Blog Post #6: Pedagogical Projects and Rhetoricity

Digital archives are “dynamic sites of rhetorical power” (Enoch and VanHaitsma, 2015). Well, what does this mean exactly? To make it easier for you, digital archives are projects with five main rhetorical components; combined, they make a new way for Internet users to explore and engage within research.

What is a teacher’s role in archival literacy? What about a student’s role? Many of these pedagogical projects provide a purpose and the teacher’s main idea is to explore that purpose. They ask that students examine, research, and ask any question they may have in order to “gain experience in ‘sophisticated historiography’” (Enoch and VanHaitsma, 2015). A reference to historical events or current events gives a more pedagogical perspective; where they are used in an innovative approach to teaching. As for a student, their job is to manipulate these digital archives by searching, navigating, using, tagging, etc. Since it is all digital, this does not entail traveling to distant locations — making it more convenient and accessible for the student.

With these five rhetorical properties listed, there is a balance of research and knowledge-building process.

1. Selection – narrowing focus on a specific person or group

2. Exigence – getting an important message across an “urgent” matter (it could be in response to historical events or recent tragedies)

3. Narrative – a story of why you’re doing this to go along with the logic

4. Collaboration – shared rhetorical practices by two or more people

5. Constitution – how rhetorically constitutes group and individual identities

Each contributes a different aspect for the digital archive, as defined above.

Although these are the main properties an archive should have, mapping technologies, network visualizations, text analyzer, and 3D modelling components are always encouraged. Some examples are:

  • ArcGIS – used for complex large-scale mapping projects
  • JavaScript – used to control the way the way things show up on browsers
  • PHP – used to interact with data
  • SQL – used to manage your geospatial data
  • Voyant – analyze text by providing word clouds and frequency patterns (I used an example of Voyant in Blog Post #3 – check it out here!)

All of this rhetoricity can be found in digital archives, including Cork LGBT Archive. This site is designed to collect a wide range of information and redress the imbalance of acceptance in the LGBT community. The project’s selection aspect is to provide focus on these communities only and even specificies search by having a “Browse Items” button, exigence is written in “Blog” where there are marked dates of LGBT rights represented and fought for in the past, narrative is seen in “About” where you can access the reason for the site and the cause, collaboration is shown in any one of the three “Browse” section where there is information of organizations who teamed up to make a difference in the LGBT community, and constitution is represented throughout the whole site really, representing both group and individual identity of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders. All in all, I am impressed with this website and the rhetorical components of it.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on

Egan, O. (n.d.). Cork LGBT Archive. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

Enoch, J., & VanHaitsma, P. (2015, December). Archival Literacy: Reading the Rhetoric of Digital Archives in the Undergraduate Classroom. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

Miriam. (2014, February 01). How did they make that? Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

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