3. Better understand how to represent your own scholarly interests and archival discoveries for a range of audiences, rhetorical situations, and digital platforms.

Tentative Reading Plan:

NOTE: This syllabus is subject to change. Check the website each week for updates or changes to the readings. Our selections will be reflective and responsive to student interests, needs, and class discussions.

January 29 Introduction

Terra Cognita: Graduate Students in the Archives, A Retrospective on the CLIR Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources


February 5 What’s at Stake?

In class: Discussion


Jessica Marie Johnson; “Markup Bodies: Black [Life] Studies and Slavery [Death] Studies at the Digital Crossroads,” Social Text 1 December 2018; 36 (4 (137)): 57–79. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-7145658

Laura Helton, Justin Leroy, Max A. Mishler, Samantha Seeley, Shauna Sweeney; The Question of Recovery: An Introduction. Social Text 1 December 2015; 33 (4 (125)): 1–18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-3315766

David Kazanjian; Scenes of Speculation. Social Text 1 December 2015; 33 (4 (125)): 77–84. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-3315778

Benjamin Fagan. “Chronicling White America.” American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism 26, no. 1 (2016): 10-13. https://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed January 23, 2019).

Kim Gallon. “Mining Images of Race and Gender in Twentieth-Century Black Popular Periodicals.” American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism 26, no. 1 (2016): 13-15. https://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed January 23, 2019).

Amanda Gailey. “Some Big Problems with Big Data.” American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism 26, no. 1 (2016): 22-24. https://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed January 23, 2019).

Eric Gardner, “Duty and Daily Bread” PDF

Trevor Owens, “What Do You Mean by Archive? Genres of Usage for Digital Preservers,” The Signal: Digital Preservation (February 27, 2014), http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/2014/02/what-do-you-mean-by-archive-genres-of-usage-for-digital-preservers/.

Elizabeth Hopwood. “Discoverability and the Problems of Access: Thoughts on Responsive Digital-Research Interfacing.” American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism 26, no. 1 (2016): 7-10. (accessed January 24, 2019).

Note: 4th Annual NYCDH Week, February 4-8, 2019
Note: Scholar and Feminist Conference: The Politics and Ethics of the Archive Conference @ Barnard February 8-9, 2019 The Diana Center, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027 http://bcrw.barnard.edu/event/scholar-and-feminist-conference-the-politics-and-ethics-of-archives/?utm_source=BCRW+Email+List&utm_campaign=b153787ad3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_01_02_07_16_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_440ce3d248-b153787ad3-45680117

February 12 GC Closed

February 19 Pathways and Possibilities

In class: Discussion


Margaret Galvan; “The Lesbian Norman Rockwell”: Alison Bechdel and Queer Grassroots Networks. American Literature 1 June 2018; 90 (2): 407–438. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-4564358

Lisa Lowe; History Hesitant. Social Text 1 December 2015; 33 (4 (125)): 85–107. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-3315790

Britt Rusert; Disappointment in the Archives of Black Freedom. Social Text 1 December 2015; 33 (4 (125)): 19–33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-3315874

Mary Catherine Kinniburgh, “The Space Between Researcher, Object, Institution: Building Collaborative Knowledge with Primary Sources,” https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/the-space-between-researcher-object-institution-building-collaborative-knowledge-with-primary-sources/

Kelly Baker Josephs, “Teaching the Digital Caribbean: The Ethics of a Public Pedagogical Experiment” https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/teaching-the-digital-caribbean-the-ethics-of-a-public-pedagogical-experiment/

Kristi Girdharry, “Crowdsourcing Traumatic History: Understanding the Historial Archive https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/crowdsourcing-traumatic-history-understanding-the-historial-archive/

February 26 Textual Pasts

In Class

  • First Hour: individual conferences instructors will begin focusing student attention on the crafting of individual research agendas and goals for the semester (Some meetings can be scheduled before and after class. Sign ups will be circulated in the preceding class.)
  • Flash Presentations: 3 minute presentations of a selected recovery / archival project

Due  before class: Blog Reflection

Choose one of the project/s below or your own, and consider the following questions in a reflection post on our class blog and posted the evening before we meet. Include in your reflection on the digital project responses to the following: What need or opportunity motivated the creation of the digital archive or collection? Who is the intended audience, and what technical or design choices make that audience explicit? What is the relationship between the creator of the archive project and the materials? What are the technologies used? What skills would you need to develop a similar project? What could future projects learn from this example?

