Ohio State nav bar

Archival Imaginations

Archival Imaginations

About Archival Imaginations

Archival Imaginations defines the concept of the “archive” as a mode of inquiry, invention and knowledge production. Archival Imaginations asks how the study of existing, emergent or imagined archives can help us to better understand critical societal challenges. In this context, “critical” can mean urgent, pressing or necessary, but it also points to a methodological orientation or process of invention that focuses on how contingent historical processes, embodied knowledges and forms, and struggles over meaning shape present understandings.

Archival Imaginations will trouble static notions of context and singular histories and interrogate established canons, conventions and norms that sustain certain archives and ways of knowing, remembering and narrating. Archives, curatorial and display practices are places where official narratives and records cast certain genealogies, narratives and peoples to the foreground. Archival Imaginations therefore will highlight not only dominant configurations of historical memory and knowledge production but also how archives reveal the gaps, fissures and incompleteness of the record, enabling more diverse understandings of the past, present and future.

Archival Imaginations will investigate how archival practices and disciplinary methods function as mechanisms of power and foreground the value attributed to taxonomies, categories and classification systems as part of its investigation. The methodological focus highlights the formation of public archives and political struggle as rich sites for cross-disciplinary scholarship and creative practice. We hope to bring together faculty working from a range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives to support scholarship, creative work and projects that rebuild knowledge and community. We are particularly interested in projects that advance conversations about decolonizing public history; multi-voiced and community collections; the politics of memorialization, erasure and recovery; the ethics of representation; digital archives and access; governmentality and surveillance in documentation.

Archival Imaginations is not limited to the study of historical records but also considers social practices such as spoken language, gesture and rituals as dynamic parts of cultural and historical memory. In this way, the theme aims to engage modes that expand existing archives and compel the creation of new ones. We invite faculty who engage with these and other topics related to Archival Imaginations through any humanistic or artistic approach.

GAHDT YouTube Channel

To view videos of previous Digital Dialogues, visit the GAHDT Youtube channel

Abstract circular illustration with white triangle in center

Faculty Fellows

  • Franco Barchiesi
  • Harmony Bench 
  • Melissa Curley
  • Alcira Dueñas
  • Molly Farrell
  • Brian Harnetty
  • Julia Keblinska
  • Crystal Perkins
  • Martin Ponce
  • Michelle Wibblesman

Wendy S. Hesford
Mytheli Sreenivas

Graduate Team Fellows

  • Andrea Armijos Echevarria
  • Noah Bukowski
  • Lorna Closeil
  • Emily Kaniuka
  • Ishmael Konney
  • Mariah Marsden
  • Camille Snyder
  • Damayanti Ticari

Harmony Bench
Leigh Bonds

Undergraduate Apprentices

  • Angela Ciarochi
  • Lauren Dahler
  • Emily Lay
  • Cameron Logar
  • Rheanna Velasquez

Michelle Wibbelsman

Programming and Resources

This year’s Society of Fellows programming brings together scholars, artists, activists, and archivists to explore the concept of the “archive” as a mode of inquiry, invention, and knowledge production. Troubling static notions of context and singular histories, the year’s Digital Dialogues and workshops provide an opportunity to explore established canons and conventions that sustain certain ways of knowing and remembering and the incompleteness of the historical record thereby engaging the power of archival practices as mechanisms of social justice. 


AUTUMN 2022 

October 11, 3:30-5 p.m. (Zoom)

In the first dialogue, scholar-archivists will offer key concepts and framing questions to advance our conversation about decolonizing public history, archiving multi-voiced and community collections, the ethics and politics of memorialization, and governmentality and surveillance in documentation, among other topics.
Featuring: Sine Hwang Jensen (Asian American and Comparative Ethnic Studies Librarian—Berkeley Ethnic Studies Library, University of California- Berkeley); Tara Hart (Managing Archivist—Whitney Museum of American Art;  Visiting Assistant Professor—School of Information, Pratt Institute); Jennifer R. O’Neal (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; Archivist and Assistant Professor of Indigenous, Race and Ethnic Studies, University of Oregon)
Moderator: Michelle Wibbelsman (Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Ohio State) 

November 1, 3:30-5 p.m. (Zoom)

