I’m headed to California tomorrow for a few weeks and, while there, will be doing a little archival work. As a theorist, my relationship to archives has always been something of an ambivalent one. On one hand, I am a trivia geek and a total sucker for troves of old things. I like thumbing through letters and thinking about changes in penmanship and syntax over the years. I really dig the time capsule aspect of the process that creates enough distance for everything to appear strange and special to me. On the other hand, I am wary of the temptation to identify a clear or linear narrative about (and, in so doing, romanticize) the past. The archival project that I often assign to students in my Religion in the American South seminar, for example, asks them to focus on the rhetoric and contextual politics of the archival sources they examine in UA’s special collections library. In that sense, my students are looking reading historical texts from a perspective akin to what Hayden White outlines in his now-classic Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973), keeping in mind the manifold narrative devices present in the presentation of an artifact. Continue reading “Catching Archive Fever”
With a new year comes a new schedule for original content from the Edge.
So beginning the week of January 11 we’ll start posting new content
every Tuesday and Thursday (hitting the web at 2 am Central time, so that our friends in Europe have something to read while we’re sleeping).
And then, come the weekend, we’ll post some things from the archive
that you may have missed the first time around.
With a conference in Baltimore followed immediately by a national Fall harvest festival where many of our members live (American Thanksgiving, that is), well, we figured that a brief hiatus is necessary while some of us eat, catch-up on email, and reshuffle the alphabet for more posts from the Edge in the future. Continue reading “We’ll Be Right Back…”