Changing the Subject: Archives, Technology, and Radical Counter-Narratives of Peace

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Foster, J. A., Horowitz, S. M., & Allen, L. (2016). Changing the Subject: Archives, Technology, and Radical Counter-Narratives of Peace. Radical Teacher, 105, 11–22.


This article argues that performing the recovery of pacifist art and actions through archival research of the modernist era encourages students to engage in radical ethical inquiry.  Based on four sections of a writing class at Haverford College, this article walks the reader through the construction of a student digital humanities and special collections exhibition, Testimonies in Art & Action: Igniting Pacifism in the Face of Total War, which ran from October 6 to December 11, 2015 in Haverford College’s Magill Library.  The exhibition placed archival materials in conversation with the major modernist pacifist documentary projects of Langston Hughes’s Spanish Civil War poetry and dispatches, Muriel Rukeyser’s “Mediterranean,” Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, and Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas.  This undertaking was driven by the questions, “How does one respond ethically to total war?” and “How can archival and special collections research do the works of peace?” Built around the work of these classes and materials from Haverford’s Quaker & Special Collections, Testimonies in Art & Action allowed students to deeply interrogate a variety of pacifisms and become producers of a critical discourse that challenges the status quo position that violence is perpetually necessary and the most important aspect of world history.


Works Cited:

Digital Exhibition:

Testimonies in Art & Action: Igniting Pacifism in the Face of Total War. Web.

Printed Sources:

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Trans. By Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1976. Print.

Estampas de la Revolución Española, 19 julio de 1936. Oficinas de Propaganda de la Confederación Nacional del Trabajo y de la Federación Anarquista Ibérica. Barcelona: Talleres Grafos, colectivizada, 1937?.

Graham, Helen. The War and Its Shadow: Spain’s Civil War in Europe’s Long Twentieth Century. Brighton: Sussex UP, 2012. Print.

Hughes, Langston. “Addressed to Alabama.” The Daily Worker. 23 January 1938: 2/8. Print.

Hughes, Langston. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Ed. by Arnold Rampersad. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. Print.

----------. “Hughes Bombed in Spain: Tells of Terror of Fascist Raid Women, Children

Huddled Together in Fear As Bombs…” Baltimore Afro-American. 23 October 1937: 1. Proquest. Web. 7 April 2014.

----------. “Hughes Finds Moors Being Used as Pawns by Fascists in Spain.” Baltimore Afro-American. 30 October 1937: 1. Proquest. Web. 7 April 2014.

----------. “Organ Grinder’s Swing Used Above Gunfire In Spain.” Baltimore Afro-American. 6 November 1937: 1. Proquest. Web. 7 April 2014.

----------. “Madrid Getting Used To Bombs: Its Food Shortage That Hurts.” Baltimore Afro-American. 20 November, 1937: 3. Proquest. Web. 7 April 2014.

----------. “Madrid’s Flowers Hoist Blooms to Meet Raining Fascist Bombs.” Baltimore Afro-American. 27 November 1937: 3. Proquest. Web. 7 April 2014.

----------. “Soldiers From Many Lands United in Spanish Fight.” Baltimore Afro-American. 18 December 1937: 13. Proquest. Web. 7 April 2014.

----------. “Milt Herndon Died Trying to Rescue Wounded Pal. Baltimore Afro-American. 1 January 1938: 2. Proquest. Web. 7 April 2014.

Marcus, Jane. “Introduction” and Annotations. Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006. Print.

----------. Art and Anger: Reading Like a Woman. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1988. Print.

Mendlesohn, Farah. Quaker Relief Work in the Spanish Civil War. Lamenter and Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2002. Print.

Mills, Jean. Virginia Woolf, Jane Ellen Harrison, and the Spirit of Modernist Classicism. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2014. Print.

Patterson, Ian. Guernica and Total War. London: Profile Books, 2007. Print.

Preston, Paul. The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth Century Spain. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co, 2012. Print.

Picasso, Pablo. Guernica. 1937. Oil on canvas. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Web. 1 March 2016.

Rukeyser, Muriel. “Mediterranean.” Out of Silence. Evanston: Triquarterly Books, 2000. 44-49. Print.

----------.“Barcelona, 1936.” Life and Letters Today. 15.5 (Autumn 1936): 26-33. Print.

----------.Life of Poetry. 1949. New York: Current Books. Ashfield: Paris Press, 1996. Print.

Saint-Amour, Paul. Tense Future: Modernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form. New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015.

Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2003. Print.

Utley, Gertje R. Picasso: The Communist Years. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2000. Print.

Woolf, Virginia. Three Guineas. 1938. Ed. by Mark Hussey. Annotated and introduced by Jane Marcus. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006. Print.

----------.Three Guineas Reading Notebooks. (Monks House Papers/B.16f.). Southern Connecticut State University. Web. 1 March, 2016.