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What we do in Archives: Stories of Facing the Unreadable

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


What do we do in archives if not tell stories? Do we translate the dead? Do we tend to the wounds of history? Do we, should we attempt to make the unreadable readable? This workshop is developed from my recent reflections and poetical-critical writing on the relationship between family history, the nation and the archive. It will focus on the archive as both a mental and physical space, taking for departure the idea, inspired by Derrida’s Archive Fever (1995), that while we can never really stand outside the archive, we must nevertheless keep translating from it. After giving you the opportunity to present your work and experiences in dealing with archives (see questions you may wish to address), we will explore ways with which writers such as Walter Benjamin and Anne Carson have engaged with the cultural and material reality of archives in their writings. I will then propose to take a trip to the Newcastle University Library where we will experiment with different ways of “translating” and working with archival objects and texts, using storytelling and narrative as our primary media.

External organisation

NameNewcastle Univ, Newcastle University
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom