Creating Archives

This is a syllabus in development for a first-semester sophomore course that I will be teaching this fall.


Core III: Creating Archives

Dr./Prof. Jacque Wernimont

T/Th 9:35-10:50 Hum 102

Office: Dartmouth House

Hours: M 9-11 and by appt.

In this course we will examine the long history of the “archive,” including classical libraries, monastic collections, wonder-cabinets, modern archives, and new digital archives. We will explore the ways in which collection practices shape and are shaped by disciplinary practice. Archives from a range of different disciplines will be considered, including biological and mathematical sciences, corporate and national archives, literary archives and libraries, and perhaps even the long geological archive of the earth. Readings will help us theorize and problematize the concept of “archive” as a transparent, natural, and neutral space. Students will develop their own “small-archive” based on their research interests.

Texts to buy:

  • Matthew Battles, Library: An Unquiet History, New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 2004.
  • Amitav Gosh, In an Antique Land, Vintage, 1994.
  • The Archive: Documents of Contemporary Art, ed Charles Merewether. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006.

Other texts from which we’re reading:

  • Cornelia Vismann, Files: Law and Media Technology, trans Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.
  • Others TBD
  • See also the digital bibliography

Reading and Thinking

T 9/4   “Can you please define what you mean by ‘archive’?”

R 9/6   Chanchy “The Preservation and Use of Documents”

Bagnall, “Alexandria: Library of Dreams”

         Battles, “Reading the Library”

T 9/11 virtual tour of 18th c library:!

Battles, “The House of Wisdom” and “The Battle of the Books”

R 9/13 Battles, “Books for All”

T 9/18 (Rosh Hashanah) TBD

R 9/20 Vismann selections (to 85)

T 9/25 Vismann selections (to end)

R 9/27 Freud, Sigmund, “A Note Upon the Mystic Writing Pad” (excerpt) in Merewether

Kabakov, Ilya, “The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away” (excerpt) in Merewether

Derrida, Jacques, “Archive Fever” (excerpt) in Merewether

T 10/2 Ricoeur, Paul, “Archives, Documents, Traces” (excerpt) in Merewether

Benjamin, Walter, “A Short History of Photography” (excerpt) in Merewether

Levin, Patricia and Jeanne Perrault, “The Camera Made Me Do It”: Nicole Jolicoeur, Female Identity and Troubling Archives” (excerpt) in Merewether

R 10/4 Sekula, Allan, “The Body and The Archive” (excerpt) in Merewether

Dittborn, Eugenio, “A Triptych” in Merewether

Salloum, Jayce, “Untitled: The Video Installation as an Active Archive” (excerpt) in Merewether

The Atlas Group, “Let’s Be Honest, The Rain Helped” (excerpt) in Merewether

T 10/9 Theimer, Kate, “The problem with the scholar as “archivist,” or is there a


Read the responses as well

Explore at least two of the digital archives from the digital bibliography

R 10/11 Draft a communal post for DDA

F 10/12Day of Digital Archives (required participation)

T 10/16 No class: Professor Wernimont presenting on feminist archives at 4S conference

R 10/18 No class: Professor Wernimont presenting on feminist archives at 4S conference

The Great California Shake Out (10:18)

T 10/23 No Class: Fall Break


Thinking and Making

R 10/25 Introduction to the Scripps College Denison collections

T 10/30 Digital Tools Workshop: Omeka

R 11/1 On Metadata

T 11/6 Digital Tools Workshop: Omeka and Images

R 11/8 Archival work

T 11/13 Archival work

R 11/15 Development/Curation

T 11/20 Development/Curation

R 11/22 Development check in – class roundtable

T 11/27 Return to Archive if need – otherwise D/C work

R 11/29 D/C

T 12/4 Troubleshooting and Prototype day

R 12/6 D/C

T 12/11 D/C

R 12/13 Last Day of Classes: Archive Presentation in Class

Wednesday Dec 19th Final Project Due by 9 a.m.

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