Archives Colloquium 2020

Archives, Power & Information

Center for Humanities & Information


Conceptions of “the archive” are central to scholarship across the humanities. Much of the critical work on archives shows how they are not merely repositories of information, but cultural sites of power. Yet how might we interrogate the “information” of archives as much as we do their power? We will take up this question through reading that engages thinking across the humanities as well as archival studies

This year’s colloquia is organized with input from Penn State’s Head of Collection Services, Caitlin Rizzo, who has suggested readings and will facilitate one of the sessions in the Eberly Family Special Collections Library.


Archival Theories — Jan. 31, 12:30-2, 463 Burrowes

Manoff, Marlene. “Theories of the Archive from Across the Disciplines,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, vol. 4, no. 1, 2004, pp. 9-25.

Biesecker, Barbara A. “Of Historicity, Rhetoric: The Archive as Scene of Invention,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs, vol. 9, no. 1, 2006, pp. 124-131.

Caswell, Michelle. “‘The Archive’ Is Not An Archives: Acknowledging the Intellectual Contributions of Archival Studies,” reconstruction: studies in contemporary culture, vol. 16, no. 1, 2016.


Queer Archival Practices — Feb. 14, 12:30-2, 463 Burrowes

Arondekar, Anjali. “Without a Trace: Sexuality and the Colonial Archive,” Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 14, no. 1/2, 2005, pp. 10-27.

Martínez, María Elena. “Archives, Bodies, and Imagination: The Case of Juana Aguilar and Queer Approaches to History, Sexuality, and Politics.” Radical History Review, vol. 120, 2014, pp. 159-182.

Rawson, K.J. “The Rhetorical Power of Archival Description: Classifying Images of Gender Transgression,” Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 48, no. 4, 2018, pp. 327-351.


Carceral Archives & State Power — March 6, 12:30-2, Mann Room in Special Collections Library, facilitated by Caitlin Rizzo

Sutherland, Tonia. “The Carceral Archive: Documentary Records, Narrative Construction, and Predictive Risk Assessment.Journal of Cultural Analytics, June 4, 2019.

Solis, Gabriel Daniel. “Documenting State Violence: (Symbolic) Annihilation & Archives of Survival.” KULA: knowledge creation, dissemination, and preservation studies, vol. 2, no. 1, 2018.

Drake, Jarrett M. “Insurgent Citizens: The Manufacture of Police Records in Post-Katrina New Orleans and Its Implications for Human Rights.” Archival Science, vol. 14, no. 3-4, 2014, pp. 365–380.


Archives for Social Justice — April 10, 12:30-2, via Zoom

Evans, Joanne, Sue Mckemmish, Elizabeth Daniels, and Gavan Mccarthy. “Self-Determination and Archival Autonomy: Advocating Activism.” Archival Science, vol. 15, no. 4, 2015, pp. 337-368.

Sutherland, Tonia. “Archival Amnesty: In Search of Black American Transitional and Restorative Justice,” Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, vol. 1, no. 2, 2017.

Boj Lopez, Floridalma. “Mobile Archives of Indigeneity: Building La Comunidad Ixim through Organizing in the Maya Diaspora.” Latino Studies, vol. 15, no. 3, 2017, pp. 201-218.


Additional Readings

Reading list compiled for our group by Rizzo

Reading schedule for Rhetoric / Archives / Information grad seminar taught by VanHaitsma