This thesis aims at unpacking the notion of the archive and determining its limitations as a mediator between past experiences and their account in historical discourse, which has granted it its superior status in epistemological hierarchy and consequently, has long been fetishized by historians and artists alike. By thoroughly engaging with the various interpretations of the archive and its agency in the construction of historical knowledge, the thesis deals with the archive not only as a compilation of the physical traces of the past, but also as an intricate linguistic and discursive system which constitutes the law of what can be said, and ultimately ensures the unity of historical discourse. What does the archive, delineated by the very limitations of language itself, push away from its own sphere? What is it that this enormous body is hiding and which threatens its homogeneity? To answer these questions, I engaged with literary texts, such as those of Proust, Borges, Virginia Woolf and Robert Coover, or films such as Sans Soleil, or artworks such as those of Boltanski, Warhol, Kabakov, and Duchamp, among others, and put them in conversation with Philosophical texts of Benjamin, Foucault, Derrida, Ricoeur, Sontag and others, without subsuming any of the texts to one another and therefore treating the fiction of Borges with the same seriousness as the critical reflections of Benjamin.Through these engagements, I question the boundaries between the physical and the sensible, the factual and the fictional, as well as the scope of the archive, and by extension, the role of the historian and modes of writing history.


Philosophy Department

Degree Name

MA in Philosophy

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2016

First Advisor

Harman, Graham

Committee Member 1

Singh, Surti

Committee Member 2

Fahmy, Khaled


51 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item