Incorporating Archival Practices into the Undergraduate Classroom

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My poster takes as a case study a new senior undergraduate course I designed in conjunction with members of the Taylor Family Digital Library. This course asks students to examine archival sources alongside published literary texts, and to engage in a digitization project of selections from the archival fonds of various Canadian authors. The general goal of the course – entitled “Reading in the Canadian Archive” and currently underway in winter semester – is to bring to the classroom an awareness of the material conditions under which literature is produced. This course asks undergraduate students to not only integrate archival records in literary analysis but to contribute to the archive by institutional digitization projects based on their course readings. “Reading in the Canadian Archive” asks students to imagine “how to pursue scholarship into a future that will be organized in a digital horizon and how to integrate our paper inheritance in that new framework” (McGann 185). As the course offers a brief intervention into the practice of archiving itself, students come to recognize that such archival practices “are constantly evolving, ever mutating as they reflect changes in the nature of records, record-creating organizations, record-keeping systems, record uses, and the wider cultural, legal, technological, social, and philosophical trends in society” (Cook 29). My poster considers how close analysis of archival records might lead to increased undergraduate engagement with literary texts.