FIRE Streams

Beginning in January 2018, AADHum partnered with the University of Maryland’s First-Year Innovation & Research (FIRE) program, which seeks to provide first-year, undergraduate students an authentic research experience, broad mentorship, and institutional connections that impact academic success, personal resilience, and professional development.

AADHum will enrich the FIRE program with a research stream entitled AADHum: Digital Archives. Led by Assistant Director Dr. Jessica H. Lu, this course will allow UMD undergraduates an opportunity to explore and develop research at the intersections of African American history, culture, and digital humanities.

Interested undergraduates can learn more about joining FIRE here.

AADHum: Digital Archives

Faculty Leader: Dr. Catherine Knight Steele

Research Educator: Dr. Jessica H. Lu

“… liberatory archives are not things so much as they are processes. Understanding them, then, is not a ‘what’ question as much as a ‘how’ question.” —Jarrett M. Drake

We live, work, and play online. With every click, like, tweet, Instagram, snap, and post, we’re creating and leaving behind a digital imprint that reaches far beyond our own personal networks. This stream builds on the core work of the African American Digital Humanities Initiative (AADHum) by showing students how we can collect and preserve these imprints to build dynamic archives of human experiences, and then learn from them to pursue social change.

For Black and African Americans, who have long battled against oppression, digital spaces can provide an opportunity for creative expression and argument that challenge dominant narratives. Situating itself at the intersections of African American history, rhetoric, and digital humanities, this research project considers how black and African Americans combine innovative language practices and digital technology to centralize Black lives, challenge racism, and argue for freedom. As researchers, students will analyze their own everyday, digital worlds to identify and build a collection of online Black discourse that grapples with the question, “What does it mean to be free?” Then, students will learn how to use several coding languages–including XML, HTML, and CSS–to preserve their online collection and create a digital archive. Finally, students will consider ethical web design and publication as they combine their digital archives to launch a full, interactive website that showcases how Black people are advocating for freedom in meaningful ways online. Ultimately, students will foster a critical understanding of archives as sites of power, digital technologies as tools for social justice, and the enduring legacies of Black resistance and rhetorical innovation.