Digital Archives & Social Justice

  • Tu/Th, 12:30–1:45
  • New Cabell 042
  • Office: Alderman 411a (Scholars’ Lab)
  • Hours: Thrusdays 2–4
  • Email:
  • Phone: 434-243-2317

“Archives are not neutral; they embody the power inherent in accumulation, collection and hoarding as well as that power inherent in the command of the lexicon and rules of language….” – Allan Sekula, “Reading an Archive”

This seminar supports critical engagement with social justice through the research, design, development, and critique of digital archives and collections. This is a course in applied American Studies; it emphasizes reading, discussing, and making, and it values tacit knowledge through the practice of building and using digital collections.

The course starts with the premise that “archives are not neutral,” and investigates the making and using of digital archives in ethical, responsible, and critical-engages ways. Through reading, making, and reflecting, the class will help students consider modes of critical engagement through digital archiving/collecting practices.


Additional Reading

Grades for the course are assigned in the following manner:

  • A – Outstanding work, complete mastery of the material presented, combined with some originality.
  • B – A solid command of the material with some minor gaps or mistakes.
  • C – Some knowledge of the material; Infrequent but significant confusions and errors present.
  • D – An incomplete, minimal knowldge of the material; Frequent and/or major confusions and errors.
  • F – A complete lack of understanding of the course material.
  • I – There are no incompletes given in this course except in cases of bona fide and documented instances in accordance with the regulations of the university.
  • P – For a “pass” a “C” average is required.

If you receive a grade with which you do not agree, feel free to discuss it with me by appointment. I am open to changing a grade if given sufficient reason, but be very prepared to make your case.

Working in Groups: Digital work is very often collaborative in nature, so I encourage you to work together in groups on a project. For grading purposes, if you do decide to work as a group, I will require a brief written description of how the team worked together and how each person contributed to solving problems presented by a particular assignment. So, you’re free to turn in a particular assignment as a group, but I need to know that 1) everyone in the group participated in the assignment, and 2) there was transfer of knowledge among the group, meaning that everyone in the group learned from each other. In most digital humanities projects outside this class, team members will specialize in a particular area, and its safe to assume that once this class is over you will choose a particular area or two as a specialty. But for this class, I expect you to learn about and contribute to all the areas involved in the creation of a digital project.