I recently completed my PhD in English at the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, I teach World Literature classes at UT and co-Chair the Rapoport Center Human Rights and Archives Working Group. Over the course of writing my dissertation on fiction of the British Empire, I continually looked to archives for the incomparable sense of context they offer. Archival materials including the Anti-Slavery Reporter and Aborigines’ Friend, published out of London from 1840 to 1931, Leonard Woolf’s unpublished correspondence during the mid-nineteen-teens with E.W. Perera, Sri Lankan lawyer and activist, and various typed and handwritten drafts of Coolie (1936), published by Anglophone Indian writer Mulk Raj Anand, all provided valuable insights into how novelists like E.M. Forster, Leonard Woolf, and Winifred Holtby oriented themselves to literary and political collaborators in areas of India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.
The more I used archives as a student, the more interested I became in using archives as a teacher. During a Graduate Assistantship at the UT Bridging Disciplines Programs, I learned about the growing trend toward inquiry-based learning in higher education. Recognizing the utility of archival research tasks for facilitating undergraduate research skills such as thinking critically, identifying and summarizing main ideas, recognizing the contingency of knowledge, delineating fields of inquiry, and building research questions, I initiated a project to expand support for undergraduate archival research at UT’s many glorious archival institutions. I created a series of resources for both students and educators on archives and interdisciplinary education, and developed an interactive Archival Research Workshop, which I have presented to undergraduate classes in English, History, and Government.
This semester—spring 2014—will be a fun one in terms of archives and education. I’m integrating a substantial archive component in the two world literature surveys I teach. And as Archives and Education point-person for the Human Rights and Archives Working Group, I’m collaborating with Rebecca Lorins of the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP) to offer a team of UT undergraduate interns a meaningful opportunity to learn about digital archives by building them. The students are processing interviews with people who have been affected by the death penalty in Texas, and archiving them at the UT Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI). Rebecca and I hope that the project will provide a rich internship experience for the students while substantively advancing the mission of the TAVP.
I established this blog to document and reflect upon these projects, as well as to chronicle events and opportunities of interest having to do with archives and education at UT and beyond. I hope you’ll visit often! I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions for content.