Welcome to First Year Writing. Our class, “Decoding the Archive,” will focus on museums, archives, and digital technology as forms of knowledge production. Through readings, films, class discussions, group field trips, and of course, writing, we will analyze how archives and technology are bound up with questions of race, gender, class, and power. On this site, you’ll find links to the syllabus, course schedule, readings, and assignments. This site is also where you will submit regular blog posts and create a mini digital exhibit of your own.
Mining the Museum: An Installation by Fred Wilson, Museum Department Image, MTM 037B, MdHS.
Vista of the Museum from Constitution Avenue, looking across the north lawn to the Washington Monument. Alan Karchmer / NMAAHC
Unit One will focus on physical museums and archives not as neutral depictions of history, but as carefully curated representations that involve many rhetorical choices. This unit will involve an analytical essay in which students visit a museum, archive, or memorial of their choice in the Boston area and examine the rhetorical choices at work.
Unit Two will center on various forms of technology such as search engines, facial recognition technology, and TSA body scanners. Rather than view technology as unbiased tools, we will discuss how technology is socially and politically situated and the effects of this context on users. Students will continue to practice their rhetorical analysis in this unit as well as integrate secondary research.
Our final unit will combine archives and technology by looking at digital archives. We will consider the affordances and limitations of making archives and exhibits digital. The semester will culminate with students creating their own digital exhibits structured around a topic of their choice.