Archives, Power, and Making the Present

In English Studies, the term “archives” describes actions: specifically, the actions of collecting, grouping, and interpreting texts and other items in a multitude of ways. Archives exist in all kinds of places: in libraries, museums, schools, prisons, courthouses, and of course in digital spaces. In this focus area, you will study the ways in which our understandings of texts are always shifting in relation to their various archives. Studying archives, in turn, changes our relationships to the past and our ability to shape the future.

The Archives, Power, & Making the Present focus area offers three complementary approaches to working with and in archives:

  1. You can take a theoretical approach to archives, considering the power relations evident in the creation of any grouping or collection.
  2. You can take a hands-on approach to archives, working directly with primary materials, physical or digital, to assemble new archival configurations.
  3. You can gain research skills that will benefit your work in courses across the major by doing original primary research within existing archives.


Choose four of the following courses to complete the Archives, Power, and Making the Present focus area:

  • CLS 270 (Life, Death, and Disease)     
  • CLS 371 (Law and Disorder in Literature)
  • ENG 270 (Book History: Introduction)
  • LIT 207 (Life and Times of Frederick Douglass)          
  • LIT 269 (The Literature of Roguery)   
  • LIT 335 (Shakespeare I)          
  • LIT 339 (18th Century British Novel)
  • LIT 340 (The Romantic Movement)
  • LIT 342 (Victorian Literature)
  • LIT 344 (Modern British Novel)
  • LIT 364 (Modern Irish Literature)
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