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Teaching through the Archives

Teaching through the Archives

Text, Collaboration, and Activism

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Edited by Tarez Samra Graban and Wendy Hayden


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
16 illustrations


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About the Book

Disruptive pedagogies for archival research

In a cultural moment when institutional repositories carry valuable secrets to the present and past, this collection argues for the critical, intellectual, and social value of archival instruction. Graban and Hayden and 37 other contributors examine how undergraduate and graduate courses in rhetoric, history, community literacy, and professional writing can successfully engage students in archival research in its many forms, and successfully model mutually beneficial relationships between archivists, instructors, and community organizations.

Combining new and established voices from related fields, each of the book’s three sections includes a range of form-disrupting pedagogies. Section I focuses on how approaching the archive primarily as text fosters habits of mind essential for creating and using archives, for critiquing or inventing knowledge-making practices, and for being good stewards of private and public collections. Section II argues for conducting archival projects as collaboration through experiential learning and for developing a preservationist consciousness through disciplined research. Section III details praxis for revealing, critiquing, and intervening in historic racial omissions and gaps in the archives in which we all work. 

Ultimately, contributors explore archives as sites of activism while also raising important questions that persist in rhetoric and composition scholarship, such as how to decolonize research methodologies, how to conduct teaching and research that promote social justice, and how to shift archival consciousness toward more engaged notions of democracy. This collection highlights innovative classroom and curricular course models for teaching with and through the archives in rhetoric and composition and beyond.


Tarez Samra Graban, associate professor in the English department at Florida State University, is the author of Women’s Irony: Rewriting Feminist Rhetorical Histories and coauthor of GenAdmin: Theorizing WPA Identities in the Twenty-First Century.
Wendy Hayden, associate professor at Hunter College, CUNY, is the author of Evolutionary Rhetoric: Sex, Science, and Free Love in Nineteenth-Century Feminism.


“A timely, important resource that contributes to the burgeoning field of archival research, theory, and pedagogy that is transforming writing studies today. Teaching through the Archives fills an important gap by exploring how archival research can contribute to undergraduate and graduate education; how archivists, instructors, and community organizations can establish mutually beneficial relationships; and how archival work can support social change, activism, and community engagement.”—Gesa E. Kirsch, coauthor, Feminist Rhetorical Practices

“These rich case studies show how archival work can underpin teaching that rhetoric shapes and is shaped by culture, which, like writing itself, is a process. They feature furthermore how work with archives can therefore be personally transformative when we better see our lives also as a process and our membership in a collection of lives across time.”—Liz Rohan, coeditor of Beyond the Archives
“Tarez Samra Graban and Wendy Hayden present a superb team of scholars demonstrating how the rich and varied archive of composition studies can become a resource for many different college classrooms, from first-year writing to graduate courses on the history of the profession. In doing so they have begun to transform the archive from a static repository to an active center of the discipline’s institutional heritage.”—John C. Brereton, author of The Origin of Composition Studies: A Documentary History