Wolfgang Ernst. Stirrings in the Archives: Order from Disorder.

Simran Thadani

Abstract

Be warned: Stirrings in the Archives is dense. Wolfgang Ernst’s erudite, citation-stuffed monograph rests upon a basic tenet of media archaeology: that the material form of what is archived, and the structure of how it is archived, affect the ways in which a given archive has been, is, and will be accessed and interpreted. Deconstruction is at work everywhere in this book, comparing and contrasting individual vs. collective records; presence vs. absence; hidden vs. public; chance vs. by design; abundance vs. scarcity; and so on. Ernst draws fruitfully upon the work of theorists (Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida), material-cultural historians (Natalie Zemon Davis, Carlo Ginzburg), and premodernist scholars (Ernst Kantorowicz, Stephen Greenblatt) alike. The result is a hefty series of short essays—connected but distinct(ive)—on various aspects of archival theory.

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