... A Turn to Pedagogy



Such thoughts lead us invariably to consider pedagogical ramifications. While queerness has increasingly been a subject in writing studies, with some attention paid to issues of queerness online, the possibilities of the queer archive, much less the online queer archive, remain under-examined. But we argue here that working with queer online archives—as well as actively participating in their construction—can significantly enliven our understanding of rhetorical practice in the public sphere.

To start, greater access to resources and information expands the potential pool of those involved in creating archives. Indeed, Judith Halberstam notes that the creation of queer archives is not simply a project just for scholars and academics, but also for a wide array of “cultural producers,” of those actively involved in the production and dissemination of information and data points that become part of the larger cloud of potential meaning making. Surely, many of our students count among this group, particularly as many of them are not just consumers but also prosumers of media. For us, such prosumerism presents an exciting pedagogical opportunity, as we can potentially work with students on the creation of a number of archives, thinking with them about the canon of arrangement—or how one might organize an archive to assert a particular set of points or values.

But queer archives serve other functions for us as well. As we noted before, an archive may never be able to embody or fully represent a set of experiences, particularly traumatic ones. (And unfortunately, even coming out is still often experienced as a traumatic life event for many.) Nonetheless, the queer archive can show us a set of rhetorical strategies, and possibly effects, that can enliven student awareness about the movement of ideas and emotions across and through public debates about the queer. Multimedia and interactive platforms are particularly enabling of such analysis, in that a video on YouTube, for instance, shows us not only a particular rhetorical performance but also the ways in which viewers can comment and sometimes respond themselves with video, addressing the effect of the original video and its reception amongst a public. In short, online archives offer us a space in which to enact queer movement—the queer archive reworks the network, putting in motion ever-changing chains of connection that break the bonds of static and stable meaning.