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Personal Archive Assignment

Assignment created by Dr. Krista Grensavitch, Ph.D. and Abbi Nye, MLIS.


This semester-long, scaffolded assignment empowers students by asking them to assemble a Personal Archive (PA) that documents their experience/s during 2020, including but not limited to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, which in this current iteration, responded to members of law enforcement murdering George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color).

Along with helping students record and critically engage with their lived reality, this assignment has several purposes:

  • To help students explore what an archive is, understand how archives are political, and that archives are often the product of heteronormative, patriarchal, white supremacist institutions
  • To introduce the concept of symbolic annihilation and then imagine how creating a personal archive can counter systemic forces that silence, erase, deny, and minimize
  • To help students develop an understanding of intersectional analysis, utilizing it as a lens to interrogate mass movement, other, and self
  • To build radical empathy, both in and out of the classroom

Introductory Materials

Introduction for Instructors – The Personal Archive Assignment

Introduction for Students – The Personal Archive Assignment

For Instructors – Assignment and Reflection Prompts for Use with Personal Archive Assignment

Sample Course Schedule for Personal Archive Assignment – 16 WK Semester

Sample Assignment Prompts

PA Prompt – Map

PA Prompt – Item that Communicates Experience within or of Present-Day Protest Movements

PA Prompt – Item that Communicates Experience with COVID-19

PA Prompt – Item that Communicates Experience with 2020 Election

PA Prompt – Interview

PA Prompt – Article of Clothing

PA Prompt – Written Correspondence

PA Prompt – Self-Portrait Revisited

PA Prompt – Self Portrait

PA Prompt – Recipe


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