Archives Research

A fervor, not a fever

I was working on a revision of an article this a.m and reread Verne Harris’s “POSTMODERNISM AND ARCHIVAL APPRAISAL: SEVEN THESES.” I regularly teach this piece in an appraisal class, but I was struck by a line this morning. Harris remarked, “Who would want to be an appraiser? Only the feverish”. This line directly references Derrida’s Archive’s Fever, which Harris references earlier in his piece. Derrida implies that the drive to archive is a form of sickness, but Harris reframes this sickness as something more positive. For Harris, this fever leads archivists to be feverish, particularly about appraisal; they understand their jobs by “believing in the impossible” that is a complete appraisal of records. I agree with Harris and his understanding of postmodernism and appraisal, but I wonder if we should start thinking of this as a fervor instead of a fever. A passion of sorts compels us to do the best we can to be story keepers, tellers, and guardians of records—just a morning musing.