March 5 Lesbian Herstory Archives

In class: Meet for tour and discussion


484 14 St (between 8th Ave and Prospect Park West) Park Slope, Brooklyn, F train to the 15th St. Stop.

Readings (due today):

  • Kelleher, Christian. “Archives Without Archives: (Re)Locating and (Re)Defining the Archive Through Post-Custodial Praxis,” in Critical Archive Studies, eds. Michelle Caswell, Ricardo Punzalan, and T-Kay Sangwand. Special issue, Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies 1, no.2 (2017). DOI: 10.24242/jclis.v1i2.29  (26 pages)

Readings (spread across 4 weeks of visits):

  • Williams, William Proctor and Craig S. Abbot. An Introduction to Bibliographical and Textual Studies. 4th Edition. Modern Language Association: New York, 2009.
  • Introduction, pages 1-14
  • Documentary and Critical Editing , pages 74-88
  • Editorial Procedure, pages 90-107
  • PDF will be added to Commons Group Files folder

March 12 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

In class: Meet for tour and discussion


515 Malcolm X Boulevard (135th St and Malcolm X Blvd)


  • Begin posting reflective blog pieces about your visit to the archives.
  • Continue to explore for “recovery” object.

March 19 The Morgan Library

In class: Meet for tour and discussion


225 Madison Avenue (Madison between 36th and 37th)


  • Begin posting reflective blog pieces about your visit to the archives.
  • Continue to explore for “recovery” object.

March 26 The New York Public Library
In class: Meet for tour and discussion
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
476 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY


April 2 Individual meetings with seminar students and readings in book history with textual scholarship

In class: meetings

Readings: (subject to change, check the website)

  • Selections from Shillingsburg, Peter L. (1996). Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age: Theory and Practice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Selections from Pierazzo, Elena. Digital Scholarly Editing: Theories, Methods, and Models. Routledge: London and NY, 2015.


  • Students will write a short description of the artifact they would like to edit which includes the name of the artifact, a rationale for its selection, the way that the publication of the artifact improves public access, what fields of research would benefit from an edition of the artifact, and a brief overview of the challenges producing an edition of the text may present.
  • Final day to post archive visit reflection blog assignment to course website.

April 9 Metadata, Data, Information

In class: Updates on projects, discussion.

Readings: (subject to change, check the website)

  • Dublin Core Metadata Standards http://dublincore.org/
  • Desmond Schmidt, « Towards an Interoperable Digital Scholarly Edition », Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative [Online], Issue 7 | November 2014, Online since 01 January 2014, connection on 29 January 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/jtei/979 ; DOI : 10.4000/jtei.979
  • Burnard, Lou. What Is the Text Encoding Initiative? How to Add Intelligent Markup to Digital Resources. New Edition [online].OpenEdition Press, 2014, http://books.openedition.org/oep/426.
  • Lauren Klein. “The Image of Absence: Archival Silence, Data Visualization, and James Hemings.” American Literature (2013) 85 (4): 661-688. https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2367310

April 16 Interface, Design, & Social Texts

In class: Updates on projects, discussion.

Readings: (subject to change, check the website)

April 23 Spring Break, no class

April 30 Encoding & Markup

In class: Updates on projects, discussion.

Readings: (subject to change, check the website)

    • McGann, Jerome and Dino Buzzetti. “Electronic Textual Editing: Critical Editing in a Digital Horizon.” Text Encoding Initiative, 2007. http://www.tei-c.org/About/Archive_new/ETE/Preview/mcgann.xml
    • Lavagnino, John. “When Not to Use TEI.” Electronic Textual Editing, edited by Lou Burnard et al., Modern Language Association of America, 2006, pp. 334–38, http://www.tei-c.org/About/Archive_new/ETE/Preview/lavagnino.xml.
    • Selections from Hayles, N. Katherine, and Jessica Pressman. “Introduction: Making, Critique: A Media Framework.” Comparative Textual Media. Ed. Hayles and Pressman. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2013. vii–xxxiii. Print. (PDF in Commons Group)

May 7 Textual Futures

In Class: Discussion, Group work

Readings: (subject to change, check the website)

  • Shore, Daniel.”Chapter 2: Search.” Cyberformalism: Histories of Linguistic Forms in the Digital Archive. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2018. (PDF in Commons Group)
  • Dahlström, Mats. “Drowning by Versions.” Human IT, vol. 4, no. 4, 2000, http://etjanst.hb.se/bhs/ith/4-00/md.htm.
  • Selections from Safiya Umoja Noble. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York: NYU Press, 2018.

May 14 Presentations

May 21 Exam week, Final projects due