In this dialogue, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer, AIDS historian and journalist, Sarah Schulman, will discuss her groundbreaking oral history research and award-winning book, Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP, NY 1987-1993. This dialogue will focus on the possibilities and challenges of qualitative research in building an archive of LGBTQ experience and the impact of such work for creating new entry points to LGBTQ public health and wellness. 
Featuring: Sarah Schulman (Distinguished Professor of the Humanities—CUNY) 
Moderator: Amy Fairchild (Dean—College of Public Health, Ohio State)


February 8, 3:30-5 p.m. (Zoom)

Digital Dialogue Three acknowledges the role of the embodiment in the creation and pluralization of archives. Panelists will consider the body as a living archive — as a site of knowledge production and cultural memory. Sharing their artistic and scholarly practices, panelists activate the memories of marginalized bodies and catalog the stories of intentional community building in response to social injustice. In addition to expanding notions of the archive, panelists will consider the limitations of the construct of the archive for thinking about memory work and for imagining new futures. 
FEATURING: Brian Harnetty (Interdisciplinary artist and member of the current Society of Fellows' faculty cohort), Crystal Michelle Perkins (Assistant Professor, Dance), Michelle Wibbelsman (Associate Professor, Spanish and Portuguese) MODERATOR: Harmony Bench (Associate Professor, Dance

March 30, 3:30-5 p.m. (Zoom)

Documenting histories of activism, resistance and resilience, the Reclaiming Our Histories and Picturing Black History projects exemplify the value of engaging students and society in public humanities recovery work. Scholar-teachers will offer strategies for integrating digital humanities projects into courses and co-curricular learning opportunities. FEATURING: Leigh Bonds, Digital Humanities Librarian (Ohio State), Nick Breyfogle, Associate Professor of History, Mytheli Sreenivas, Professor of History and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (Ohio State)


September 8, 10-noon, Barbie Tootle Room (Ohio Union)

The workshop will explore notions of archival temporalities and how time is racialized along axes of power. Registered attendees will be sent an excerpt from Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory Work, to read in preparation.
Workshop leader: Michelle Caswell (Associate Professor of Archival Studies, University of California-Los Angeles)
Moderator: Wendy S. Hesford (Professor of English, Ohio State)

November 17, 3:30-5 p.m. (Zoom)

As we witness efforts to police the open expression of LGBTQ identities, archives become a matter of survival. They not only preserve a record of a diverse cultural life at risk of erasure but also provide documentation of violence and oppression. This workshop imagines strategies for building and operationalizing archives of the present for a queer future.
Workshop leader: Alexander Sasha Kondakov (Assistant Professor of Sociology, University College Dublin, Ireland)
Moderator: Philip Gleissner (Assistant Professor of Slavic and Eastern European Languages and Literature)


January 27, 11 a.m. to noon
105C Thompson Library

Learn about the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library’s zine collection. During the first half of this session, curator Jolie Braun will discuss developing the collection, highlight particular strengths and explain how to use zines in teaching and research. At the end, attendees will have the opportunity to explore some of the collections’ holdings.

February 24, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Zoom)

This workshop reconsiders how archives are defined, understood, deployed and accessed to produce subjects. Professor Lee will introduce new understandings of archival bodies that interrogate how power circulates in archival contexts to build critical understandings of how archives shape production of knowledges and human subjectivities. FEATURING: Jamie A. Lee, Associate Professor of Digital Culture, Information and Society (University of Arizona) MODERATOR: Wendy S. Hesford, GAHDT Faculty Director and Professor of English (Ohio State)

April 5, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Barnett Center Collaboratory, Sullivant Hall

This workshop will explore zines as sites of knowledge production that disrupt conventional ways of knowing, learning, remembering, and documenting. We will focus on zines as cultural productions that materialize the pursuit of social transformation through protests on the page. Participants will create zines and have the option of producing per-zines (personal narrative zines) or collaborative zines that reflect personal and collective interests and urgencies. FEATURING: Adela C. Licona, Associate Professor Emeritus of English (University of Arizona) and Founder of The Art of Change Agency, Susana Sepulveda (aka Susy Riot), PhD student in Gender and Women’s Studies (University of Arizona)

This resource is an unofficial archive of archives at The Ohio State University. This resource was compiled by the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme to champion and promote these invaluable resources in accordance with our 2022-23 Society of Fellows theme: Archival Imaginations.