Synoptique is inviting submissions for a special issue entitled “Teaching Media Archives.” This special issue will explore strategies to activate student interest in archives and media preservation, bridging a gap between film and media education and the archival profession. These strategies may be those that teachers and archivists have implemented or merely envisioned, and can encompass curricular or extracurricular courses, programs, initiatives, or activities. We welcome academic articles as well as annotated syllabi, informal reflections on teaching, interviews, roundtable discussions, and more.

The proliferation of dozens of streaming sites has made all of film history seem easily within reach. Further, digitized access to archival materials through projects like the Media History Digital Library means students can undertake archival research without ever setting foot into a physical archive or speaking to an archivist. In context with these changes, how can the behind-the-scenes work of media preservation be made more visible? How can we raise awareness of the practices and politics that determine which media artifacts are preserved and made available and which are not—whose histories are documented and whose are forgotten? How are instructors responding to these needs and collaborating with archivists to bring students into the archive, and the archive into the classroom?

While there has been significant interest in archival education as of late—evidenced not least by a recent special issue of Synoptique on the institutionalization of media archival graduate programs—less attention has been paid to the practical realities of pedagogy and instruction. What actually happens in the classroom? How do you “teach media archives”? We want to address this gap by devoting this special issue to exploring how we might envision media archival education today, sometimes with limited or no access to physical archives, and always balancing hands-on learning and practice with theory and history.

We invite scholars of all levels and disciplines who engage with media archives (defined broadly) and pedagogy (defined broadly) to contribute traditional peer-reviewed articles as well as alternative formats–including creative work, personal reflections, thought pieces, interviews, roundtable discussions or debates, annotated syllabi or assignments, and more. Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • working with archival media as primary research documents, as creative source material, and as heritage artifacts
  • the materiality of media and technological obsolescence
  • the politics of the “canon”
  • community archiving and counter-archives
  • debates about naming—who gets to call themselves archives or archivists?
  • media-archival education and social justice
  • interventions into archival theory and/or practice
  • student-led preservation and/or programming initiatives
  • the preservation of student films
  • internships, fellowships, assistantships, etc.
  • pursuing the archival profession without access to archives, preservation, or conservation classes
  • the personal DVD or home media collection as archive and the role of physical media in pedagogy
  • archival education at the intersection of film and media studies, art history, archaeology, library and information science, museum studies, and more
  • the value of an MLIS or other professional degree
  • the impact and effects of COVID-19 on media archives’ past, present, and future
  • making archival instruction—and the archival profession—accessible and inclusive to students from historically underrepresented groups, whether based on class, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, sexuality, or other socioeconomic factors

Reviews of relevant recent books, films, conferences, or other events are also welcome. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions regarding your submission ideas.

Essays submitted for peer review should be approximately 5,500-7,500 words. Submissions for the non-reviewed section should be approximately 1,500-3,500 words. Reviews should be approximately 2,000 words. All submissions must conform to Chicago author-date style (17th ed.). Video essays submitted for peer review are also accepted. All images must be accompanied by photo credits and captions.

Creative works and interventions in the form of digital video, still imagery, or other multimedia forms will be hosted or embedded on the Synoptique website, and/or otherwise linked to in the PDF version of the journal.

Submissions may be written in either French or English.

Please submit completed essays or works to the journal editors ( and copy the issue guest editors, Hugo Ljungbäck ( and Christian Balistreri (, by March 15, 2024. We will send notifications of acceptance by April 15, 2024.


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