Changing the Subject: Archives, Technology, and Radical Counter-Narratives of Peace
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AbstractThis article argues that performing the recovery of pacifist art and actions through archival research of the modernist era encourages students to engage in radical ethical inquiry. Based on four sections of a writing class at Haverford College, this article walks the reader through the construction of a student digital humanities and special collections exhibition, Testimonies in Art & Action: Igniting Pacifism in the Face of Total War, which ran from October 6 to December 11, 2015 in Haverford College’s Magill Library. The exhibition placed archival materials in conversation with the major modernist pacifist documentary projects of Langston Hughes’s Spanish Civil War poetry and dispatches, Muriel Rukeyser’s “Mediterranean,” Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, and Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas. This undertaking was driven by the questions, “How does one respond ethically to total war?” and “How can archival and special collections research do the works of peace?” Built around the work of these classes and materials from Haverford’s Quaker & Special Collections, Testimonies in Art & Action allowed students to deeply interrogate a variety of pacifisms and become producers of a critical discourse that challenges the status quo position that violence is perpetually necessary and the most important aspect of world history.