Archives of the Present

Spring 2017 quarter

Taught by

queer studies, philosophy, poetics
  • UG

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

This introductory program in philosophy and library/information science will give students a strong foundation in reading and research skills.  We will cover a wide range of material, from scholarly articles to poetry and essays, in our explorations of gender studies and media literacy.  Students will be guided through student-initiated, college-level research and will learn to navigate library tools and research databases. We’ll explore real and virtual archives, centering many of our activities on the Evergreen Library.

Is there a difference between information and knowledge? Can an antelope be a document? What are the key differences between a cave painting and a digital photograph? Is archiving the new folk art? What does it mean to be asking these questions today, as we find ourselves interfacing with multiple networks?

To discuss these questions and many others, 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, and 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 and gender/queer theory. This trajectory will allow us to situate ourselves personally, ethically, and politically in relation to concepts and manifestations of knowledge, information, and archive.

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

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.



Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, April 3 at 10am (Lecture Hall 4)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


2017-03-21This program is now open to all level
2017-02-27A small number of seats have been opened to sophomores to accommodate first year students who have transferred in credit and thus become sophomores by spring.
2017-02-22Description updated.
2016-06-30Description updated.
2016-04-22New spring opportunity added.