“... liberatory archives are not things so much as they are processes. Understanding them, then, is not a ‘what’ question as much as a ‘how’ question.” -- Jarrett M. Drake

We live, work, and play online. With every click, “like,” tweet, Instagram, snap, and post, we’re creating and leaving behind a digital imprint that reaches far beyond our own personal networks. This stream builds on the core work of the African American Digital Humanities Initiative (AADHum) by exposing students to practices for creating and for conducting research in archives, providing them the skills to build their own digital archive, and cultivating the critical sensibilities to explore how online practices can have lasting consequences for social change.

For black and African Americans, whose voices have historically been silenced in traditional institutional archives, digital spaces can provide an opportunity for creative expression and argument that challenges dominant narratives. Situating itself at the intersections of African American history, rhetoric, and digital humanities, this research project considers how black and African Americans create and engage in digital spaces that resist oppression, centralize blackness, and argue for freedom. Students will first become critical analysts of public discourse and its preservation in traditional archives. Then, students will be challenged to contribute to the larger project by creating their own digital archives and collecting, organizing, and analyzing textual data from historical and contemporary sources. Students will gain experience in methods such as transcribing, text encoding, bibliographic metadata, mapping, network analysis, database management, and web design, as they build and publish the interactive archive. Ultimately, students will foster a critical understanding of archives as sites of power and the ways in which black protest can spark, take shape, and persevere online.

First-Year Spring Semester Course:
FIRE175 - FIRE SEMESTER 2: African American Digital Humanities - Digitial Archives
(3 credits, General Education Distributive Studies, Humanities )
Second-Year Fall Semester Course:
FIRE275 - FIRE SEMESTER 3: African American Digital Humanities - Digitial Archives
(3 credits, General Education Scholarship in Practice)

Faculty Leader
Dr. Catherine Knight Steele

Research Educator
Jessica Lu