Archival Research

Many English Department faculty also have students do archival research of some kind, providing them with a fuller context for the times they are studying. They can visit local archives, use Internet materials, or explore our own collections. As one example, students in Dr. Susan Ryan's class on the history of reading have undertaken such research projects as using the university archives to examine nineteenth-century magazines and their modes of addressing an imagined readership. Students may also be assigned parcels of research as part of the preparation of an annotated edition, either print or web-based, under the direction of a faculty member, and have the opportunity to learn web-authoring in a number of English Department courses.


Dr. Carol Mattingly brings to U of L considerable experience facilitating undergraduate research at Louisiana State University, where students often worked with the slavery materials in the Hill Memorial Library, examining diaries of those whose lives had been disrupted by the Civil War, annotating significant slavery texts, or tracing the history of slave revolts in Louisiana. Related projects here could make use of the extensive collections in the U of L archives and/or those at the Filson Club.

Students often enjoy working with early diaries; such efforts help them to better understand genre and style, to examine self-rhetoric, or to gain an understanding of the literacy levels and interests of authors as well as to gain better understanding of the everyday life of nineteenth-century people. Local archives have numerous unexamined diaries written during historically significant periods, along with a wealth of speeches for which students could perform a rhetorical analysis. Some might examine the rhetoric of local clubs, such as the Chile Con Carne Club, the Democratic Women's Club, or the Conversation Club.

Someone interested in photography and/or Pee Wee Valley might work with the Kate Matthews Collection. Both the U of L Archives and the Filson Club collections contain materials related to various authors, and students might examine those materials for greater insight into authors' writings. They might do rhetorical analysis of local monuments using materials related to their erection, or study how local corporations, such as the L & N Railroad or the Belknap Hardware, presented themselves rhetorically. All such analyses could highlight and inform periods of transformation.

Other Research Opportunities