Here’s a link to first-day syllabus that can be downloaded

What happens to the forgotten past? Is remembering more constitutive than forgetting? Race(ing) the Archives unites archival theory, critical race theory, and current digital archival practices to help students become effective composers and critics of the historical now. This seminar grows out of the Black Students’ Lives Project, a student-centered digital archive project at WCU that seeks to build a community of engaged and empowered Black and pro-black students and their allies.

Graded Work and Assignments

Building Knowledge

Reading Responses (4%, 200-500 words each)

You will complete 3 response papers focused on the assigned readings for each week. The goal for these assignments is to get you thinking about the material, making connections between readings and class discussions, raising insights and questions that come out of your engagement with the course. To your preference, each response can focus on one text, or place readings into conversation with each other. Each response should lay out the argument or main idea presented in the reading, consider the nature of the intervention it makes, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the piece, and offer at least two questions for class discussion. These response papers should be about 200-500 words and should be submitted to D2L by beginning of class. You should also have access to your response for class. Late response papers will not be accepted. Responses are graded P/F based on demonstration of thoughtfulness and engagement with the reading material. Note: you are encouraged to “double dip” your reading responses and oral presentations.

Oral Presentations (3@ 7% each, 21%)

Each student will be responsible for making three presentations (3 min-5 min):  First, you will write a presentation that addresses the day’s readings (prior to project 1). These presentations can be done collaboratively (3 minutes minimum per person, 5 minutes max per person) or individually (coordinated with the day’s presenters, 3-5 min).

Two presentations will focus on items from your research (after project 1). After selecting a presentation item (a found artifact or textual artifact from the reading), each presentation must (1) summarize and describe the selection; (2) analyze the selection and relate the item to other items, themes, and/or texts; and (3) interpret the item, ideally by preparing questions that provide subsequent discussion. These presentations can be done collaboratively (3 minutes minimum per person, 5 minutes max per person) or individually (coordinated with the day’s presenters, 3-5 min).  The presentations provide the opportunity for student-driven and student-centered discussion, add to the diversity of perspectives in the class, and ensure the chance for expertise to develop throughout the class’s participants. Please sign up in the first week of class for your oral presentations. Note: you are encouraged to “double dip” your reading responses and oral presentations. 

Weekly Archival Research (15%)

Beginning in the second week, you will be responsible for locating, identifying, and describing artifacts related to the Lives of Black Students at WCU (and beyond). Each week, we’ll devote Friday class time to archival research; your goal is to locate items of relevance, identify those items (using the methods provided by your course instructors); and describe those items accurately. 5 unique items required each week; 9 weeks of research, graded P/F based on demonstration of completeness and attention to detail with the archival material.


Short Project One & Two (30%, 2@15% each)

You will complete two short projects to account for your knowledge formation. These short projects should place into conversation items that you’ve located in your weekly research. These two projects can be connected but need not be.

Unit One Project will focus on the 1960s and 70s and use the methods and resources you gain in the first part of the course. This project will also measure your growing understanding of the relevant theory necessary for critical archival studies. 

Unit Two Project will focus on artifacts from 1871 (our institution’s founding date) through the 1950s (post WWII). This project will measure your growing understanding of critical race theory and practice, as well as your growing skill with digital archival work. 

Final Project (30%, 2500-3000 words or equivalent)

For the final project, your goal is to produce work rooted in original archival research you conduct. Your work here begins with a final project proposal. You should look to synthesize and build on work across the three units to formulate a public humanities artifact. You can construct a multimodal web-based exhibit, or you can produce a seminar paper. A multimodal project can be collaborative but need not be. A seminar paper must be single-authored. Your project should be informed by the theory and practice covered in the course, but it can take any direction that relates to archival representations of black experiences at WCU or in the region. The Final Project will occupy much of Unit 4, with separate timelines and rubrics for the proposal, an initial presentation, the submission of the digital archive exhibit, a final presentation, and the reflective theorized curator’s statement.

All formal and informal writing for this course is eligible for you to include in your ePortfolio. And exemplary projects will be entered in the English Department’s Best Seminar Paper Competition. We will notify you of our decision before making the entry. If you do not want your work submitted for consideration, we will respect your wishes.

