This post begins a series of reports about my Spring 2016 internship at Moving Image Research Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries.
Shortly after I arrived at USC in August 2013, I heard that the university library system had a major film repository located somewhere off campus. I had just started my job at South Carolina Political Collections, so I knew already about Rare Books and Digital Collections, our neighbors down the hall at the Hollings Library. However, this was the first I’d heard of MIRC and, for that matter, the peculiar properties of nitrate film. I was intrigued and, after learning more about the MIRC collections, thought it would be an interesting place to do an internship. As the semesters went by, my interest in working with film continued to grow, especially when I ended up with an M.A. thesis that largely depends on moving image sources. See, for example, this little gem from General Electric.
Having finished my M.A. coursework in the fall, I decided to seize my last opportunity for interning at MIRC. The timing was optimal for other reasons too. I think I will benefit more from this experience now than I would have at earlier points in grad school. Two and a half years of graduate study have made me acutely aware of the materiality and mediation of the archive. This awareness is particularly important when dealing with audiovisual sources. Their material culture is much different than that of manuscripts and published materials, and they offer an illusion of immediacy that paper sources often do not.
On a less theoretical note, I am also quite familiar with the subject matter, namely South Carolina broadcasting. At MIRC, I am working with Amy Ciesielski, curator of the Local TV News Collections. Fortunately, as a GA at McKissick Museum, I have spent countless hours processing photos and documents for the South Carolina Broadcasting Association Archives. When I started at McKissick, I saw the SCBA Archives as niche collections, but after going through about 2,000 photos and 15 feet of archival papers, I have a reformed perspective. I see the myriad uses for local broadcasting materials. There are possibilities for cultural histories of technology, popular music studies, and any number of other research projects.
I look forward to spending a semester with the allied collections at MIRC. Although far different from a M.A. thesis, in its own way, my internship will be a capstone experience.