The Rhetoric Class in Special Collections


A university’s holdings in archives and special collections offer unique opportunities for students and instructors to learn through spatial and physical experiences. As embodiment continues to emerge as an active learning strategy, Loyola Marymount University’s first-year rhetoric course in collaboration with Archives and Special Collections provides students with experiential learning of social justice topics. Engaging students hands-on with physical artifacts as products of social issues promotes affective, cognitive, and reflective learning of multiple cultural perspectives. This paper focuses on a specialized instruction that integrates object-based inquiry in special collections with learning outcomes for rhetorical skills that enhance transferable, foundational awareness of social justice in context. As an instructor in undergraduate rhetoric and a special collections instruction librarian, we collaborated on designing and implementing a lesson plan with two-parts: a visual, rhetorical exercise in the special collections exhibition gallery and an exploration and analysis of rare objects in the classroom. In an immediate and personal encounter, first-year students, as primary learners, investigate text-objects as socially situated not only through conceptual knowledge but also by experiencing social issues through direct contact with physical materials. Ultimately, we designed these activities for potential adaptations in other courses using a variety of special collections objects to promote learning and teaching in an embodied, experiential environment.


Specialized, Collaboration, Experiential


Pedagogy and Curriculum


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Laura Poladian
    • Rhetorical Arts Fellow, College of Communication and Fine Arts, Loyola Marymount University, United States California, United States
    • Rhetorical Arts Fellow with professional work in narration in children's literature, Jesuit rhetoric, and teaching through embodiment 
  • Rachel Wen-Paloutzian
    • Archives and Special Collections Instruction Librarian, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University, United States California, United States
    • As the Archives and Special Collections Instruction Librarian, Rachel Wen-Paloutzian collaborates with faculty to incorporate special collections and primary sources into academic curriculum. She facilitates active learning with students in library instruction workshops using a wide variety of special collections materials, such as cultural artifacts, artworks, rare books, digital and audiovisual objects, and archival documents. Rachel is the Curator of the LMU Postcard Collections, and she is the library liaison to the Asian and Asian American Studies Department. Prior to her current position, Rachel worked as Metadata Librarian for four years, building LMU Digital Collections and making special collections accessbile online. She is a member of The Phi Beta Kappa Society.