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DePaul Documentary Corps: From the classroom into the archives


DePaul Documentary Corps: From the Classroom into the Archives
​​In the winter and spring quarters of 2021, DePaul's Special Collections and Archives will partner with the HumanitiesX Collaborative on a new internship course, the DePaul Documentary Corps. Led by HumanitiesX Faculty Director Lisa Dush, the course will teach students oral history, the ethics of documentary practice, and give them the opportunity to conduct, transcribe, and edit remote interviews. This hands-on work will be enhanced by frequent guest speakers from Chicago-area museums, and arts, culture and community organizations.

“This project is perfectly aligned with the goal of HumanitiesX to connect DePaul students to community and campus organizations that offer meaningful, project-based ways to put their humanities knowledge and methods to work," Dush says.

DePaul Documentary Corps was developed as part of the HumanitiesX 2020-21 initiatives on “Understanding, Speaking in, and Documenting this Historic Moment." It is designed to offer DePaul students, faculty and community partners ways to connect, learn and engage during a challenging year. In alignment with that theme and with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded initiative's focus on how the humanities can address today's most pressing challenges, student Corps members will interview DePaul-connected stakeholders, focusing on topics such as the pandemic and the fight for racial justice. The course is actively seeking members of the DePaul community—including students, scholars, alumni, and community partners— to interview: if you are interested in being interviewed by a Corps member, please complete this brief interest form.

Special Collections and Archives' collaboration with HumanitiesX on this internship course grew out of common efforts to document this historic and challenging moment. Last spring University Archives launched the project on Documenting the DePaul Community's Experience of COVID-19, which invited students, staff and faculty to document their personal stories from the pandemic and preserve them in the archives. The interviews and supporting materials collected by Corps members during the internship course will be added to the collections in Special Collections and Archives, enabling students to participate in the important work of preserving this moment for the historical record. The interviews will also expand the initial efforts of the “Documenting COVID-19" project to include more diverse voices and experiences related to evolving current events.

“The Documentary Corps embodies LAS's commitment to the experiential liberal arts because students will engage actively and critically with the questions at the heart of the humanities: Who are we? How did we get here? What does it mean? What next?," says Margaret Storey, associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

The course will enhance each student's abilities as a researcher, while also building skills and interest in students as archival creators and donors. Head of Special Collections and Archives, Jamie Nelson, says, “Students are usually the consumers of library resources – reading books and research articles that have been edited, vetted and peer-reviewed.  This partnership gives students the first person experience of creating research materials, editing and interpreting them, and adding them to the university's collection."

ISP 392: DePaul Documentary Corps is a 4-credit internship course that DePaul students can take for Experiential Learning credit. Each of the winter and spring quarter 2021 sections can accommodate up to fifteen Corps members, and interested students can currently join the winter section by registering on Campus Connect—no special application is necessary.