Archival Research in Composition Studies: Re-Imagining the Historian's Role

Kelly Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article argues that historians of composition studies are burdened by adherence to history-as-narrative in archival research, whether supporting or countering master narratives of the field. I propose that historians redefine their work in conversation with the principles of archival ethnography, a concept from the field of library and information science. Reseeing historiography through this lens means privileging the position of the archivist as community interloper, thus creating a shift in responsibility from interpretation of archival material to public transmission thereof. Re-imagining the historian's role as ethnographic also aims to redress the ethical burden of inevitable re-presentation of past agents, practices, and values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-478
Number of pages18
JournalRhetoric Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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