Archiving the Archive: Rhetorical Processes of Curation

Around Her Table is a digital exhibition of artifacts from Azorean-American families living in Bristol, Rhode Island. The primary purpose for this archival project is to generate digital records of the Azorean-American community, especially those that reflect the experiences of women and domestic culture, preserve the records in an archive, and present them to a broader audience to expand representation and access to cultural identity markers. However, this project is also serving as a born-digital dissertation in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English at Old Dominion University. 

As a dissertation, this archive is a digital rhetoric and cultural studies project that aims to map the decision-making processes and influences that shape archival design and delivery, and to render transparent the archivist as a locatable agent within the archive. The chapters included in this section of the archive position the dissertation within current scholarship in related fields while also providing data regarding the methods used to construct the archive and curate the digital exhibition. For archivists and historiographers, these chapters offer insight into significant procedural, ethical, and theoretical factors that need to be considered in the development of participatory cultural archives, while presenting the justifications and rationales for the design decisions for critical analysis and discussion. For researchers interested in Azorean-American culture, these chapters provide transparency into the archive’s composition and the appraisal decisions that have shaped the available artifacts and how they are purposefully framed. 

Click the thumbnails below to access the dissertation chapters.

Reciprocal Gifts: A Theoretical Framework for Developing a Rhetorical Archive
Analytic Autoethnography: Curatorial Decisions and Procedures

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