Course Overview

Whose stories get told? Who gets to tell their stories? Whose stories get shared? And preserved/ Whose stories become part of the “historical record” and whose are left out? These are questions that concern both documentarians and archivists, fields that are increasingly in conversation as the work of documenting and archiving converge at a moment when digital and social media are increasingly sites of activism and protest and tools of activists and protestors.

This collaborative seminar will introduce students to various emergent approaches to thinking about the possibilities and tensions in documenting and archiving “the now.” We will explore the relationship between documentary and “the archive” – that is, we will question how some stories about the past and present get preserved and some silenced.

We will look at specific examples of documentary archives, such as the Occupy Philadelphia Archive, A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, Documenting Ferguson, and many others. We will also explore several projects aiming to archive the Women’s March on Washington. More than that, we will join these efforts and students will gain extensive hands-on experience in documenting and archiving the Women’s March on Washington (and sister marches) as experienced by members of the Muhlenberg community.

Course Activities

  • Collaboratively, we will help build a digital archive of artifacts form the Women’s March. Students in the seminar will learn methods of oral history interviewing and gather oral histories from community members that will become part of the archive. Each student will conduct 2 oral history interview with a student, faculty, or staff member.
  • Each student will also pursue their own archive-related documentary resarch in the seminar. Drawing on photographs, audio recordings, and video, each student will have the opportunity to author a short piece focused on some theme or aspect of the emerging archive. Your documentary project will contribute to a digital exhibit on the Women’s March at Muhlenberg, that we will build using a platform called Omeka.
  • Students will reflect on their work throughout the semester in a series of blog posts. You will, in a sense, archive your own learning experience in this course. To do this, students will sign up for and receive their own web domain – a personal home on the web. We will discuss the Domain of One’s Own project during class.