Instructor: Dr. Shannon Perry

Course Description:

In a time when terms such as “post-fact world” and “fake news” have emerged, what role do archives play, and where/ how do we locate the “facts” of the historical record? This class will begin to address how the truthfulness or integrity of archival records are determined and maintained. We will discuss what it means when we talk about/ use “archival documents” or “archival research” and explore what can be defined as “archive/ archival” through and examination of how archives are constructed, maintained and accessed.

The course will focus particularly on the Canadian archival environment, and touch on various jurisdictions, mandates and collections. We will view archives from the theoretical and functional perspectives of acquisition and appraisal, arrangement and description. These core components of the archival profession will be viewed according to two overarching themes: 1) the inherent contradiction between providing access to records and preserving them and 2) the potential and pitfalls of modern technology.

Class Format: We meet once / week in a three-hour block.  The normal distribution of time will be split between lectures and class discussions based on the assigned readings and (occasionally) current events / news.

Aims and Goals: As a graduate seminar, the purpose of this course is to provide a general overview by exploring the history, theory and practice of archives so that students will think critically about the archival process.

Assessment: Participation in class discussion (15%); 4 page paper and presentation (25%); 15-20 page research essay (50%); short end-of-term exam (10%).

Text:  TBD – assigned articles/chapters for each unit will be identified in class syllabus, to be distributed in first class.

Questions? Please email me at: