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Last Call: An Invitation to Webinars: “Archival Encounters”

An Invitation to Webinars:  “Archival Encounters”

To support a graduate course they are team-teaching at Penn State beginning in January, 2013, Debra Hawhee and Jack Selzer have arranged a series of four “webinars” on archival research, available to any faculty members or graduate students who would like to participate--and offered by experts from across the United States.

Since the seminar is on Kenneth Burke, since the extensive Kenneth Burke Papers are held at Penn State, and since Hawhee and Selzer have done substantial archival work themselves, there is the opportunity to make their Burke seminar serve as an introduction to archival research.  While the Kenneth Burke Papers will serve as our example archive, the webinars themselves are imagined more broadly and may be of interest to those who want to learn more about archival research.  Moreover, developments in new media make it possible not only for experts on archival research to contribute to the seminar by “joining” it remotely but also for faculty and graduate students around the country to join the webinars if they wish.  Hence this invitation to participate—either in one of the webinars or in all four.

The Webinar Topics

These four webinars will be held on four Monday evenings from 6:30-7:45 pm EST.

January 28:  Introduction—Archival Work from the Perspective of Archival Librarians

(Nancy Cushing, Sandra Stelts, and Jeannette Sabre, Special Collections, Penn State)

How should scholars prepare for efficient visits to archives, and where do they find financial support?  How do they make best use of their time?  How do they deal with finding aids, permissions, copying and copying restrictions, and other practical matters?

February 18:  The Archive As Heuristic (Jordynn Jack, University of North Carolina; Ned O’Gorman, University of Illinois)

How can scholars use a particular item in an archive as a starting point for invention and inquiry?  If you enter an archive looking for something specific, how can you remain open to other findings and uses?

March 25:  Reading Archival Documents (Ann George, Texas Christian University; David Tell, University of Kansas)

What do you look for in an archive?  Randomness and serendipity:  how do you know when you’ve “got something”?  How do archival finds relate to the published record?  Is every document potentially useful?  Can you make just about any document useful?

April 22:  Dealing with Absence (Jessica Enoch and Scott Wible, University of Maryland)

How do scholars deal practically with things that are “missing” in the archives?  How might they fill in absences with other primary and secondary sources?  What are the limits of what scholars can do with archival materials?  

How It Will Work

Webinar discussions will be practical and communal, and the goal will be to make sessions as interactive as possible.  Each week participants will be asked to read one or two article-length items as preparation, and webinar leaders will typically draw from example archival materials—all of which will be made available electronically. Just as guest presenters are located remotely, so too will (some) participants be located remotely:  but all will be connected electronically and will be empowered to participate fully. 

All that is required for people to participate in these Adobe Connect meetings is this:

It is recommended that participants perform a connection test to ensure that all system requirements are met.  See

Full details on specific readings and on exactly how to take part will be supplied to those who sign up.

How to Sign Up

Notify Debra Hawhee of your interest by January 10, 2013:  (If you can notify her by January 3, you may be able to participate in a test period on January 4.)

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