Archives of the Present

Winter 2017 quarter

Taught by

queer studies, philosophy, poetics
  • UG

This program is a repeat of the program in fall quarter. Students who take the program in fall should not register for the winter quarter program.

What is knowledge? What is a document? What is a poem, an image, a medium, or a discipline? What does it mean to be asking these questions today, as we interface with multiple networks? In this reading- and writing-intensive program, we’ll explore real and virtual archives, emphasizing reading and research skills as well as media literacy. We’ll be centering many of our activities on the Evergreen Library.

Broadly, we’ll engage with two complementary activities: classification and critique. Through the former, we’ll explore the process of constructing structures of knowledge; through the latter, we’ll practice analyzing and criticizing them. As we synthesize these two approaches, we’ll be able to examine the social nature and construction of knowledge. With methods drawn from philosophy and library science, we’ll practice reading for both depth and breadth: close reading of particular texts and the efficient survey of potentially relevant resources. Assignments in this program will emphasize reading, writing and research practice, as well as creative experimentation with concepts and information.

We’ll critically engage with various library resources while developing research skills that will be valuable for future academic and creative projects. As we practice our skills in the use of various knowledge organization systems, we’ll also examine their conceptual underpinnings and social contexts. What defines a creative work and what are its boundaries? What does it mean for a book, a picture or a building to be ‘about’ something? What does a given knowledge structure tell us about its creators’ values, assumptions, and interests?

We’ll address the question of knowledge beginning with a study of the figure of the philosopher from Plato’s allegory of the cave to Kant and Foucault’s critiques of enlightenment. We’ll inflect our understanding of knowledge through concepts such as technical images, utopias, heterotopias, and pornotopias, drawn from media theory, narrative and experimental poetics, and gender and queer theory. This trajectory will allow us to situate ourselves personally, ethically, and politically in relation to concepts and manifestations of knowledge, medium, and archive.

In addition to the above-mentioned, our readings will include Thomas Kuhn, Vilèm Flusser, Beatriz Preciado, Jorge Luis Borges and Samuel R. Delany.

This program will be repeated in spring quarter. Students who take this program in winter should not register for the spring quarter repeat.

Program Details

Fields of Study

gender and women's studies media studies philosophy

Preparatory For

philosophy, gender and queer studies, media theory, library and information science, and the humanities.


Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, January 9th at 10am (Lecture Hall 2)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


2016-11-21Five sophomore seats have been reserved for first year students who have transferred in with credit.
2016-06-30Description updated.
2016-04-22New winter opportunity added.