Grading Breakdown


Weekly Research: 15%

Response Papers: 4%

Oral Presentations (3): 21%

Short Projects (2) 30%

Final Project: 30%

Total:       100%

90-100 ExcellentA, A-
80-89 GoodB-, B, B+
70-79 FairC-, C, C+
60-69 PoorD
0-59 FailureF


“A” grades connote excellent work that presents original thinking or insight that is clearly, correctly, and gracefully written. “B” grades connote good work that fully satisfies an assignment’s expectations with clear competence, though the level of sophistication of thought and writing of an “A” is absent; the work is well written in terms of argument, mechanics, support, and structure. “C” grades connote fair work that minimally meets an assignment’s specifications and is generally correct in terms of mechanics and structure but lacks thorough analysis, elaboration, and/or mechanics. “D” grades connote poor work that is inadequate in at least one way, including failure to maintain focus, skimpy or illogical development, and significant writing errors in mechanics. “F” grades connote work that fails to respond acceptably to an assignment. 

Statements Common to All WCU Undergraduate Syllabi

Academic & Personal Integrity

It is the responsibility of each student to adhere to the university’s standards for academic integrity. Violations of academic integrity include any act that violates the rights of another student in academic work, that involves misrepresentation of your own work, or that disrupts the instruction of the course. Other violations include (but are not limited to): cheating on assignments or examinations; plagiarizing, which means copying any part of another’s work and/or using ideas of another and presenting them as one’s own without giving proper credit to the source; selling, purchasing, or exchanging of term papers; falsifying of information; and using your own work from one class to fulfill the assignment for another class without significant modification. Proof of academic misconduct can result in the automatic failure and removal from this course. For questions regarding Academic Integrity, the No-Grade Policy, Sexual Harassment, or the Student Code of Conduct, students are encouraged to refer to the Department Undergraduate Handbook, the Undergraduate Catalog, the Ram’s Eye View, and the University website at 

Students With Disabilities

If you have a disability that requires accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), please present your letter of accommodations and meet with me as soon as possible so that I can support your success in an informed manner. Accommodations cannot be granted retroactively. If you would like to know more about West Chester University’s Services for Students with Disabilities (OSSD), please visit them at 223 Lawrence Center. Their phone number is 610-436-2564, their fax number is 610-436-2600, their email address is, and their website is at In an effort to assist students who either receive or may believe they are entitled to receive accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the University has appointed a student advocate to be a contact for students who have questions regarding the provision of their accommodations or their right to accommodations. The advocate will assist any student who may have questions regarding these rights. The Director for Equity and Compliance/Title IX Coordinator has been designated in this role. Students who need assistance with their rights to accommodations should contact them at 610-436-2433.

Excused Absences Policy

Students are advised to carefully read and comply with the excused absences policy, including absences for university-sanctioned events, contained in the WCU Undergraduate Catalog. In particular, please note that the “responsibility for meeting academic requirements rests with the student,” that this policy does not excuse students from completing required academic work, and that professors can require a “fair alternative” to attendance on those days that students must be absent from class in order to participate in a University-Sanctioned Event.

Reporting Incidents Of Sexual Violence

West Chester University and its faculty are committed to assuring a safe and productive educational environment for all students. In order to meet this commitment and to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and guidance from the Office for Civil Rights, the University requires faculty members to report incidents of sexual violence shared by students to the University’s Title IX Coordinator. The only exceptions to the faculty member’s reporting obligation are when incidents of sexual violence are communicated by a student during a classroom discussion, in a writing assignment for a class, or as part of a University-approved research project. Faculty members are obligated to report sexual violence or any other abuse of a student who was, or is, a child (a person under 18 years of age) when the abuse allegedly occurred to the person designated in the University protection of minors policy.  Information regarding the reporting of sexual violence and the resources that are available to victims of sexual violence is set forth at the webpage for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at  

Emergency Preparedness

All students are encouraged to sign up for the University’s free WCU ALERT service, which delivers official WCU emergency text messages directly to your cell phone.  For more information, visit To report an emergency, call the Department of Public Safety at 610-436-3311.

Electronic Mail Policy

It is expected that faculty, staff, and students activate and maintain regular access to University provided email accounts. Official university communications, including those from your instructor, will be sent through your university email account. You are responsible for accessing that mail to be sure to obtain official University communications. Failure to access will not exempt individuals from the responsibilities associated with this course.