Close Reading an Archival Object

The latest issue of Papers on Language and Literature 55:1 (2019) is a special issue, “Archives, Authority, Aura: Modernism’s Archival Turn”.

Of particular interest is Emily Ridge‘s new article entitled, “Close Reading an Archival Object: Reflections on a Postcard from Salvador Dalí to Stefan Zweig, Circa 1938” which offers a complex reading of a single archival object.

Yet postcard nods to a different kind of movement, to a culture of ease and adventure, of leisure. I flip the card, once again recalling that what drew Derrida to this object was its very capacity to be upturned and, by extension, to overturn an implied order: ‘one does not know what is in front or what is in back […] recto or verso’.”

Ridge begins by noting how in modernist studies archives have generally been “allotted a secondary role” or functioned as “backdrop”.  In reading a single postcard, she draws on the work of Finn Fordham on the use of art itself as an “alternative archive” to ask whether art might allow for an alternative methodological relationship to the archive proper. 

Access the full article here.