Mellon Grant Supports Archive Seminar | Newberry

Mellon Grant Supports Archive Seminar

Mellon Archives Course at the Newberry

The first cohort of students in “The Archive” Seminar at the Newberry, October 5, 2018. Top Row: Cameron Cook,  Margaret Mauk, Ashley Agbasoga, Christofer Rodelo, Raffaella Taylor-Seymour, Benjamin Zender. Middle Row: Alison Hinderliter, Niki Herd, Katie Apsey, Stephanie Kung, Deanna Ledezma, Liesl Olson, Ella Wagner. Front Row: Catherine Grandgeorge, Anna Weerasinghe, Suzanna Krivulskaya, Shinjini Chattopadhyay, Maria De Simone, Mary Hale.

The Archive: Form, Theory, and Practice,” a new seminar for graduate students, kicked off on Friday, October 5, 2018. Thanks to a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a cohort of fifteen graduate students from around the country are at the Newberry this fall exploring the theoretical, critical, and practical methods necessary to negotiate historical and literary archives.


The course considers critical questions about the construction of the archive and offers students the opportunity to pursue hands-on archival work. Over eight Friday sessions, students discuss conceptual problems of the archive through readings by historians, theorists, literary scholars, and archivists. Beyond the classroom, each student chooses an unprocessed collection at the Newberry and writes a processing plan in collaboration with Newberry archival staff. The course is designed to help students interrogate archival research practices in order to improve their own scholarship while at the same time honing career diversity skills for those considering work outside the traditional bounds of academia.


The course is led by Liesl Olson (Director of Chicago Studies, Newberry Library) and a team of Newberry archivists and curators. It includes guest presentations by Naomi Nelson (Rubenstein Library, Duke University); Chris Prom (University of Illinois Library); and Melissa Barton (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University).


“The Archive: Form, Theory, and Practice” will run in 2018, 2019, and 2020, followed by a symposium in 2021 that will bring together seminar faculty, students, invited archival specialists, humanities scholars, and directors of graduate study at major universities to make public a larger discussion of the seminar, the findings of our work, and potential avenues for integrating archival practice more fully into doctoral programs in the humanities.


Applications for next year’s cohort will be due in May 2019.

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