Participants in a recent workshop entitled “Archives & Agential Life” made enthusiastic use of the holdings of Special Collections. Co-directed by Prof. Theresa Kelley of UW-Madison’s Department of English and Prof. Deirdre Lynch of the University of Toronto, the workshop included ample time to discuss precirculated papers, an archival walk arranged by Carrie Roy of the Libraries and the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, and afternoons spent in Special Collections exploring a wide array of “archival objects” within our holdings.
Those archival objects ranged from the 18th century through the early 20th century, and included objects as diverse as
- an extra-illustrated French book of prayers and devotions,
- correspondence concerning Iceland written to Sir Joseph Banks (a collection digitized as part of the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections),
- a manuscript treatise on famous animals and their courage and fidelity (by one Antoine Antoine),
- multiple manuscripts from the Cairns Collection of Works by American Women Writers,
- an odd Album de sténographie microscopique by a young French clerk, demonstrating his prowess at producing more and more script in Duployé shorthand within a rectangle the size of a postage stamp.
Participants then presented an archival object of their choosing “as a material and theoretical focus of inquiry” at the final workshop session, held at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. Since the intent is to convert presentations at the workshop into a publication, we won’t steal the participants’ thunder by previewing their choices. But it is clear they enjoyed the opportunity to examine
and explain archival objects.
Thanks to library colleague Susan Barribeau for the last of these photos.