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Rhetorical Archives/Archival Rhetorics

Workshop Leaders: Jenell Johnson, University of Wisconsin; Christa Olson, University of Wisconsin

Workshop Leaders:

Jenell Johnson, University of Wisconsin
Christa Olson, University of Wisconsin

By now, it’s commonplace to acknowledge that archives are rhetorical—crafted, selected, and shaped by human hands, by the material realities of surface and pigment, even by the weather. Familiar as we are with that scholarly cliché, though, in each new scholarly project each of us must grapple with the particular archival rhetorics and rhetorical archives before us. This workshop is about that grapple. In it, we will explore the theory and practice of archival research and its relationship to rhetorical history and historiography. We will also discuss the meaning, practice, and relevance of rhetorical history; the definition, construction, and representational politics of the archive; and the relationship between archival research and the composition of historical arguments.

Working from established and emergent rhetorical historiography, we will map out a kind of collective “best practices” guide to archival research, which will unfold over four sessions: Archiving Trauma (or, how to do responsible research on reprehensible things); Archival Objects (or, how to move beyond text): DIY Archives (or, what to do when what or who you want isn’t there); and How to Get Your Hands Dusty (or, practical archival skills). The workshop welcomes seasoned rhetorical historians and archival veterans, neophytes looking to develop their historiographic skills, and rhetorical theorists and critics interested in adding a historical angle to their work. Our sessions will be held in Indiana University’s Lilly Library, a world class archive of rare books and other holdings.

Direct questions to Christa Olson,

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